Thursday, October 31, 2019

Vibrant Sunrise

I went to MPSJ for my morning run at 6am on 29 Oct 2019. Seeing that the gate was not opened, then only I realised that it was closed for a function; so I went to the playground nearer to my house. At around 6:30am, I could see that the sky transformed into a vibrant glow from the long hours of drizzle the night before. So I ran home as fast as I could, rushed into the house, whipped out my camera and just in time to capture the moment of a colourful sunrise ... sharing with you photo below.
(click on the photo for enlarged file size)

Posted by KC Leong

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Holidaying in Turkey

I went with my wife and USJ Zhineng chi gong friends for a 10D7N holidaying in Turkey via SA Tour (Sri America Travel) from 12-22 October 2019. Overall, it was a good trip. Here are my observations:

The road – most of the roads are dual-carriage way, similar to our PLUS Highway; but the condition is much better with the smooth tar road and very little bumpy ride;

The bus – the Mercedes bus was an excellent transporter, very comfortable ride and it is twice the height of a normal person. The first few days involved many hours of travelling in the bus; hence, a good vehicle is the better choice;

Hotels – the rooms are big and clean, very comfortable stay ...

Do CLICK HERE to view 290 photos (with captions) courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).
 Hot Air Balloon ride at Cappadocia
The only group photo taken by a professional cameraman for 10 Turkish Lira a photo (scanned from print)

Food – most of the time, we ate in the hotels for buffet breakfast and dinner; lunch in the restaurants at the R&R area of the highway. All salad dressing used olive oil and vinegar. Overall, food is Ok.

Walking on the street (at the Spice Market and Grand Bazaar of Istanbul) – I felt that Turkey is a safe place to walk on the street. 

People on the street – Istanbul is a melting pot of cultures for people from other countries to come here; so, it is not easy to distinguish the nationality from the way they dressed.
 Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia Museum

Religion – they are Muslim at birth but only 10% practise the Islamic way; most people there are modern thinking.

Our Tour Guide – Mr Metin is a Muslim; he told us a true story: when his good friend passed away, he went to pay the last respect. He was surprised to see that a priest was there for the funeral wake. He then realised that the person whom he has spent many years as his good friend was a Christine. He said Turkish people respect other people' religions.

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia – We missed our chance because of unfavourable wind condition forecasted for the following morning. We were then put in the waiting list joining the subsequent day's group; and later, we were informed that vacant slots were not available. Though the ride is not cheap - at USD 230 per person - but the black market rate for those wanting to ride is USD 400 to USD 500!
 The site of ancient TROY

Istanbul New Airport – opened in April 2019, it is one of the most modern and largest airports in the world. The check-in process was fully automated, fast and with a new concept: usually, the officials are behind the counter, but in this airport, they are with the passengers. The boarding gate waiting areas are spacious and with comfortable chairs; passengers can even lie down to sleep. Compare to our KLIA airport, passengers have to travel to the satellite building via the Aerotrain; but with the new concept in design, aerotrain is not needed. 

Cherries – according to tour guide, the trip in 1 June will see an abundance of cherries being sold by farmers along the road.
 Asklepion – an ancient Temple of Healing
(front, left: KL Tan, Frankie Yap, Eunice, Alice, Annie, KC Leong)

Other than the main photos below, the other activities/ places that we have visited (photos in the album above) were:

Boat transfer from Instanbul to Canakkale (together with the big bus);

House of Virgin Mary – people believed that Virgin Mary lived here with St john towards the end of her life;

Sirince Village – an old Orthodox village which claimed to be the only surviving place for 2012 dooms day;

Sultanhani Caravanserai – an ancient inn and rest stop for the Silk Road travellers in the olden days;
 Ephesus – an ancient Greek city that was regarded as the most important and largest centre of the old Mediterranean world

Underground city of Cardak – once a place of refuge for 15,000 Christians; 

Avanos pottery village; 

Goreme Open Air Museum – fascinating rock-hewn Churches; 

500-year-old Grand Bazaar – for souvenirs, local products and handicrafts;

Lunch at Kumkapi for grilled fish meal – in the evening, a happening place where there is performance in most of the restaurants;

Taksim Square – a major tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shopping and hotels.
 Cotton Castle – white travertine terrace formed over thousands of years
 Obruk – a sinkhole lake where water is used for irrigation of crops
 Turkish Belly Dance show
 Rock castle and the magnificent view of the Cappadocia landscape, which is well known for its unique moon-like landscape, underground cities and cave churches
 Caves Hotel at Cappadocia
 Salt Lake
 Ataturk Mausoleum – dedicated to the 1st President of modern Turkey
 Bosphorus Cruise at Istanbul – get a good view of the long strait between Asia and Europe linking the Black Sea and Marmara Sea
Spice Bazaar for delightful dried fruits and spices, and Lokum (candy) shop for traditional Turkish delight tasting

Posted by KC Leong

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Phu Kradueng Mountain

I went with Lam to recce Phu Kradueng mountain in Thailand from 4-10 October 2019. We spent 4D3N up in the mountain. It is a camping-friendly site complete with tents and clean toilets; besides, sleeping equipment (mattress, blanket, pillow), food and groceries are easily and readily available at a reasonable fee – just bring sufficient Thai Baht will do.

In hiking up the mountain, one can let porters carry the bags. They have a very good porter service system where all bags are weighed and tagged. Each porter will then carry the load according to one's ability. At the mountain top, luggage is reclaimed by ID and payment is paid directly to the porter; for every kilogram, the porter fee is 30 Baht.

I could not ever imagine that at the peak of a mountain, it is a flat land with many cliffs and waterfalls. This is a fun and enjoyable place for hiking, camping and cycling; we will sure go again next year, do let me know if you would like to join us.

Do CLICK HERE to view 50 photos courtesy of yours truly, KC Leong.

 Day 2 cycling around the mountain top visiting view points and waterfall

About Phu Kradueng Mountain: 

(1) It is located about 500km north of Bangkok;
(2) Trailhead to the peak = 5.5km (moderate hiking pace takes about 4.5 hrs); 
(3) Peak to the National Park Office/campsite (walking on flat land) = 3.5km (about 1 hr);
(4) There are five (5) food/drink stations lined from foothill to the peak;
(5) Difficulty level: moderately tough (similar to hiking from Kem Lolo to Kem Pacat of Gunung Nuang, Selangor); 
(6) Area of flat summit plateau of the mountain where major attractions are held = 60 km²

Note: the hiking photos are in Lam's camera.
 They even have designated area for parking of bicycles at popular view points
 Shop selling food and drinks at every view point area
 Blue sky and scenic view
 Signature landmark of Phu Kradueng ... Lam in action at Lom Sak Cliff with the protruding rock and the lone pine tree. Most popular and perfect place for viewing sunset; returning to campsite takes about one hour on wide-tyre bicycles.
 Yours truly double up as the model for this photo
 Sunrise view ... we gathered at the park office at 5am and a ranger would guide us to arrive at this view point
 There are about six (6) waterfalls at the mountain top
 Neatly arranged tents; there are a few hundred tents being set up here. The tents under the trees would be cooler in the afternoon; at night, the entire mountain top is quite cold starting from October onward.
 National park workers cleaning and drying the sleeping equipment (mattress, blankets and pillows) under the sun. On 5 October 2019 (Saturday), there was a trail running event been staged here; we were told that 1,000 people camped here involving 300 porters to send goods/bags up to the campsite.
 Neatly stacked mattress ready for the next campers
 There are many clean toilets surrounding the campsite
Many eatery shops where food and drinks are abundance. They sell Thai style rice and noodles, mixed rice, stew pork rice, steamboat, soy milk, raw papaya salad, canned food, biscuit, chocolate bars, soft drinks, etc. They also sell hiking and camping related stuff.

Posted by KC Leong