More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Its All Ones and Zeroes

I was just talking to my friend Patrick and he was saying how he was installing a new hard drive. He asked me to help him copy a disc, which I happily did. However, the disc got stuck in the cd writer and when I tried to pull it out, it got scratched and was wrecked. Luckily, I had already made a copy and hence could make another copy. This little accident prompted me to back up my computer data which I have been meaning to do for months.

Nowadays, our computers contain so much important information, meaning that everything is just a series of ones and zeroes rather than physical things you store away. The problem is that these digital files are so easily lost. You may accidentally erase them, or your computer gets a virus, or the hard disk just crasehs. Whereas physical items are generally harder to lose if you don't take them out of the house, and it isn't too often that there is a fire or flood in your house to destroy those items.

My computer contains work stuff, all my digital photos that I have taken but hardly print out, all my music files and all my personal files. If my hard drive were to crash today, I would be very upset and in quite a state of confusion. Losing music files is one thing, they can slowly be replaced, but losing all my photos and personal files would be tragic. I don't know what I would do, panic or start throwing things around and cursing. Even when I lost the really bad resolution photos from my mobile phone, I was very upset.

Hence, I have begun to back up my files right now. However, the problem is that files are so large now, they are hard to place into one disc, even if its a DVD. This means that there are multiple disc flying around the place. Just before, I was looking for a specific DVD with my stuff on it and couldn't find it. After searching for a while, I eventually found it. Backing up onto DVD is not the perfect solution. DVDs are very easy to lose, they can get scratched and damaged, or just deteriorate over time. They may physically deteriorate or maybe in a few years time, we will have moved onto another digital medium and nothing reads them anymore.

Whereas things such as printed photos can last up to 100 years, our digitally stored photos and data may only last a few years. This means that people will need to constantly change the media where they store things or be willing to lose those things. So has the digital age actually made things better or worse. Due to the ease of keeping things, we tend to keep way too many things. Most of my photos, probably at least half of them, are not great shots and could be thrown out. But since its so easy to keep them, I think that I might as well keep them. This means that I need to find more and more hard drive capacity constantly. I have already filled up my 120GB drive and am now looking to buy an external hard drive.

I guess the correct strategy is to treat a computer like your house. When rubbish starts to build up or it gets crowded, you throw things out. But its just so easy to keep it, I might just back them up hahaha. Most of the time, I never look at those files again but it seems a waste to throw them out, so I will keep them just in case.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Too Clever By Half

I read this great article called Too Clever By Half about the tricks that our brains play on us. Regular readers will know that I am constantly intrigued about how the brain operates and have myself written numerous posts that cover some of the topics in this article.

The first point in the article is about "The Paradox of Choice". What this means is that although humans love variety, having too much choice is a bad thing. When given too many options, humans actually can't make a decision and are always wondering what they missed out on. I can totally relate to this. When I was in Hong Kong, there were so many restaurants offering all types of cuisine that I liked that in the end I couldn't choose and didn't know what I wanted to eat. When I did end up eating something, I sometimes wasn't too happy with my choice. In Melbourne, you have to make a conscious decision to go eat somewhere and when you get there, there is no choice, so you're happy with whatever you order.

"Optimism Bias" is when we think that the risks that apply to others don't apply to us. Just because that idiot in the other car shouldn't be talking on the phone doesn't mean that we can't handle talking and driving. I have to say that this has happened to me. I do the mobile thing where I think others are stupid for talking on the phone while driving yet I do it myself and don't think anything of it. I think that our self perception of ourselves is too high for our own good in most cases.

"Judging Risk" is something that modern humans are not very good at. Evolutionary genes means that we're still scared of lions since they can kill us, but don't even blink when going to drive a car, which kills far more humans each year than lions do. I wrote a post about acceptable risk when I had a similar conversation with a friend. I think you have to stop sometimes and reassess risks of activities that are dangerous but we just take for granted in this modern world.

"If it feels good, do it" is a mentality that most of take nowadays. Overindulging in lollies for example, is a sure fire way to take the enjoyment out of it. It also leads to a lot of people with problems, such as weight problems. All the contestants on the Biggest Loser must suffer from this "If it feels good, do it" mentality.

"I'm right, you're biased" is a common theme that we can all relate to. We pick up on other people's bad habits but fail to see our own. We think that we are doing the most work in a team, but fail to see work that other people do. I think we need to constantly look at things from other people's perspective to make sure we are seeing the whole picture.

"Status anxiety" is when our benchmarks are constantly being raised because we need to do better than the next person. I've written about how things always seems better for others than ourselves in thispost.

Finally, "The impact of external events" talks about the old adage of whether we will be happier if we are rich. If you win lottery, apparently your happiness levels return to normal after a while. We are not good at predicting our future feelings as we underestimate the human ability to adapt. I wrote a post about what I wanted out of life and one thing I touched on was having more money and getting out of the rat race. I guess I still think that if I was richer I would be happier. I guess I won't know until I actually am rich.

So from these many examples, you can see how our minds are such tricky things. To finish off, you might like to read my posts about the subconscious mind and the wonders of the mind.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Baby Birds

A small bird had decided to build a nest amongst the vines growing on my fence. I didn't particularly think that was such a great location since it was very low to the ground and the neighbours cat could reach it quite easily. However, I'm happy to report that the baby birds grew up safely and flew away.

Here is a photo of the baby birds when they were just hatched. They still hadn't opened their eyes and were all pink and featherless.

The mother bird is definitely a very patient bird, sitting on the baby birds nearly 24 hours a day. It only left the nest for 10 - 20 minutes each day to gather food for itself and the baby birds.

After a few weeks, the birds started to grow feathers and could open their eyes.

After I came back from my holidays, they were gone from their nest. The cycle of life continues for the little birds. It was a pleasure to have witnessed the hatching and growing up of the birds each day. That must be how parents feel when they see their kids grow up, but with even more passion.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

McNaught's Comet

I must say that I rarely look up at the skies, but I think I will look up a lot more after tonight. When you think about it, the universe is so vast and we are but a tiny speck of dust in it. Seeing natural phenomenon really puts our size into perspective.

I was talking to my friend John today about McNaught's comet and how I tried to see it yesterday night. I was standing out in the backyard and stomping around because I was cold and also trying to wave off the mosquitoes, I didn't manage to see anything. However, I did notice the beautiful moon and all the twinkling stars in the sky. The formations formed by the stars were very interesting too. We talked about what comets were and how they came about. I was surprised to learn that comets are comprised mainly of ice. Also, the tail behind the comet is ice since the comet is cool for that to happen. Comets get dragged near the Earth from the sun's gravitational pull. However, since comets still have their own momentum, they end up doing an elliptical orbit around the sun and then travelling off again. Hence, you get comets such as Halley's comet that come back near the Earth every 76 years.

Tonight, since McNaught's comet was still around and I had never seen a comet before, I vowed that I must see it before I miss the chance. By pure coincidence, at lunch, my friend Tin asked if I saw the comet yesterday. I said that I couldn't see anything. He said he could see it clearly from his house. Then our friend Tafazal said that he had a telescope. Hence we all arranged to meet at Tin's house to see the comet.

When I got to Tin's place, it was still bright at 9pm so I couldn't see anything. However, once it got dark, we finally saw the comet after the clouds moved away. The comet was spectacular. It was this bright spot in the sky followed by a massive tail. Through binoculars, the image was very clear. When Tafazal set up the telescope, the image was clear but very small. He couldn't find his magnification lenses so the image was not too good.

The skies truly are full of wonder and I must look up more often. I always love watching science fiction shows like Star Trek and how they travel through space. This always leaves me dreaming of what it would be like to be passing exploding stars and ion storms and dust clouds. The space is really where your imagination can run wild since no one knows for sure exactly what is out there. I guess its that mystery that keeps driving man to try and explore more of space. One day we may learn more secrets from space, such as how we came to be on Earth or if there are other life out there in the universe. Till then, I will turn my head up once in a while and gaze out at all the stars gazing back at me.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Holiday In Hong Kong, Malaysia And Singapore

So I finally got round to sorting out the photos from my overseas holiday to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Here on this post are a selection of a few photos. Try and guess which country each photo is from. To see more photos, please go and visit my Flickr account.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Visit To The Torturer...Umm, Dentist

Today I had my yearly visit to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. As far as dental procedures go, getting your teeth cleaned is one of the less painful things. However, I still don't exactly look forward to it. Who can say that they look forward to seeing their dentist. Don't get me wrong, my dentist is fantastic. He makes sure I know what is happening at all times and checks whether I'm in pain. Other dentists I have been to have been totally awful and keep torturing me despite my obvious pain and attempts to get them to stop. A funny thing I always think of when I see my dentist is the TV show "Home Improvement". On that show, we never see Tim's neighbour, Wilson's face. He was always covered up by the fence or some other strategically placed item. It's the same thing with my dentist. He always has on his surgical mask and I only see his eyes. I don't think I would notice him if I bumped into him in the street, not until he spoke and I heard his voice anyway.

My dental appointment went well. As usual the dentist commented on how dirty my teeth was. This year was an improvement on last year after he suggested that I use an electric toothbrush last year. It really does do a better job of removing plaque. Last year I had so much plaque that after he was done cleaning my teeth, my whole mouth was covered in enough blood to feed a vampire for a week. However, I have still been too lazy to clean my teeth properly. I always forget to floss so a lot of plaque still developed between my teeth.

I think dentists have the most thankless job. No one ever looks forward to seeing them. When you go to them, you are always in pain, or will be in pain, and are therefore not in a happy mood. All the dentist ever see of their patients is their dirty smelly mouths and teeths. Even when they talk to you and ask you questions, its not like you can exactly answer them. All I can ever mutter out is "Mmmm, aha, nnnnn". Although the dentist is there to help you, they usually have to inflict pain on you (filling cavities, pulling out teeth, root canal extraction etc) before your pain will go away. Whereas doctors can prescribe medication and you will thank them for making you better, you wont be thinking about thanking the dentist when you are in excrutiating pain. All the hideous torture like tools that the dentist puts into your mouth and hurts you with doesn't exactly get you in the mood for being thankful.

I remember when I had root canal surgery on my front teeth, that was so painful and I was grabbing the chair so hard. Afterwards when the anesthetic wore off, I was in pain for a whole night and couldn't sleep at all. I didn't think of thanking my dentist then. Only later on after some time did I think that my dentist did a great job. If he hadn't performed the surgery, my teeth would have still been infected and I would have been in even more pain. So here's a shout out to all the dentists out there and a thanks for helping us all with our pain, even if we don't say it.

Does anyone have any horror dentist story to share? My worst nightmare is that the dentist pulls the wrong teeth out or slips with that drill tool and cuts my mouth so that its all bleeding. Luckily that hasn't happened yet, and hopefully it will never happen.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Holiday Update Part 4

Here is the final thrilling conclusion to the holiday from here.

7th Jan

Today was spent walking all around Singapore, and I can tell you know, what everyone says is true. You can really see most of Singapore in one day. Paul and I walked from Little India, through Fort Canning, Clarke Quay and finally into Chinatown, all within one afternoon. We basically covered most of Singapore's city centre in that half afternoon. The buildings in Singapore are quite nice, not as high and impressive as Hong Kong, but nice all the same. The streets are so clean, its unnatural. There is so little rubbish and pavements are cleaner than my house patio. For dinner, we joined Joshua and Miss Qui again for Japanese food. The food was great, and I loved the sushi train.

8th Jan

Joshua sent Paul and I off from Singapore by joining us at the bus stop in Harbour City. We had one last breakfast at Food Republic, this massive food hall. I tried the Bak Ku Teh, pork rib soup. I was extremely disappointed. Since Bak Ku Teh literally translates to Rib Tea, I thought the soup base actually had tea in it. Instead it was just a normal pork rib soup like any other. After breakfast/lunch, we took a higher class coach from Singapore to Malaysia. The coach costed more than the normal ones but was worth it. The seats were much more comfortable and they informed us as to what was happening each time, especially getting through customs. It was so funny when the announcer said that he was the "cabin crew" for the bus. I never even knew a bus could have cabin crew. We got given a bottle of water and were also served lunch and tea or coffee. Since the bus was very empty, I took my shoes off and sprawled myself across two chairs. I then enjoyed the in-bus movie and the trip went by very quickly. There was even a lounge area in the bottom level of the bus where you could read magazines and newspapers. Should you ever take a bus from Singapore to Malaysia, definitely take the more expensive one. Upon arriving in Malaysia, we checked into a "better" hotel for one night. This was our only night in a hotel where there was actually a bath tub, indicating the size of the rooms we stayed in previously. The bed was so comfortable compared to everything else we had slept in previously. We met Felix for dinner and he took us to eat noodles and also DURIAN. My favourite durian that I hadn't gotten a chance to eat all trip. The expensive durian was delicious. The flavour was so strong, I couldn't believe it.

9th Jan

With our half day in Malaysia before flying to Macau, we thought we might try to go up the Twin Towers since our hotel was only 3 minutes walk away. However, even when we got there at about 9am, the queue for tickets was already so long, we couldn't wait since we had a flight to catch later. Hence we went window shopping around the Twin Tower shops since we couldn't even afford one sock from those designer shops. We then had a very long trip ahead of us. First we took a train to Central station from KLCC station. Next we took the LCCT bus to the airport. Next it was a plane from KL to Macau. From Macau airport we took a bus to Macau pier. Directly followed by a ferry from Macau to Hong Kong. Finally it was a train from Central to Tsim Sa Tui and a walk to our hotel. We were so tired by now after a whole day of travelling, only to find that our hotel room was a single bed room. They thought we were arriving at 4pm rather than 11pm so didn't hold our room. We slept on that single bed on opposite ends head to toe and tried not to turn around too much all night. Needless to say, I didn't have that good a sleep.

10th Jan

We took a trip to Lamma Island, one of Hong Kongs outlying islands. We had to take the ferry again, where I once again fell asleep immediately to avoid getting sea sick. I HATE boats, unless they are sailing slow on a lake that doesn't rock the boat. We trekked from one end of Lamma to the other, and rewarded ourselves for the trek by having lots and lots of seafood at one of Lamma's many famous sea side seafood restaurant. The seafood was so fresh and you could definitely taste it. At night back in Hong Kong, we walked along Goldfish street. There were so many fishes in so many shops, it was totally amazing. There were goldfish the size of my arm, truly unbelievable. We also we along Temple Street and Tung Choi Street. These are the two bigger street markets, known as "Men's Street" and "Ladie's Street" respectively. You can buy any assortment of goods, usually fake, on these two streets. I picked up a few items too, but lets keep this quiet between us. I don't want customs coming and knocking on my door for buying fake stuff.

11th Jan

Today was the day that I had been looking forward to, Disneyland. What kid doesn't want to go to Disneyland, and I'm just a kid at heart. However, I have to say that it was quite disappointing. All the stories I had heard from other people were true. The Disneyland was very small, there were hardly any rides and not much to do. It truly is aimed at little kids. It was still fun but not mind blowing fantastic fun like I expected. It was almost double the price of Ocean Park that we had gone to previously but that was actually a lot more fun. However, I can now tick Disneyland off my list of places to visit. We went back and had dinner with Charles and walked around the shops in Causeway Bay. We saw how cheap things were and told ourselves that we would come back and do more shopping tomorrow.

12th Jan

True to our words, Paul and I went back to Causeway Bay and did lots of shopping. I bought so much stuff that I was worried I would have to send some back since my luggage would be so heavy. After Causeway Bay, we went to Mong Kok and did more shopping. I met up with my friend Johnson for dinner in Mong Kok. He took us to this great restaurant where we got steak, sausages, pasta and a drink for about $9 AUD. You really have to know places to get good deals. Paul and I can never find restaurants since most of them are up in the higher levels of buildings and we aren't use to looking up. We just saw a scattering of a few restaurants at ground level, and usually those are the overpriced ones. There are so many good restaurants on the uppper levels of buildings but you have to look hard since there are so many signs that it is so confusing. After dinner, we walked some more in Mong Kok where I saw more potential things to buy.

13th Jan

Charles took us to the Big Buddha on Lamma Island. The Buddha is a huge 28 metre bronze statue sitting atop Lamma Mountain. We took the 5.7km cable car to it. The cable car ride was truly an experience. There we were suspended about 50 metres off the ground, going extremely quickly over the sea and the moutains. You can see all of Lamma Island and also the huge Buddha in the distance. It was a fantastic expereience. At the Buddha, we climbed the steps and got to the top for a close look. The statue was impressive. Then it was lunch at at traditionaly tea house before visiting the temples and the "Tranquil Spot", which had 36 huge pillars with ancient phrases. Since we were already on Lamma Island, we took a short bus ride to Tai O, a sea side village. The town is famous for the stilt houses on the water. The houses were so small and was like a tiny shed. I didn't know how people could live in that, I would be so uncomfortable, especially with all the mosquitoes that must hang around near the water. We saw, and smelt, the famous shrimp paste factory. Shrimp paste is this sauce that is made by fermenting shrimps. Finally it was off to somewhere far outside of the city to eat famous roast goose. The roast goose was so good. It tasted a lot better than roast duck and also costs a lot more.

14th Jan

We went and did some more shopping to get the last few items we wanted. After shopping, I met with my friend Alex and he took us around to Soho and Lan Kwai Fong. These places are were the expats and foreigners come to enjoy themselves. Lan Kwai Fong consists of lots of bars and clubs and Soho has lots of shops and restaurants. We also passed Central where there were so many designer brand shops, but not just little shops, huge buildings for one brand. For dinner, Alex couldn't join us but suggested we go try this Korean BBQ buffet. It was delicious, much better than the pathetic Korean BBQ buffets we have in Australia.

15th Jan

For our last day in Hong Kong, we visited the Harbour City shopping centre just a few minutes from our hotel. It is the largest shopping centre in Hong Kong, with over 700 shops and 2 million square feet area. We only managed to cover a very small section of it before we headed off for lunch. After lunch, we packed our bags and went to the airport, where we caught our plane home.

What a holiday it's been. It's been so much fun and tiring at the same time. I've done so many new things and seen so much more of the world. I hope I can go on another holiday soon and see more of this wonderful world.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Holiday Update Part 3

Following on from the riveting holiday update of part 2 found here, here's what has happened since.

1st Jan

Paul had a friend's wedding to attend so I took a stroll around KL myself and had some lunch. At about 3pm, our friend Felix picked us both up from separate locations and took us around in his CAR. Our first trip in a private car so far in this holiday. He showed us many of KL's landmarks such as Independence Square, Old Train Station, the largest Mosque, Old Petronas Tower, King's Palace and Central Market. We stopped at Central Market and had some Malaysian favourites in milk tea and kaya toast. At night, Paul and I had dinner with Felix's family and saw his apartment, very nice indeed for KL standards. He had his own gym and pool in his apartment complex. After dinner, Felix drove us to Putrajaya, the Government area. Putrajaya is definitely architecturally magnificent. Words cannot describe how good it looked. I will have to upload photos when I get back to Melbourne. The designs of the buildings were so unique and different. Offset by the striking lighting, the whole town was a great sight. I thought that it sort of looked like Gotham City from the Batman movies since the buildings had this eerie feeling about them due to the spot lighting. For late night supper, we ate at a "mamak" restaurant I think. They are old style outdoor restaurants run by Indians.

2nd Jan

Today was the start of our trip to the "jungle". We went to Taman Negara, which means National Park in English. It's Malaysia's largest part spanning about 4000 kilometres square. The trip started with a bus trip from KL to Tembeling Jetty. From there, it was a 3 hour "boat" ride in a long wooden canoe style boat with an outboard motor, to Taman Negara. We were staying at the Agoh Chalet, which was more like a shack than a chalet, but it did have running water and a toilet. Our tour guide, Muhammed, took us for a swim in Lubok Simpon, a lake running through Taman Negara. Dinner was traditional food on a floating barge and then a night walk straight after into the "jungle" to see the animals. We didn't see too much, but did spot quite a few insects and some mouse deer drinking at the salt licks. You may have noticed that I keep putting quotation marks around jungle, because it's not really a jungle. It's quite civilised with a 5 star $800 resort sitting there and all the modern comforts. I even got really good mobile phone reception in the jungle, which is more than what I got in Tasmania.

3rd Jan

The days started very early with breakfast provided. We then went for a 3 hour hike up to Bukit Teresek, a 344 metre high mountain. The view up top wasn't that great, but the tree canopy suspension rope bridge walk was definitely a good experience. I never knew bridges like that wobbled so much. After lunch, we went into those wooden canoe boats again and went over the rapids in the lake. Needless to say, we got quite wet. Midway in the rapid shooting, we stopped at an Orang Asli village. Orang Asli are the aboriginal people of the land who live in huts without modern ultilities and move from place to place. I'm a bit of a cynic and have to question how "native" they actually are. They are being allowed to live on Government property so have to rely on the Government. They also rely on tourist money to be able to buy food. I don't they do that much hunting and are only sustaining themselves from money from tourists. Hence they aren't really that authentic a tribe. However, I could be wrong and maybe their contact with outsiders isn't that great, apart from their Mickey Mouse t-shirts. The poison dart demonstration and fire building demonstration were interesting. I was totally awful with the blow darts, missing the target by miles. The only thing I would kill is a McDonald's hamburger from 1 feet away. After the village visit, again it was dinner and then free time. Paul and I met some German tourists who were in the same tour, Wolfgang (pronounce Voiefgeng and not Wolf gang) and Katie, so went and had some drinks with them.

4th Jan

The two day tour into Taman Negara was over. After breakfast, we took the boat back to Tembeling Jetty. That was a 2 hour ride. Then it was a 3.5 hour bus ride back to KL. We got dropped off at the Pudujaya bus stop, just in time to catch the bus to Singapore. After buying our tickets at the counter, we had about 10 minutes to get to the platform. Not knowing where anything was and just all the people everywhere trying to get us to buy their tickets, it was a bit stressful. We found the platform and went down to load our luggage into the bus. The conductor wasn't much help with information but we finally asked someone else who told us we were at the right place. I asked the conductor whether there was a toilet in the bus, which he said there wasn't so it was another mad dash around to find a toilet. Luckily all went well and we got on the bus safely. A 5.5 hour bus ride to Singapore passing through two customs check point where you actually get off the bus with your luggage, go through, and then back on the bus on the other side followed. We arrived in Singapore quite late at night so decided to take a taxi to our sleeping place. We are currently staying at the Anglo Chinese School's boarding houses, which is where Paul's brother Joshua is a tutor.

5th Jan

The first day in Singapore was spent doing the tourist things. I wanted to go to Singapore Zoo since I had read that it was very good. It didn't disappoint. Compared to the Melbourne and Sydney zoos that I have been to, Singapore is a class above. All the enclosures have not minimal or no fences, and instead have moats around them. This makes seeing the animals very easy and also makes you feel extremely close to them. There are a huge variety of rare animals, from polar bears, to white rhinos, to white tigers and a host of primates. A lot of animals were also free roaming, so that you could touch them even, though you're not suppose to. There were so many animals that I had never seen before and it was all extremely interesting. After the zoo, it was off to Orchard Road to see the mega shopping complexes. Any famous brand you can name, it was there. My favourite part was actually the Konikaya book shop. It was a book shop unlike any in Australia. It makes Borders look cheap. There were so many interesting books there that I wanted to buy, from the architecture ones, to 100s of t-shirt design books to books about history and culture. Too bad the Singapore to Australian currency exchange rate isn't so good, since all the books were way out of my budget.

6th Jan

The day started with a buffet Yum Cha, don't have that in Australia, with Paul and his brother Joshua. The food turned out to be very good, despite the limited range. My favourite was the fried fruit rolls, mmmm, I had three dishes of that, that's 9 rolls. I feel fat just thinking back on them. We then walked around Vivocity, this huge shopping complex along the harbour. The buildings shape is so modern and beautiful. The harbour isn't that spectacular, nothing like that of Hong Kong or Sydney's. It looked rather lame actually and wasn't beautiful at all. Inside Vivocity, they had a Food Republic, my kind of place. It is built like old style buildings and the stalls had numerous interesting food. Despite being extremely full, I still sampled some peanut pancake and these pickled berries. We went back to the dorms to shower and then it was out to eat again. This time it was with Paul's old teaches Miss Qui and Mr Lim. We went to a buffet in a hotel. Two buffets in one day, thats too much gluttony. Anyway, the buffet was good too, with foods such as oysters, roast beef, jellyfish, smoked salmon, stick clams all being to my liking. The most interesting dish was the coffee pork ribs, which sounds bad but is quite tasty. Desserts were good too, with durian mousse cake (mmmmmmmm) and chocolate fruit fondue. I ate lots of dragon fruit since that's so expensive at home and I've only ever eaten about 3 in my life. With all this eating, we had to do a bit of exercise. Miss Qui drove us to the Esplanade where I saw the Singapore skyline, quite nice. I also saw the famous Merlion fountain, half lion, half fish. The performing arts building looked like a huge durian and was quite weird. We enjoyed some good live music from an acapella group. Then it was off home to recover from all the day's food.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Holiday Update Part 2

Firstly, thanks to everyone for your comments. I wont be responding to them individually like I used to since internet is charged per hour so I have to be fast. So following on from the previously exciting cliffhanger of the holiday update that you can read here, I was at the airport blogging waiting for my plane.

28th Dec Continued

The plane boarded and left on time. The cheap Air Asia tickets were quite good. The plane was very clean and new. The bad part was that they forced you to buy drinks and you weren't allowed to drink your own drinks. I didn't feel like paying for water so I snuck a few sips from my water bottle. What were they going to do, kick me off the plane :-). When the plane arrived in Malaysia though, that's where the problems began. The customs took about an hour to get through, since there were about 5 planes that all landed at about 12am. When we got through customs, we took a train the KL Sentral Station, only to find that our connecting monorail didn't operate at 2am. Being extremely tired from all the travelling and waiting, we took a taxi to our hostel. We got there and woke up everyone and then tried to go to sleep. I didn't sleep at all that night. It's so hot and humid in Malaysia and the hostel didn't have air conditioning. Also the shared 6 person room was so cramped and right near the common area. This means people walking and talking outside caused a continuous stream of noise. The photos and reviews on websites about hotels and hostels always look so much better than real life.

29th Dec

We went to Times Square and walked around the shops and had some lunch in the food court. Food, like everyone who has ever been to Malaysia will tell you, is extremely cheap. I had a meal and drink for about $4 AUD. Paul and I then joined a tour to the Batu Caves, these limestone caves formed from millions of years of water erosion. The caves were quite good, and the giant gold statue standing 42 metres tall was impressive. I have to put photos when I get back to Australia. The next stops on the tours were at Royal Selangnor, who make pewter. The products look so good but they were all too expensive for me. The batik (hand painted silk) place also had some tempting things but once again too expensive. When we got to the chocolate place, I couldn't resist buying some almond coated tiramisu flavoured chocolates. They are delcious but I haven't had a chance to eat too many. They are currently melting in my suitcase. The thing I have found is that although Malaysia has all this great food, the really hot weather means I don't feel like eating that much. At night, we went to eat on Jalan Alor, a street full of food stalls. Again things were good and cheap. However, I was too full after the meal to enjoy some freshly opened durian. We walked back to the hostel via Low Yat and BB Plaza and looked at what was on sale in these shopping centres.

30th Dec

Today's activities must be the most common tourist things in Malaysia. Firstly we visited the KL Tower, the fifth tallest tower in the world. The view up on the observation deck was unbelievable. Obviously I took lots of photos, many of them were of the Petronas Twin Towers. After the KL Tower, we went to the Twin Towers. We hadn't come early enough (we're talking 6am early) to line up in the queue to get the limited tickets to go up to the walk way in the Twin Towers. Hence we just walked around in the very high class shopping centre beneath the towers. All the designer brands were there and everywhere you looked, price tags were in the 4-6 digit ranges, and I'm not including cents as digits. After walking around the shopping centre, there were the obligatory photos of the tower and a walk around KLCC gardens surrounding the towers. At night, again we went to another shopping centre. I don't actually like shopping but these shops are all within walking distance of our hostel so we might as well go see them. Dinner was some very yummy Cantonese food. So far, I haven't even eaten a nasi lemak, durian, or meat tea here, all of Malaysia's most famous foods. There just isn't enough space in my stomach.

31st Dec

Today we took a tour to the Malaysian Elephant Sanctuary set up by the Government to house elephants who are threatening farmers crops and hence might be killed by the farmers. This has to be my favourite activity so far. We got to feed the elephants, ride them and bath them in the river. I've never even touched an elephant before this. Riding an elephant is very bumpy actually. You can feel their bones and each step they take, you sway side and side and feel like you're going to fall off. When we got back to KL, we had dinner at a Western type restaurant (it had cool air conditioning and we didn't have to crush with all the New Year's party goers) and my beef pie was quite bad. Afterwards, we were fully refreshed so joined the crushing mass at a free New Year's Eve concert. The stream of people was endless and it was getting very very hot being stuck in there. After two hours of standing around, finally it was New Year's and we did the whole countdown thing. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1..... Happy New Year's everyone from me here in Malaysia. Hope you all have a safe next year and get what you wish for. Also try to keep up those New Year's resolution. My resolution for the 5th year running is to get fitter and lose some weight, mmmmm, this donut is delicious.

Till the next exciting installment of the Thanh Holiday update, I'm signing off from Malaysia wishing everyone the best for the new year.