霞女之旅

Xia's Journey

BBB in Bali

As like every other year, I would attempt to do a sunrise on my birthday; i.e. Sunrise on a sunflower field in Thailand, Trekking up Mt Kinabalu or a Cold chilly sunrise at Bagan, Myanmar.

For 2016, I thought I should take a break and go on a yoga retreat instead. And so I went ahead to book my air tics and yoga retreat package at Bali.

Alas, 3 weeks before my trip, I had a nasty fall and broke my left elbow and fractured my right thumb during a night cycling. As I had paid for the deposit at the yoga retreat centre, I managed to cancel the yoga retreat package and had it converted into a two nights accommodation.

BBB in Bali

Had a nasty fall three weeks before my yoga retreat and had to cancel it.

Fast forward to 1 Dec, I flew over to Bali and made my way to the yoga retreat centre.

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Arrives in Bali and wowww…. was really an impressive airport.

2 Dec 2016, Friday

After staying 2 days at the yoga retreat centre in Canggu (Serenity Eco Guest House). I had to make my way to Kuta.

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Had a two-days stay here. Love it for its rustic-ness and the variety of yoga classes. But as the premise was really huge, many of the spots were not well-kept and at times, dusty. I had not sneezed so much in a long time.

As I was wandering along the streets outside the resort, I chanced upon a “motor-taxi” and after some negotiations, we agreed at IDR 50,000 from Canggu to Kuta, which was about an hour’s ride away. I thought I had gotten a good deal, but bammm….

After boarding the bike, he started talking. Being the chatty and talkative me, I started replying too, thinking that he was just being friendly and letting my defences down.

Below’s a transcript of our conversation. Thinking back, I think it was both scary and funny… Wahahaa…

Babbling Bike Boy (BBB)

BBB: Are you here on this trip alone?

Me: Yaa.

BBB: Your boyfriend never come?

Me: Ohh… He’s busy.

BBB: So, do you have sex with your boyfriend everyday?

Me: (Hmmm… what kind of question is this and what business is it of his!?) Hmmm…. Yaa…

BBB: So, is he good in bed? And he began to rock the bike!

Me: (Huhh…??!! Omg….) Ohh… yaaa….

BBB: I have a Big, Black Banana. Do you want to try?

Me: Errrmm, No… Thank you.

Me: (Omg… where is he going? Will he send me to my destination? Shall I jump off the bike and get another transport? I do not even know where am I and how easy was it to get another transport if I got off his bike. Thoughts ran amok in my head but I was quite surprised at how calm I was.)

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Babbling Bike Boy with his Big Black Banana (BBB : X )

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Behind this smile was a thumping heart and an amok brain… Should I jump off the bike and run or should I continue with the journey on his bike? OMG… what have I gotten myself into?

He kept going on and on, telling me how good he was in bed. I just kept quiet and prayed hard that I’ll reach my destination soon. Thankfully, I arrived at my destination, for what seems like an eternity.

3 Dec 2016, Saturday

Since I could no longer do the yoga retreat, one of my friends suggested I catch a sunrise at Sanur Beach near Kuta for my birthday.

On 3 Dec morning, I dragged myself out of the bed at 4.30am and decided to catch a (proper) cab to the beach after my ordeal with the motor taxi the day prior.

It was 5am and pitch dark when I got into the cab. The cab driver started talking and asked why am I going to the beach at 5am in the morning. I told him I was there to catch a sunrise.

CD : “Are you here on this trip alone?”

Me : (Instinctively, I knew something was not right because I was asked the exact same question by the BBB (Babbling Bike Boy) the day prior.) “No, I’m here with my boyfriend.”

CD : “Ohh, so, where is he?”

Me : “He’s in the hotel room.”

CD : “I see. Now, its only 5am. You can reach the beach by 5.30am. It’s too early. Why don’t we sit by the beach and kiss?” (He suggested.)

Me : “Ohh noo…. I’m busy.” (Garnering my experience from the previous encounter.) “I’m a travel reporter and I’m here for work. I need to find a framing for the sunrise, take notes etc. I need to document my entire sunrise experience, including this cab ride.”

CD : Suddenly, he knew he was in danger of being “exposed’ to the media. And he laughed. “Ohh… maybe you would write about this cheeky taxi-driver too?”. Ohh yes… you bet. And there, you are… Hahahaa… (Unfortunately it was too dark and I didn’t manage to catch any picture of him.)

Not long after, he called one of his friends to take over the job of sending me to the beach and gave excuses that he had just received another job. Holy crap… But, well, so much for the perils of a single female traveller.

Anyways, I got to the beach and back, safe and sound ~ pheww! And I caught this beautiful sunrise on my 40th birthday. Thank you, God, for the love and protection and for giving me yet another beautiful sunrise.

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Thank you God for the beautiful sunrise!

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Love the smell of a sunrise, though its a tug-of-war with the bed.

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The serenity of a sunrise beats anything else.

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Happy 40th Birthday, my dear friend. May there be many more sunrises to come, and may there be someone dear for me to watch the sunrise with… : )

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Yup… Its a beautiful day and let’s cherish every single day that we have…. be it Birthday or not…

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A New Cycling Route from Tanjung Pengilih to Sungai Rengit in Pengerang

With the Economic Transformation programme in place, Malaysia has since placed strong emphasis on oil and gas projects. Pengerang was slated as one of the sites due to its strategic location and major international shipping lines.

The Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) is one of the largest pieces of investments in Pengerang district and located on a single plot measuring about 20,000 acres. The project houses oil refineries, naphtha crackers, petrochemical plants as well as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal and a regasification plant.

As of January 2013, two major catalytic projects were committed within the PIPC area; (a) a RM5 billion Pengerang Independent Deepwater Petroleum Terminal (PIDPT) and (b) PETRONAS’ RM60 billion Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) Project.

With such a mega-scale development across Pengerang, many of the sites were reclaimed, routes were diverted and settlements rehoused.

Pengerang had been one of my favorite destinations, with its vast rural-scape, greeneries and long stretches of roads with sparse traffic. But now, it may or may not be so anymore….

Despite all these developments, I decided to make my way there on 22 to 23 August 2015 (Sat to Sun) to check out the new route.

The ‘new route’ is now 25km instead of the old 18km route. There are signages pointing to the new route and one is not likely to lose his / her way if you keep a look-out for the signages. I will go into detail of the route by breaking it down into several segments (A, B, C, D & E). The old route is denoted as Segment X. I hope this provides a little insight for those of you who are keen to cycle into Sungai Rengit anytime soon.

New Route Map R1

The New Route labelled as Segments A to E. The old route, Segment X is now closed till 2016. The entire (brown) area in-between Segment B and Segment X is now being reclaimed for the old and petroleum projects.

GETTING FROM TANJUNG PENGILIH FERRY TERMINAL TO SUNGAI RENGIT TOWN

Segment X

The ‘old 18km route’ is now closed and there is no way to get to Sungai Rengit town using this route anymore.

Segment A

After exiting Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal, one would need to travel about 3km on the ‘old route’ before it gets diverted to the new route. Some parts of this route has recently been tarred, whilst there were several segments which were still sandy with pebbles and gravel. There is fairly few heavy vehicles on this stretch.

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My little foldie arriving at Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal

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Off we go, foldie… Ganbatte… 🙂

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The first stretch of the route once you exit the Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal. Some parts of it are newly tarred, which is really comfy to cycle on.

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The first left junction. Once you see this signage, its time to turn left. You won’t miss it cos’ there’s no other route. The straight road (old route) is being blocked and manned by a security who will chase you off should you try to trespass and get through from there.

Segment B

After a left turn from Segment A, I entered into Segment B.

Segment B has been nicely tarred and there is a generous road shoulder for cyclists like us. This segment has lots of bends and a lady that I was chatting with at the ferry terminal, mentioned that there are 17 bends on this route. I’m not sure how true as I lost count halfway into the route. Haahaa… 🙂 There are actually few heavy vehicles on this route as there is another dedicated lane for heavy vehicles on the right side of the road. Throughout this entire 14km, I only managed to catch one hut that one could seek shelter in, should I run into a heavy downpour or storm.

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The first stretch of road once you turn left from Segment A.

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It is relatively quite an easy stretch to cycle on, with a generous road shoulder and minimal heavy vehicles. However, there is virtually little / no shade throughout this entire 14km stretch.

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Apart from this small hut quite a distance away from the main road, I did not see any other ‘shelter stops’. Could be quite dangerous if one runs into a thunderstorm or downpour whilst cycling on this route.

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In Segment B, huge heavy vehicles has a dedicated lane on the right to travel on. Hence, there are few / minimal heavy vehicles on this stretch.

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Segment B is rather easy with few heavy vehicles. However, once you get to this junction where lots of these heavy vehicles merged into the road that you will be travelling on, Segment C becomes a little more challenging.

Segment C

Once these heavy vehicles started to merge into my route, I came to an “expressway segment”. Although this was only a 2 km stretch, it was pretty challenging as there was virtually no more road shoulder for me to cruise on and heavy vehicles were just whizzing past me at high speeds. There was no way I could stop, as there was also no ‘space’ for me to stop at. I had no choice but to pedal non-stop through this entire segment with a short climb on this route.

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Only had time / space to stop to take one pic on this segment of the road. Road shoulder was very narrow with a curb by the side. Could hardly cycle within the road shoulder and heavy vehicles were just whizzing past.

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Turn left for Kota Tinggi or turn right if you intend to head to Sungai Rengit.

Segment D

After I struggled up Segment C (non-stop), how glad was I when I reached the end of it. At the end of Segment C, there is a signage here, indicating a right turn to Sungai Rengit or a left turn to Kota Tinggi. I did a right turn here and headed to Sungai Rengit. There is a bit more civilisation here with petrol stations, shop houses etc. Traffic is heavier here, but there is a small road shoulder at the side. However, do note that this route has quite a number of potholes and do keep your eyes peeled on the grounds and on the front for this 5km stretch.

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Lots of gravel and sand on this segment. And quite a few potholes on this side of the road too.

Segment E

At the end of Segment D, I arrived at this junction. A right turn brings me into Sungai Rengit town and a left turn brings me to the Kuan Yin temple, towards Desaru / Tanjung Balau via the coastal route. However, I have not gone on this route for quite a while and I’m not sure if there are any latest developments on this coastal route to Desaru / Tanjung Balau.

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At the end of Segment D, you will come to this huge junction, which is at the mouth of the town. Turn right to get into Sungai Rengit or left to go towards Desaru / Tanjung Balau via the coastal route.

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As it is, I made a right turn into Sungai Rengit town. This is the last leg and you should reach the town in less than 1km or no more than 5 minutes once you see this signage.

Staying for the Night 

I checked into Hiap Hwa Hotel for my 2d 1n stay. They were not exactly the cheapest, but they were the only ones that I could book on-line beforehand. Most of the other hotels do not take bookings and in recent times, most hotels are fully booked for the weekends. If you are keen to stay for the night, I would strongly advise that you make a hotel reservation prior.

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Foldie finally arrives at Sungai Rengit after a 25km struggle… Good job, foldie… : D

Lunch at Super Lobster

Despite that I was on my own, that didn’t stop me from having my lobster fix. I got to Super Lobster and ordered a Butter Lobster. OMG…..!! The Butter Lobsters really did make my 18km (from home to Changi Point Ferry Terminal) + 25km (from Tanjung Pengilih to Sungai Rengit) totally worth the ride. The Butter ‘flakes’ at the top were so soft and sweet which totally melted in my mouth! The flesh of the lobster was so juicy and tender…. Woooo…. Totally heaven…

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Super Lobster’s Butter Lobster. The Butter ‘flakes’ at the top were so soft and sweet which totally melted in my mouth! The flesh of the lobster was so juicy and tender…. Woooo…. Totally heaven… Made my 18km (from home to Changi Point Ferry Terminal) + 25km (from Tanjung Pengilih to Sungai Rengit) totally worth it… 🙂

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Nothing left… And just to remind you, I was there on my own and gobbled up this entire dish myself…!!

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Facade of Super Lobster Restaurant which faces the sea

GETTING FROM SUNGAI RENGIT TOWN BACK TO TANJUNG PENGILIH FERRY TERMINAL

Segment E

It was pretty much the same route which I came from. From Sungai Rengit town, I cycled towards the Kuan Yin temple. Just slightly before the Kuan Yin temple, there is a huge juncture to turn left into.

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Turn left at this junction to head back to Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal or go straight to get to Desaru / Tanjung Balau via the coastal route.

Segment D

On this side of the road, there are less potholes and there is a narrow road shoulder for one to cycle on. There is also a long climb up a gradual slope before hitting the juncture to turn left again.

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In this D segment, the opposite direction (going towards Sungai Rengit) was challenging with potholes. At this direction (going towards Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal), there are less potholes and cycling was slightly easier as compared to the opposite direction, except for …. … (see next pic)

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this long upslope. Can be a bit tedious… but still manageable.

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At the end of the upslope, turn left at the junction to go back to Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal or go straight to get to Kota Tinggi via the highway.

Segment C

As compared to Segment C from Tanjung Pengilih to Sungai Rengit, the returning was much easier as there was a proper road shoulder as well as a long downslope to gain speed.

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In Segment C (going towards Sungai Rengit town), the road shoulder was narrow and challenging. However in the opposite direction, it is very much easier with a wider road shoulder and long downslope.

Segment B

Segment B is the longest segment as compared to all the other segments, but I would say it was relatively easy and flat grounds throughout this segment, except for lots of bends to cover.

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Segment B is the longest stretch at 14km, but it is rather manageable except that there’s virtually no shelter at all.

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No shelters at all. Rain or Shine…. It gonna be just you and your bike…

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Think this nice piece of green field would be gone in less than a week too….

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The amount of construction is really massive and the scale was much much much bigger than I could imagine.

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If you see coconut trees, breathe, breathe, breathe…. Cos you’re almost there. Follow the road and turn right to arrive at Segment A.

Segment A

This is the last segment and one of the more ‘enjoyable segments’ before arriving back at Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal. There is lots of shade from the trees flanking the roads with the nice cool sea breeze from the sea just on your left.

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Once you get onto this stretch, enjoy the cool breeze from the sea and shade from the trees cos’ its only a mere 3km to arrive back at Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal.

SUMMARY

Below’s a short summary of the route. Hope you have found this post useful.

New Route Map R1
Route Notes
Additional Tips

  • Stock up on hydration before departing for Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal. Once you start pedaling on the 25km, there are no rest stops or shops for you to purchase any hydration or drinks from. There is a convenience store at Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal which opens from Monday to Sunday, 8am to 6.30pm, with a lunch break from 1pm to 2pm. However, I was there at 2.30pm and they were still not open from their lunch break. Hence, dun bang on their operating hours and go prepared.
  • Slap on adequate sun block, mask up and put on safety goggles to keep out the dust. A sample of Miss Kiasu picture below…. Haahaaa… 🙂
  • Do not attempt to cycle during the rainy / stormy season as there are really little or no shelters for most part of the journey.
  • Watch out for heavy vehicles. Have fun and keep safe.
  • For those of you that are keen to cycle in Sungai Rengit, but ain’t able to get a cab at Tanjung Pengilih Ferry Terminal, you can try calling one of these cab-drivers; Mr Eng Ken Boon Hp# 013-783-4278 or Mr Tan Siew Chang Hp# 013-775-0098. Costs about RM32 for a 30 minutes cab ride from the ferry terminal to Sungai Rengit town, My friend who was there recently in late July, waited for more than an hour in a futile attempt to get a cab. Ultimately, they were pretty lucky to hitch a ride into town.
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Damn Kiasu… Muahahhahaaa…. : D

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一个人的我

一个人的我

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一个人的我依然会微笑

如果想哭我自己会找地方 你不必担心我会弄湿你肩膀
走在街上到处是寂寞的人 我想谁都不要同情的眼光
受一点伤并不是可怕的事 人就是这样才会愈来愈坚强
谁叫男人永远比女人清楚 爱情它何时该收何时该放

你走吧 我不哭 无论多痛苦
你走吧 我不哭 就算会迷路

明天一个人的我依然会微笑 虽然它或许也是伤心的开始
爱情的轮回总是一次又一次 是悲是喜终将都变成往事
明天一个人的我依然会微笑 那怕早已没有人记得我名字
别问我为何执迷不悟的尝试 女人生来就多这么一点痴

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陪我看日出

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陪我看日出

蔡淳佳 – 陪我看日出

 雨的气息是回家的小路

 路上有我追着你的脚步

脚下边保存着昨天的温度

你抱着我就像温暖的大树

雨下了走好路 这句话我记住

风再大吹不走祝福

雨过了就有路 像那年看日出

你牵着我穿过了雾

叫我看希望就在黑夜的尽处

哭过的眼看岁月更清楚

想一个人闪着泪光是一种幸福

又回到我离开家的小步

你送着我满天燕子都在飞舞

雨下了走好路 , 这句话我记住

风再大吹不走祝福

雨过了就有路 , 像那年看日出

你牵着我穿过了雾

叫我看希望就在黑夜的尽处

雨下了走好路 , 这句话我记住

风再大吹不走祝福

雨过了就有路 , 像那年看日出

你牵着我穿过了雾

叫我看希望就在黑夜的尽处

虽然一个人, 我并不孤独 ,  在心中你陪我看每一个日出

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我等到花儿也谢了

我等到花儿也谢了…

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我等到花儿也谢了

每个人都在问我到底还在等什么
等到春夏秋冬都过了难道还不够
其实是因为我的心有一个缺口
等待拿走的人把它还给我

每个人都在说这种爱情没有结果
我也知道你永远都不能够爱我
其实我祗是希望你有时想一想我
你却已经渐渐渐渐甚么都不再说

我睡不着的时候会不会有人陪着我
我难过的时候会不会有人安慰我
我想说话的时候会不会有人了解我
我忘不了你的时候你会不会来疼我

你知不知道你知不知道 我等到花儿也谢了
你知不知道你知不知道 我等到花儿也谢了
你知不知道你知不知道 我等到花儿也谢了

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Kiss the Rain

A little emo on this wet, cold and rainy morning…

Let me kiss the rain and wait for the dawn.

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Mount Kinabalu Sunrise, Here I Come !

HSH_9168For the past two years, I did my birthdays shooting sunrises.

In 2011, I took a cab at 6am to Changi beach and shot a sunrise on my birthday.

In 2012, I upped the ante by flying to Bangkok and did a sunrise on a sunflower field.

This year, I contemplated on a few options on where to do my sunrise birthday shoot. One of my friends suggested Kota Kinabalu. I paused…

Kota Kinabalu also commonly known as Mount Kinabalu or Gunang Kinabalu is a prominent mountain on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It is located in the East Malaysia state of Sabah and is protected as Kinabalu National Park, a World Heritage site. Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Borneo’s Crocker range and also the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago, standing at 4,095m / 13,435 ft above sea level.

I have heard lots about it and I have many friends who had done it. I asked around a couple of good friends if they would like to join me in my sunrise quest, but none were keen. It was not going to be easy, but I decided to proceed on my own anyways since it’ll be quite a memorable gift for my Birthday and as we never know what will happen to us tomorrow, I had better not procrastinate and do it as soon as I can. I got round to doing my research, booked my air tickets, booked a Mount Kinabalu guide, got a pair of trekking shoes and started planning my training schedule.

20130803_092531The Shoes

Some of the sites that I visited recommended good trekking shoes, some swore by Kampung Adidas, others believed in the walking techniques. I didn’t know which to follow. So, being a typical kiasu Singaporean, I decided to play it safe and get a pair of good trekking shoes.

After some research and price comparisions, I settled for a pair of Merrell costing S$165 (after some bargaining from S$179). It was reputed to be waterproof as Mount Kinabalu is quite susceptible to rains. It was supposingly non-slip as well. The retail attendant also recommended a pair of high-cut so as to avoid having ankle sprains during the downslopes.

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20kg backpack + Merrell trekking shoes = Up and Down 16 Storeys x 200 times

Most sites and even the retail attendant recommended that I embark on some training prior to the climb. I am but four months away from the climb. I hope its not too late, but I guess its always better late than never.

One of the blog sites proposed climbing a 30 storey building x 100 times. My flat stands at only 16 storeys, which also meant that I needed to cover 16 storeys x 200 times. With only four months to go, I needed to clock 50 times each month. (1 time = 1 time up 16 storeys + 1 time down 16 storeys).

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The Grueling

I started grueling myself on the 4 August 2013, Sunday. I covered 6 times (up and down), utilizing 5 minutes up 16 storeys and 5 minutes down 16 storeys. One set of up and down took me 10 minutes. I did 6. That costs me 60 minutes = 1 hour.

Up 16 Storeys = 5 minutes

Down 16 Storeys = 5 minutes

One set of up and down = 10 minutes

2013-08-04-13-00-56_decoDuring my second training on 12 August 2013, Monday, I increased it to 8 times. However, this time round, I covered 4 sets of up and down (40 minutes) + a 10 minutes rest + another 4 sets of up and downs (40 minutes).

I am still far off from my current target. I would need much more trainings of such to increase my stamina and endurance to prepare for the climb up Mount Kinabalu. I hope I can keep to my training regime!

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I hope I can be like this plant ~ Alone, but strong and sturdy casting beautiful shadows in my journey.

Having scoured through tons of blogs and websites, I am but envy seeing groups of friends, families and couples having each other for company up Mount Kinabalu. It is a shame that I do not have anyone to share in my training nor to experience the joy of the climb. Despite that it is going to be a long and lonely journey up, I am still full of anticipation and anxiety 🙂

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等待

有这么一个人吗…?? I wonder…

I wonder

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Angels in the Land of Smiles

One fine day back in June, I awoke from my “hiatus” and decided to travel to Bangkok on my own to shoot sunflowers on my birthday. Initially, I wanted to do a day-trip to Saraburi or Lopburi ~ the towns that were vast with sunflower fields along the Phatthana Nikhom – Wang Muang route during the November and December period.

However, as I recalled, I took a cab to Changi to shoot the sunrise for my birthday last year.

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Took the cab to shoot sunrise at Changi on 3 Dec 2011

This year, I decided to up the ante by taking a flight to Bangkok / (Lopburi) to do a sunrise on a sunflower field.

How gorgeous would that be ! I could well envisioned the beauty of so.

With that, excited as I can be, I started making plans for it.

Whilst goggling for accommodations, I came across a Rice Field Home Stay in Saraburi area and decided to book it despite the hefty price tag that came attached.
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Rice Field Home Stay

I was charged THB 1500 for a one-way, 2 hours airport transfer from Don Meung airport to the Rice Field Home Stay, THB 1000 per night for accommodation, in which I had two.

Since I had requested for an early morning transport to the sunflower field at 5am to shoot sunrise, that would cost me another THB 1000. In all, the damage came up to THB 4500.

My trip was scheduled for 2nd to 5th December and boy, how anxious I was when the days got nearer for my trip. My biggest worry was to encounter snakes on the field and to be bitten by one. I would not want my birthday to be my death anniversary as well since I was travelling alone. Hahaa… : )

I soon realized my worries were unfounded.

I flew out via Air Asia on 2nd Dec, 5.10pm and arrived Don Meung airport at 6.40pm.

The host’s daughter, Jennifer and her friend, Dong came to pick me up and sent me to the Rice Field Home Stay where her dad puts up.

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Jennifer and Dong picking me up from Don Meung airport

We hit it off quite well and chatted throughout the entire 1.5 hours journey back to the home stay.

As we chatted, I revealed my real objective of the trip ~ to do sunrise on my birthday the next day.She was shocked and surprised as she unravels her birthday to be two days after mine.

When we arrived at the Rice Field Home Stay, she even found a cupcake in replacement of a real cake and sang me a Birthday song!

I was very touched and surprised by her kind and thoughtful gesture.

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Cupcake, Birthday cake oso Cake…

3 December 2012, Mon

Happy Birthday to me !

I got up at 4.30am and started preparing to depart for the sunflower field.

My host (James) and I set off at 5.30am and arrived at a sunflower field in Lop Buri by 6.30am.

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Vast Sunflower Field in Lop Buri

Lop Buri is a province situated on the western end of the Khorat Platea, and has the country’s most sunflower fields, boasting a coverage of 200,000 – 300,000 rai.

The sunflower fields are scattered around Mueang District, Phatthana Nikhom District and Chai Badan District.

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Full Bloom

The sunflowers are usually in full bloom from November to December / January periods. During this period before the harvest, the sunflowers create picturesque vast yellow fields, bringing locals and tourists from far and wide to visit Lop Buri.

Lop Buri is a two hours drive or three hours bus or train ride from Bangkok.

Visitors could catch the train from either Ayutthaya or Bangkok.

Alternatively, there are also air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses that ply Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) every 20 minutes between 5.30 am to 8.30pm.

(Call 02 936 2852-66 for more information.

Source: http://www.tourismthailand.org/Where-to-Go/Lopburi/Transport).

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Sunflower field in Lop Buri

As I stood right on the sunflower field in the wee hours trying to shoot the sunrise, I was embraced in the arms of Mother Nature. The feeling of being in this vast sunflower field was wonderful and immense.

As the sun rose, only then did I realized that the sunflowers were facing the sun. It is a no wonder that they were termed as “Xiang Ri Kui 向日葵” in Mandarin ~ which loosely translated to “Flowers facing the sun”.

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Sunflowers facing the Sun

I was here on Rai Khun Pu Sunflower field ~ also known as “Grandfather Farm” in Lopburi. This is one of the biggest and prettiest sunflower field around this area. The other sunflower fields were either too small, too flat or did not have this mountain as backdrop to the framing.

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Grandfather Farm

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Happy Birthday to MEEEEEeee…. : )

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Someday, I wish to be like you…

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The pollen is yummy

I took lots and lots of shots of the sunflowers; in wide angle, in 18-200mm, in fish-eye and even in macro lens. Some were fully bloomed, some were half bloomed, some were still budding.

By 10am, the weather was scorching and I was melting. I headed to seek shelter at the stalls at the entrance.

The first stall was selling hand-painted apparels, bags and pouches.

Most of the collaterals were in English and the stall was named “Made In Heaven.com”.

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Made in Heaven ~ I am in Heaven…!!

I thought to myself, “Wow… This is quite ‘artas’”. I do not think many of the stall holders here could speak much English and this stall has all the collaterals in English.

As I loitered near the first stall, the lady mending the stall smiled and asked where was I from.

We began chatting and I told her I was there to shoot sunrise and was waiting to shoot sunset.

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A God-Send angel from heaven

As it was going to be a long wait, she offered me a seat as we chatted.

Her name was Pui.

I asked if there were any public transport that could bring me to any nearby places and yet get back to this location to shoot sunset. Alas, public transport in and around this area was not as prevalent as like in any other Thailand locations that I had been. In many of the other Thailand destinations that I had been, there were always tuk-tuks, taxis, pick-ups etc. There were none at this place.

Just then, her brother came by. She exclaimed and suggested getting her brother to bring me to the “White Buddha” site so as to while off some hours and to bring me back thereafter. I was delighted. She did not charge me for the ‘services’ that they rendered, but I parted with THB 300 for their gasoline charges.

We departed at 10.15am and arrived at the location at 10.45am. We bought the 11.30am tickets to go on the tram ride to the ‘White Buddha’. As we had about 45mins, I strolled around and got some shots of the place.

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Kawaii desu ne

I went up to the brother at about 11.20am and gestured to him that I would be going to the washroom and would be back soon. I got back at 11.25am and there was not a single soul in sight. Everyone at the waiting area was gone!

I asked the lady at the ticketing counter what happened and where did everyone, including the brother went. She too was not conversant in English and wrote “12.30pm” on a piece of paper for me – indicating that everyone else had gone on the tram and the next tram would be 12.30pm.

Oh Gosh ! Did the brother leave me there and went on the tram ride or did he leave and went somewhere else ? I did not know. I just sat at the seats and waited. The ticketing lady motioned me to her counter and “asked” if I had the contact number of my companion. Thankfully, Pui (the sister) wrote me both their contact numbers before I came for my excursion.

The ticketing lady then called the brother and found out that he had gone on the 11.30am tram ride without me.

Though I did not understand any of the Thai language, I reckon that the ticketing lady gave him a good lashing for leaving me behind, alone, at the waiting area. Haahaa… ; p

It was comforting to know that people do care and I was not really alone despite being alone.

I went around, got more shots, bought an ice-cream for myself and bought some puffs for the ticketing lady.

The brother arrived back at 12.30pm and was apologetic. Till date, I could not resonate how he could have left me there, alone, whilst he boarded the 11.30am tram ride.

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The first time that I reeaallyy felt like I am on a holiday… Wheee…

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The White Buddha

The 1-hr tram ride took us along the river bank as we soaked in the sea breeze and beauty of the countryside. For once I felt that I was really on a holiday ~ so relaxed and at ease.

We left hastily at 1.30pm after the tram ride. Enroute, we stopped to pack some lunch before heading back to the Sunflower Field. On the way back, I saw many other sunflower fields, many were small, flat and did not have the mountain as backdrop to the framing.
We got back to the sunflower field at 2pm and had our lunch together. As we were having our lunch, Pui asked how would I get back to the Rice Field Home Stay.

During the morning drop-off, James mentioned that I could call him at 6pm to check if he is available. If he was, he would come by to pick me up. If he wasn’t, I would have to make my way back on my own, and he could pick me up from the nearest train or bus station thereafter.

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Feels like pinching the cheeks of this cute chubby little fella

Prior to arriving, I had thought that I could easily catch a Tuk-Tuk, taxi or bus to the train station from across the street. After spending a couple of hours on the field, I knew it was far from easy.

A worried look flashed across Pui‘s face. She suggested calling James at 4pm to check if he will be coming by to pick me. If not, she will help me to book a seat on the mini-van to send me to the bus-stop outside Saraburi Technical School so that James could pick me up from there.

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Sunflowers in the rear

She tried calling James from 4pm till 5pm and there was still no news of him. Hence, she decided to book a seat for me on the 6pm mini-van for THB 120.

She made several calls to and fro in arranging for my transport; to confirm my seat, to confirm my destination, to check out the carplate number etc. As she needed to leave early at 5pm that day, she even delegated one of her friends to send me to the pickup point in her motorbike.

She really went out of her way to help me although we were not in any way related nor have we met long enough. We were just two strangers that met on the street on the same day, and she had treated me with such warm hospitality. I am extremely thankful to have met a kind soul like her who helped me ~ a total stranger, so much and so unconditionally. I was indebted to her for her help, kindness, thoughtfulness and sincerity. It is people like her who gave fresh hopes to their slogan “The Land of Smiles”.

Her shop was named “Made in Heaven” http://madeinheaven.in.th/ . It really did give me a sense of being in heaven, for if not, where else would I be able to meet angels like her ?!

At 5pm, I helped her pack up her stuffs, bid her farewell before I went on to shoot the sunset.

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Sunflowers in the sunset

At 6pm, her friend sent me to the pickup point in her bike. Her friend waited with me for the mini-van to arrive before leaving.

When the mini-van pulled over, she reminded the driver where to drop me and even got the driver to seat me beside him so that it would not slip his mind to drop me off at the designated location.

Although I knew zero Thai and she had zero English, I was thankful that God sent me such a beautiful angel to help me along.

I arrived Saraburi Technical School at 7.15pm and waited till 7.45pm before James came to pick me up. We got back to the resort and I was famished. I took things for granted when James mentioned that he treated guests as family members and hosted them like one. As such, I had assumed that there would be meals and dinner provided as like the first night.

When I got back to my hut, there was no dinner waiting for me on the table. I was thirsty, hungry and tired. And best of all, I gave away all my little treats, i.e. cookies, candies etc to the many kind angels that I met on the streets during the day. Groowwlll… (That was my stomach… :”X) Thankfully, I found a melted, mashed up 2-finger Kit Kat at the bottom of my bag. That was my dinner.

4 Dec 2012, Tues

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Sunrise on a Rice Field

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Sunrise on a Rice Field

I got up at 6am and went around the Rice Field trying to get a shot of the sunrise. It was a cool chilly morning with the cold air beating on my naked face. The air on the rice field was fresh, sweet-smelling and free from any commercial or city pollutants.

James mentioned that he would be going to the market to grab some stuffs and to do some marketing. I asked to tag along.

The market was right beside the Nong Seung / (Saraburi) Train Station where I would be catching the train in the afternoon. We went to check out the train timings. There were three timings back to Bangkok for that day; 10am, 12noon and 4pm. I chose the 12pm slot.

We went around the market and I caught some very interesting shots.

We came across a hawker roasting popcorn over charcoal.

Woww… These days, our popcorn were either popped in a popcorn machine or cooked in a toaster or microwave oven. I had never seen popcorn being roasted over charcoal.

James bought a packet and I tasted some. The popcorn was dry without any oil and it exudes a scent of fragrance from the charcoal.

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Roasting Popcorn using Charcoal

The coconut grater brought back a lot of memories as my family used to buy grated coconut from the mini-mart when we were residing in Ang Mo Kio some 10 years back.

It has been more than 10 years since I last saw this machine in operation !

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Coconut Grating Machine that has become a has-been in Singapore

From afar, I saw these tim sum baskets and my eyes popped 10x bigger.

I was starving since my melted, mashed-up 2-finger Kit Kat dinner from the previous night.

“You mean they have Dim Sum here too ?” I was puzzled.

“Was it Dim Sum in there ? Could I grab some ?” I was so so so hungry….

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Tim Sum baskets of fish…

As I went nearer, to my surprise and disappointment, I saw the baskets being laid with fishes. Ohh… They actually sold the fishes in baskets, costing THB 10 – 25 per basket.

We headed back to the Rice Field for some home-cooked congee. Though it was a simple congee, it was fragrant with the spring onion garnishings and the minced meat in the congee was very well-seasoned. I’m not too sure if I was so starved or was the congee really good, I finished every single bit of it !

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The exterior of my little hut. I sat at the porch, beside the pond and ate my congee.

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The interior of my little hut. Nice and cozy. Had these ‘steps’ going up to the attic. So cool… ; D

After the hearty congee, James brought me around the rurals for some shooting. We visited “The Oldest Market” in Saraburi and went into this antique shop that had such a strong rustic flavor to it.

It was almost time to head off. We left the Rice Field Home Stay at 11.30am to catch my 12 noon train ride to Bangkok.

I waited, waited and waited. It was 12.20pm and there was still no sign of the train. I went to ask the train officers and only to realize that the train would be delayed by 70 minutes till 1.10pm.

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A 2-hour wait for the train

At 1.30pm, I was still waiting. A Thai lady came by, sat beside me and we waited together. Our smiles broke into a conversation and we started chatting.

She mentioned that the train was late every single day, an hour each day. Ohhh… We were ‘lucky’! The train was two hours late today!

When the train arrived at 2pm, we made our way up and she quickly found a seat and ushered me to take the seat opposite her. We were F I N A L L Y on the train!

As the train swayed and the heat set in, I began to doze off.

I awoke not too long later and the lady asked if I needed any food when one of the hawkers walked past. I declined so.

Seeing the couple opposite me sucking on the ice-cream heartily, I jokingly asked her for one.

She took my little request seriously and got the passenger seated beside her to stretch out his arm to grab the ice-cream hawker and got one for each of us .

I was quite taken aback by her kindness and warmth and she even refuse to accept payment for it.

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Free ice-cream from the nice lady in pink at the back

We were about 2 hours into the journey when the couple opposite me alighted and which the lady came over and took on their seats.

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Another angel seating across from me

Looking at the train schedule, it would take 3 hours from Saraburi to Bangkok, which also meant that I would arrive in Bangkok at 5.15pm. That would only give me 15mins to get back to my hotel, shower and run over to Terminal 21 to meet my friend, Jonas for dinner.

I asked her if there was a faster route to get to Bangkok City, either via MRT or BTS. She had no idea either and asked the train conductor. Thankfully, there were other options and I decided to make a jump from the snail-moving train.

I got off at Ban See station and asked a guy standing ahead of me how to get to the MRT. He gave me instructions and walked me to the MRT station before he went his way.

I was told to alight at Chatuchak MRT station and change to the BTS.

When I arrived at Chatuchak MRT station, I did not see any signages leading to the BTS.

I turned around and asked a lady for directions. She had difficulty providing me with instructions on how to get there and motioned for me to follow her instead. I did. It was up and down, in and out before I got to see the BTS. I had assumed that we were going the same way since she brought me right to the door step.

Upon the entrance of the BTS, she waved goodbye. I was caught by surprise. She had taken the extra mile to bring me to the BTS when she actually wasn’t going my way. I was very touched and thankful.

I got to Tune hotel at 5.15pm, had a shower in lightning speed and got to Terminal 21 (directly across Tune Hotel) by 5.30pm.

I had indeed beaten the train by jumping off and switching trains.

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Got to Tune Hotel at 5.15pm, showered and rush out by 5.30pm

Jonas and I had a fabulous time catching up.

We had been wanting to meet up for the longest time ever, since he left to work in Bangkok.

I don’t get to go by Bangkok often and he doesn’t come back Sin as much.

It has been such a long-awaited meet-up.

We were off dinner by 8.30pm before I got back to the hotel to knock out.

It had been such a long day.

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Catching up with my good old fren – Jonas in Bangkok, Terminal 21, MK Restaurant

5 Dec 2012, Wed

I checked out at 11am and with all luggage in tow, I went around the streets of Bangkok city.I remembered Weixuan highly recommending the fried chicken that were sold on the Bangkok streets and decided to try one. It was very tasty indeed! The batter was well-done and the chicken was fresh and juicy. It was very much better than what I had imagined it to be.

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Yummzz… Deep Fried Chicken Drumstick

By 1pm, I took the BTS to Mo Chit station.

At Mo Chit station, I tried to locate the public buses 510 and 29, but did not see either as there were too many buses crowding around.

I caught hold of a guy to ask and he brought me to a mini-van. He asked the driver if he was on his way to Don Meung airport and instructed the driver to drop me off at Don Meung airport.

The mini-van had about 8 paxs but could carry up to 12 paxs on a full-load.

It costs THB 20 and took me about 30 minutes from Mo Chit to Don Meung airport.

The public buses would have taken about 45 minutes, costing THB 10. For an additional THB 10, I would have been able to shave off 15 minutes, I was more than happy to do so.

As I travelled on my own, I met with many little adventures along the way. I had abundance of friendly, pleasant and unimaginable encounters during this trip. And boy, am I really thankful to many of the locals who came forward to help me despite the language barriers. The hospitality, warmth and generosity of kindness in these locals were impeccable. I am not sure how my trip would have turned out without them. They were angels that God sent to me on this trip. I really am thankful and grateful beyond words… 🙂

Cost – THB SG$
 FLIGHT Air Asia S$ 179.00
FD 2936; 2 Dec 2012, 5.10pm – 6.40pm
FD 2933; 5 Dec 2012, 4.45pm – 8.05pm
TRANSPORT Saloon Car from Don Meung airport to Rice Field Home Stay THB 1500
Jeep from Rice Field Home Stay to Lopburi Sunflower Field THB 1000
Saloon Car to Lopburi “White Buddha place” THB 300
Mini-Van from Lopburi to Saraburi Technical School THB 120
Train from Saraburi to Bangkok City THB 21
BTS from Tune Hotel to Mo Chit THB 35
Mini-van from Mo Chit BTS to Don Meung Airport THB 20
ACCOMODATION Rice Field Home Stay (THB 1000 x 2 nights) THB 2000
Tune Hotel in Bangkok City THB 950
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Curled Up

Sometimes, I’m all out to go crazy. Sometimes, I’ll just be my usual quiet self.

For now, I’ll just like to curl up and be left alone.

I think it’s a good time for me to do some soul searching and self-reflection of what I want from life. I don’t know what lies ahead and how I want to move forward. For now, just let me snuggle up in my own shell.

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