June 20, 2017

Indonesia – Bali

If I were to summarize my Bali trip in one word, it would be ‘unexpected’. For some strange reasons, I had the impression that Bali is a small place, despite the fact that I could see myself from the map that it’s goddamn huge! But it was ‘unexpected’ in a good way for me. I expected it to be a just mediocre holiday destination but the trip unexpectedly turned out to be quite pleasant for me and my family. Here are the list of hits and misses of Bali:

Hits (good):
Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang : To be frank, you’ll only be impressed with the first few Hindu temples you visit in Bali. After that, it gets trite and common, and most of them would look all the same after that. Just like those churches in Europe. But not Lempuyang. This place has a magical feel, and it’s the only temple in Bali I’d vouch for. Its magnificent view of Mt. Agung (subject to weather condition) and serene ambiance, makes me feel at peace.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces : It has a UNESCO label on it, and rightly so. On a clear day, you’d see contrasted green or yellow fields of rice terraces against the blue sky. Takes away all the stress.

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan : The water temple that is surrounded by a well maintained park. Because it is located at a highland, the air is cool here and breezy. Great place to relax and killer postcard scene to be had.

Twin Lake view : Located not far from Beratan lake, it is a free viewpoint with some restaurants lined up along the street. It’s a great place to have some local snacks/meal, while enjoying the super awesome view of the 2 lakes – Buyan and Tamblingan.

Kintamani : Another viewpoint that I’d vouch for. Kintamani’s view of Mt. Batur is damn nice! Like the twin lake viewpoint, the air is cool and breezy here, which is pure bliss.

Ubud Monkey Forest : It’s not about the monkeys. Fuck the monkeys. But this ‘monkey forest’, does look ‘magical’ with its ass old vines and trees. You can hike around the place too. Of course if you like monkeys, that can be a bonus for you. There are shitloads of them here, but they’re pretty much harmless.

Tirta Empul : Holy bathing place. Can be full of tourists sometimes but, it’s special enough to warrant a visit here at least once. If you’re a believer and has strong faith in Hinduism, I’d recommend to take a soak in the spring water (which are just blessed piped water, by the way).

Penglipuran village : Has a bamboo forest right outside of the main village. A stroll along the forest gives you the calm (or creeps, depending on the size of your balls). The village itself is also very unique – the traditional Balinese village setting, complete with their own private temple at each home (which is common throughout Bali). You can just walk into any home, the tenants will welcome you… with hope that you’d purchase some souvenirs, drinks or food (which are reasonably priced). An eye opener to even the locals (especially kids born in modern times), I heard.

Pasar Senggol Gianyar : Reminds me of those ubiquitous night markets throughout Taiwan. Shit tonnes of food at dirt cheap prices.

Melasti Beach : Nice beach beside some cliffs. Place is right next to Indian Ocean, which is blue and has huge beautiful waves. If I wasn’t pressed for time, I’d sit there for a long time to admire the view the whole afternoon.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu : Famous for its sunset view. The walk along the cliff offers magnificent view of Indian Ocean and some impressive waves down there. Place is touristy and full of nasty monkeys – but do not let that dampen your spirit of going there.

Waterbom : I don’t know about the claim of being the No.1 waterpark in Asia (I haven’t been to many waterparks), but this place is really a gem. If you have a day to kill and the weather’s inclement, head over to this waterpark and kill your whole day here.

Misses (bad):

Goa Gajah : Old temple but much of it is in ruins. There are a few filthy ponds nearby which are eyesores and there’s not much going in its compound. But outside the temple, there are shitloads of stalls with vendors pestering everyone to buy their overpriced merchandise. If you miss this place, you won’t miss a thing.

Ubud traditional art market : Place is a shithole. Stuffs are cheap… yes, but only after you bargain till there’s no tomorrow. I don’t like this kind of way of doing business, so…

Pura Kehen : Another temple which is located in some town smack dab of nowhere. Small compound, and there’s nothing much about it. You’d feel ripped off for having to pay to enter this temple because it’s like paying for nothing…

Kertha Gosa : Unless you’re a history nerd, this place offers nothing much other than a couple of re-created buildings of some old remnants of a guest house surrounded by a small moat. There’s also a museum in the complex which has very limited exhibits. Conclusion: This place is as boring as watching paint dry on a wall.

Tirta Gangga : Boring park with fountains and ponds. I don’t find it interesting but, can be a great place for a family picnic if that’s your thing. Because the place is located far to the north-east of Bali, I’d say to goddamn give it a miss unless you’re in the area.

Taman Soekasada Ujung : Another water palace like Tirta Gangga, which also used to be a prison for ‘evil sorcerers’ or something. Fucking mind boggling I know but, one would expect the place to look darkly impressive at the very least but, place looks like it’s trying too hard to be a botanical garden/park but failed miserably.

Goa Lawah : Bat Cave Temple – that’s the only impressive thing about this place – its name. Its just a small temple by the roadside. Having to pay to visit this place makes it feel like a RIP OFF. I couldn’t even see the bats because they’re hidden in a cave, which is restricted to visitors/worshippers. There’s totally no point of visiting this place unless you’re here for some religious purposes.

All the malls : Malls at Bali are big jokes. Most of them has retarded air conditioners (stuffy as shit) and overpriced merchandise that can be found right at the stall across the street.

Entry fees for almost all the places : My gripe is that, some of the places do not even have proper facilities like clean toilets or even a fucking parking lot – so why the entrance fee? Escapes me. I guess it is just there to part your money from your wallet in case you’re smart enough not to buy any of their low quality ‘handicrafts’.

Taxi drivers : Seriously, there are just too many of them. More of them in Kuta than those monkeys in Ubud. They’re everywhere and they’d honk at every passing foreigners on the road. If you cross the road, one or two of them would stop to ask if you’d like to go somewhere. Goddamn taxi drivers. The Bali government should consider a proper public bus (hop on and off kind) service instead of letting these shitbags to ply the streets of Bali.

Average (meh…) :

Pura Tanah Lot : Post card place that every visitor would post a picture of, when in Bali. Place looks great but, is too crowded to be able to get a decent picture there. So crowded with tourists that it has become filthy, and the reeks of tourist trap. Go there at planned time, and it might be great.

Pura Taman Ayun : A major temple of sorts. Its walls look majestic but otherwise, it looks like any other Hindu temple you can find around Bali. Might be good to visit this before you visit other temples to appreciate it.

Kuta Beach : Impressive wave but, it’s a beach teeming with people and a bit polluted due to proximity to Kuta & Denpasar. There are better beaches around Bali.

Balinese food : Greasy as hell, and not too spicy (some can pack quite a punch). Taste wise, it’s nothing to shout about. The only thing I enjoyed there was the Babi Guling meal (roasted pork). The rest are just… meh. (maybe that’s because I come from Penang).

Turtle Conservation And Education Center : Place not meant for entertainment, but more for educational on turtle conservation around Bali (as the name implies). If you’re on precious vacation time and you want max enjoyment, this might disappoint you to some extend.

Ocean rafting to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan : Great experience on the high speed raft but the snorkeling wasn’t as impressive as say… Redang or Lang Tengah at Malaysia. Corals are bland and dull, fishes are shy. The beach club by Bali Hai is old and dated.

Bintang beer : You see signs everywhere promoting it like it’s the holy water that will give you eternal youth. But really, it’s just very normal. Go for the brand ‘Anker’ instead…

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June 12, 2017

Bali, Indonesia – Itinerary and planning (1 week)

I’ve always wanted to visit Bali all my life… and it was my destination for this year’s mid year break. I chose Bali and the first week of June to be there for some strategic reasons – it was the dry season, meaning, there will be little to no rain at all. Blue sky is my shit. Secondly, it was the week before the Indonesian school holidays start so, less chance of running into hyper screaming kids. Did the trip last week and everything fell spot on according to plan. Following would be the itinerary for those of you who is looking for an idea for Bali (after the disclaimer):

Disclaimer:
– Bali is a mountainous region and has unpredictable weather. This itinerary was planned in June to minimize the chance of seeing rainy days… and even that, we did encounter 1 rainy day. If you plan this in any other season, the weather may ruin your shit so, plan well.
– Bali has a relatively short daylight in June (or whole year long, I’ve no fucking idea). It starts to get dark at about 6pm and the sun starts to set between that time till 6.30pm before it gets completely dark. If you plan on a hike, might be a good idea to get a flashlight.
– This is an itinerary post, I’ll do a separate post for what I think about the places I’ve visited. (link)
– This was planned based on 3 pax – my wife, my 11-yo daughter, and myself. If you’re planning for a group of more than 4, this probably won’t work for you.
– The main objective is sightseeing, to visit temples and places of interest. To save myself a lot of extra planning and maximize my time there, I secured the service of a ‘supir’ (a driver cum guide) with my own itinerary. We did some discussion through emails prior coming up with the plan, and the plan is flexible across the days. Again, this won’t work for you if you have a small child in your group (that little shit is not going to be pleased visiting so many goddamn temples, believe me)
– If you have a heart problem or is goddamn old, this itinerary probably won’t work for you.
– If you have motion sickness, this itinerary is going to be your nightmare (long car rides, boat rides)
– If your religion prohibits you from visiting buildings or monuments of other religious faith, this won’t work for you too.
– If your vanity prohibits you from getting a lot of sun or if you’re sensitive to the sun, this won’t work for you.

Read the rest of this entry »

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May 29, 2017

Touch ‘n Go

Recently, there’s been a lot of heated discussions in the net about how unscrupulous Touch ‘n Go (Malaysia’s prominent electronic payment card) is, for imposing surcharge at mall parking lots. Yes, believe it, we Malaysians have to pay extra to use the electronic payment system. Makes my blood boil by just thinking about it. I don’t know who is the moron at Touch ‘n Go that came up with this retarded idea. They’ve got a good thing going, and they have to ruin it all by being stupid and greedy.

Now, every asshole refuses to use the electronic payment system, and none of the good advantage of an electronic payment system is reaped. That means, it’s good for nothing. Coupled with the advent of online shopping, the days for businesses at malls are already numbered, and this is definitely making it worse.

If these dimwitted cretins have an iota of sense in them, they’d have figured to make it CHEAPER instead… to pay with the electronic payment system. With the money saved from not needing to handle the paper/plastic-card tickets/cash for running a parking fees collection system, they’d have all the incentives and motivations to encourage everyone to use the electronic payment over the conventional ticket/machine. The benefits are supposed to be mutual – convenience for the mall patrons, and savings for the management. Touch ‘n Go as a company, would have benefited from the sales of cards, and cash flow from people loading their cards (they’d have rolled more money from banks if successful). They could have used a larger scale and extensive loyalty programs (points system, etc) as well, just like how Hong Kong / Japan / Taiwan do it.

But look where we are now. They can’t even get it right. Fucking Touch ‘n Go is a big joke (like Proton). Limited use, limited coverage. Some places still have the gall to charge extra to reload your credits, and then there’s this stupid parking thing. The cards are only sold at their own office (which mostly are hard to get to – being at the highway and shit), and you have to fill in forms to buy them. Pffft. Convenient my ass, it’s a good for nothing piece of shit. At Hong Kong / Taiwan, I could easily buy a card and reload at any convenient store, use their electronic payment system to buy beer, how about that? And I can link them to my credit card, and use them for all the public transports and not having to worry a thing about running out of credits.

I guess that’s what happens when you have a bunch of incompetent imbeciles running a company.

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May 24, 2017

disrespectful pricks

A week ago, I had the privilege to attend a technical sharing by an expert, who single-handedly designed and developed almost all the specialized machines/equipments we used in our line of work. Guy was a Mexican-American and has a big heart. Helpful and courteous. My kind of bro.

This time round, he came all the way from the US to share his new innovation, which is way more complex, but would eventually make our life in engineering and automation very much more bearable. It was a 2-days’ event with limited seats, and not many of us get the privilege to be in it. For those of us who got the opportunity to be in this event? We’re amongst the luckiest sons of bitches in Company T, but sadly, not many of those fucknuts know that.

You see, the sad thing about this was, I noticed a lot of the attendees were doing their own stuff during the technical sharing. Their laptops were on, and they were working on their keyboards all the time (the clacking sound was annoying enough). Some would fidget with their phones, chat with each other and came into the room late enough to ask dumbass questions. I don’t know what have we been feeding them fucking kids at Uni/College, but that is not an acceptable thing to me.

I was thinking – If you’re so busy with work that you have to goddamn stay glued to your fucking laptop all the time, then why bother attending that event in the first place? Being away from your workdesk and not able to concentrate in the technical sharing, you’d bound to lose both anyway… So, why bother? Just fucking decline the event and get real. Let others who want to learn be there instead. I could only imagine how would that Mexican guy feel, to see so many young but ignorant engineers putting their resources to waste and being such disrespectful pricks. All of them deserved to get punched in their kidneys until they need dialysis.

I was so fucking mad that I dragged 3 of my teammates after the event (2 of whom I caught doing Facebook and Whatsapp) and gave them a life changing lecture. The words ‘kurang ajar’ and ‘bangang’ were pitched into my tirade of anger.

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May 15, 2017

branded education

Do guys you know what’s the hottest dumb shit parents are into lately? Branded education. Branded as in, famous, glorified, good reputation, etc.

I don’t know if this is just happening in Penang but, there seems to be this common perception in the society that our government funded schools are for bottom feeders. i.e. They suck. That’s why we have a lot of these private schools popping up all over Penang to exploit insecure yuppie parents main gripe about their parenting obligation – that their children are not getting the best they can afford. That’s why, in Penang, most middle class and above families tend to want their kids to study in one of these ‘prestigious private schools’ that they can best afford.

And if you have such friends in Penang, you’ll hear them yapping about which of these institutions that they’re planning to send their kids to, and what kind of procedure they need to follow to get them accepted. Some of the schools, as I learned, requires some background check. Some even require the applicant (the damn kid) to go for a goddamn interview (can you believe it??), or worse, an entry exam. Of course, one is expected to fit a certain stringent requirements or pass a certain grade to be able to get accepted in that ‘prestigious’ school. It’s as if, they’re trying to make themselves discrete like they’re Harvard or Princeton, or something the like.

One may think this is preposterous but, believe me, people are flocking all over these damn schools to enroll their children! Prestigious school worr… why lose out such opportunity?? Most of them have good track records of high scores! Goddamn! Have these parents ever thought, to have all the smart kids studying in the same place – won’t that be the very reason it’s ‘a good school’ in the first place? Like, if a kid’s already smart enough to pass the strict entry exam to get enrolled, what else is there for the kid to improve or learn? It’s just going to increase the average performance of the entire institution (and you get charged for that). Shouldn’t a good school be doing something the total opposite instead? Like you dump in a kid who underperforms, and he comes out an overachiever? But alas, that’s not what’s happening.

One of the many things I don’t get about the society.

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