Sunday, August 20, 2017

Karak Shilinmen

Overnight stay at Shilinmen Leisure Home, Karak on 19-20 August 2017 with USJ chi gong friends and family members ... Our activities at Shilinmen included having a dip in a nearby stream; preparation of group dinner; karaoke session until late at night. On Day 2 morning, viewing sea of clouds and sunrise; Sungai Dua waterfall; eating of durians for lunch.

This is the season for durians with the mau san wong (musang king) durian weekend prices soar to RM60 to RM70 per kilogram. Durians price increased on Friday, Saturday and Sunday due to increased in demand with the influx of weekend tourists. 

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong). In photo album, click or touch "i" icon (info) for description of the photos.
Twenty of the USJ chi gong friends and family members at Shilinmen, Karak ... (left, back): Ronnie, KC Leong, Tung, Frankie, Eunice, KL Tan, Yang, Kee's sons; (front): Camelia, Ngoi XL, Chiew, Kheng Lian, Mimi Chong, Ng LY, Joanne, ChongSL, OngCH, Annie Kwa
 The spacious compound of Shilenmen Leisure Home nestled among the durian trees ... these durian trees will only bear fruits in the next season: Nov, Dec, January

The room rate is very reasonable with an entire air-conditioned room that can accommodate 10 persons comfortably for only RM450 that includes usage of the cooking utensils, cooking gas and basic facilities. The Owner, Mr Yeong Onn Hong (杨安康), is a very friendly and helpful person; he can be contacted at 019-589 0000; for more information, Google Karak Shilinmen.
Different model of huts to cater for more discerning requirement  

Out of the many big rooms, only two are equipped with air-conditioning due to limitation in the electric power distribution. According to Mr Yeong, application has been submitted for upgrading to multiple phases of electric power to provide air-conditioning to other rooms.
 Frankie singing his favourite song ... Karaoke sound equipment and system with titles search capability

Shilenmen 9km Run on Sunday 3 Sept 2017 – Shilenmen Leisure Home will the organizing this running event for the third time. Most participants would put up a night at the leisure home on the eve of the run; for those who would like to try camping, there is ample space to pitch tents within the compound. 
 Having a dip in a stream in the hot afternoon ... distance is about 7km from Shilinmen with proper road leading to this area
 Our professional Japanese chef, Ronnie, preparing Japanese maki rolls, Japanese ramen fried noodles and salad
 Our professional Chinese chef, Frankie, preparing spring rolls
 The chefs and their assistants showing 20 boxes of well-prepared food
 Dinner is ready ... a lot of food and we could not finish them
 Day 2 morning viewing sea of clouds and sunrise... a journey requiring 30 minutes of travel in 4WD and a simple 15-min hike which is Ok even with wearing of sandals
 The sea of clouds and sunrise can rival the one in Sungai Lembing ... 
do click here for comparison
 Appearing of the yolk of the sun at 7:15 a.m.
 At Sungai Dua waterfall
 The joyous moment having so many durians freshly delivered from the orchard
 hmmm ... drooling, delightful, and delicious 

Posted by KC Leong

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Trip to the Maldives

After this introductory, free-and-easy 7D5N tour starting from 6 August 2017 with my travel buddy, KM Cheng and my wife, I have a better understanding of the Maldives. When one talks about holidaying there, one would think of the stunning white sandy beaches, water villas and paradise resorts; and of course, the expensive accommodation in US dollars.

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly, KC. For ease in understanding, each photo in the album has been narrated with description. Click/touch the 'i' (info) icon.
At the beach of Hulhumalé, a reclaimed island with a link road to Velana International Airport
Clear water at Villingili public beach which is just 10 minutes of ferry ride from Malé

In term of geographical location, the Maldives lie southwest of India and Sri Lanka; it consists approximately 1,200 coral islands clustered in a chain of 19 geographic atolls.
Geographical location of Malé, Hulhulé and Hulhumalé islands
Hulhumalé island has a long beach lined with numerous 4- or 5-storey hotels and inns for a comfortable stay

Malé – this is the densely populated capital of the Maldives with high-rises and narrow streets. Parked with motorcycles on one side of the already narrow roads, pedestrians have to constantly look out for cars when walking. Currently, a project is in progress to build a link road and bridge by the Chinese construction company to link up with Hulhulé Island for road access to the airport. Generally, the price of food in Malé and Hulhumalé is about 3 times or more compare to the prices in Kuala Lumpur. Almost all the people in the Maldives can speak English. 

At Malé ... Maldivian flag at the Republic Square
At the west side of Malé good for viewing sunset

Velana International Airport – it is the main international airport of the Maldives. Located on Hulhulé Island, it is connected to another reclaimed island, Hulhumalé island, by a link road. Outside Velana International Airport and across the road is a jetty for boats/ferries plying Malé, and other speedboat transfers to the various atolls and resorts.   

Across the road of Velana International Airport is a jetty for boat transfers to other islands and atolls

Rasdhoo Island – Part of the itinerary of this trip was to stay a night at Rasdhoo Island by taking the public ferry, a journey that required 3 hours. It is one of the most popular destinations among diving amateurs. And from there, we would transfer to the other water villas for day visits. Starting the journey at 9:00 a.m. from Villingili Ferry Terminal (southwest of Malé), the ferry journey was met with strong waves. With the ferry swinging from side to side, many of the passengers developed seasickness and were vomiting terribly, including yours truly. 

After 1.5 hours of travelling, the waves were getting stronger and it broke and shattered the glass door of the ferry with water and glass splinters scattered the front seats of the ferry. Luckily, no one was injured other than getting ourselves drenched. After 3 hours of journey, we were surprised to see an island full of high-rises – then only we realised that the skipper has steered the ferry back to Malé.

In a ferry to Rasdhoo island ... the skipper and the glass door that was broken by the strong wave

Main plan:
Day 1 (6 Aug 2017) - stay in Hulhumalé island
Day 2 - stay in Malé
Day 3 - stay in Rasdhoo Island
Day 4 - stay in Malé
Day 5 - stay in Hulhumalé island (for ease in transfer to airport).

 At Hulhumalé beach ... there are many Chinese tourists here; they even have a service centre for their countrymen

Air Asia operates direct flight from KLIA2 to Malé departing at 7:00 p.m.; returning flight from Malé is at 9:00 p.m. that offers sufficient time to return from the atolls. Time difference: Kuala Lumpur is 3 hours ahead of Maldives.

Best time to visit the Maldives – the best weather or dry season is between November and April. One could expect the increased in tourists and increase in price during the dry season. The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking around June. During my few days of stay there, there were two late afternoons with brief rain. On 10 Aug 2017, it drizzled the entire day with the gloomy weather. August is the lowest season for hotel rates. As one website puts it: "It is worth paying higher prices and sticking to the dry season as there is nothing to do on a rainy day except drink, work out (in-door) or scuba dive."

Looks like KM Cheng and I need to visit the Meldives again: fine-tuning the visiting date, itinerary, focusing more on the smaller islands and atolls, and putting up nights in the water villas – the main purpose of visiting the Maldives for the sunny side of life.

Do CLICK HERE to view additional information (cost and hotel) and photos in KM Cheng's Travel Journal. (Note: in KM Cheng's journal, clicking any photo will expand them into bigger displays, with thumbnails at the bottom of the PC screen; to return, click X at the top right corner)

Posted by KC Leong