The State of Fun

Sentosa Island is the most southerly point in mainland Asia.  When I saw this sign on my first visit many years ago, I was confused.  How could an island be the most southerly point of the mainland?  Then it was explained to me that because Sentosa is attached to the rest of Singapore by a bridge, and Singapore is attached to Malaysia by the causeway (now there are two) it is possible to start walking from Tanjong Beach and walk all the way to Mongolia.

There are so many things to do and see on Sentosa that just one day is a bit of a teaser.  There are several hotels on Sentosa if you can afford 5* luxury, Costa Sands Sentosa Kampung Hut is the exception being a bit more like camping.  There are plenty of budget hotels near Sentosa but remember to factor in that there is an admission charge to get onto Sentosa each time.

There really is something for everyone, from active, outdoor activities like the Wave House, and bungee jump at AJ Hackett, to indoor pursuits like Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and the Resorts World Sentosa casino.

Many people go to Sentosa for the Universal Studios theme park, but many others just go for the beaches.

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Penang Part 5 (B)

Loads of visitors to Penang go for the beach so I decided, considering that my boss was paying for the airfare, to check out Batu Ferringhi for the weekend.  Even though this was my fifth trip to Penang, I had never explored this part of the island; and believe me when I tell you there is a lot to explore.  I am not really a ‘beach’ person so I chose to visit the Butterfly Farm and the Spice Garden.

 

I had hoped to walk the distance between these two sites but it turned out that it isn’t possible. There are no sidewalks along the road and the beach is not consistent  The good news is that the bus is very cheap. The bad news is that Agoda has still not reimbursed me for the money that they stole from me.  If you can advise how to deal with internet theft, I would appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

Penang – Part 5 (A)

My fifth trip to Penang was a couple of months ago but it didn’t start off very well.  In fact, it could have been a disaster.  I had been asked to conduct two days of training literally across the street from the Krystal Suites, the hotel where I stayed in 2011. I booked with Agoda and was issued a confirmation for two nights.  When I arrived I noticed that the unmanned reception desk had dust on it.  Not a good sign.  There were two security guards at a desk in the lobby who informed me that the hotel had been closed for two years!  Agoda is still taking bookings for this hotel.

Krystal Suites

Luckily for me, I had stayed here before and knew there was a good hotel not too far away.  The security guards called a taxi for me which took me to the Eastin Hotel   If I had been a tourist from Europe who had never been to Penang and didn’t speak English very well, I would have been in dire straits.  Agoda charged me for one night as a cancellation fee for a hotel that was not open.  It reminds me of the scam that the Wine Guys  were pulling in Australia but Agoda is a global company.  How are they getting away with this!?!

Anyway, my fifth trip to Penang has a happy ending (my favourite kind) but you will have to wait until next week for Penang – Part 5 (B) 🙂

 

Penang – Part Four

My fourth visit to Penang was part of a Holland America Cruise that I took over Christmas and the New Year with my sister Brenda just a few years ago.  As I mentioned in Penang – Part One, this is one of my favourite places and so I was really excited to share it with my sister.  The walk from the cruise ship port to the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, where we had a lunch of local food, is approximately a kilometer and a half and passes by some historical sights.  I had a martini to raise a toast to Farquart’s Bar and to Billy Duncan.

Penang- Part Three

My third visit to Penang included a trip across the bridge to Butterworth, the mainland part of Penang state.  I had been invited to attend a wedding in George Town that weekend but the festivities began on Friday night at a nightclub in Butterworth.  Clearly, this was going to be a rocking weekend!

Nightclub in Butterworth

The next day my friend Jen took me to some of her favourite places in George Town.  Penang is considered by some to be the “Food Capital” of Malaysia.

I was able to visit the apartment of the groom’s parents in the residential area of Air Hitam, a part of Penang with a fascinating history.  Please follow this link if you would like to learn more. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Itam

Penang – Part Two

My next trip to Penang was in 2011 for business.  I was asked to come and conduct on-site training for an international company with offices in Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone. This area is in the south-eastern part of Pulau Pinang (that’s Malay for Penang Island).  My flight from Singapore arrived the morning before the training so I had most of the day to explore a new part of Penang.  I chose to check out the snake temple.

There are more than just snakes, and believe me, there are a lot of snakes; there are also monkeys, tortoises and turtles, as well as iguanas and other kinds of lizards.

For lunch, I went to Jaya Cater’s Corner, a nearby open-air Indian restaurant where I had roti prata.  The irony of eating Indian food and visiting a Chinese temple in Malaysia is not completely lost on me but I also think it serves to prove that Malaysia is more multi-cultural than some might think.

Penang – Part One

Penang Island, in the Straits of Malacca, is my favourite part of Malaysia.  In fact, it is one of my favourite places in South East Asia.  Last month, I went to Penang for the fifth time and I decided it was time to write about it on this blog.

The first time I went to Penang was about 7 1/2 years ago.  I wrote about it on The AFB and if you follow this link you can read about how Penang had been on my list for a long time.

That first trip was to George Town, the capital of Penang and it was love at first sight for me.  I spent an entire day wandering around looking at the street art and I ended up at the Clan Jetties.

The next day I visited Penang Hill with its Kek Lok Si Temple which, according to Wikipedia “…is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia.”  It is also home to a huge statue of the Goddess of Mercy.

Kek Lok Si

Not only was that trip my first to Penang but it was also my first time staying in a Tune Hotel.  I can recommend it for those whose budget falls between a hostel and the Eastern & Oriental Hotel.

Ten Tips for Long Flights

My younger sister is coming to visit me in October and although she travels frequently, this will be the longest flight she has ever taken so she asked me for my advice.  Here are my suggestions for surviving super long flights:

  1. Buy the highest class of seat you can afford.  If you are like me and can only afford economy, choose the most comfortable seat available even if it means you have to pay a fee.  I am a bit claustrophobic so I vividly remember the two flights where I did not have an aisle seat.  
  2. In the old days, airlines provided pillows and blankets for all of their passengers.  These days, economy passengers are lucky to get a seat belt!  Getting as much sleep as possible will help to ward off jet lag and it is a lot easier to sleep when you feel cozy.  If you are travelling to a cold climate, bring a cardigan or an overcoat which you can use as a blanket, on board.  If you are travelling to a warm climate bring a pareo or beach towel either of which will double for a blanket, also bring an inflatable neck pillow.
  3. Drink a lot, preferably water 😉 Not only will this keep you hydrated in the Sahara-like on-board environment but will force you to make several trips to the toilet which leads us to tip number 4.
  4. Move!!  Do those at your seat exercises (see the in-flight magazine) but also get up and walk.  Big airplanes have miles (kilometers) of aisles that you can stroll up and down.  You can easily get your 10,000 steps done, just ask any flight attendant.
  5. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.  You might think your jeans are comfortable until you have had to wear them for more than 24 hours and sleep in them.  Also, metal buttons, zippers, and buckles could set off the security alarms at the airport so choose to wear something that more closely resembles pyjamas.
  6. Bring lip balm and hand lotion/ moisturizer (see tip 3).
  7. Bring a pen (sounds so simple but you’d be surprised how often I have had to lend mine to the person sitting next to me).
  8. View the hours you are forced to spend in airports and on planes as an opportunity to research your destination when you aren’t walking or sleeping.
  9. Bring a book, e-reader, or Ipad.
  10. If you have any food restrictions make sure to pre-order your meals.

A night out in KL

Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it is often called, is the largest city in Malaysia.  According to Lonely Planet, “The founding of KL was almost an accident. In 1857, 87 Chinese prospectors in search of tin landed at the meeting point of the Klang and Gombak rivers and set up camp, naming the spot Kuala Lumpur, meaning ‘muddy confluence’.”

These days Kuala Lumpur is more famous for the Petronas Twin Towers than it is for the twin muddy rivers.  I have written about my frequent trips from Singapore to KL but this post is about an opportunity I had to share my favourite part of KL with some visiting Canadians.

DSCN1913

We began our evening at Bijan Bar & Restaurant which advertises that they serve “fine Malay cuisine”.  The food, the ambiance, and the service were all great.  This restaurant is located in the trendy Bukit Bintang area so there were plenty of places to choose from for a ‘nightcap’ after we finished our wonderful meal.

Birdwatching in Singapore

When a long-tailed parakeet flew overhead while I was swimming today, I realized that with the exception of the post about being attacked by a crow, I had not written about the birds of Singapore.

long-tailed-parakeet_

The first time I saw one of these beautiful, bright green birds, I thought someone’s pet must have escaped.  It wasn’t until later that I learned that the long-tailed parakeet is native to South East Asia.  Now, whenever I hear their distinctive call I look up and smile.

For a ‘birder’ visiting Singapore who does not have the time to seek out the many different kinds of birds that live here, I recommend a visit to Jurong Bird Park.  It is the largest bird park in Asia.