Just a few steps away from the Masjid Jamek LRT station is a waterfront that has been touted as one of the top 10 in the world. The River of Life project is a step in the right direction for the Klang River.Read More
Cyberjaya isn’t the Destination to Die For when it comes to vacations. But I was sold on Cyberview Resort & Spa when I saw gorgeous photos of their gardens and swimming pools. I was also won over by the fact that it’ll only take me a half an hour drive to get there.Read More
I've never been a "shopping person", so I have never felt the urge to visit the heartbeat of shopping in Malaysia - Bukit Bintang. Especially Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, the mall to conquer all malls, because it carried brands that had prices that makes my wallet hurt. The minimalist me couldn't fathom the sheer excessive consumerism of the place.Read More
After spending my twenties and thirties zipping around Europe, United States and various Asian nations, I'm now finding myself more interested in becoming a backyard tourist by visiting Malaysia's various states. And why not, there's so much Malaysia has to offer!Read More
So last month, I took four days off to have a much longed-for vacation in an award-winning resort: Avilion Port Dickson. More specifically, I had a reading vacation - yes, a holiday where my goal was to read in beautiful surroundings. (And eat, and exercise too, of course.)
At fist, I wondered what the hell was I doing, parting with nearly RM800 for a 2N3D vacation, but my concern morphed into delight when I stepped into the resort's grounds. For one, it's absolutely gorgeous! Two: The front desk gave me a free upgrade to a fancier, and arguably, the best chalet type of the resort: The Premium Water chalet! (You'll find out why it's amazing below.)
Avilion Port Dickson is just stunning. Beautiful. My camera just cannot capture how beautiful the grounds are.
Photo 1: I love the garden chalets. You may think that since they don't have sea views they aren't worth it, but the chalets are surrounded by gorgeous greenery and is supposedly bigger than the water chalets.
Photo 2: There are lookout sitting areas around the chalets, so if your chalet doesn't have seaviews, you can still indulge.
Photo 3: A petting zoo - I found out that the peacocks have a habit of perching high above, looking down at us imperiously. Also, the roosters and chickens tend to fly the coop and wander happily around the resort compound.
Photo 4: If only I could live in a place this beautiful!
Welcome to the Premium Water chalet! The best thing about the chalet is the fantastic view from the patio - an unhindered view of the sea! On my first night there, there was a heavy wind and rain and it was absolutely awesome to listen to the sea roar. On my second night, I ordered room service and ate on the patio - how I ate by the beach! Only, I literally ate above the sea. I spent sunset throwing longan seeds into the ocean. Bliss!
Needless to say, with a room this gorgeous, I never wanted to leave it.
Photo 1: The room has an all encompassing view of the sea.
Photo 2: The open-air bathroom is a delight, and it rained when I was there and I thought it was so nice to have a shower from nature and a pipe at the same time!
Photo 3: Seriously, this King sized bed was super comfy.
Photo 4: My favourite spot in my chalet. I spent many hours reading books on his daybed. I opened the windows and let the cool sea air in (it was raining). Gosh, must I leave?
I loved almost everything about the resort. Sure, the furniture seemed a wee dated, and the buffet spread simple compared to KL hotel buffet standards, but I still had an awesome time. I, unfortunately, didn't indulge in spa time (the prices!), but I hear it's awesome.
Would I return? You bet. I count myself really blessed to have experienced Avilion, even if it's just for a few days.
I've heard so much about Sekeping Kong Heng, a "hotel" designed by the architect Seksan. So, when I decided to have a short vacation in Ipoh last week, I made a point to book a room for myself there.
Located in Ipoh old town, Sekeping Kong Heng is a unique, one-of-a-kind lodging that you've got to experience at least once. It's made from of the bones of an old building, and Seksan has done it so well and so carefully that it's no wonder it's one of the most photographed buildings in Ipoh. Just look at the photos below (clicking on them will bring up a bigger picture.)
Personally, I don't think Sekeping Kong Heng is a hotel per se, and those going there expecting it to be so would be disappointed. You'd have an easier time of it if you think of it as a high-end, avant garde guest house.
I decided to book the Annex C5 room, the smallest and cheapest at RM80. The room, however, doesn't come with its own bathroom, which I'm fine with. I've backpacked a lot and do not need much beyond a good bed, and frankly RM80 for a private little room is luxury!
I took a 2.5-hour train ride from KL Sentral to Ipoh. And from the train station, it was a short 900m walk to Sekeping Kong Heng. It can be a challenge to find the place, but I was well prepared, having read oodles of blog posts about it.
First, find the iconic Kong Heng restaurant:
Then, walk in the lane between Kong Keng restaurant and Plan B, which is next to it. After the black gate, there's the reception on your left. It's literally a hole in the wall.
The man there took my bag up for me to the Kong Heng Annex, which is not in the same building as the other rooms. I rather like the Annex as it's not right next to Plan B - for reasons I will make clear below. Anyhow, we got to my room.
My room is the cutest thing ever! i loved it for its simplicity and minimalism. The bathroom was a walk away, past the pool. All in all, I do love the serenity of the surroundings.
Still, there are pros and cons about staying at Sekeping Kong Heng. In fact, its website makes it clear that the place isn't for everyone.
The industrial chic design is beautiful, and there's much to admire in the careful reuse of old materials and the careful preservation of the old building.
It's walking distance to Ipoh old town's famous eateries.
Walking distance to the train station.
If you stay in the Annex, you'd be right next to the pool, though I'm not sure if it's a swimming pool or a decorative pool. Still, a nice place to relax. I didn't get to, however, cos the first two days I was there, construction workers were sitting there. ;(
Dear Lord in Heaven, it was NOISY. Plan B plays muzak from morning till midnight. I have no idea how the guests in the Family Room sleep because not only are there no walls in the room (just grilles), there's a speaker blaring loud music right outside their room. Fortunately, my room is possibly the quietest room in the Annex. One of its walls is solid brick and the room next door had been converted into a pantry. And I suspect I was the only one living in the Annex during those days as I didn't see anyone else. At night, the music was a tinny whine.
Not for children or the elderly as there are far too many opportunities for people to fall, trip etc. For one, I was really nervous walking on the grates that was the floor around the swimming pool, and there were no waist-high barriers between the second floor and the ground floor around the swimming pool.
Inconvenient security system: I had to struggle with the sticky lock to get in and out of the annex. And I had to do it while perched on narrow stairs. Not exactly the safest thing.
Not very disabled-friendly; no elevators if you need to take bags up to your room, and with the stairs being the way they are, they are a trip hazard.
It was a unique experience, however, staying there for two days, and I did enjoy my room a lot. But the noise made it tough to sleep and I wasn't exactly restful there, alas. If, however, you sleep like a log and would like to experience something novel and unique, Sekeping Kong Heng is for you. Just take note of the pros and cons :)
Penang folks are rather proud that they are Penang folk. We are proud of the fact that we have the best food in Malaysia, and the Chinese is most certainly proud to speak the genteel Northern Hokkien dialect. Which is why I jokingly refer to the state where I was born as "the motherland".
After an arduous 9 months slogging for the CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing, I was super excited to celebrate my emancipation from assignment hell by a trip up north. My goal for the 5-day vacation was simple: Eat, explore, sleep and read.
Is it me, or is it hot??
My family took the speedy 4-hour ETS train from KL Sentral (with me grumbling about waking up at an unholy 6am all the way). It's RM118 for return tickets, and we took the the 9am train. When we finally landed in Butterworth, the extreme heat (thanks to our good friend El Nino) was a shock to the system, especially since the train was soo cold just moments before. After lugging our bags up the very disabled-unfriendly stairs and ramps to the ferry that will take us across to Penang island, we were soaked in sweat.
Penang island was no better. I swear, it must have been a 40 degree Celcius day, because waiting for the bus that would take us to the hotel was so unbearable I threatened to take a taxi to the hotel. Being a stout, thrifty Penangite, Mum was mystified why I would consider paying $20 for a ride when a free bus ride could be had.
But we got to Heliconia hotel's air conditioned confines soon enough!
Below (from left) The ferries that take us from the mainland to Penang island, a refurbished shop house, Chowrasta market and some salted fish at a market.
WHEN IN PENANG, EAT!
I don't care what Singapore says in their tourism brochures, but Penang has the best food in South East Asia. So I did my duty in contributing to the Penang economy. Admittedly we ate at New Lane hawker centre, what most Penangites would consider a tourist trap, but it was very convenient to have all the best hawker dishes under one ... sky?
Actually, the family and I were also there for the annual Qing Ming (tomb-sweeping) festival. My paternal grandparents were enshrined at a collumbrium at Kek Lok Si temple. Because of the heat and an unfortunate and ill-timed bout of food poisoning for yours truly, we took a taxi to Air Itam. RM70 for return. Ouchies.
Five days was over just like that. I achieved my goal of being the laziest tourist ever - that's what I needed, to sleep after months of sleepless nights studying! With food purchases (tau sah peah and hiao pia, which are traditional Chinese biscuits) and nearly a dozen books from the Big Bad Wolf sale, my bag literally burst from the strain. It was a great vacation with the family, eventhough I have to admit I was a bit of a sourpuss from the blazing weather most of the time.
Thinking of visiting Penang? Don't hesitate, it's awesome! But then again, I'm biased. :P