Archive for the ‘places’ Category

December 16, 2014

Hong Kong

Back in 2003 – Emily and I took an unplanned 2 days’ trip around Hong Kong, and vouched to return one day with a more efficient travel plan around this city… and we did it 11 years later, last week, this time with an additional team member – our daughter Regine. I’ve had that experience (at Hong Kong) written down 11 years ago in this blog (link), and it felt kinda strange when I re-read the notes on how I really felt about Hong Kong back when I was in my 20’s. Oh how time has changed. Here’s my take on Hong Kong in 2014, 11 years later. A much much negative version, now that I’ve grown into a grouchier older man.

Place
No doubt the theme is still the same. A huge metropolis with dazzling skyscrapers, neon lights and fast paced people walking all around that never sleeps. Only that, it has grown so much more. More buildings, more people. Everywhere I went in Hong Kong, I saw fuckloads of people. The city reeked of trash and rotten food because it’s so damn hard to keep clean when the place fucking gets this crowded and packed. Hell, even the air that I breathed was choking with haze, fumes and shit, that my boogers went a few shades darker than usual. All in all, Hong Kong is a shithole with too many rats in them. It’s not the kind of place to go for a relaxing vacation, but a place similar to Penang – you come here for the food and soak in the atmosphere of being perpetually on the move and being cranky. Now I’m starting to get why an old acquaintance of mine named Gordon moved out of his homeplace in Hong Kong to Australia – it’s not a proper place to live, he said. I kinda agree with him now.

People
Speaking of cranky, the people of Hong Kong (Hongkies) are definitely a cranky bunch. I thought I was antisocial, but wait till you see the Hongkies. It’s funny that they bitch so much about the swarm of mainland tourists from China being so much of an annoyance but, to be honest, that’s like a pot calling a kettle black. Hongkies are the same turd from the same colon (if not worse!). They never smile, are rude (you can tell by the way you get treated by the immigration officers at HK airport, despicable!) and are fucked up. I didn’t feel the same way when I went to China. I was treated with more respect in China (but that’s probably to buy my trust enough so that they can con me better or something, oh well). The only way to differentiate a Hongkie vs a mainlander Chinese (the people of China) in Hong Kong, is to spot the facial expression. A Hongkie can be easily distinguished with a pissed off or scowling look, like he/she has a battery operated butt plug with spikes up his/her ass and its going to vibrate harder if they smile/being-polite. A mainlander Chinese on the other hand, looks apathetic to everything and would just elbow his/her way over anything like a stampeding buffalo herd. This, is a major turn off for me at Hong Kong. Both the Hongkies and hoards of mainland Chinese made it shitty. I did go to Disneyland/Ocean Park, but it felt like visiting 2 rehabilitation centers with different majors in mindfuck. Those Hong Kong cheebyes… simply unbelievable.

Food
Hong Kong, like Penang, has a lot of evolved food that has been cross influenced by various cultures (more on western for Hong Kong), only very much shittier (it’s not even in the same league as Penang). Many of its restaurants are Michelin starred, and 90% of them are overrated. Their food are expensive, and most outlets have crappy services (getting yelled at, getting shooed away, ignored at, are norms). As if this is not bad enough, due to the limited spaces, patrons are often required to share tables at eateries/restaurants. Their breakfast to start the day are also pathetic – they’d consider instant noodles, macaroni in bland soup, half hearted shitty toasts as delicacy and would queue for hours for one shot of those craps. (if only they knew what we Penangites have for breakfasts…). And the dim sum aren’t really as good as I’ve expected either. Michelin starred dim sum at that, they’re just passable food. Of all the restaurants I’ve visited, only 2 really stood out for me. One was a beef noodle stall located in a run down wet market with roaches to keep you company (link), and the other in a damp basement of a derelict building serving noodles with handmade tomato gravy (link). For food, I’d pitch Singapore with Hong Kong, they’re probably in the same shit league in terms of blandness and limitations of variety.

Transport
11 years ago, I navigated half of Hong Kong with a big ass paper map and a few brochures. Now, I did it all with just a Google Map app, with my planned places saved in my profile and let the app tell me how to get there with public transport – which is impressively efficient as hell (that’s the only impressive thing about Hong Kong – but really, what’s the point of having an impressive transportation network, when the whole city’s that shitty?). Hong Kong’s public transport is second to none (compared to Singapore, it’s much better). Its subway network covers most major spots, and for the rest that are not, it will be covered with intricate networks of buses and taxis. You don’t really need to have your own car there. And the Octopus payment card saves you the need to keep loose change, as most places support payment with this card (it’s like a virtual wallet). That’s efficiency at the next level. I kinda wonder, with such first class transport infrastructures and payment system like what they already have, why Hongkies are still so stuck up in the ass like they are now? Shouldn’t they be much more stress free than most of us and be that wee bit of a pleasant people to contend with? Fucking boggles the mind really.

Anyway, it was just a trip to bring my Regine to the poor man’s Disneyland (Hong Kong) and some tripping day at the Ocean Park. The city roaming and food hunting were just the sidelines which we’ve been wanting to do since our trip back in 2003. It wasn’t as enjoyable as I thought it would be (well, I might have enjoyed it if I’m a Singaporean), but at least I’ve crossed this off my list.

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June 9, 2014

Penang tourist traps

I don’t fucking understand why you foreigners and outstation rustic bumpkins like to flock to the same few stupid tourist traps in Penang. More often than not (especially during long weekends or school holidays) those few places get unusually congested with people/traffic, and turn the whole Penang into a massive nightmare.

Why can’t you people do a little bit more research before coming here? It’s a digital age for fuck’s sake, getting information should be as easy as scratching your taint!

Here are some of the most popular tourist traps in Penang that people unknowingly walk into, and some suggestions where to go instead…

Penang Hill
I’ve blogged about it before. It’s a massive shithole. Why go there? There’s nothing there. The air there is not any fresher and everything on the hill is frigging expensive. If you’re going there for the view, you’d get a better view when you’re on the plane, trust me. The tram ride up there is congested with people like you and often breaks down. So, why bother wasting your time going to Penang Hill?
Where you should go instead:
Do you guys fucking know that Penang has a ‘National Park’ at the north side of the island? It’s called Penang National Park [duh!]. If nature’s your kind of shit, you should go for a hike there. You’d get acquainted with the local leeches, macaques, snakes and whatnots there. There’s a lighthouse there for you to do some one of a kind selfie, and a couple of beaches for you to relax on at the end of your short hike. If adventuring or climbing in the greens is your kind of dope, just go to Escape Adventureplay Theme Park – which I’ve blogged about here. If you do not fancy a hike or eking any energy out of yourself but just need some trees to get your shit together, you can opt to go to Penang’s Botanical Gardens. You’d get to see the local girls jogging there, on top of the faunas I mentioned earlier. The air is definitely fresh, and the most important of all, they’re fucking free. No traps.

Gurney Drive
For some strange fucking reasons, Penang’s Gurney Drive attracts tourists like a carcass to common houseflies. It’s just a promenade too congested to be enjoyable. The sea is now filled with so much sediment, mud and garbage, that I’m surprised that it isn’t gazetted as a sanctuary for salt water lizards, mudskippers and ultra chemical resistant rats. The food here is expensive, and the traffic here is stroke inducing. Why would anyone want to come here? Escapes me.
Where you should go instead:
Penang has at least a dozen other (better) promenades, I bet not many of you shitfucks know that. There’s an old one called ‘the Esplanade‘, near the jetty. It’s not as flashy, but at least it still has the nice sea view, minus the traffic. There’s one at Straits Quay, which is for pedestrians only, and you can have beers al fresco while enjoying the sea breeze (if you’re really creative, you can even have beer while cycling there). There’s another one in front of Queensbay Mall too, which has a proper cycling track, and stalls selling food and kites (lots of annoying people though, but better than Gurney). What’s special about this place, is that it offers the view of BOTH Penang’s longest bridges. If calm is all you seek (no traffic, not much people) and you needed a peaceful environment to jack off or deep thinking, there’s one under the first Penang Bridge, one near Jerejak Jetty, and another one near Jelutong (recently given a name ‘Persiaran Karpal Singh’). There are a couple of private ones near Tanjung Bungah, but they’re not open to public.

Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si is originally intended as a place of worship, but it reeks of tourist trap now. Everything in there is expensive, and revolves around parting your money from your wallet. There are even gossips that the monks there are raking in millions and are driving around in posh cars. Thanks to your contribution. Instead of living modestly and preaching humility to the people, the ‘monks’ are now leading a rock star lifestyle. They are charging a premium for a niche for the dead, keep building ostentatious ‘wonders’ near the surrounding hill that flaunts the might and riches of their religious faith… If you’re into expensive plastic beads and scriptures, then there’s nothing more I can say – go there already.
Where you should go instead:
If your faith is strong, and you want to pray, go to a real temple. One of the oldest temple in Penang is the Goddess Of Mercy temple at Pitt Street (now known as Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling). The place look mostly as it was since it was built more than a century ago. Another unique temple would be Seng Hong Beow, near Katz Street. There, you’d see some deities being worshiped with pure opium (those black stuff on their mouth) and alcohol. Might be spooky if you’re a first timer, but this place screams one of a kind photography opportunity. If you’re fascinated with Chinese architecture, then there’s a whole bunch of them around Georgetown which you can enjoy – some free, some with a little bit of fee. There’s the famous Cheong Fatt Tze mansion, then there’s another one that is teeming with opulence owned by an ugly Kapitan called the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. Then there’s of course, Khoo Kongsi, the place where they filmed the movie Hidden Dragon Tiger’s Crotch (or something like that). There are a lot more around Georgetown, just walk around. Any of them is better than Kek Lok Si. (there are multitudes of places of worship around Penang, of various faith. Just search around).

Occupy Beach Street
Every Sunday morning, Beach Street will be closed to traffic to make way for a carnival called ‘Occupy Beach Street’. I wasn’t quite sure what the whole thing is all about until I saw people started to post pictures of them doing retarded selfies there, and that was when I thought of visiting the place/event/whatever. It was a tourist trap. It’s actually a flea market, selling merchandise with jacked up price which you could have gotten anywhere else at a fraction of the price. The flea market is about, 150 meters long (that’s like comparing an amoeba to a megalodon in the scale of actual flea markets)… but the crowd is usually about the size that could occupy 4 – 5 times the capacity of that carnival. You’d also see some annoying youngsters showing off their skating/skateboarding skills, as if Penang’s lack of the space they could use (hey, it’s all about the attention) and people cycling around like morons there. It’s so over-hyped that it’s borderlining retardation. I lasted only 10 minutes there and I had to fucking bail because I couldn’t stand the whole bullshit.
Where you should go instead:
If you have a Sunday morning to kill for buying bargain stuffs, there are a lot of places you could go. Penang has a lot of markets selling a lot of surprises, like Penang Bazar (or more popularly known as Chowrasta – selling food, souvenirs, clothes, shoes)… or the Balik Pulau town / market (food, durian, shrunken human heads… kidding), or Air Itam market (food, clothes), or Lorong Kulit flea market (real kosher flea market, this one).

Batu Feringghi
Penang’s famous tourist belt – Batu Feringghi. It has long stretches of beaches and a lot of luxury hotels. People like Batu Feringghi because it’s the only place they think they could go for beaches. And naturally, the place turned into a shithole eons ago with so many tourists visiting. Instead of just beaches, now you get dirty beaches, some add ons like paragliding (not sure if that’s the right term, the one on parachute towed by a speedboat), jetskiing, banana boat-ride, horse riding (horse poo and pee all over the beach!) – all for some exorbitant fee. It’s so severe, that the government has to think of controlling the license to operate such activities!
Where you should go instead:
Penang is a fucking island, and it has beaches all around it, why flock to Bt. Feringghi only? Check the fucking map bitch please, north south east and west. We have a whole stretch of beaches along millionaire’s row (if you know where to find it), Tg Tokong and Tg Bungah. We have the Teluk Bahang Beach right after Bt. Feringghi. We have a few beaches at the Penang National Park – Kerachut beach, Monkey beach, Ketapang Bay beach, Aling Bay beach, Teluk Kampi beach, Pantai Mas beach. Then at almost the south west, we have Pasir Panjang beach. Then at the south, we have beaches at Gertak Sanggul, Teluk Kumbar, Sg. Batu. We have more at other areas out of the island as well – all the surrounding islands (Jerejak, Rimau, Aman, et al). So why only settle at Feringghi beach? Why so fucking sohai?

Graffiti around georgetown (semi trap)
When it first started, it surely is something to be reckoned of. The heritage trail around Georgetown has a lot of Ernest SomethingSomething’s art adorning (otherwise) boring and older than shit brick walls. It was alright at first, because people admiring the walls walked or cycled around. But it has now turned into an annoying obsession. We have tour buses stopping on narrow streets and inconsiderate schmucks posing in the middle of a busy road taking selfies. This spells traffic congestion and in some cases, safety issues. It’s not yet a trap now, but is fast turning into a trap.
Where you should go instead:
The essence of Penang lies not on graffiti arts nor the pictures on its old walls. Penang has a lot to offer in terms of diversity, food and its uniqueness. Instead of endangering yourself posing in the middle of the road, try to go round the island on your car / bike. Or you can hail a taxi for that (expensive option). Everyone in Penang has done it, and its fun. Imagine a road trip that will never get you lost (it’s a fucking island, remember?)… and you’d stop at wherever that piques your interest, be it for food, shopping or a photography opportunity. You can never do that in KL, or Ipoh, or anywhere in Malaysia for that matter. This is the most awesome island in the Peninsula, savor it.

Any shopping mall
If you come to Penang with the sole purpose of shopping at one of its malls, then you’re here for all the wrong reasons. Shopping in a mall has never been a strong point in Penang’s portfolio. It’s like going to Singapore for mountaineering. It’s retarded to come to Penang to shop at a mall. Sure, we have nice malls, and equally annoying people inside them, but the malls are always a few tools short of a toolbox. If you’ve been to shop at Singapore or KL or Hong Kong, then you surely won’t miss a thing here at any of Penang’s mall.
Where you should go instead:
If all you wanted is to shop at a mall, go to KL or Singapore instead. Don’t fucking come to Penang you stupid cocksucking piece of shit.

Will add more when I can think of some…

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May 18, 2014

Zoo Negara

Brought my daughter to Zoo Negara (or the National Zoo) last week. To be frank, I wasn’t a fan of zoos. Never liked zoos in fact, because to me, going to a zoo is like visiting an animals’ prison. Watching wild animals that are meant to be free in captivity isn’t my kind of fun. If it wasn’t for my daughter, I wouldn’t have gone there in the first place (that explains why I hadn’t gone there prior, even though the place has existed for decades).

Anyway, I got quite surprised with the place. Turned out to be very lushy green and well maintained. I was expecting it to be filthy and stinky, just like the other zoos we’ve visited – which usually have this animal waste stench that hits you square in the face the moment you enter. But not Zoo Negara. Instead of stench, I smell fresh air (that has to account for something, because it’s frigging hard to get fresh air in KL) and the place was actually clean! (and that’s a rare find as well). The whole place was rigged like a greenery park, with huge trees and cooling shades. Even though the day was scorching hot under the sun, the huge zoo was breezy to walk around on foot. There’s a lake in the middle of the zoo, where you can see some storks or whatever shit those were, flying around freely. And if you’re up for some picnic, there are a few gazebos with awesome view for you to do that. There’s also this ‘tram’ service, that runs on electric power and therefore, no fumes that could cause lung cancer amongst the inmates there. Thumbs up!

And when we were there, we also saw some posters that the Pandas are going to be here very soon – which must be the controversial (costly) 20 million bucks leasing project that our government is gonna pay China for 10 years – just to have these 2 pandas here in Malaysia. With 30 bucks a pop, the zoo’s going to need close to a million visitors in the course of 10 years just to break even that cost alone. And there are going to be more cost to cover – like the renovation, the environmental conditioning that’s going to draw shitloads of power in this weather, food (pandas fucking eat a lot), the existing costs for the rest of the park/animals… Just, how wise it is (in the economic sense) for us to put 2 pandas in there? I doubt it’s going to change anything because the zoo’s already awesome the way it is. If our government feels like spending some money anyway to uplift the zoo, just engineer a few canopy walks or ziplines (can work with Penang’s Escape theme park to get that done easily) across the tiger/lion enclosures for a little bit more fun. Make it a fun park instead, you know, visitors get to climb and zip through the zoo, while checking out the animals from the top of the trees – it’ll be the first of its kind and fun… for both visitors and the animals too.

Go there if you have kids. It’s a great place to relax and it isn’t expensive at all.

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March 4, 2014

Melaka

What do you do when you wanted to go somewhere to unwind, but you’re too broke to go overseas? You fucking go somewhere local. That’s what I did about 2 months back, I went to Melaka – the historical Unesco city which can only be rivaled by Penang. The land where Parameswara rested under a Melaka tree and saw some mousedeers humping or something like that.

It has been years since I last went to Melaka. The last time I went there, it didn’t give me a good impression, albeit we had quite a romp at one of its clubs there. I wrote about seeing some odd bimbo wearing an extremely revealing attire exposing some taped nipples – check it out here. That was 9 years ago. This time, I went there again not with my crazy ass friends, but with my wife Emily and kid Regine for a short 1 day trip. The trip was meant for us to seek respite from our banal working life, and armed with some half assed googled information about the place, I drove all the way there in 1 sitting (it was damn exhausting but, well worth it).

The first thing that I felt when I entered Melaka, was how quaint the place is. Sure, there were traffic all around and shit… yes, but for some weird fucking reasons, it didn’t feel as hectic and rushed as what we would experience in KL or even Penang. The drive through the town was just so damn relaxing (maybe it was quite early in the morning, I don’t know). The place was exceptionally clean too. Throughout my trip there, I did not see a street littered with garbage and craps all around like Penang. It somewhat felt – for the first time ever in Malaysia – nice… Gotta give it to the guy who runs the city. Penang has so much to learn from Melaka on this aspect…

Well, we got ourselves a hotel smack dab in the heritage area, and had a blast by just walking around taking pictures of some really old and nice buildings, and because it was quite cool / windy back in January, I didn’t even realize I had a sunburn from all the walking and under the sun. The foods there were great too, although not really comparable to Penang. Penang is full of spoilt for shit choices of junk and guilt laden hawker food, whereas Melaka’s greatness rests more on only a handful of specialties like durian cendol (which tasted like mediocre at best), chicken rice (which in my opinion, beats the crap out of the best stall in Penang) and the famous artery clogging ‘satay celup’ (didn’t get to try it due to the overwhelming crowd). Nice place, good food, fair amount of crowd, Melaka really stands out in this peninsula of nothingness. (for those of you really gay people out there, yes, Melaka has shitloads of murals and graffiti too, not my kind of shit though).

It was a pleasant 1 day trip for all of us AT THE CITY, and would’ve been a memorable one for the whole trip if not for that regrettable decision to go to ‘A-Famosa Animal Safari’ (or something like that). I thought it would be great for Regine, you know, after all… looking at old buildings wasn’t really fair to her. It was a big mistake. That place turned out to be a major shithole, everyone should fucking stay away from it like a plague. Sick animals, unbearable stench, filthy establishment, while charging exorbitant price for an entry… it’s a sad sad place. If you’re going to Melaka, just stay within the city and away from crappy places like this, and you’ll be alright.

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October 28, 2013

KidZania Kuala Lumpur

After much convincing from my wife, I finally brought the family to a supposedly ‘educational theme park’ in PJ, called KidZania. And that was only after I got an earful of ‘wonderful stories’ from my wife relating to experiences other kids from the neighborhood had at that place, and how they’ve learned so much about so many great things et al, that they probably averted from going to jail in the future. So I was like, ok let us go there already and there we were.

One thing’s for sure about this KidZania – it’s not as great as the housewives boasted it to be. One thing I learned after visiting this place – is not to be so stupid again. I mean, what a fucking rip off! Everything there is so goddamn expensive! From the entrance fee (parents have to pay 35 bucks per pax just to watch their kids, how about that??), to the food – everything is exorbitantly priced, to the ridiculous level that your great grandparents probably won’t forgive what you’ve paid for some fucking finger food! And all that for ZERO fun!

Initially, I thought this place was like, a bunch of kids role playing in a big carefully coordinated system, you know, just like Dungeon and Dragons or some shit like that (the real RPG stuff, with costumes and all). I imagined my daughter is probably gonna go in there holding a pitch fork playing a part in killing some nasty ass dragon in a pre-arranged plot and come back here to tell all her friends about that rewarding experience. But it was nothing like that (damn… I know, I should have researched about this place before agreeing to go there). The whole thing is actually a bunch of pseudo corporations/companies put together to – allegedly – give the kids some opportunities to experience ‘work’, and learn the concept of earning some moolah to be better in life. Yeah, right… like they won’t get to learn that evarrr, if they do not visit KidZania. Eventually, every kid grows the fuck up and forced to grasp the concept of earning moolah, so this whole thing is just a hokum about being ‘educational’.

And then, there are only a handful of ‘line of work’ available for the kids to choose from. Insurance agents, postman, fire fighter, policeman, you name it. Some of them are age restricted so, that pretty much limits kids under the age of 8 to just some crappy choices. What’s even more frustrating, is that the whole place is so damn crowded, that one has to queue up for ages to ‘get a job’. People are flocking to this place and it’s out of control, so bad that it kinda also makes me wonder what’ll happen if there’s a real fire breaking out in that crowded space full of wild kids? With the pandemonium already going on and the fake fire sound effects blasting from the loudspeaker for the fake ‘fire brigade practice’ – chances are high that most people will get apathetic to any potential danger going on.

The whole thing just doesn’t work for me really. None of ‘line of jobs’ are realistic anyway. Like I said, they’re pseudo, nothing close to the real thing. If you seriously want your kid to learn to do some useful stuff instead of say… playing, just pay that little shit 5 bucks to wash the family car (I’m sure they’d be more thrilled to earn real money), or just observe in a fucking post office for a couple hours. Or perhaps like me, you can subscribe to some documentary channels on your satellite TV, and force them to watch programs like ‘How do they do it?’, ‘Pawn Stars’ or maybe even ‘Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe’… you’d get better value for your money than visiting this shithole that is charging you your hard earned money for something which we can see everyday everywhere.

My Regine – she wasn’t at all impressed with the place either. Instead of enjoying herself, she wanted to bail after only a couple of hours inside it (much of it spent queuing and wandering around the thick screaming kids). When asked, she said it was alright – but we knew she said that just to show her appreciation, and to make us feel better about bringing her there. But deep inside, I know, she hated the place as much as I did. We brought her to the hotel pool the next day and she didn’t want to leave the pool. And that action, speaks louder than her words. A soak at the pool is much better than going to KidZania.

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