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Thursday, May 14, 2009

I tried to sing in Singapore for the first time but Malaysia took my heart

I'm back from a four day tour of Singapore (if that can be called one) and Malaysia. I was with my sister-in-law, her husband and the husband's sister who just flew in from Saipan for a visit. Planning was done as early as last month, looking for hotels, bus terminals and all those things. Guess what, we missed our bus going to Clark. We even saw it leave Megamall around 2:15 am. The lady I made reservations with made sure it was leaving the place at 2:39. We tried to catch it but to no avail. We landed up in another bus station going to Alaminos. We had to disembark at Dau and take a van going to Clark.

The view from our hotel window

Taken while taking a rest inside our hotel room

I can hardly say I've toured Singapore. We arrived there around 1:30 and got out of the airport maybe 30 mins. after. We went directly to Furama hotel where we were booked, went out for lunch in a mall, buy some goodies and before we knew it, it was already way past six. We went back to the hotel to take a rest. We said we only needed 5 minutes of nap time but since we hardly slept the night before, we woke at 10. We've been told that the stores by Orchard Road would have been closed and asked where we could go to shop. We ended up in what is known as Little India called Mohamed Mustafa, a retail giant in the country.

There, anything and everything that can be sold is being sold. The place is replete with stalls you can barely walk and is teeming with people at anytime. We ended up in the wee hours of the morning and yet the place was still jam packed. The following day, we woke up late and headed for the airport. The taxi driver was a jolly fellow who had a lot of entertaining stories about his country. He said that Singapore is a fine city, meaning everything you do is being fined. He had his own versions of the acronyms. Too bad, I did not write them down. Anyway, the cab drivers there speak english and are very honest. When I asked the driver if it was safe to go anywhere, he said, "Let's put it this way. Low crime does not mean no crime."

Anyway, my best impression of the country is that it is so clean and their system is very efficient. Nevertheless, there was a little snag at the airport. When I put my bag into the x-ray, the men stationed there asked me to open it. This was a surprise because I never expected that they would do that. The man by the x-ray machine told the other guy that there's another small bag which he then took out. Lo and behold, it contained a cutter. I have forgotten all about it. They confiscated it, borrowed my passport and copied the number. Hmmm, does this mean I can no longer visit Singapore?

Malaysia is 45 minutes away by plane. I have been there before and am a little familiar with the place as I and my wife had been competently and generously toured by my friend, Bayi. Arriving at the airport, we took lunch and hailed a bus for KL Sentral.

They don't look strange, do they?

My first taste of tobacco after Singapore and it tasted heavenly!

Bus ride from LCCT to KL Sentral

At KL Sentral, we took Bayi's advice to go to the taxi station where we are given a cab for Genting Highlands. It costs RM 80 to get there. Funny but our cab driver looked like Telly Savalas of the Kojak fame. Anyway, Genting Highlands is an entertainmen cum theme park/casino and a nice get away from the hustles and bustles of the city. We checked in, after several hours of queueing, at the First World Hotel, that boasts to have the most number of rooms in the world. If that doesn't impress you yet, here are some facts. We arrived there, got a number before we can even check in.

We were #1446

346 to go!

Suffice it to say that we were all ready for dinner when we got to our room. The outdoor activity area was already closed leaving us to the indoor activity to venture. We watched a show named DREAMZ, a song and dance acrobat and magic show featuring both Asians and mostly European artists. They had white lions and tigers in the show and it was indeed entertaining.

After the show, what else was there to do but shop and yes, try our chances at the casino. As to be expected, I lost about RM150. That would be about Php 2000. Not bad considering I stopped at around 3 am. I should have stopped while I was ahead!

That morning, at breakfast, I took revenge and ate to my heart's content at the buffet breakfast included in our package. I ate like there was no tomorrow! AFter that, we toured the place, took the train that goes around the place and checked out. ON our way back to KL, we opted to ride the cable car. The cable car is a 15 minute ride of about 3.4 kilometers above the canopy of Malaysian rainforest. The first salvo of the trip is a whopping hundreds of feet drop that goes all the way to about a mile. It was a harrowing experience for me considering that I have fear of heights and I was in front seat.

When we got to KL, we stayed at the Grand Season Hotel and from there was picked up by Bayi and his wife, who graciously treated us to a sumptuous dinner that is really a gastronomic's delight. He offered us a bevy of vegetables, seafood and a local crispy pata with a new twist. Instead of serving it plain and dipped with a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and garlic, it was bathed in a sort of satay sauce. Bayi always the good entertainer, has done it again. I was so sated I can hardly breathe.

The following day, we headed for the Petronas Tower. We got tickets and as the tickets we got were for the 5:30pm viewing, we decided to take a train and head for the market in Penang Sari.

Underground bus station at KLCC

The bus station at KLCC is underground, probably so as not to ruin the view of the Petronas Tower but it goes above ground just as our LRT thereafter. The ride costs RM1. Which we think is very cheap.

This is where we got off

Again, my companions went on a shopping spree while I just window shopped, watched the artists work at the far end just like what Ermita was during the early 70's and managed to buy bracelets for my wife and kids and a set of soft charcoal pencils
for myself. What can I do, I barely carry money and having lost at the casino, I only have some left for food hahaha.

Thereafter, we took the train again and headed for the Petronas. While waiting for our scheduled tour, I happen to chance upon a gallery showcasing one of the local artists on exhibit while my companions shopped till they dropped. Too bad, I couldn't take pictures but the show was a good one.

Anyway, Malaysia is not a very different place for a Filipino. While their food
has a distinct taste, the people are just like us. What is amazing is how they managed to live together, in spite of their different religious, ethnic and cultural traditions. I have often wondered why there were too many words that sound familiar like lelaki for males, masuk for entry and this:

I'm sure the list can go on and on and then it dawned on me. We share the same heritage knowing that our ancestors are Malays coming here using boats called balangays. That is if Otley Beyer is correct.

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Anonymous bertN said...

Was this a package tour that you took? How much did this set you back?

4:54 AM  
Blogger cbs said...

interesting travelogue, titorolls. i have to visit malaysia someday...

2:43 AM  
Anonymous Panaderos said...

Thanks for sharing your fun experiences in Singapore and Malaysia. I was in Singapore a couple of years ago. Stayed there for 4 days but didn't get to see much of the country. I do agree though that it's such a clean and safe country. I haven't been to Malaysia yet but I hope to do so someday.

9:53 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

bertN No, this wasn't. It was a sponsored vacation, so to speak.

cbs You should. Sama mo ko, hahahaha

Panaderos 4 days? You were lucky. I barely saw Singapore. Malaysia is very nice and tourist friendly. You can ask around for directions and you'll never get lost.

7:31 AM  
Anonymous deped teacher said...

wow tulak in tagalog and tolak in malaysia.

Thanks for the post. I feel i also travel in Malaysia without cutter in the bag of course. lol

7:02 PM  
Blogger Auee said...

Napagod ako lalo after reading your entry. Parang pati pag-kain hinihingal ako sa dami

3:55 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

deped Marami pa sigurong mga kapareho salita natin di ko pa lang nahalungkat.

auee Ang dami talagang pagkain. Tamang tama naman at ako'y palaging gutom. hahaha

5:01 PM  
Blogger Tanggero said...

Sayang, walking distance lang ang hotel nyo sa apartment namin dati sa Sg. For sure, may naamoy ka sa little india, hehehe

7:51 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

tanggero Sayang nga ano? Di bale kung makabalik ako dun at hindi pa ko banned dahil sa cutter magkita tayo, hehehe

9:05 PM  
Anonymous BlogusVox said...

"Tolak"... bisaya pala ang mga Malaysian ano, Ka Rolly. : D

4:15 PM  
Blogger bayi said...


Sorry I couldn't take you round this time. And thianks for making time for dinner! Hope your entourage enjoyed it!

6:23 PM  
Blogger a.r.d.y.e.y. said...

natawa ko sa fine city. hehehe. isa sa mga nagustuhan ko sa singapore ay very efficient ang transportation system nila. makakaikot ka sa buong singapore sakay ng mrt. mas hassle pa nga yata ang magkaroon ng sariling sasakyan doon dahil sa mahal ng parking.

3:07 AM  
Blogger Miki said...

Haha. Cool cab driver.

Some of my classmates were in Singapore for a month just last summer kasi they decided to take their 4-week electives there. They were all super impressed with Singapore General Hospital - sobrang hi-tech daw.

I've never been to either country, pero I really want to see Malaysia. Pero gusto ko po sana malibot muna ang Pilipinas, sobrang dami ko pang hindi nakikita dito it's almost embarrassing.

Hinay-hinay lang po sa sigarilyo at unhealthy food ha! (Haha, sorry, I'd feel guilty not inserting a slight reprimand :D)

9:27 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

miki Buti pa sila one month. I was there for just a day, overnight pa.

I have gone to many places in the Philippines except, unfortunately, in Boracay and Palawan

Thanks. I need to be reminded once in a while, anyway.

8:53 AM  
Blogger stani said...

hello, sir rolly, long time no blog (for me, that is)!

i was on a business trip to malaysia a couple of years back and also noticed the many linguistic similarities. i am not sure if it's the same for the spoken word, but my initial assessment was that their language is a bit stronger- or harsher-sounding than the dialects we have here.

based from your "travel time" links, i see that you've certainly been around. i've just come back from coron, palawan and i can say its tagline "the last frontier" is well-deserved. you may want to consider it around this time of year, since cebu-pacific is offering low fares during the off-season.

i have a few pictures on my photo blog (latest entry). very few actually, since i was too busy enjoying the tour destinations.

1:33 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

stani I haven't heard from anyone from your batch except for my daughter, of course. So, what have been up to lately? You're working now, I suppose. Where?
You forgot provide a link to your photos. Give it to me and I would like to have a look.

7:24 AM  
Blogger stani said...

yeap, i'm working for hewlett-packard under their i.t. support department. basically software and server administration. not exactly dinner table conversation, but it pays the bills.

i had thought that you already had a link to my little spot in cyberspace but i see now that the link is outdated. try this one: http://call-waiting.blogspot.com

if you want a better idea of what palawan holds for you, you can check out http://www.pinoymountaineer.com/2009/07/hiking-matters-61-captivating-coron.html also. we did most of what was mentioned here, and spent about the same for twice the duration.

1:32 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

stani Thanks for the link. I liked the pictures you have there. Will come for a visit again as soon as you have something new.

7:42 PM  

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