Bali in September 2012

15th September 2012 to 18th September 2012
Bali, Indonesia

The last time I stepped foot in Bali was in 2006. That was six years ago. That time, Jakarta had a bombing at JW Marriot. We were cautious on whether to proceed but we went anyway because all had been paid for. That time, Bali was eerily quiet and crowd free. Since we went during Chinese New Year, we had the entire Bali to ourselves! Everywhere we went, there were only two of us. Restaurants, temples, dances, etc.

This time round, Bali has bounced back to life! It is hustling and bustling with sounds, smells and sights. Everywhere is packed to the brim. Even parking was horrendous. Jams worsened as they were reconstructing several main roads in Kuta town centre. I guess it’s a good sign that, this tourism giant of the south has regained its popularity. This time, I still chose to stay in Kuta as I was rather familiar with the area. I wish I had stayed in Seminyak though – it is more happening and has much more to offer. I stayed at Bali-Kuta Resort by Swiss-Belhotel along Jalan Majapahit. It’s rather secluded with a big swimming pool. However, we didn’t even had the chance to use it because our itinerary was packed to the brim that we only got back to the hotel by 12 am every night! Fave Hotel along Seminyak offered good price for hotel as well as a more, outgoing night. I heard from guests that, it could be rather noisy and rowdy at night because it’s a party street. We booked it for our friends from Hong Kong because they would love to sit down to have a drink. Perhaps, the next time, I might stay in Ubud. Ubud is about 1.5 hours from the airport, it’s a little quaint town with little shops. Prices aren’t cheap though but, I guess, it’s going to be a relaxing trip the next round I am in Bali. 😀

Well, I won’t be blogging about the sights, food or shopping as I am sure most of you have been to Bali. I just would like to share with you some photos taken during this trip. I was there for Kat & Rob’s wedding actually (probably the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to!), at the same time, went sight seeing – to revisit my favorite temples and shop, shop and shop for old batiks and paintings. I got my driver from this website. The boss is Nengah Polos. We had this guy, Kadek driving for us and he’s most courteous and punctual. We don’t have to worry about anything while with Kadek. The price they quoted was also reasonable too. So I guess if you want a driver in Bali, you may contact Mr Polos here.

Kecak dance. Didn’t manage to catch it the last round, so made do this time. It was worth it!

Kecak dance

In the end, fire! fire!

Breathtaking view at Lake Beratan

People and ducks alike, enjoying the sunset at Tanah Lot

The walkway to the wedding altar, paved with pretty white fragipanis

The awesome and beautiful couple, Kat & Rob

On our way to Ubud, we witnessed a cultural procession

For more photos, look here.

WEDDING IN KEROPOK LAND

I was whisked away last weekend to Kuala Terengganu (KT), the Land of Turtles and Keropoks, to attend WY’s younger sister, WM’s wedding.

We went in two cars to KT from Kuala Lumpur. There were 7 of us. The journey to KT had been quite pleasant, apart from Mr Grumpy (my driver – WY’s elder sister, WP’s boyfriend), who thought the road is an F1 circuit or maybe each occupant in his car has nine lives. I thanked my lucky stars I am still alive to blog this.

Scenic Picnic Spot at Rantau Abang

If you were to go to Terengganu, I suggest you to take the coastline. (As if you have a choice!) The scenery is scenic and breath-taking. We stopped by one of the spots along the coastline to have a lunch picnic of lemang, serunding (Malay: Beef floss) and sata, somewhere near Rantau Abang. Sata is something like otak otak – but instead of being shaped rectangular, sata is triangular and the fillings is as delicious, if not better than conventional otak otak. And it costs only 20 sen per piece!

On the way, there were many sightings to see. Small little huts by the seaside, swaying coconut trees, rows and rows of lemang sellers, air nira, sweet corns, etc. The most intriguing is probably this picture. I was quite disturbed by the sight of a giant sotong humping a giant prawn while being watched by some kerangs somewhere in Marang. As it was situated at the side of the traffic light, I could managed only to snap the two gigantic thingy in action and not pics of the kerangs. Talk about being a reserved and conservative state. I will never look at seafood the same way again. Mr Grumpy commented that only I would think of such things.

Giant sotong and giant prawn in action

The monsoon season is here, at this time of the year. I was quite surprised that it was sunny in Terengganu. I text my sister, Ann and Ed to tell them about the sunny weather and that I had reached Terengganu safely, albeit traumatized. And boy! Was I wrong! Immediately after I text them, the rain began to pour like cats and dogs!


Primular Beach Resort and Moonlight at Night

We stayed at Grand Continental while the bride and bridegroom stayed in Primula Beach Resort in the executive suite. It was a nice hotel by a small town standard. KT is such a dead town. It reminds me of my stay in Swiss Garden in Kedah, with my ex colleagues in the research line. We finished work one day in advance, we decided to go to our supervisor’s hometown and splurge the last night on a luxury hotel. There was a built-in Jacuzzi – so we had a few rounds of soaking! He he. Also, I went swimming the first thing before the break of dawn in the swimming pool. I was alone and tempted to do skinny dipping instead. Heh! Those were the good old days.

WM had been a tremendously generous host during my stay in Singapore early this year. She proves to be an equally generous, if not more, this time round when we go to KT. It is simply amazing she planned her wedding together with her husband, all by themselves. Every detail was not spared – from the decoration of their wedded bliss room to the minute details of the corsages for the bride and bridegroom’s families. If I were to recommend to friends to hire a wedding planner, she would be the first person that appears in my mind. But she is not in this business! I say, she should start thinking of being a wedding planner!

Oh yes. How did they meet? WM and TW had been together for the past 10 years. They first met while working as part time promoters during a semester break. WY had told me many times of the story before but I wanted to listen to it again and again.

WM was punching in her attendance card by the staircase while her husband, TW was walking down the stairs. She cast her eyes on him and their eyes met. The rest was history. It was love at first sight. Auww….

In a Chinese wedding, the girl would be staying at her parents’ place for the night and both bride and groom cannot meet each other on the night before the wedding. Early in the morning, depending on the date of the Lunar calendar, there is an auspicious time to come for the hand in marriage.

I still couldn’t comprehend the need to hold the door and extort money from the groom before he claims the bride though. Well, we were not prepared to play tricks on the groom before he came to claim his bride, we cooked up something silly impromptu like forcing the groom to drink two packets of black coffee and eat one whole red chilli. We even made him do something mushy like declaring his love out loud for his future bride.

We dismissed the request to produce us a piece of red underwear after the groom threaten to teach us a lesson (Read: obscene boozing) for playing too many pranks on him. Heh! Kidding! He was sporting enough to give in to our whims and fancy and to top it all, we got a collectively RM399 ang pow for opening the door. WAH LAU YEH! But our happiness were short lived when we realized we need to share it with 2 others who didn’t even lift a finger to shield the door.. sigh.. But WY and I got a small hamper of Body Shop toiletries as a token of appreciation for providing the “bouncer” service!

Usually, there would be a toddler, preferably a boy, to roll on the bed of the newly wed as it said to bring descendant luck to the couple. The designated toddler didn’t show up due to rain so, they got JJ instead, to roll on the bed. Ha ha ha. It was hilarious to watch a grown man rolling and jumping like a monkey on the bed. Ha ha ha ha! Man! I simply couldn’t get over it!! Ha Ha Ha!

I was pretty much drained towards the end of the late afternoon – the bouncer job at the door, tea ceremony, snapping pics, congratulating aunties and uncles again and again, cracking some jokes there and then, laughing at JJ rolling on the bed and had buffet lunch of the famous nasi dagang, nasi minyak, steamed keropok, etc (it was a very muhibbah wedding – with choices of Malay and Chinese food). I didn’t go out to check out KT town and preferred to catch some winks of sleep before the wedding dinner.

Sleepy KT Town

The wedding dinner went on without a hitch despite the rain. Everyone was on time – it is such a small town with zero traffic jam! We were surprised that everyone turn up by 7 pm sharp and started dinner by 7.30 pm, and finished the 9-course dinner by 9.30 pm! Instead of having the cliché shark fin soup – we had something similar to the most expensive soup – Buddha Jump Over the Wall – with abalone, sea cucumer, shark fin, oysters, and other unidentified seafood. The picture of the humping giant sotong and prawn suddenly smogged my mind. I quickly dismissed the thoughts.

Kuala Terengganu at Night

The night ended with some informal booze party in the Executive Suite in Primula Beach. It was good to catch up with old friends from Singapore. Sharing happiness with Ong, being a new dad to a 4 months’ old Sing Yee, Lau Chaur getting hitched next year, Foo Seong being happily married to his lovely wife, Pei Ling, and See Thiam Teng found the love of his life. Some of the gang didn’t turn up as they had to attend to their cousins’ weddings or exams, etc. Nevertheless, they were pretty much missed. We made it a point to see them again whenever we pop by Singapore for a visit.

A Scenic Spot when we stopped to buy corn

I didn’t get to capture as much scenic pictures as I would love to, as I was traveling with other people. On my way home, I came across a few missed nice shots : a picture of two small children running to the beach hand-in-hand, passing by two fishing boats washed at the shore and a couple sitting in a wooden hut overlooking the sea. The pictures would now remained vividly in my mind. Sigh. They could have made very picturesque black and white shots.

Hai Peng’s Famous Vietnamese Coffee and Stuffed Crabs at Tong Juan

We stopped by to have authentic Vietnamese coffee at Hai Peng, Kemaman and had stuffed crabs in Cukai before making our way home to KL. It was a long, long weekend, but undeniably a fantastic one. It was like going on a free holiday: you don’t need to plan a single thing, your accommodation, transportation and food are well taken care of, and all you need is to pack your bags, just go there and have fun… which I immensely did!

I quote Rumi, “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

When I see WM and TW together, I couldn’t agree more.

WEDDING OF THE YEAR


Happy Couple – Jackie & Kim

As much as I loathe wedding receptions, this particular one is exceptional. The bride, Kim, from Jementah, Segamat, Johor, is my very good friend of 10 years and housemate when I was in TAR College.

Hiccups encountered.

– No proper pillows and blankets to sleep on the first night arriving in Johor, in another friend’s house (I have bad back problem)
– Sleeping at 3 a.m., waking up at 7 a.m. and having to do our make up in the car – we need to help “hold the fortress” by 7.30 am.
– the make up artist was late causing the bride to be late for the reception (I won’t pay the make up artist if I were Kim)
– 8 of us from KL and Singapore – having nothing to do between the customary tea ceremony at 10 a.m. and the wedding lunch at 2 p.m., took a short nap, all in one room, looking like a bunch of exhausted refugees

Nevertheless, it still wins my best wedding reception vote this year hands down. It is indeed a delightful pleasure to reunite with my old housemates from TAR College.


Skudai Exit at Mid Night


Beautiful Kim

The wedding reception took place at the Jia Ping Restaurant in Senai, Johor.

Usually, given my large size, I am always designated to secure the door (“hold the fortress”) to the bride. (The Chinese has this tradition for the groom to “work” his way in to win the bride’s hand in marriage). Fortunately, this time round, the door is thick enough to withstand any pressure. I took a video clip of the groom barging in. It was hilarious.

I was appointed as the official photographer instantaneously – since I always go around carrying my little trusty Canon Ixus II… and the other photographer, with the conventional camera, is way vertically challenged. Imagine him taking the “yum seng (Cantonese: Toast) shots with everyone towering over him. The pictures would probably turned up okay… but with no heads.

I was elated to meet up with friends back in TAR College, catching up old times, seeing how they have aged, grown horizontally much to my delight (Welcome to Fat Club! Confetti! Confetti!), extended their family lives, making progress in their businesses, careers, etc.

After the wedding lunch, we were supposed to go to Singapore but ended up wandering aimlessly in Johor Bahru, due to the massive jam at the causeway. We went sight seeing (Danga Bay, Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar, checking out transvestites at the back alley, etc) and chatting frivolously about old times. The camaraderie was simply heart warming.

P.S. I don’t know most of the names of the places coz Seng, our so called tourist guide was too busy talking about himself and didn’t properly introduce the places. And some of the pics are taken when we were in a moving car – hence, the quality is a bit.. compromised. Sorry about that.


Architecture I


Architecture II


Architecture III


The Pillars


The Pine Tree


Danga Bay

On the way back to KL, we stopped by Bagan Lalang for some hot and spicy seafood. I ended up looking like a five months pregnant woman (normally three months) and lying uncomfortably flat at the backseat of the car, all the way to KL to ease indigestion.


Bagan Lalang Seaview Restaurant


Fresh Seafood Menu


Cooked Fish and Squids


Spicy Clams


Ikan Bakar with Kick Ass Sauce

How I got to know Kim

When I was 18, I decided to pack my bags for TAR College. I still remember she was the first person who greeted me warmly at the gate. She put me at ease, trying to speak to me in Hokkien when I stammered in my rusty Mandarin. Finally, I spoke to her in broken Mandarin as I also couldn’t comprehend her Hokkien. Glad to say my spoken Mandarin has improved by leaps and bounds since then. I have since befriended Kim’s 16 other hometown friends.