Day 2: Haggling it out

After a breakfast of a variety of bread that we bought last night, we were off to the Central Market. From outside, the place looks a bit old and similar to most ordinary cheap market which is common in the Philippine provinces. Upon entering it, however, would change all that impression. Inside is mixture of souvenir items, watches, shirts, jewelry stuffs and other items that will surely make one dizzy at the same time thrilled. What I like about this place is that right in the middle of the market are restaurants, coffee shops and, once again, bread stores. We’d learn later, that all over KL, there’s Berry, Bread Talk, Bread Story and Bread History, to name a few and all of which sells almost the same product line, almost same good taste, but just different prices.

Inside the Central Market.
I conclude that Malaysians love bread.

Lunch for today was just at a nearby mall. What’s remarkable about the food courts here is that they are self-service. They’ll serve you rice on a plate and will then let you do the picking of the viands.  Prices are determined according to the amount of food on your plate–no set menu price. Nice, right?

After the hearty meal, we went to Petaling Street (aka Chinatown) which is just across the mall. This place is comparable to the Philippine’s Divisoria in terms of merchandise: fake watches, shoes, shirts, bags, and other items—mostly bootleg. It is also a good place to buy souvenirs here. Be ready though with your haggling skills.

Feeling the effect of the dizzying hunt for a good bargain, the group finally called it quits in Chinatown. We agreed it was time for us to see the famous mighty Petronas Twin Towers

From Petaling, we took the bus to KLCC. It was our first bus ride and it costs us only RM 0.7 each or just about 10 Philippine pesos. Other than the cheap fare, we noticed that Malaysian buses are numbered according to their route unlike in the Philippines where we our drivers hang destination tags in front of their windshield.

Stepping out of the bus we found ourselves facing the imposing Malaysian Towers. It was just an awesome sight and so tempting to just get in it but we learned from other people that a visit to the towers’ sky bridge is impossible in the afternoon so we tried to make the most of the day’s visit.

Situated between the two towering structures is the Suria KLCC mall. In the middle of its court is BMW’s team F1 car on display. Other F1 related activities like F1 simulator drive and ticket sales to Sepang are ongoing. Setting any embarrassment aside, we gave in to the urge and posed in front of the displays. This is one time when any opportunity to pose near an F1 artifact is worth risking. By the end of our coffee break at the mall’s Dunkin Donut outlet, we went across to exit at the other side. And yes, the two giants are still there.

Who else is on display but Team Petronas in the middle of mall.

One thing I learned from reading photography tips is to avoid cliché shots. But who cares? We are at the famous Petronas Tower. We can’t help but pose just as everyone did—get in the frame and make sure that the towers’ tip and structure is in the background. We repeated those cliché shots over and over. Different pose, different angle, different location. But both towers had to be there. We didn’t mind the weird stares from other tourists. For sure, they’ll do likewise anyway.

Petronas Towers, Malaysia
Can’t help but do what everyone does–pose in front of the towers.

After almost filling my camera’s memory card and after feeling a bit of neck strain we agreed that it was time to go somewhere else like Lake Garden. It was late in the afternoon already when we arrived. There’s an event at the park where throngs of people have gathered in front of the stadium and we learned it’s a rock concert. At that point I was actually curious and interested if the band would play songs in English or Malay. We tried to wait for it but the humidity’s taking its toll on us. We got tired, sweaty and hungry, and with my wife forcing a smile (a warning sign), we decided to leave even before the concert has started.

To end the day, we had dinner again at Bangsar but this time at Sri Nirwana, which serves mostly Indian food. The place was packed with a various customers, locals and foreigners alike. Again, they don’t serve beer, which again could have come great with the spicy food served on banana leaf. Once more, we dined alfresco.

We had a hard time flagging a teksi after the meal. The passing BMW’s, Benz’s, compact cars and a variety of interesting Protons somehow had a de-stressing effect on me while waiting for the elusive taxi which came after more than an hour later. Taxis are that scare in Malaysia.

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Day 1: Our first Nasi Lemak

The one-hour trip and late afternoon arrival at the hotel sent our stomach grumbling and begging for food. But our hunger disappeared once we got to check in on our room or better called our home for the next seven days. Calling it a room would be a misnomer as it is one with two levels and two bedrooms with each room having its own toilet and bath. It also has a living room with comfy couches and a fully equipped kitchen. What more can we asked for something we paid for just Sing$125 for a one-week accommodation.

Room’s spiral staircase.
The cozy living room.

Soon, however, our protesting stomach cannot be ignored and it signaled our first authentic Malaysian experience. Fifteen minutes away from our hotel is Bangsar, a place where several upscale restaurants and shopping area are located. Even then, we went directly to a food court in one block where the banner bearing the big words ‘Nasi Lemak’ grabbed our attention. We all agreed that there’s no better way to eat our first Malaysian cuisine than alfresco. So despite the dimly lit area, we mingled with other diners who were enjoying their meal just along the side of the main street.

Nasi Lemak served fast, so fast we did not capture the bare hands.

Nasi Lemak is a popular local food that consists mainly of chicken, egg and several other sidings not to mention the variety of spicy sauces and dips available. What makes it more interesting is its preparation– most ingredients were picked and placed with the seller’s bare hand. But who cares anyway, the food was great. What I find unfortunate though is that due to their religious restrictions, they don’t serve beer (or any other liquor), which I know would have been perfect with such spicy food.

Been To Malaysia for real

It’s been almost a month already when we had our vacation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Even until now, during pauses in between work and other activities, I would find myself wondering if I had been to Malaysia for real. It was as if the 7-day trip went by so fast as an F1 car would in one lap.

Come to think of it, it was our F1 fanaticism that started this trip in the first place. My wife and I planned this trip, initially, just to see the 2007 F1 Sepang race. Sooner we’d learn that the minimum number of days our time share account would allow us is one week. Well, who gets upset over an extended vacation? If there’s anyone, it won’t be us. So to make this a vacation more fun, we convinced her brother and sister-in-law to tag along.

 Our trip started on a Good Friday.

The airline was Airasia. Despite the long drive from Sto. Tomas, Batangas to Diosdado Macapagal Internation Airport we arrived earlier than expected in Clark, Pampanga. From there, our 4-hour flight to KLIA-LCCT started by 11:45 a.m. as scheduled.

The flight was smooth and uneventful, as the weather was good. Even with the absence of in-flight entertainment—no TV, no games—the sight of distinct Malaysian flight attendants came as a bonus.

 Upon arrival at LCCT and after checking out from immigration, we were picked by a taxi service that took us to Duta Vista Executive Suite in Persiaran Ledang after an hour of interesting trip. I can still remember when I had to peer through the van’s window when I saw the Petronas Twin Towers dominating the afternoon skyline. Yup, we’re in Malaysia indeed.

Duta Vista.

Finally! Fast Cars!

Finally! F1 Sepang Tickets at last!!!!!!! Pardon the exclamations, but it’s been our much-awaited event for this year. Since my wife and I fell in love with this fast-paced sport, we’ve been dreaming of watching it live. I was thinking last year that if ever we’d have to get out of this country for a vacation together, it would be the best place and time to do so. I just don’t know if she’s been thinking the same thing too or even ahead of me though I just know that she’s been dying to see either Michael Schumacher or Kimi Raikkonen in person, win or lose. So when I eventually blurted out, “we need a vacation abroad” there was no protest whatsoever. F1 Sepang is really it, Disneyland is just so out of the picture.

So today, after a couple of months since we purchased the tickets online (and doing some blunder during the transaction) and after all the anxiety of waiting for it to be delivered, it’s now in our possession and in pristine condition. Those guys (especially one named Muna) in malaysiangp.com did a very good job. Sepang, here we come!!!

My 1st Badminton Tournament

“Clear your mind of can’t.” – Samuel Johnson

My wife and I started playing this racket sport almost four years ago. On day one we already got hooked. Just like any other person we knew, we started just for the fun of it and with the hope of shedding some pounds. As we went along, we met others who also had the same interest. Slowly we got more eager to learn the badminton game and rules and so the number of sessions got more frequent and intense than before. We became “baddicts” in no time. The thought of being matched and compete with someone eventually pushed me to test myself.

March 24. Summer. Hot and humid. My much-awaited day, my first badminton tournament. With great anticipation, energy and excitement, I woke up early, packed my stuffs and had a full breakfast of coffee and oatmeal.

By 8 a.m.  I was already at Racquettaz Badminton Club—a 15-minute drive from home. The place was already bustling with activity when I arrived. Organizers paced back and forth to make sure that everything is in order. Other players were busy checking their match schedules while the rest warmed up and did shadow lunges, smashes and footwork exercises. Almost everyone was so eager to get it on.

After a short opening remark, invocation and a pledge to sportsmanship, the Intel-Analog dual meet commenced. All of the venue’s seven courts were soon filled with players, umpires and supporters from both sides.

Since it was my first time to be in a match, I was classified as a level C player. I would play mix doubles with Joan whom I met and played with just a couple of days ago but I already got high hopes that we’d do well. And we did.

We had five scheduled matches. Once we got called for the first match, I was half-eager half-nervous as I approached court number four. The first few rallies were like getting-to-know my partner and our opponent. After a couple of scores, I was beaming with confidence. Our winning streak went on until the end of the fourth match.

I was already telling myself that we can likewise win match five. But this was different. The first half was full of errors from our side, specifically from me. I hit clears so strong that overshoots the farthest line; did low serves with the net as the frequent receiver; and pushed drives right in front of our opponents’ racket, to their delight, and to my partner’s dismay.

On the second half though, hope came up. Joan’s skills and confidence remained and we recovered some lost points until we reached a 20-20 score. We went on a race to score 3. Unfortunately, my beginner’s luck ran out. We had to face defeat in 1-3. We left court number six feeling bitter and disappointed knowing that we could have done better. But it’s how competition goes–one wins, the other loses, one partner sucks.

Despite the competitive atmosphere, the whole match levels from A to C went well, friendly and fun. The photo ops were even well participated by everyone from either company. In the end, Intel grabbed the overall championship and I know for a fact that we always do. And so, I went home exhausted but proud, knowing that this time I was among those who contributed to that win.

Blue Skies

Image from the web.

Yesterday I watched the film Always on DVD. I was assuming then that it would be something as romantic as “The Notebook” which we watched just a couple of weeks ago. To my surprise it wasn’t just that. The famous Steven Spielberg directed the film and as expected it was a good one (except for some goofy scenes at the start of the film which made me wonder if it’s a comedy or a musical).

What makes this movie appealing is the plot that rolls around the love story of two airplane pilots Pete (Richard Dreyfus) and Dorinda (Holly Hunter) who were stationed on an airstrip that supports the forest fire fighters. The setting was some time in 1940 and the fire fighting planes used was said to be restored WWII models.

 I was so fascinated by the flight scenes that a couple of hours after it I downloaded an MS Flight Simulator X game. It was as if my mind was craving for more of the sensation of being in flight, not to mention being the pilot which in this case, of a flight sim cockpit.

It’s funny that somehow it was from this love story that I got more interested in flying more than from the movie “Top Gun” (of course, this remains to be one of my favorites). It may be because that the planes in Always are old and it looks so easy to fly versus the sound-breaking F14‘s of Tom Cruise’s movie.

Well I’ve flown the ultralights in the demo and I’ve crashed a Jumbo jet already. Thanks to flight sims, I live to tell about it. I got the hang of it after a couple of hours of playtime (and some weird stares from my wife) and just using the mouse as a yoke – old flight simmers will scoff at me for doing that. I think it’s about time to save for some decent flight controllers. Paging my wife…please approach the cashier.

C++ for the Tipsy

I’ve read a couple of “for Dummies” book lately and it seems to work fine with me. The text and illustrations of this book series are so clear and good, than non-dummies will likely appreciate it as well — most probably as a reviewer, just like myself (big naughty smile).

Well, I was surfing through the web tonight while having my nightcap of cheap Tanduay 5 years rum (which my father didn’t finished during his visit here) and started to check on some C++ reviewers to kill time. As it has been more than a couple of hours since I had the alcohol, I have trouble understanding some of the syntax and commands when this light bulb of mine began to light up.

C++ for the Tipsy? Wouldn’t it be nice if some good authors come up with a “for the Tipsy” book series then sell or display it at liquor bar tables? The series can have some titles such as “Driving Home for the Tipsy”, “Road Ethics for the Tipsy”, “Assembling a PC for the Tipsy”, “Biking 101 for the Tipsy”, “Job Hunting for the Tipsy” and any other things one might think of while being tipsy. I had to recommend though that pages of these books should be waterproof as some don’t stop at just being tipsy. Go figure.