10 February 2010
Last weekend, I got the chance to attend the 2010 Singapore Airshow. This biennial event is considered as Asia’s largest aerospace and defence event and one of the top three airshows in the world. I was expecting much from this event since the previous airshow held in 2008 displayed a number of good air exhibitions which included the Airbus A380 making some rounds in the sky. Added to the fact that I have always been a very big fan of airplanes and flying – it is obvious to note that this event is one of the things that I have been looking forward to for Q1 2010.
It was a long way going to the Changi Exhibition Center where the event was held. I had to take a ride from my apartment going to the Changi International Airport; from the terminal, we had to take another 15 minutes shuttle ride going to the actual venue. It was two in the afternoon when we arrived, a full hour to go before the start of the much awaited air exhibition. We went inside the main building to cool ourselves from the scorching sun and at the same time wander around the various exhibits being displayed. People were everywhere inside, some of the were taking photos while some were queueing up to get closer to some static displays.
The afternoon air exhibition started on time and featured death defying stunt by the F-16 and the AH-64 Apache of the RSAF. Not to be outdone, the USAF did some stunts in their A-10 Thunderbolt – I must say this one is unique, the plane looks like a flying pig yet it can be able to maneuver with grace up in the sky. The final air exhibition was by the Italian firm, Alenia Aermacchi, using their new M-346. I was amazed by all the tight aerial exhibition but I was actually expecting some more stunts, like multiple birdies flying up in the sky and doing the same move all at the same time – I heard this was the case back in 2008. At any rate, I posted below a clip from the airshow courtesy of YouTube.
The air exhibition lasted for probably half an hour. Afterwards, I took a quick stroll outside the building to take a look at the various airplanes parked for the public to see and touch. There were a lot of fighter planes which I could not name, these were mostly from the RSAF and the USAF. A Boeing 737-800 was there on display courtesy Garuda Indonesia; the company is supposedly leveraging the airshow this week to spotlight its new livery and interior decor. This said display was open to the public and several people queue up in order to get a glimpse of the new interiors of the Indonesian airline. I did not stay too long in the tarmac as it was getting too hot then.
It was an experience to attend this event. Despite not being able to fully satify my expectation, I believe it was well worth the 20 SGD I spent on the ticket. If I will still be in this island then, I will definitely attend the 2012 edition of this airshow, hopefully it will be much better by then.
31 January 2010
As some of us may know, Singapore has a substantial number of people who are Hindu. These people are intense about their religion, and some of them takes some extraordinary measures to display their devotion – Thaipusam is an example of this.Yesterday, I witnessed this festival for the second time. This is a yearly event is celebrated by Tamils usually in January or February that commemorates a special day of worship to one of their god, Lord Muruga (also known as Subrahmanian). This deity is supposedly the universal granter of wishes. All those who wish to ask for a future favor, fulfill a vow in return for a granted favor, or to repent for past sins generally participate in this festival. I know a man who once participated in this festival in order to ask for a son; less than two years later, he got his son.
Thaipusam is most visually characterised by the procession in which devotees carry huge colorful shrines called kavadis. Sharp metal spikes and lots of hooks attached the kavadis which at the same time pierced into the body of the devotee. There were some people that showed their devotion by pulling along heavy shrines with religious images and icons by means of hooks pierced into their back. Most of these devotees have have multiple sharp piercings through their face or fruits hanging from hooks pierced onto their chest. Apart from this punishment in their flesh, these devotees had to endure the pain of marching barefooted for a good 4 km to get from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the Chettiar Hindu Temple.
Gory as it may sound, it is amazing to note that through religious faith and trance, very little blood is shed. Occasionally, some of the devotees would go through a sudden trance and had to be helped or restrained by families or friends who are part of their entourage. It is said that intense preparation is needed in order to be successful in Thaipusam, these preparations includes sexual abstinence, a strict diet and of course lots of faith…
31 December 2009
It has been a while since my last post… Lots of this has happened including a change of job assignment (still with the same company) and the unfortunate crashing of my 2 year old Macbook (which included some of my travel photos).
At any rate, allow me to greet each and every reader of this travel blog a Happy New Year!! As we enter a new decade, may the year 2010 be a good year to each and everyone.
Thank you all for your patience, I will be resuming my posts soon…
6 November 2009
Located somewhere in the middle of the orderly chaos that is Jonker Walk is Number Twenty, a mid-range guesthouse that puts much emphasis on the words comfort and style.
This place is a renovated 17th century Dutch mansion that was modified in such a way in order to accommodate as much as 20 guests in either of their double or twin room. All of which comes fully air-conditioned and decorated in a neat minimalist style.
Number Twenty is situated within a short walking distance from the old historic Chinese quarters. The historical sights painted in red is just a mere stone throw away, all you have to do is to just cross the bridge. Food is not a problem as there are numerous bars and restaurants within a few minutes away from the hostel doorstep.
Despite being located in a very busy location, this guesthouse still managed to make itself a relaxing place by means of the spacious lounge that is located in the 2nd floor of the building. A large floor to ceiling balcony windows opens out to Jonker Walk. I particularly like the very inviting sofa in which you are free to lie down and choose from the following choices: (a) watch TV in their plasma screen, (b) read a book from their travel library, or (c) surf the net by utilizing the in-house WiFi.
I have stayed here previously for a night in 2008; it was still brand new then and very clean. A few weeks ago, I was able to visit this place again and I was very surprise that the place is as beautiful and as clean as it was a year ago. Unfortunately though we were not able to get a room then, as they were fully booked during the Deepavali holiday weekend.
The only thing lacking here is a private toilet for the rooms. Yep, all guests will have to share a common toilet. They make up for it though by cleaning it every now and then just to ensure that it is very clean.
The rate per night for this hostel is pegged at 95 MYR per night (105 MYR for Fridays and Saturdays); I would say that it is not too bad at all considering all the facilities you enjoy. Apart from this, they thrown in a complimentary continental breakfast for two.
After having said everything, I do strongly recommend Number Twenty Hostel. Stay here if you want to have a comfortable home away from home in Malacca. Do not forget to book in advance as room supply is quite limited which makes a successful walk-in on a weekend technically impossible.
Number Twenty Guesthouse
20 Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker Walk)
Malacca, Malaysia 75200
Tele: +60 62 819761
Fax: +60 62 819761
Mobile : Mr.Zul +60 172137972
5 November 2009
It was almost seven when we got back to the main part of town. We headed once more to Jonker Walk to witness the night market.
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening between 6PM until midnight, the street is closed and is transformed into this lively bazaar. Traders would line up along the street and set-up stalls to sell and display products of all sorts, ranging from antique copper coins to wooden clogs. Oh yeah, there are all sorts of food being peddled there as well. We did manage to taste some of the food being sold in the sidewalk.
Apart from the business activities, there are some of Chinese clans that organize activities in their respective buildings for visitors. As in the time we were there, there was a dance class being conducted in one of the clan houses. There was also a stage set-up for local talents to showcase their respective ability in front of tourist and locals alike.
The human traffic was getting more and more congested in Jonker Walk so we decided to make our exit. There were some firecrackers being lighted up on the streets courtesy of the Indians who were celebrating Deepavali, a rare sight, as small firecrackers are illegal in Singapore.
On our way to our hostel, we managed to pass by again this establishment called Capitol Satay. Earlier in the afternoon, this establishment had caught my eye, as there was a really long queue just outside the open-air restaurant. Living for the past one year in Singapore made me remember the saying that “if the queue is long, then it must be really good”. I later learned that this establishment is a very famous in the region for the satay celup (the Melaka adaptation of satay steamboat) they serve. As we were still a bit hungry during that time, we didn’t hesitate to try out the place.
The wait was long, definitely much longer than what I endured when I tried eating Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and IKEA Meatballs. I was getting a bit impatient but I could not bear leaving the line when we were already waiting for a good 20 minutes.
Finally, after around half an hour of waiting, we were finally ushered into a table. I was at first disappointed with what I saw because it was very dirty inside the restaurant. The floor was somehow wet and dirty with lots of used tissue papers scattered around. People who were done eating were smoking, added to the fact that it was hot and noisy inside. Needless to say, I try not to let it bother me.
In all fairness to Capitol Satay though, I have really noticed in my travels that in Malaysia (as well as Indonesia and Vietnam), food hygiene is not so much a big deal as compared to Singapore or probably even the Philippines.
Inside, there were several steel circular tables packed in the open fronted restaurant. Each of these tables has a hole in the middle where a pot of gravy base is heated above a flaming gas ring. A waiter came along and started mixing some spices to add flavor to the gravy.
There was an open-fronted chill cabinet in one side of the restaurant. This was packed with practically everything that can be placed in a skewer – prawns, squid, fish balls, and some other edible stuff. Apart from these, there are vegetables as well for the vegetarians.
After picking out the items that fancied our stomach, we went back to our table to start cooking the skewers in the bucket – it was usually a minute for the pre-cooked stuff (sausages and fish balls) while it was at least 3 minutes for the larger uncooked stuff. Every 10 minutes or so, the waitress would pop in our table to stir the gravy. This was probably done in order to prevent the gravy from burning.
At the end of our meal, we asked the waitress for our bill. Another girl came into our table with a worn out calculator to see how much we owe for the food. What she did was basically multiplying the number of empty skewer by the price per piece (which was around 70 cents).
Upon paying, we slowly heading back to our hotel very full and satisfied. Despite the long wait and the not so clean condition of the place, we were happy with our decision to try this one out. Apart from the historical sights in Malacca and Jonker Walk, I would say that experiencing Capital Satay should be included in any itinerary if ever you would suddenly find yourself in Malacca.
Capitol Satay Celup Restaurant
41 Lorong Bukit Cina,
Tel: +60-6-2835508, +60-12-2295505
Operating hours: Daily from 5:00 pm (Closed on Monday)
25 October 2009
It was pretty much a very smooth bus ride to Malacca. It was so smooth that I was able to sleep for the whole duration of the two-hour trip. When I woke up at quarter past two in the afternoon, the bus was already parking in its assigned platform in Melaka Sentral.
First agenda upon disembarking was to get return tickets back to Singapore for the following day. Initially we were looking for a bus that will take us directly back to Singapore, however most of the tickets were either sold out or the only available seats are the morning trips. Definitely, we don’t want to take an early morning trip back to Singapore as we’ve done it last year and we almost missed the ride. In the end, we settled for a bus back to Johor Bahru that leaves Malacca at 4PM the following day.
It was a very hot afternoon when we arrived; we decided to take an air conditioned taxi to the central part of town instead of the cheaper bus ride. The fare to our destination costs 12 MYR; not your good taxi with very cold aircon but it is better than sweating it out in the heat.
Traffic was horrible that afternoon; the driver explained that it was because of the Deepavali holiday. I would surmise though that given that Malacca is a very popular end of week destination from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore plus the narrow one-way streets, it would really be jam-packed with cars during the weekends.
Malacca is a vibrant old city that is very much wealthy in terms of history. The rich historical background of this lovely place earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation together with Penang in July 2008. Some would say that this designation really helped increase the tourist influx.
The taxi driver dropped us off around 15 minutes later in Jonker Walk, the short stretch in the heart of the city that is home to many stores selling all kinds of stuffs mostly to tourists. It was chaotic when we arrived there; the sidewalk of the narrow street was filled with people while the street itself was filled with cars.
As this was an impulse trip to Malacca, we wasted no time in finding our accommodation for that night. We inquired first in Twenty Hostel as it was just along Jonker Walk; as we have stayed here last year, we know that this is a very good place to spend the night. Unfortunately, there were no vacancies (as I initially expected). Hopping on from one accommodation to another to inquire, the place was just either full or was just not to our liking.
Half an hour later, we decided to check the other side of town to check on some more hostels. Along the way, we passed by the Heritage Area. It is very distinct because of the bright brick red color; I just learned that several years back, the government decided to paint the area with such color as the constant spitting by passers-by was proving a nuisance to aesthetic value of the historical attractions.
We managed to get a decent accommodation a few hundred meters away from the Heritage Area. A small affordable room with aircon and private toilet pretty much was enough for us; quite affordable as well at 70 MYR but definitely there are much better accommodation elsewhere. As it was still very hot outside, I took a nap for an hour.
The temperature outside was already bearable when we went out. We took a quick stroll and found ourselves in the foot of Bukit China. Poh San Teng Temple was built at the foot of the hill in 1795 as a graveyard temple. The well of Hang Li Po stood beside the temple; it was built in the 14th century and has served throughout the early years as a main source of water in the area.
We made our way up Bukit China; a hill that was used as a graveyard by the early Chinese settlers in Malacca. It was said that it was the biggest Chinese cemetery outside China and has several graves dating back to the Ming dynasty. Today though, it serves as a jogging track for the locals. The hill also offers an excellent view of the city.
As it was already sunset when we reached the top of Bukit China, we slowly made out way down not long afterwards. Definitely no one would want to get caught in the dark in a cemetery.
To be continued…