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cairns

konnichiwa, anata~ long time no update.

the flight to cairns was uneventful. plenty of space and awesome views out the viewport. we landed abt 15mins later than scheduled, since we were also late in taking off. cairns is a rather quaint city, tis very flat and full of old/original design buildings. we booked a 4.5-star secret hotel via lastminute.com.au, which turned out to be Rydges Esplanade. taxi fare from the airport was ok, t’was abt $10.

our hotel room on the 5th floor is pretty nice, with a pretty good view of the mountain ranges. neighbors are predominantly japanese schoolgirls, who fill the halls with constant chatter and ‘kyaaa-ing’.

1st day, we just walked from our hotel on the promenade to the city. thinking back, we should’ve found a hotel right in the city, cuz the sun was ablaze and it was a 10-15 min walk. the pier, where the reef terminal is located, is also right next to the city. since it was a pain to walk around, we walked back to the hotel and returned later via shuttle. it was much much better at night. don’t wanna take any chances in the ‘skin cancer capital of the world’ as they say.

2nd day, we took an intro dive tour via ReefQuest to the Norman Reef in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). the tour was complete with snorkelling/diving equipment and a small buffet lunch, and their crew was very helpful. on the way to the reef site, 1 1/2 hours away, we were given a briefing by our intro divemaster, Vili. it was a good recap since i haven’t gone down under for at least 2 years.

our dive was after lunch, so we went snorkelling in the morning. the corals were pretty alright, similar to the quality of our own reefs in Malaysia. Mom was already having trouble with her mask, so the ‘snorkel-master’ took her under his wing and towed her around on this buoy-like stick. my sis and i just went our own way. saw some interesting fishies whose names i do not know.

dive time came and off we went. the tank wasn’t as heavy as i remembered, but Mom and Sis were struggling with theirs. all of us still managed to get into the water though. on the surface, Vili made us practice equalising our mask/ears and clearing our regulators, and this we repeated again 1m below the surface. all of us managed to get to the 1m bar, but my mom had trouble with the regulator and refused to go further.

so the rest of us, my sis, myself, and this other guy Stan, followed Vili to the depths of Norman Reef. we were under for maybe 20-30mins, and managed to catch a glimpse of clownfish, and a few other interesting ones Vili pointed out (one i couldn’t make out hiding from under the reef, and another striped sand-dwelling one). i took quite a few pictures with our trusty $20 underwater camera which we picked up from the city earlier. hopefully the shots are good, with fixed focus lens and no flash. >_<

by the time we were done, it was already time to leave. we just hung out under the sun on the top deck all the way back, being sprayed with sea water the whole way.

3rd day, today, we signed up for a tour which took us inland to Kuranda, a lil touristy town. we were taken by bus to the cairns skyrail terminal, where we were taken by cable car 10km to Kuranda over rainforest/tropical canopy. the views with amazing, and you can see visible borders that denote different forest types as our elevation changes. there were 2 stops in between, where we hopped off for some quick boardwalk experience with some amazing views of the valleys below. we also have views of the Barron Falls from the 2nd station, which at the moment is a trickle compared to the old days.

the town of Kuranda itself is really small, with only one main street serving as its center. it is mainly filled with shops selling souvenirs, art, and other touristy things. at the end of the street are the wildlife attractions, but we were only interested in the Koala Gardens, where Ayin got to cuddle her koala for $15 extra. i had the chance to stroke some wallabies too, but i guess they were too hot from the weather to respond actively. there were bird and butterfly parks too, but we didn’t care much for them.

right by the wildlife places are the heritage markets. lots of the same stuff, especially opal products. so we spent the whole day pretty much looking at their wares. i picked up a beach towel to replace my aging travel-towel. Mom was complaining it looked more like a ‘kain buruk’ than anything else.

our journey home was a 1 1/2-hour train ride on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. we were put on these age-old circa 1936 carriages back down via the railway used during that time. the views were just magnificent as we pass by steep gorges and a waterfall. plenty of computerised commentary too.

so that’s pretty much cairns for now. tomorrow we’ll be out on the reef again, but this time closer to the intercontinental shelf. hope we’ll be able to see more stuff underwater, and this time i’ll be making use of my NAUI license and taking 2 dives out there. hope i get a good diving buddy. ^_^

miss you~

wednesday thursday

evenin’ dearest~

weather’s been pretty good, ‘cept that it keeps raining in the morning. so we’ve been postponing the beach walk for quite a bit until today.

yesterday we started off with a trip to the Westfield mall in East Gardens to pick up a full length mirror for my sis to replace her ikea-style squares of little mirror panels. went to a few retail outlets like K-Mart, Target, etc. to find a good one. also picked up some foodstuff for the apt.

went back home to unload the stuff, then Ayin had to go have dinner with her friends. in the meantime, Mom & I decided to visit the Sydney Fish Market. we got there about 4pm, which was pretty much closing time, so we scampered to look for food. we initially started off with my mom having grilled barramundi, and I a cold plate of half lobster, prawns, and oysters. the cold plate was quite fresh, but tasteless (except the oysters). the barramundi on the other hand was done very well.

while i struggled with my tasteless prawns, my mom went in deeper to discover more restaurants still open. so right after that we went in to grab 2 servings of lobster mornay for really cheap ($12 each) and those really made our day.

since we still had plenty of time to kill, we took a bus down to the CBD to look at the familiar places we saw back on our trip in 2006. mom also managed to pick up some favorite quiche from Wynyard Station. we then made our way up to the Rocks to walk around the historic site, and also have pancake at Pancake on the Rocks. even then we still had plenty of time, so we just hung around the harbor looking at people. after that we walked across the quay to the Sydney Opera House and looked at more people. we finally get a text from Ayin saying she’s almost done and started making our way home by bus. Ayin also made the bus, which was a very pleasant surprise.

today, we went to Paddy’s Market to look at fresh produce like fruits and such. mom picked up a huge load of macadamia nuts for home. went home, unloaded, and after a quick rest went straight out to Bondi Beach to start our Eastern Coastal Walk. before we started though, we picked up a few deep fried Mars bars to eat along the way. ^o^ the walk itself was awesome. we crossed about 4-5 stretches of beaches, with nice high vantage points up along the rocks in between. we started at 6pm, and ended up in Coogee beach around 8pm, about 7kms away.

the way home saw us on two buses, and our 2nd bus happened to be a nicely decorated christmas bus. it looked really nice, with tassle all along the handrails, and a mini snowman and xmas tree with vibrant fibre-optic colors. my mom wanted to take a pic with the driver, but there were timing issues with the camera and from that came a misunderstanding between mom and i that led to me shouting at her. i knew right after that it was a bad move, and it sucked that i hurt her feelings. sorry, Mom. it wasn’t easy to patch things up, but as of 9/12, we seem ok.

thank you dear, for giving me the push to do what is right~

ohayou dearie~

yesterday was also a rather slow day. looks like this holiday will be a very laid back one. we first went to visit the Birkenhead outlet shopping area to look at stuff. discounts were decent, but no major international brands were available, except fcuk. there were some interesting outfits there, but the prices were still pretty high. was thinking i should go back to River Garden next time i drop by Singapore.

after that we went back to the yacht club to talk to their youth programme coordinator, Jenny. seems like a fun place to sail for my sister. they’ll be putting her in the all-girls squad when she gets back from KL next year. she’ll be starting mid-course, but it’ll be a good opportunity for her to show off her skills.

but before we arrived at the club, we had plenty of time before our appointment so we stopped by the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) for some quick window shopping. we also located the krispy kremes and picked up some to eat at home. XD yummy yums yums~

at night we just ordered pizza from Dominos. my sis and i were just too lazy to go out again. ^_^;

i <3 yew~

mini choc tour

ohayou, anata~

yesterday was another slow day. we left the apartment around lunch time to take the L94 bus all the way south to La Perouse. this area is a nice quiet place with its own beach and park. one part of this place was also supposedly used to film the final scene of MI2, but we didn’t manage to explore that area as it started raining pretty heavily. instead, we tucked ourselves into a seafood restaurant and helped ourselves to grilled fish and chips and seafood rolls. being a weekday, there weren’t that many people around, so it was quite serene.

after that, we took the same bus back all the way north into the city for our mini chocolate tour. our first stop was the Lindt Maitre Chocolatier cafe at Martin Place. here, my mom and i had the really smooth hot milk chocolate (the milk and chocolate came separately so that you can mix it up to your liking, and ppl were actually licking the chocolate off the mini jug) and my sis had the iced milk chocolate which was just as good. we also shared a serving of 3 scoops of ice cream comprising of white, dark, and hazelnut chocolate flavors. XD

we planned to head on straight to another chocolate place, Max Brenner, down the street, but we were just too full of chocolate to continue. we did go there just to take a look, and boy, it looked interesting. maybe next time…

since we had some time left, we just hung around in the city looking at shops. we were waiting for it to get dark so that we can check out the lights on the christmas tree. we didn’t stay too long though, as it looked like it was about to rain again. the tree itself wasn’t the best we’ve seen either.

back home, we just took to the beds, waking up later just for a quick dinner of instant noodles. i’m glad that we’re taking things easy this trip, otherwise it’d be so sakit when we get home. ^_^  something which i’m looking forward to, cuz i’m still missing yew~

sydney again

konbanwa, anata~

2nd day in Oz started slow. we were still weary from the day before, and i was just enjoying the mattress too much. we finally got out of the apartment around lunch time to savor some Indonesian cuisine at a nearby restaurant called Ayam Goreng 99. really good stuff.

picked up weekly travel passes and then took the bus/train to Edgecliff, and from there we headed down to Rushcutter Bay, home of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. didn’t find the person we were looking for, but we got some info on their youth program. also checked out one of their sailing shops, which were filled with awesome sailing gear. made me want to take up the main sheet and tiller again.

after that we took the train to Bondi Junction, and went window-shopping in the Westfield mall (supposedly they manage KLCC Suria as well). the place was really nice, with some christmas decorations already up. we had a light snack at one of the upper-end food courts, and the view of the city from there was amazing! took a quick look at Borders, but they didn’t carry what i was looking for, and prices weren’t cheap. there was also a Speedos outlet, but i decided to skip that one because i’d probably buy something (shorts and powered goggles, not swimming briefs :P).

then we just stopped by Woolsworth for some food, then went on our way home. bought back dinner from McDonalds just off campus, and it was 11pm by the time we finished.

i’m so happy to have at least seen your face, even though you’re far away and unreachable~

oz again

konbanwa, anata~

our trip to Sydney started a lil miserably. the 8-hour AirAsia flight to Coolangatta was unbearable. nothing to do, nothing to read, and i couldn’t even sleep because the seats couldn’t recline much and it didn’t have good head support so my neck was constantly aching.

we then had a day to kill before we fly from Gold Coast to Sydney the same night, so we threw our luggage into a locker and took the local bus down to Surfer’s Paradise. i was originally thinking of going north towards Coolangatta to check out the retiree town, but mom wanted to have a preview of the range of accommodation available to prepare for our own stay this 11th. the bus took about an hour to get to the end of Cavill Ave, and we took our time looking at all the different places.

yes, i’ve seen it all! altho now a McDonalds has recently popped up, and i now know the locations of some of the smaller attractions, like Infinity. still, generally it’s the same old Surfer’s Paradise i came to know of in August. and due to my lack of sleep/rest, i was grumpy and snappy all day. the only thing interesting that happened today was when the coast guard cleared the surf when a snake appeared.

but despite that, tis still interesting to see how Surfer’s Paradise is like in the summer. the warm sun together with gentle cool breezes was a lot nicer on the skin than in winter. the place is teeming with ‘schoolies’, kids out for fun after school’s over. tis a major booty fest, but while my eyes wandered occasionally, my thoughts stayed focus on you.

after having nothing else to do, we took the bus back to the airport. we had plenty of time before check-in, so we took another nap at the terminal. as soon as the counters opened, i was there right up front with our luggage. then we had another 2 hours to spare before our departure, so we just loitered around having tea, reading books off the shelves, and playing Boulder Dash on the phone.

it was just about time to board when they announced that our flight was delayed due to a technical problem. turned out that the plane ran into a bird on the way in. things looked bleak when they announced that the service might be cancelled (we didn’t get my mom any travel insurance), but we were lucky when they managed to get a replacement plane from Melbourne. so we departed about 1 1/2 hours later than expected, but surprisingly arrived in Sydney according to the earlier schedule.

but anyways, Ayin’s friend couldn’t pick us up, so we just took a cab to UNSW. once you see the face of a loved one, all the weariness just washes away. am now all nice and clean after the 24-hour journey, and here on my sister’s notebook sharing our experiences with you. this looks to be my only avenue of communication, as the phones are low on battery and we’re without a charger (thought i could use my sister’s Nokia 6300 one, but it has a different jack >_<). oh well…

am missing you dearly. tis just strange not having you close by.

tokyo jihen

so after before our ftk last night, fellow guildie Nick whispered me to check out Tokyo Jihen & Shiina Ringo. which i did this morning. nice tunes, but Sounan sounds nicest so far:

de-to!

Yumekukan is this awesome karaoke place in Plaza Mon’t Kiara (Sunrise) with a huge selection of Japanese and English songs. Imagine two yellow-pages-sized books, one for each of them! Fai-chan was totally at home when we were there, rockin’ the mic with her awesome voice and expert Jap-reading skillz. I couldn’t keep up with lyrics in most fast songs, but I think I’ve improved quite a bit from that one session. Still have major problems with katakana and kanji though. >_< Oh well, renshuu renshuu~!

Tomorrow night we’ll be catching Beowulf. Hope they don’t censor too much~

singapore = food + music

Nope, not promoting Singapore in general. But leave me in the hands of my Singaporean relatives and I’m immersed in a blown-out food fiesta! I swear each time I’m there I feel like I’ve gained kilos but tis mere illusion blown away as soon as I reach home.

Sat Lunch: Mak Tam’s homemade briyani (3 servings) and awesome fried chicken.
Sat Dinner: More briyani~! And more chicken!
Sat Supper: Tidbits from Jogja~ spinach and mushroom crisps~
Sun Breakfast: Singapore Murtabak!
Sun Lunch: Mak Tam’s homemade lontong~! More chicken!
Sun Dinner: Ria’s Ayam Penyet~!
Mon Breakfast: simple breakfast ^_^
Mon Lunch: Char kuew teow at Banquet
Mon Dinner: Mak Abang’s awesome chicken rice!!!!
Sometime in Mon: Bakerzin’s Desire, and choco-banana macaroon~
Tues Breakfast: simple breakfast again ^_^
Tues Lunch: Mak Abang’s awesome chicken rice again!!
Tues Dinner: Shared pasta at TCC
Tues Supper: Shish kebab at Al-Majlis on Arab St + banana split~
Wed Breakfast: Kacang pol~
Wed Lunch: Islamic’s mutton briyani~

Thanks so much to ichaya for taking care of me during my stay. ^_^ Even managed to catch up with most of the Twit Gang on Monday night when they came over for chicken rice. XD Darryl is just hilarious! Too bad Lizzie no want to come out. <pout>

Also managed to catch the R-21 version Lust, Caution. Porn scenes aside, the movie was actually pretty good. ^_^ Still, wish I could get that image of Tony Leung’s <bleeps> out of my mind. Argh!

Later went to the Asian Heritage Museum to take a look at the Nalanda trail exhibition. It does bring back distant memories of Asian culture studies back from the day. I went to a similar exhibit once in LA to do a paper on Asian artifacts; sure feels nostalgic.

The Linkin Park concert itself was a blast!! We started an hour late cuz they were taking their time letting people in but once it started all gripes disappeared in the energy of the performance. They played a good mix of their old and new songs, so us loyal oldies had a really good time singing along to Hybrid Theory and Meteora. Feels like age is catching up to me though: my arms were aching from the constant waving (handbanging? XD)  and I couldn’t last standing through the whole thing (stopped to sit awhile during a light song). But yeah, well worth the trip! ^_^

On a side note, my niece and nephew have grown. Afiq is hefty for a 6-year old, and his antics are amusing as always. Najiha is just adorable as always, but still shy shy since I haven’t seen her for so long. A strong-minded one that one. ^_^;;

tagged yet again~

Tagged by kittenz.

Rules :
1. Each blogger must post these rules

2. Each blogger starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves

3. Bloggers that are tagged need to write on their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged and to read your blog.

  1. I lurve playing WoW. But I <3 Fai-chan much more. Hence Fai-chan time > WoW.
  2. I have low blood pressure. But on the other hand people say I have a high metabolic rate, hence my slim frame. Don’t really know how it works, but yeah.
  3. I just bought cologne for myself for the very first time. Thanks, ichaya, for the recommendation. ^_^
  4. I can’t help but Facebook all day at work. Will someone please block it already! (So that I can hit colleague’s on Fighter’s Club before they realize what’s going on).
  5. I like to eat.
  6. I will start saving money next year! For <bleep bleep>.
  7. I always dream of becoming rich and famous, and have all these ideas to make it happen. But I’m too lazy to execute. 😛
  8. I’m bad at management. Really forcing myself to get better at it, but tis a hard journey.