Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Truly Amazing of True Manila

First of all I admit that I am a bad blogger. I have not update my South East Asia trip in September. The last post was in October 17, 2015. What I've been doing? I've been doing plenty.

My First destination of my South East Asia trip is Manila, Philippines. Since my good friends move to Manila for a job, I was tempting to see the city.

I heard many things about Manila. Bad and good. Mostly bad things about Manila. Heard and read from someone and somewhere, Manila is a dangerous city to visit. This negative thought about manila from different persons who are actually not a well traveled person I considered them. After all, all those negative comments about Manila does not affecting my excitement visiting to the city.

From Kuala Lumpur I flew to Manila with Air Asia. Other airlines that has route from Kuala Lumpur to Manila are Cebu Pacific, Philippines Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.

Manila from above.
What to expect when you arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The immigration and custom clearance are not much different from any other International Airport. The condition of the airport is a typical poor country airport.

Transportation from the airport to your accommodation. Coupon taxi. White colour taxi that charge a specific amount depends on the distance. I was approached by a sweet petite lady, a taxi agent. Filipino are very hospitality. They always address someone by 'Sir' or 'Mam'.

The lady gave me the price to my destination (Airport - Makati) for 750Php. But I quickly said "Woww it's already gone up?" Pretending that I've been there before, the fact is it was my first time in Philippines. 

The tricks I created worth it. I only have to pay 450Php from Airport to Makati. Some bragging about they can bargain as low as 300Php. Hey, come on guys. Where is your human sense. You are in the third world country, poor country. Don't bargain too much. They are hard earn people.

Another taxi service is Airport metered taxis, the yellow colour taxi. They are about 30 percent higher than average taxi. They also highly unlikely to cheat you. 

WHAT YOU WILL SEE IN MANILA? These are according to what I have seen. 

Manila is a well known for its congested traffic. According to the survey from Waze, Manila is the worst city on earth to drive. However, my French house mate learns to drive and got his first driving licence in Manila when he lives there for 3 years.

I have to agree with him that Manila may have the worst traffic on planet earth but it does not means they fall in the category the dangerous city to drive. People seems have respect with others while on the road but lack of discipline.

Millions of humans! The population in Manila is reaching 18 millions. It is so clear from the air how despicably chaotic it is down there in Manila. What happen in Manila is the result of poor governance through the years. Corruption is an everyday hobby in Philippines. 

Meeting the most hospitable and friendliest people in the world. They are ready to help you in any situation. I had a long chat with the taxi driver, the lady boy food vendor at the night market, cleaning lady at the airport and the jeepney driver.

Intramuros is a must place to go if you love history. This is the oldest district in Manila located along the Southern Bank of Pasig River. Intramuros means "within the walls". It was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century. You can hire a tricycle to get around in Intramuros.

If you prefer walking, make sure you are all well prepared to use the power of your legs. If you planning to hire a tricycle, make a deal with the driver how much is the fare. It could be confused and you might trapped in their trick. They put certain amounts for 30 minutes ride.

Manila Cathedral.

Palacia Del Gobernardo, The first residence of the Spanish Governor General.
The Katipunan or known as KKK was a revolutionary society founded by anti-Spanish movement. The KKK Monument at Padre Burgos, near Taft Avenue. 
The homeless and the slums. My reason visiting Manila other than to meet my good friends was also to see with my own eyes the poverty in Philippines.

On my arrival, I saw a lot of sign and poster about APEC meeting. The meeting date was not far from the time I stay in Manila. The government were doing the best as they could to clear up the city from the street kids, but the country's leader that will come to Manila knows that third of the population in Philippines are poor and millions live in a slums.

My hostel located at Makati CBD, a business district with a modern high rise buildings and a huge luxury shopping mall. If you just staying around here when in Manila, you will never experienced the true Manila. Makati is just like any other business districts.

Makati CBD where I stayed when in Manila. 

This homeless family found their place to live on the roadside of a busy main road near Intramuros.
I found this interesting facts about homeless in Manila from A quarter of the population lives below the national poverty line (World Bank, 2012). It is estimated that around 44% of the urban population live in slums (UN Habitat, 2008). The capital, Manila, has the largest homeless population of any city in the world - 3.1 million. An estimated 1.2 million children in the Philippines sleep rough, with 70,000 in Manila (IBT, 2014).
This is considered a luxury slums compare the slums in Tondo.
When you travel outside Makati, the true Manila is right in front of you. The street kids playing on the street, people sleeping rough on the street, smell of urine, the poor scavenge for food or for any recycle items, a skinny street beggar in dirty torn shirts, a family with their carts full of stuff like mattress and their clothes, a tricycle driver touted the passer by try to make a living, try to survive day by day and all this what I saw really broke my heart. Nothing much I can do at that time but only to observe and reminds me how lucky I am and for this I should thanks my mum for gave birth at the right place.

Night Market and the happy Filipina. A. Avenue night market was the only night market I've been in manila. It was right in front of my hostel. Almost every night on my stay I visited A. Avenue night market and make friend with one of the seller there.

An open mic at the night market always the best entertainment. The world knows that Pinoy love singing and are a great singers. I have to say that this archipelago has the most singers and karaoke machines.  

There is no research or study has been done but I'm sure one of the reason contributes to their singing talents are Pinoy are one of the happiest people in the world. They can easily find contentment without the finer things in life, one of which grabbing that mic and warbling.

The downside part of the night market were the foods. There were nothing special about the food. In general there are almost the same kind of food.
Night market in Makati, just right in front of my hostel. If you expecting of variety and delicious food, night market in Makati does not offer that.

Deep fried or bbq foods were the most you can find at the night market.
Philippines cuisine. There's no stronger term to capture the essence of Asia's most unique, idiosyncratic, and underrated culinary tradition. Unlike their neighbouring countries, Vietnam, Thai, Indonesia and Malaysia which have a vast choice of the local cuisine. Many of their food are not spicy or not well used of spices. No Asian identity or ingredients in their food.

You can do some research about Filipino food and will come across with chicken adobo, lechon, tapa, longganisa, mechado, puchero and kaldereta. Mostly their food are rice and meat, a kind of meat with no expression.

Filipino are easily offended when you complained about their food. They are very defensive and telling you that you are not doing a good research about a good place to eat in Philippines.

In comparison with the country where I came from, the foods have the true identity of our own country. The taste is good, the unique essence are blended with the different ethnic and culture.

By the way food is not my main reason visiting Philippines.

Halo Halo one of the famous dessert I found in Manila. Nothing special, you can find something similar in any South East Asian countries.

GETTING AROUND in Manila is highly challenging. The public transport system in Manila are not well organised. The easiest public transport you could take is taxi. It does not hurt your wallet so much. LRT & MRT does exist here but the lines are not well spread out. I did used LRT & MRT for a couple of time from Ayala station, which is the nearest station to my hostel in Makati.

Jeepney is the cheapest and the most popular means of public transport in  Philippines. No two Jeepney are decorated the same way. Jeepneys were the left over from the US military jeeps from the World War II. 

In Metro Manila, we were always touted by the tricycles drivers. Tricycle is another ubiquitous means of transport in Manila. Unlike taxi, tricycle is only for a short distance ride that transfer you from another form of transportation to the other. 

The drivers park the tricycle in a queue waiting for the passengers at San Andres.
ACCOMMODATION. There are a lot of choice for the accommodations but not for a tight budget traveler. A very limited decent backpackers hostel in Manila and a bit pricey too.

I choose to stay at Our Melting Pot hostel on Makati Avenue due to the location is closed to my friends apartment. Overall the hostel is just average. The staff are friendly except the young girls that work in the evening shift doesn't seems have an interest to answer my questions. She seems more interested talking to the whites. Yes, I got it, unless if I am a westerner with blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. What I have just a dull black hair with dandruff and yellow skin. So, I'm not in her list to be helpful.

Eventhough I only visited Manila, the experienced are exceeded to my expectation. I would love to come back to explore more on Manila and Pinoys.

The trip that was planned to visit my beloved friends changed into something adventure. Eventhough I explored the city quite well, but lack of photos due to my phone 'flat battery' syndrome. I left my iPhone 6 charger back home in New Zealand and bought the fake one in Kuala Lumpur and it does not work properly.

All the photos were taken with iPhone 6, very practical, good quality of photos and make traveling easy for you.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Christchurch to Kuala Lumpur by Qantas Airlines.

Winter is over. There was a stillness but I had five wonderful weeks away from the long quiet winter from the down under.

Like most of other years I will visit my family in Malaysia and at the same time I will let myself lost somewhere that I can find my own definition of freedom.

This winter break was slightly different form the previous winter season. Since that I was working so hard to save money, I decided it's time to reward myself with something a little bit different. Usually budget airline was my first choice to fly home but I came across Qantas Airlines low fare from Christchurch to Kuala Lumpur one way ticket fare for $NZD 525.00 with 2 stops over.

Picture from Flight Travels. If you love aviation, check out his cool vedio in youtube.
Traveling with budget airlines could be hectic with the long hours flight change. With the extra budget I have this year, I decided to go for full service airlines. It's not a huge different in the fare. Full service airlines allow 30kg baggage, PTV and meals serve on board means that you will not go hungry at 36,000 feet. My experience flying with budget airlines you will feel hungry at some stage because you have to pre-purchased the food. The food can be purchased on board as well. The difference in the meals serve is in full service airlines you get a complete set of meals plus coffee or tea after the main meals.
Flight scheduled at 6.45am, the waiting area were really quiet at 5.30am.

The flight change doesn't take long. Stop over in Sydney only took two hours and stop over in Singapore supposed to take up to 3 hours but the flight from Sydney to Singapore was delayed almost 40 minutes.

Christchurch - Sydney

From Christchurch to Sydney I flew with Qantas Boeing 737-800 Next Generation fitted with Boeing's slick Sky Interior. Qantas refurbished its fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft with a great level of comfort and enhanced in-flight entertainment options. If you flown with conventional aircraft, you will notice a dramatic difference.
Photo taken by me at Terminal 1, Kingford Smith International Airport, Sydney. Qantas Boeing 737-800 Next Generation.
Here are some photos that I took from Australian Business Traveller website. This photos was taken from a review made by David Flynn. Some photos are snapped by me but not much because I'm quite a shy person to be seen holding a camera all the time especially in a small space like inside the plane.

Photo from Australian Business Traveller. The entry area are spacious, brighter and more open.

Photo from Australian Business Traveller.

The overhead baggage compartment designed to give more headroom to the passenger. The steep sweep overhead compartment also contributing to the cabin's more spacious, brighter and lighter appeal.

Photo from Australian Business Traveller.

Photo from Australian Business Traveller.

Photo from Australian Business Traveller. The colours changes of the LED lights inside the flight can be change by the cabin crew through the LED monitor. You will notice a different themes during boarding and meals, as well mimicking sunrise and sunset.

Photo from Australian Business Traveller. Side wall lights dimmed into a soft plum colour.
I own this photo. If you are taller than me you will feel squeeze at the knee. Fortunately I am a short and petite lady, so the legroom is just nice for me. 

Photo from Australian Business Traveller. 
USB port at every seats next to the screen for you to recharge your smartphone or tablet. Also you can use your USB memory that loaded up with musics or photos. I reckon most of the traveller far more likely to use the USB port to recharge their smart phone or tablet.

Sydney - Singapore

Picture from Flight Travels.

My plane from Sydney to Singapore is Qantas airbus A330-300s with economy seats configured in a 2-4-2 layout. If you ask me what is the best seat. My answer is I don't know. As long as I don't seat next to someone who don't stop talking, someone with a stinky feet or sitting in front of the passenger with long legs and keep on kicking your seat. If where I'm seating has no experience with passenger like that, then it is the best seat for me. Any seats will land you at the same place.

It was really busy at Sydney Airport. The flight was delayed about 40 minutes from the scheduled time without any explanation from the airlines. The passengers who has been standing for long time to wait for the gate to open were searching for a seat.

I just want to get on board and waiting for the dinner to be served. Some airlines has a really good meals. I choose steam fish for dinner and they distribute an Australian signature beef hot dog with mustard and it was good.

The down side of this plane is the toilet. It was dirty. I don't blame the airlines service but the passengers itself. I will not explain further what I saw in the toilet but I suggest Qantas Airlines to have a bigger toilet sit to cater big western ass.

I don't have much time to explore Changi Airport because the transit durations cut to one hour due to flight delay from Sydney. At T2 transit lounge there is Xperience zone where you can catch the latest sport event or let your creativity run free at the interaction e-Postcard booth.

In such a hurry I managed to snapped a few pictures from the Orchid Garden. The garden was so mesmerizing with almost 700 orchids from 30 different species of Orchids. Orchids is the national flower of Singapore.

The giant replica of Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid, Singapore national flower.

I will assure on my next journey back home to choose the longer transit durations at Singapore Changi to explore the foods and the other gardens at the airport.

Share codes with Qantas Airlines route Christchurch - Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia Airlines that flew me home to Kuala Lumpur. The plane was not I expected. It's and old plane with a dull and boring interior. I had read some review before about Malaysia Airlines route Singapore - Kuala Lumpur using their new boeing 737-800 boeing sky interior.

More than half of the passengers on board has a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai. Thought I was boarding the plane to Bollywood when I saw almost everyone on board were Indian.

When I booked the ticket I have other choice of Airlines route Singapore - Kuala Lumpur which has the share codes with Qantas. I chose MAS because I am sincerely supporting MAS whenever I am afford and I want that welcome feeling when I landed to my home country with the MAS signature landing announcement "To our visitors Selamat Datang to Malaysia, and to Malaysians WELCOME HOME. Thank you for flying with Malaysia Airlines, we are looking forward to see you again". That feeling when you heard the words WELCOME HOME is so meaningful especially if you live abroad.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Malaysia Airlines is on SALE!!!

Hello from down under,

Around this time of the year I usually start planning a trip back home. Most of the night I spend time browsing the internet for plane ticket that can offer me cheap price for sure. At the same time I have to plan my budget. 

Like always, I will wait for next week pay. When the next week pay already in, wait for another next week pay to purchase the ticket. Wait till the next week pay will continue until I am really satisfied with the budget. Oh, by the way I am so lucky to be here in down under because the pay day is EVERY WEEK!!!.

My first choice is of course the budget airlines; Jetstar and with the connecting flight Air Asia. But the connecting time is terrible. Longggg hours. I had waited 12 hours for my connecting flight last year at Melbourne airport, and my 6th time at Melbourne airport.
The combination cost for both airline with return tickets is approx $870 (RM2,380). In comparison with other airlines this is the cheapest rate. Emirates - $1600 return, MAS (at that time) - $2,200 return, Singapore Airline - $2,200 return.

Sometimes, somewhere and awhile ago I saw an ad about Malaysia Airlines ticket sales. Before I went to their website I did not have a big hope to see the price will be awesome. 

To my surprise, OMG. Murahnyerrr. Tak pernah murah macam ni. A lot cheaper than before. Approx $1000 less than their price ticket before. 

Kalau dulu eksyen MAS ni. Ada promotion pon ciput je less. The total after tax is $1,073 (RM2,936) for direct flight Auckland - Kuala Lumpur. 
Then I thought this sale will probably go for a couple of weeks only. Now 2 months gone and the sale still on. Even Qantas Christchurch - KL fare sale also already end just in 2 weeks. 

Haiyaaaa,,, aunty manyak syokk la.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sambungan Cerita Camping

Salam semua,

Sambungan dari previous entry. Tak habis-habis lagi pasal camping. Pak Din belakang rumah dah bercucu cerita camping aku masih tak sudah.

One of the activity at Lake Heron, fishing on the canoe.

Kalau tak ada commitment lain memang aku nak pergi camping every weekend dan berkayak di tasik. Sangat tenang di sini. Phone & internet coverage memang tak ada. Masing-masing dengan aktiviti nature.

Caravan kami pula baru setup gazebo. Memang meriah untuk lepak2. Aktiviti malam main card dan borak2 hal fishing. Aku yang asalnya tak knowledgeable sangat bab fishing ni pon sekarang dah banyak tahu hal2 fishing & hunting.

Pasang gazebo macam nak buat kenduri khawin.

Tempat main masak-masak.

Almari tempat simpan stok makanan. Peti ais pon ada tapi x snap photo.

Almari tempat menyimpan pakaian.

Heater untuk cuaca sejuk. Walaupun musim panas tapi adakala temperature rendah.

My reading material when i'm on a camping trip. 

I forget his name but he is a good working dog.

Peminat cilikku yang suka datang bertandang. Kasut tak pakai dik.

That's the story of my camping trip. Tak ada sambungan lagi. Cukuplah sampai sini sahaja.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Mat Saleh Camping Style

Hi there,

This is the continuation from the previous entry about my camping trip. In this entry I want to share photos of Mat Saleh Camping Style. 

Kalau tengok style mat saleh camping memang best. Boleh dikatakan diorang jadikan campsite ni tempat family & friends berkumpul.

Memandangkan kami datang bercamping on weekdays dan semua orang masih bekerja, so aku pon mengambil kesempatan skodeng caravan/tent orang lain.

Tempat anak beranak diorang berkumpul.

Ala ala ruang tamu.

Kawasan kecil yang dipagar untuk anjing. Tak boleh bawa anjing tapi kalau jaga kebersihan diorang tak kisah.

Ala ala dapur kayu rumah arwah moyang aku.

Sinki tempat basuh pinggan. Paip tak ada, so selalunya diorang akan bawa botol  5 litre untuk stok air.

Teka apa ni?

Iya dongg,,,, kamar mandi.

Titi kecil menuju ke lokasi ahli mesyuarat tingkap berkumpul.

Mamat ni caravan dia memang sempoi.

Dari tadi asyik menguap, Masa untuk tidur dan cerita camping akan bersambung lagi. Tak mau kalah dengan sinetron indon yang berpuluh siri. 

Memang begini caraku sekarang. Akan allocate a few minutes to update blog. I try not to spend so much time on internet sebab nanti kerja lain tak jadi.