Sunday, October 25, 2009

Visiting tentative World Heritage Site, Batang Ai National Park at Sarawak

I just visited Kuching, Sarawak for the third time last 2 week ago and it was great to finally visit one of a icon at Sarawak beside Mulu National Park that are listed at UNESCO tentative list which is Batang Ai National Park. Thanks to my 2 lovely good friends Richard and Hellen at Kuching. Glad to have them to be our host at Kuching.

Richard drives us to the national park the next following day after our arrival. The journey takes approximately 4 hours to reach the hydro dam jetty. We stop at a little town name “Lachau” for lunch and then continue our journey passing by Sri Aman and proceed to Batang Ai national park entrance jetty. The road conditions at East Coast Malaysia are not that good where the journey to Sibu and Miri might take 6 hour and 9 hour respectively. It was indeed a hectic drive along the way.

Finally we reach the jetty at 3:30pm and waiting to board the boat at 4:15pm to the Batang Ai Longhouse Resort.

I am kind of excited when I saw the beautiful lake dam at Batang Ai.

The boat takes us 45 minutes to reach the Longhouse resort. I would recommend this place if you like to relax looking at the lake and getting some fresh air from the forest with additional some trekking to Iban longhouse then this place might be an interest to you.

We have a light pool swim at the resort in the evening before ending our day with a family dinner at the resort. Then we have a early rest after the long journey.

We have a light nature trekking the next day at 7:30am. The nature trekking pass through a suspension bridges that let us enjoy the national park scenery and birds. The light trekking takes us 1 hour to complete.

Then we had our breakfast at 8:30am before proceeding our kayaking at the lake the next 1 hour. Even though it was a hot sunny day but the kayaking was good enjoying the scenery around the lake. Is awesome!!!

Here is the UNESCO tentative list for Batang Ai National Park: -

Our little trip at Kuching ends up with some wildlife and traditional culture. We visited the Semenggoh Orang Utan Sanctuary and also Bidayuh Traditional Longhouse.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Visiting Heritage Sites @ Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with rich culture and I really enjoy my first visit to Sri Lanka. I only plan a short 6 day 5 night trip where I need to hire a driver and van to see as much places as possible. Here is my beautiful experience and itinerary at Sri Lanka.

Day 1: We reach LCCT at about 4am to catch our flight at 6:15am. The flight took 3.5 hours to reach Sri Lanka and it was 2.5 hours behind Malaysia where we reach Sri Lanka about 7:15am. Once we get out from the arrival hall and then I saw my name display from our driver Mr. Nimal De Silva.

We got a van rental with driver deal for US$55 per day. This included all the substance and there is no hidden cost. We start off the day with driving from the Airport to Dambulla Rock.

Dambulla is at the central of Sri Lanka and the journey took 4 hours to reach even it was just 150km because of the road condition and traffic.

We reach Dambulla Rock Temple at 12pm and it was our first heritage site visit. The Rock temple consists of 5 caves with different historical period. It was raining once we complete the visit at about 1:30pm. Then we proceed to Sigiriya to look for our accommodation and also try a local lunch. Our driver recommended us a forest retreat guesthouse called ‘The Grand’ for a cost of Rs.2700 per room.

Our lunch is delicious too prepared by the guesthouse. It was 4:30pm after we finish our lunch and bath then it was too late to visit the next destination. So we took a early rest at the guesthouse.

Day 2: I am looking forward to the next 2 heritage sites. We had our breakfast at 7am and start our journey at 8am to Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The heritage conservation entrance fee was US$25 for Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa each.

We took about 2 hours from 9am to 11am to visit and climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

There are the beautiful fresco painting remain on the wall and also the grand lion paw and also the palace at the hilltop that worth the climb. By 11:30am we proceed to Polonnaruwa and we reach the destination at 12:30pm for the next beautiful and awaiting heritage sites.

This is a beautiful ancient city of Polonnaruwa. I love Vatatage and Hatatage at Quanruple and the beautiful rock Buddha of Gal Vihara. We ended the day with a local lunch at 3pm. We reach back the Grand guesthouse at 5pm after little jam along the way because of accident. This never stops our beautiful journey in Sri Lanka where our lovely Mr. Nimal buy us a bottle of local liquor at night. We enjoy the local arak.

Day 3: The trips come to the third day where we are heading to Kandy city. The journey took 3 hours passing by Matale spice garden and we reach Kandy at about 12pm.

Then we proceed to visit our final heritage site the sacred tooth relic temple at Kandy. There are so many devotees and it was a amazing experience at the temple.

We had a really local lunch after the Kandy temple and also meet our second driver ‘Sri’ for our next 3 days. We proceed to Nuwara Eliya at 3pm and the journey took us 3 hours to reach the English town at 6000 feet.

We stop at Blue Field tea plantation at 5:30pm to taste Sri Lanka Ceylon tea.

It was late and then we proceed to our guesthouse Rising Lion at Nuwara Eliya. We got a family room for 4 for about Rs.5800. It was so cold at night and now I know why it is call little England. The town are cold and there are many British alike building situated at Eliya.

Day 4: Enjoy our chilling morning at Nuwara Eliya with a American breakfast and then we proceed to the little England town of Nuwara Eliya. We proceed our way back at 10am. It was a nice scenery drive from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy. We reach Kandy at 1pm and we had our lunch at a nice restaurant at the hilltop with Kandy view. Most of the meal at this beautiful restaurant cost around Rs.500 to 600 per set. Then we proceed with some shopping at Kandy street. I guess it was a relax day for us with the hill Buddha temple visit and also watch the Kandyan cultural dance show.

We ended our day with a nice dinner at our guesthouse Mcleod Inn. I guess this is the best guesthouse that I love so far at Sri Lanka where the cost are reasonable with Rs.1800 for triple and the food are delicious too prepared by the owner Nirupa and Ashan. Thanks for the delicious food and room.

Day 5: We had our breakfast at 7am and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kandy from Mcleod Inn. Then we start our final day to Colombo and Negombo at 8am.

We reach Colombo city at 11am and it was not so scary like it sound. The bad experience could be the city hectic life with lots of traffic and also crowded with people. We visited the beautiful hotel of Galle Face and then proceed to Pettah market for our final stop. Then we proceed to Negombo at 2:30pm from Colombo.

It took 1 hour to reach Negombo beach and we had a beautiful hotel at Negombo call Goldie Sand Hotel with reasonable beach view. I heard the southern beaches are more beautiful but it was nice to end our trip at the beach.

It cost us US$60 for a room of 4 and also a expensive seafood for US$40. We willing to spend for the final days as to celebrate our successful Sri Lanka trips.

Day 6: Is time to go back home. We rented a hotel van for Rs.1500 to the airport. We depart the hotel at 6am to catch our flight at 8:15am. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Favourite South East Asia Dive Sites

I took my open water certification at Pulau Dayang near Tioman and follow up by advance diver certification at Redang Island at 2007. I had only dive a few great dive sites around South East Asia (SEA), which is Sipadan, Similan, Tulamben, Tioman and Bunaken, that I will describe the geographical site and also the highlight of each dive experience.

My first introduction dive site would be Tioman Island. This was my first dive after my OWD and also my recent dive logged at Tioman. I believe this was the best dive sites that I love most that I can find at Peninsula Malaysia. The first dive was at Labas Rock and Sea Fan Garden that I like most. A little adventure dive through the rock and later amaze with the magnificent sea fan garden and many beautiful fishes.

After I complete my advance diver certification, then I visited Bali with some diving trip which is my second dive site introduction, Tulamben wreck dive. The wreck dive is a majestic view of the USS Liberty warship that stores a huge bio diversity of corals and fishes. Even though I only make 2 dives but I really didn’t manage to see everything but even the 30% coverage of the wreck was already worth a diving. I will definitely going back Bali for my second Tulamben and Nusa Penida diving.

My advance diving actually make me active with diving recently. On the same year after visiting Bali, then here come my third introduction dive site, which is my favorite dive site and I consider it the best so far, “Sipadan Island”. Beside Sipadan, there are 2 beautiful island Mabul and Kapalai that shore beautiful site as well that make the whole dive trip a wonderful experience. Even though Mabul is a dive sites that actually saw many beautiful macro sea creatures but the highlight was Sipadan Island wall dive. The first dive site ‘Drop off’ that make me amaze with shark and green turtles, then diving towards ‘Barracuda point’ which later saw a school of barracuda fish swim round the site.

After 3 months from Sipadan, I took a long break during Chinese New Year to visit Thailand to dive at Similan Island. Similan comprise of an archipelago of small islands that make many of its dive site strategic too. It was a dive on board and I stay on the boat for 2 nights.

My last introduction dive sites would be Bunaken Island at Manado situated at Sulawesi Indonesia. Manado is a great places for wall and muck diving (muck mean volcanic black sand) but I only manage to do few wall dive at Bunaken but not Lembeh Straits for muck diving. It was a waste but doing the wall dive at Bunaken is a great experience too.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Visiting Penang, George Town World Heritage Site

I haven’t visit Penang after both Melaka and George Town was declare UNESCO world heritage sites for its historic cities at straits of Malacca on 2008. I planned a trip to Penang or Pulau Pinang from 30th May to 1st June to attend a good friend beautiful baby Iris 1 month old birthday party at Bukit Mentajam and it is a good time for me to bring my family as well to visit this special heritage site at George Town.

Before Penang declared the world heritage site, I never really walk George Town after visiting Penang several times. This time I will take my time to capture some heritage building at George Town with my own design walking tour after so many good reference sites from Penang blogger and observer. I will name this tour “Jo’s George Town Core Heritage Walking” tour (separate into 4 section Esplanade section, Commercial Section, Clan Section and MKK Section) which take approximately 3 hour by foot that covers Esplanade Cornwallis, commercial building at Beach rd, historic religious places and some traditional houses.

My walking tour is mainly focus on building architecture and religious places without entrance fee. Anyway I visit the heritage sites on Sunday where many places like Fort Cornwallis, Lim Kongsi, Dr. Sun Yat Sen base are closed. Some places like Khoo Kongsi, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Historical houses need to pay for entrance which I am not interested. So this is the places that I am interested and worth a visit according to my preference where I would be introducing.

I started my first section of the walking tour from Esplanade section along Light Rd where my first attraction would be the Logan’s memorial sitting in front of the High Court (Mahkamah Tinggi). This is a beautiful statue that captures my attention.

That’s another structure that captures my attention which is the Great Eastern old building. Then we walk towards Esplanade to look for Town hall, City Hall Building and Cenotaph War Memorial. The next destination would be Fort Cornwallis that I would recommend but I did not really visit as it was close on Sunday.

Then come the second section of Commercial building, where I started from the Queen Victoria clock tower, follow by the stretch of commercial building of Standard & Charted building, RBS building,

Malayan Railway Building that I love most and capture my attention.

After beach rd, then I turn into Chulia Rd where my third section of Clan started with my first attraction which is the little mosque of Nagore Shine.

Then by pass Madrasah Hamid Arabi & Lim Kongsi, visiting Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple and Yap Clan Temples.

Then we walked along Armenian Rd to visit Dr. Sun Yat Sen base and Islamic Museum, former residence of Syed Alatas Mansion before ending at Khoo Kongsi and Acheen mosque.

We had our early vegetarian lunch along the Masjid Kapitan Keling Rd next to a temple. After the lunch then we start our final section of the MKK section that comprise of penang oldest temple Kapitan Keling Mosque,

Teochew Ancestral Temple,

Mahamariamman Temple,

Kuan Yin Teng (Kong Hock Keong),

and St George Church.