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Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts


Chapter 1: The Departure
Other reading:
2011 Allianz Royale Casino @ Bandung
2010 Allianz Safari Night Kota Kinabalu
2009 (belum ada blog)

After a five days working trip to Bangkok, I came back and had to leave again to Kota Kinabalu for the 2012 Allianz Annual Convention, an event that I simply could not say no to. Allianz No 1, Chief Executive Officer, some Head of Departments to the branch officers were akin of an extended family. Nonetheless, more than half of those delegates were Proton Edar dealers network which of course, I would not want to miss the opportunity to have some engagement with them. Abit exhausted from the lack of sleep and rest, I rushed to KL Sentral at 7:00am having browsed through the itinerary that read: Team E departure at KLIA, to gather at 8am.
At KL Sentral, I tried to check-in my luggage without avail when the ground crew at the Malaysia Airline counter said, my name was not registered?!  It turned out, Allianz gave me an outdated intenary with the wrong information but I managed to reach LCCT on time after paying RM50 for budget taxi from KLIA to LCCT which I felt was exorbitant. Our flight was delayed for almost an hour which was a blessing in disguised. What was even better, Allianz did not just provided us an with an all expenses paid trip with a budget of almost RM1million for a 3 days gatherings but Allianz also gave us the aircraft with dad's iconic frame.... ok that was a make-belief but we have no complain. With many friends around, for the first time, I manage to pose with the aircraft.

(There are almost 1000 pictures in this write-up alone. So it may take awhile to open the blog)

(Click on picture to enlarged)


I was in Kota Kinabalu twice to climbed up the highest peak in South East Asia Mount Kinabalu, once to run the Borneo International Full Marathon 42.2km and twice with Allianz. The first, we stayed at the Sutera Harbour and this second trip, we stayed and gathered at the Shangri La, Tanjung Rhu. Although Kota Kinabalu is not a stranger to me but the modus Operandi of the taxi there was.

On a 24 random sampling (including my own experience) done on a population of 240 delegates from Allianz that had taken a cab in Kota Kinabalu, I discovered that none of the taxi uses the meter to charge their passenger. Infact, I can safely say that 70% of the taxi in Kota Kinabalu does not even have any meter to use!!

The balance 30% of the taxi in Kota Kinabalu that was actually installed with a meter, the metered taxi starts at a whopping RM10.00!! The taxi driver claimed that it was the Road Transport Department (JPJ)'s directive and did not have any qualm with me taking a picture of it when he saw me in disbelief. However, even those taxi meter never used the taxi and charge on a flat fee basis ala take it or leave it.


Why do I like Airasia?

Oh well..

If I need to confess, then it would be because of Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak. So far, even the infamous Nasi Lemak Cikgu at Kelana Jaya and even the legendary Satay Kajang Haji Samuri could not maintain the quality and taste of their food but you can never be disappointed with Airasia Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak.

But if there is one thing that can be improve, then it must the size of its Banana Leaves at the bottom. The smell of the Nasi Lemak packed on banana leaves will make it even more irresistible.  At Airasia, size really does matter.. even the Nasi Lemak banana leaves.


Although I have frequently traveled to Kota Kinabalu but I can never comprehend or accept that we, Malaysian have to queue like immigrants or foreigners everytime Malaysian from the Peninsular arrived in East Malaysia. Infact, there is no different between us queuing at the Counter that reads “Malaysian Passport” and the foreigner queuing at the “Foreign Passport” only counter except, we have the option to either use our Identification Card or the passport while the foreigner do not.

The queue at the immigration checkpoint during our arrival was horrendous and equally as bad, was the queue to leave Sabah International airport. Not being happy, bored and had nothing to do, I took out my sexy white iPhone 4s dressed in Yellow cover and happily snapped picture of us Malaysian ‘immigrants’ in East Malaysia on the long queue but was spotted and abruptly called aside by the immigration officer for taking picture at the custom clearance. All the way from the back, three quarter to the last queue from the counter, I was called to the front, infront of all others and was asked to delete the pictures by the fierce and no smiling lady officer at the counter probably on pms. Then, I was asked to go back into the rear-end of the long queue. 

Of course I had the option to either create a scene or make it a blog story. I chose the latter.

From one unresolved heartache of being treated like an immigrant in Sabah, now I have to digest my forever-questioning mind, why is the custom checkpoint a prohibited area for taking picture? Because of terrorists or any other agenda…?


If ever you are exhausted of ideas on where to eat.. or feels like experimenting food... or do not know what to eat.. you can send SOS to the food-finder Sarge (COBC) Boon!!! If ever there are excess food to eat.. do not put it to waste, call COBC Food-Slut USJ1-Delta Tan Wee Liam. If ever there are good food to share... you know where to find me!! I completely trust Sarge Boon's taste in food having put on a few kilograms in weight everytime Sarge Boon introduced us to a new dining place and again, my trip to Penang ended with a big huge hooyah feast.

Shortly before bidding farewell to Penang after officiating its Convent Green Lane School alumni and attending Penang COBC party, we crossed the longest bridge in Malaysia and the fourth longest in Southeast Asia to 104, Jalan Permatang Tengah, 12300 Butterworth. For location map, see below:

It was quite a distance drive from Hard Rock Hotel to the Khun Thai Restaurant but we made it there within 30 minutes drive on an empty stomach.


It was a sheer bonus for us to be in Penang to coincidentally discover the annual Penang Chingay, Lion and dragon dance parade that was held on 17 December 2011. We were there for food Penang CHIEF'S ORIGINAL BOOTCAMP (COBC) inaugural graduation beach party, COBC training at Padang Polo and for a meeting with the Penang Skill Development Centre. From a 3 in 1 visit, it became a .. err 5 in 1.. including the Makansutra!!

At the graduation party, the Chingay and Lion dance parade became the topic of conversation amongst the Penang'ites. During one of the group chat with Rohan from Korea, Jennifer, Phat Ling, Phaik San (did I miss anyone?) described Chingay as a 6 foot pole balancing art on the forehead which I initially mistaken it as Pole Dancing.. I mean.. the Chinese sort of pole dancing.. not so kinky eh.. aiiks. Chingay taken from Chinese dialect Hokkien, in pronunciation as Chin Yi means True Art. For more details on Chingay Parade, click HERE.

Chingay that was originated in China, was first performed in Penang in 1919 during deity processions. It is a street art where the performer balances a giant flag that ranges from 30 ft to 35 ft in height and about 60 pounds in weight. Over the years, the local Chinese had improvised the Chingay performance. From a basic giant flag balancing by a solo performer, Chingay became a team performance that consists of more than 15 persons in a troupe. 


One weekend down South and another up North and then again down South and up North.. Somehow, these domestic traveling seemed inevitable with little trip being made to the east coast, my own home town. Before the weekend, my cousin wati was married to ASP Hussein in Kelantan but I was engaged with PROTON annual convention and had to give it a miss. Otherwise, it would have been, down South, East Coast, up North and down South again.

It began with a good unprecedented move to bercanda di atas beca (moments on trishaw).. err actually it was to avoid Penang's impossible traffic. Traffic jam should be synonyms with KL'ites but traffic in Penang was near impossible! Traffic in KL would slowly flow bumper to bumper which was caused by a high number of vehicles on the road but traffic in Penang was a complete stopped and stalled, bumper to bumper with no movement at all due to the traffic light. If there is one thing that Penang needs, it must be in a city ring-road-fly-over or a bypass without the traffic light (take note Guan Eng).

The moments on trishaw was err.. mesmerizing until the picture appeared on Facebook and within seconds.. the first comment from the dozens, read out...


After a few days of seminars and talk, the ALLIANZ CONVENTION 2011 ended with a GALA dinner. The theme for the Gala Dinner that was held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom was Casino Royale. Allianz had 5 models to entertained us and 3 Gambling tables with a given 500 chips for every participant to try out their luck.

(Click on Picture to enlarge)

All the delegates that came for the convention were all present at the Grand Ball room for the finale dinner!! There were 53 staff selected from Allianz offices nationwide.

Every participant was given a gambling chip.


I attended for the third consecutive year the ALLIANZ Franchise convention 2011 that was held in Bandung, Indonesia. Click HERE for last year's convention that was held in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The all expenses paid by ALLIANZ saw 200 franchisee flew to Sabah in a few batches and the last group arrived at the Husein Sastranagar International Airport, Bandung on 26 May 2011.

Together in Bandung, Indonesia were PEDA Vice-President Abu Lais Walli Mohamed, PEDA Secetary-General Jeff Lim Si Heong and Vice-President (R) Razak Aziz. We were greeted and transported by 5 luxury coaches to the pre-booked Hotel Hyatt Regency, Bandung. An escapade, excursion cum work.........

(Click on picture to enlarge)


I always thought I am a freak waking up in an ungodly hour to attend the CHIEF ORIGINAL BOOTCAMP three times a week but if I am a freak then the majority of people in Cambodia too must be of my species!!

The roadside and at every park in the city of Phnom Pehn are pack with dozens of 'bootcamp' as early as 5am!!! I was amazed at how everybody came out to exercise 'outdoor' so early in the morning before going to work.

There are a few outdoor HIP-HOP and R&B Dance Camp.........


 My heart sank everytime I arrived in Cambodia and saw many kids being neglected, abandoned and/or working 'full time' to help their family with food. Children as young as 3-4 years old are either being used or are really selling various lady accessories such as bracelets etc to selling postcard and books. Once I invited and bought the poor child to eat with me at the restaurant (although the restaurant owner was not so pleased).


I KNOW..... I know.... consistency is a necessity especially to maintain a good workout momentum and fitness stamina. Although I have missed a few bootcamp sessions and many run-training having had to travel oversea for work but I tried to workout on my own which requires more discipline and commitment. This is harder when the travel companion whom only know Food & Sleep Inferno!!

Waking up in the morning was easy without the need for any alarm or wake-up call. I was awake as early as 5am and was ready for exercise by 5:30am!!! Sarge Dann had prepared some own-workout program for me but traveling is taxing on the energy & mojo that I had to modify the program to suit the 'environment'. For a start, I went for a slow jog cum running until I found a playground for kids which gave me this wicked idea of a good workout program.


The international Women day is celebrated on 8th March every year globally as a respect, an appreciation and illustration of love for women. Click HERE for the history of International Women Day. To celebrate the 100th anniversary, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Deputy Commander in Chief and the Chairman of Prime Minister Hun Sen's Advisors, His Excellency General Kun Kim & wife Cham  Tiew Chan Dee hosted a dinner at their resident to raise funds for the poor people of Cambodia.
His Excellency General Kun Kim and his family


5 months!!! Yes, it has been five months since I last touch any tobacco. I smoked my last cigarette on 21 September 2010 and ended more than 20 years of life with 3 packs of cigarettes a day. Cant even stand the smell of cigarette now and cant imagine going back to that lifestyle. Sadly, those in the smoke free-bandwagon such as Kamsani Ahmad, Joe Liew and Azwan went back to cigarette but I trust my bil Azhar Sulaiman had completely divorced his cigarette.

Cigarette price in Phnom Pehn is as low as US$0.80 for a pack of 20s!! Yes everything here is priced in US dollar but that is how cheap it is to sell your health.... US$0.80 a day. The cost to 'buy' AIDs or HIV is only US$5.00 a night and there is no refund. AIDS & HIV is for life.

It is the same cost of having a haircut, manicure and pedicure in Phnom Pehn. After many attempt with failure to go to Peek-A-Boo at the Curve for a haircut with Senior Stylist Evian, I had no choice but to try out the senior stylist at the Phnom Pehn most famous saloon.

This place does not have any junior or lower than senior stylists. All hair-dresser are Seniors!!! As in old and only men. no lady hair stylist.

Me on far left, in the middle and Ly Rattana on far right.


The best way to go sight seeing and to see the world is by foot Forest Gump used to say and ran on foot across the globe in the movie the Forest Gump. That was exactly what I did in Phnom Pehn!!! I went sight seeing cum exercise by running across the Phnom Pehn town and along the Mekong River!

After a few trips up to Phnom Pehn for endless meetings after meeting and with a complete absentee in workout & exercises, I was adamant to do two things on this trip to Phnom Pehn (beside the work schedule). No 1, I want to tour Phnom Pehn, the once known as the pearl of Asia and was considered as the loveliest French built cities in indochina. Phnom Pehn was founded in 1434 and was noted for its beautiful and historical architecture and attractions. There are a number of surviving French colonial buildings, such as the Royal Palace, Phsah Thmei, and other French style buildings along the grand boulevards.

No 2. I do not want to break my exercise routine!! Especially when had to missed a few training session at the CHIEF'S ORIGINAL BOOTCAMP (COBC) at Bandar Utama & USJ1.

The sun was up earlier than me. It was all sunny at 6am. After changing into my COBC tee (early introduction to COBC in Phnom Pehn aiih), I started my morning run-tour and ran passing the Australian Embassy towards the Independent Monument.

The traffic was not as bad but it was very dusty. There were alot of parks in Phnom Pehn and the park was maintained by 'warga emas' golden ladies (old women). I felt pity looking at how the women cut the grass with parang (knife)!!


We arrived at the airport and was shocked to see His Excellency Ponlork Ho waiting for our arrival smack infront of the aeroplane door. This hospitality always made us felt honored on our every visit to Phnom Pehn. H.E. Ponlork Ho escorted us out through the immigration without us having to even queue.

This trip back to Phnom Pehn was abit more relaxed compared to those previous trips. We were able to have a quiet lunch on arrival at the regular luncheon place.

Then we head straight to our Hotel.

Beside work.. We did 10 new things in Phnom Pehn? (ok not all are new things but at least recorded)


Life in Cambodia gets better on every trip... I mean the food. Upon arrival, we went to straight to a Malaysian & Singaporean restaurant that serves one of the best beef soup in town!!! Better than the Soup Tulang Daing Daniel Fitri had in Singapore on Christmas (Grrrrr..). The restaurant was H.E. General Ponlork Ho's regular luncheon spot. We enjoyed the soup and Mio Dino @Johari Haji Mahadi had the vegetable without any rice... some people are concern about their carbohydrate intake and me  someone, forgotten that he is on a diet.

After checking in at Blue River Hotel with a stupendous view of the Mekong river, we dressed up and were ready for our first schedule. A trip to the Senate house where we were suppose to meet with some officials.



I arrived at the Cambodia airport at 4pm after a 2 hour flight on Malaysian Airlines. The flight was half empty and I was able to convert the three seater per row Boeng into a single bed. No it was not for a holiday but a 'duty call' sort of speak for a possible collaboration with the Cambodian government for a project that cannot be announced just yet until the finalization of some terms.

Phnom Pehn was err.. a bigger version of my kampung Badak, Bachok Kelantan.. aaah.. same like Pasir Puteh. Okay.. ok.... macam Kota Bharu?? and the Cambodian aka khmer look are similar to Malaysian (is it?). Okay.. I am bad at differentiating the Phillipines, Cambodian, Indonesian, Singaporean, Malaysian.. they all look the same to me. Language? I have to go on sign-language... They do not understand English or Bahasa Malaysia.

I checked in at the Blue River hotel. The schedule at Cambodia was packed. I was greeted by Johari Hj Mahadi @ Mio Dino, the Personal Assistant to the Secretary of State and Advisor to HE Meas Sarin and first introduced to Dr Koh Ting Giap; a Singaporean and Senior advisor to the Cambodian government.


Seven of us from the ORIGINAL BOOTCAMP @ Bandar Utama went up north to Ipoh to run on the memorable date 12.12 or 12 December. There were Lilian Lee, Joe Liew, Rose Emini Pahamin, Nyna Mohsen, Nawal Aini Zulkifli and me.... and Aaraf Armin.

Lilian Lee & Joe Liew went first and arrived in Ipoh at 3pm. Rose Emini Pahamin & Nyna Mohsen left abit later and arrived just-in-time to buy the famous popiah basah!! That famous popiah basah is open only from 5 to 7pm and is located near the Hotel that we stayed. Actually, that was why we stayed at that hotel. The journey to Bukit Kinding Resort where the race is held is a 30 minutes drive from the hotel. Trust Rose Emini Pahamin with FOOD!!

When we arrived in Ipoh, Rose Emini Pahamin & others were already ready in the car for... FOOD again!! We did not even check-in yet... I called Abdul Sidik Hamid for some good food recommendation and we were directed to..... NASI VANGGEY!!!!!


I frequently drive to Singapore for sports, shopping, business and entertainment. The latest being the recent Adidas Sundown Ultra Marathon on 31st May 2008.

The driving condition from Kuala Lumpur to Johor was good and so was my stay in Singapore but our authorities namely the custom. Immigration, the police and the traffic control at the Johor-Singapore causeway was disappointing and this is what I wanted to share.

My passport as well as the passports of 4 other passengers in my car were never cited nor checked or endorsed at the Johor immigration checkpoint. The condition and state of our custom and immigration checkpoint were embarrassing with litters everywhere and all rundown. There were no soldiers or police (or tourist police) or any custom officers standing on standby by the roadside during this peak’est hour. There was no traffic control. Most Singaporean cars were driven at our checkpoint by hooligans. All Singaporean registered cars were overtaking and bypassing all other cars but keep honking and screaming when other Malaysian cars overtook their queue. One of the Singapore registered car almost bang my car when I refused to allow them to overtake my queue.

I drove slowly along the heavy traffic on the causeway for an hour to reach the Singapore custom and immigration checkpoint. There was armed Singaporean police standing at every corner and everywhere along the roadside. All vehicles were thoroughly checked and inspected and all passports were properly cited against individual passengers causing slower traffic flow.

Every time I reached the Singaporean checkpoint, I was always amazed at the beauty, cleanliness and how systematic Singaporean authorities are. The Singaporean custom and immigration building are well kept and modern. The trees were so green and the landscape is well maintained. I immediately felt that I am overseas although Singapore is only 30 minutes drive away from Malaysia.

I was more amazed when I drove on Singapore highway to see all bus and lorry drivers driving politely on the first lane of the highway without any driver bypassing the speed limit or overtaking each other. All other cars were politely driven within the speed limit. There was no existence of the hooligan-behaviour of Singaporean driver on Malaysian road…

When I returned to Malaysia, I was again ashamed at the impression of the state and condition of our Custom & Immigration checkpoint. Johor Bharu is the tourist’s first impression of Malaysia and our authorities (Police, custom & immigration etc…) professionalism & presence must be increased and upgraded. Our buildings and checkpoints should at least be clean, well kept and maintained (if the government do not have any money to upgrade). I strongly support the construction of the scenic bridge as that, amongst other reasons will give a strong impression of Malaysia.

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