Friday, December 30, 2005

Driving from Johor Baru to Singapore

Evening of 27 December 2005

Flew into Senai Airport from Kuala Lumpur. The trip to Kuala Lumpur was good and the food and Christmas shopping was fantastic. Arrived at Senai at 8.30 pm and after a lttle shopping in Johor Baru we joined the queue at the causeway at around 10 pm. We were surprised by the high volume of traffic returning to Singapore at that time of the night. 9 out of 10 vehicles in the traffic queue were Singapore registered cars. It took us nearly 2 hours to get over the causeway.

I did not really minded the wait seeing that it was just after Christmas and people must be either out to celebrate or returning after their Christmas break. However, the behaviour of the drivers, mostly Singaporeans, was almost animal-like. They behaved like, well - animals. Common courtesy was nowhere to be found. Shame on you, to those who bullied me that night. Your behavious just confirmed to me that althought Singapore has been trying hard to become a first world country, you will never get there because you are still with third ( or even lower ) world mentality. I am sorry to say that you may have a clean and neat country, but the moment you Singaporeans get behind the wheel, you turn into monsters.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas 2005 in Kuala Lumpur

Looking forward to Christmas in Kuala Lumpur. This will be a new experience. Wonder what the city will be like on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Wonder if the stores will be open. KL's main attractions are shopping and food.

Unlike Singapore. KL is not as neat and clean. However, I think the untidy character of KL adds to its charm. Traffic in KL on most days can be a nightmare for those unaccustomed to gridlocks, especially when it rains. Unless you are exremely brave or reckless, it is best to leave driving to the local taxi drivers.

There are not many tourist attractions in the city itself, unless you consider KLCC and Berjaya Times Square tourist spots. Bukit Bintang and Bintang Walk at night is a must to visit after dusk, now more so with the Christmas decorations and lights.

Attending a wedding function on Christmas night and a dinner at Bangsar Seafood Village on Boxing Day. Looking forward to both events.

Friday, December 23, 2005

City of Shanghai

Have just returned from a week in Shanghai. I have never been to China before and as this was my first visit, I came away with mixed feelings about the country. I am assuming that Shanghai is a typical large Chinese city and all other major cities are somewhat similar to Shanghai.

Shanghai is a very fast moving place. The roads are wide and well planned, although there are far too many vehicles on the road. I guess this is an indication that the economy is very buoyant and people are getting more accustomed to driving cars than the old mode of transportation – the bicycle. If fact, I had noticed there were very few cyclists on the road, maybe it is now too dangerous for peddle power.

The buildings in Shanghai are tall and bright. At night most building are well lit and looking at the city from the TV tower gives one an true understanding of the sheer size of the whole of Shanghai.

Shanghai is famous for shopping. In certain areas one can buy the best branded genuine goods at exorbitant prices. In another area, you would also find branded goods but at a tenth of the price of their genuine cousins. These are fakes good, but so well made that it would be difficult to tell them apart. Well, the markets with fake good are generally crowded with tourists and bargain hunters from all round the globe. I guess people will always opt for the fake goods as they are so cheap.

Food is good, provided one knows where to go. The fast food joints are always full to the brim with problems find seats during meal times. Eating in Shanghai is not as cheap as Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. The quality of the food is not great but passable. I guess one has to get used to the local cuisine.

As with most cities around the world, high traffic volume always result in poor air quality. The air is Shanghai was very still during the week I was there and that resulted in a very dense haze. Looking down from the TV tower, one would notice a blanket of haze over the city.

Although the country is boasting GDP in double figures, there are still many beggars in Shanghai. Women carry babies beg openly in the streets. Side by side with the wealthy, are these poor wretched people who have the resort to beg for a living. I visited a nearby village and village life is still very backward and simple. I wonder if these simple folks realized what is happening to their country.

Another unattractive habit of the Chinese is spitting. They spit everywhere. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I am not sure if this happens throughout the whole of China or just in Shanghai. I suspect it is the former. Would the Chinese Government do something about this before the Olympics in 2008? I wonder.

It was a good and enjoyable trip and I would definitely return for another visit.

Balek Kampong

Visited Segamat for a couple of days to see the folks and some friends. Surprised to find that the old hometown has taken on a new lease of life. It is actually growing after many years of stagnant devlopment. We have a second bridge across the old Segamat river and a third one is under construction.

There are many new satelite towns around Segamat with many new roads connecting them to the main town. I was particularly happy to see that the old part of town has not changed. It is still the same as I remember it. Soon we will have a new road connecting Segamat to the North-South Highway. When that is finally constructed, we will have better access to KL and Singapore.

My first meal there was the koonlow mee. Still as sedap as ever. Wonder how long more before that goes the same ways as my favorite Cha Kuey Teow and my chendol stall - both disappeared without trace.

The wet market is still there with the usual stalls for fish and meat and vegetables. The reason we call our market wet is because it is actually wet. Made a mistake walking through it in my best trousers. It was a pleasure walking through the fish section where I actually bought four lovely large white pomfrets from my old friend the fishmonger. He still remembers me after all these years.

The train journeys to and from Singapore were comfortable and KTM is still the same - slow with many stops. Although the journeys were a little time consuming, I am glad I decided to travel by train as it brought back memories of the numerous train journeys during my younger days.

Would I go back to Segamat for another visit soon? You bet I will!! You can take me out of Segamat, but you will never take Segamat out of me.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chiangmai and Bangkok

I have just returned from a week in Thailand. As always we had a fantastic time. The best thing about Thailand is the people. They are always so hospitable, and coming from Singapore, that is like a breath of fresh air. Although not as clean and clinical as Singapore, Chiangmi and Bangkok have their own special characteristic that makes them such fun cities. Thailand known as the "Land of Smiles", truly lives up to its name.

Shopping is the best part and there is no shortage of cheap imitations of branded goods in Thailand. I bought a Rolex watch for SGD20. It worked for a week before it died on me. Well, it was fun though.

Food was good, although the Thais love their food hot. For people with untrained stomach this could be a problem. If you like seafood, you are in for a treat. Although a lttle pricey, this falls under the "must try" catagory when visiting Thailand.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Travel News

Hi All,

I would like to welcome all to contribute to this blog. The theme of this blog is travel. I am sure we have all been to exotic places, seen beautiful sceneries, experienced memorable adventures some good and some not so good. Please write and share your experience with us. Thank you.