The weather the past week has been horrible and forced me to reschedule a couple of activities, including some photo-shoots…
Oh well, when life rains, take out your camera!
Disclaimer: Be careful when using your camera and driving and preferably have two hands on the wheel and the camera on a tripod in the car!
On a gray, overcast day, 15 participants were eagerly waiting at the basement of PJEFC Heritage Center. They were all ready to participate in our first ever PhotoWalk trip. Eddy, our friendly bus driver was already there waiting by the roadside.
It was good to spend time with some good friends over photography and good food!
For more photos and settings, go over to the EKML Visuals Blog…
The first week of June saw me going down to the little island called Singapore for the week. I had the opportunity to stay at the new Marina Bay Sands for the week. My room package came with breakfast and internet access. Everyone was raving about the sky park and infinity pool so obviously I was going to check it out.
My five nights there was a pleasant experience. Room service dinner was great and quick. I love it when you tell them that you have to leave at 10pm and your dinner has to arrive by nine and it’s now 8:45pm and they actually do it. My room was pretty spacious with a nice recliner that a friend of mine who popped in promptly fell asleep within a couple of minutes.
My second night was spent at the Club at the Skypark and I must say few bars ever have such an atmosphere and view. Breakfast and suppers spent at the Rise was also awesome. I must say a couple of things about the Rise at the Lobby of the MBS… it has awesome ice-cream to wrap up your night. I think I must have had like four jars of it. Yes, it comes with a jar and I kept forgetting to take a picture before digging in! The morning coffee is also pretty good. It’s tough to match specialized coffee places that really “love” coffee such as Highlander
which I also visited but the Barista’s at the Rise were able to pull decent shots of espresso for me. No more simple poured coffee that taste stale… breakfast at the Rise in MBS got me started on a couple of espresso shots.
The sky park and infinity pool was also an awesome experience. The somewhat hazy weather was the only dampener. Being the school holidays, it was also a bit more packed but it’s always a good end to a long day with a soak on the roof top pool. Reminded me somewhat of a quaint little hotel I was at in Spain that also had a little roof top pool.
The internet access was also pretty good. The wireless could do with some improvements but I was able to connect all my devices — and yes, I travel with lots of gear. I could viber my lovely wife back home on my iPhone, check email and get some work on via the wired network, catch up on Facebook with my iPad on the bed and video call home on Skype with my MacBook Pro… The wireless access extends to the convention center, shopping mall and the lobby areas so it’s pretty good overall. Speed needs some improvements though. Being Singapore, I expected much faster speeds than Malaysia but it was a bit disappointing to get what I get at home — speeds here averaged about 1mbps.
All in all, there are hotels with better “star” ratings with more luxury but the Marina Bay Sands is a comfortable place to stay with all the lovely amenities and facilities to keep me productive, entertained and relaxed. I think those are hard to match. The Ritz might be glitzier but I love starting my mornings with the iPad and an espresso shot in the sun basked Rise, get work done, and finally ending the day on the sky park pool with the Singapore skyline and a couple of drinks. It’s a pity it was only a week. — I’ll be back, soon.
Unfortunately I didn’t get the city view but it can be considered the “sea view” room!
Just last week, we wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Only caveats were that we didn’t want a long drive or bother with flights and international travel. So, on a lark, we decided to head down south. A place I’ve been before but that was ages ago. Port Dickson or more popularly known as PD. According to Wikipedia… This small town used to produce charcoal, but it was later developed as a small port by the British during the Strait Settlement period. Port Dickson was also known as Tanjung. In Malay language that means “cape”. The oldest shophouses were the four situated presently at Jalan Lama. There was also a carbon mine at the first mile of the coast road (Jalan Pantai), and therefore Port Dickson was also called “Arang” (charcoal) in the Malay language.
We head to the newest (as far as I know) hotel development, which was Legend International Water homes. They’re about a year old as of writing so things are still in very good condition. The main attraction of the resort is that each room is built over the sea and comes with a private, open-air swimming pool. The pool isn’t large by any standards (my aunt’s pool in her house is bigger) but it’s comfortable enough to soak five adults if needed 🙂 Since the place is new, the room is still in immaculate condition and everything works nicely. The bed and linen are still plush and soft.
Facilities are still being built so other than the rooms themselves, the pool area and the gardens and playground, there’s no other facility. The archery range is supposed to be ready by end of October though. The sea, is, well, not as blue or pristine as the large oceans, this being the straits of Malacca. It doesn’t smell as bad as it does over at Avillion though. Generally, you have the salty sea tang and that’s about it. The color of the water, being a rather muddy green/blue and the view port in the room to look at the sea generally serves no purpose other than to show you when the tide’s in or out!
Breakfast was so-so. I think the chef’s need more practice and they shouldn’t be calling Ramly burger patties as beef slices. That’s misleading and wrong. The problem about PD is that there’s not much in terms of food and they don’t have the draw of Melaka town or Penang in terms of seafood or choices. The rooms come with a decent size kitchenette equipped with a microwave. I might considering bringing some goodies for dinner next time.
I do plan to return with a family vacation here so, till then, I’ll let my photos do the talking.
The Kampung Koloi road, at about 18 kilometers, and going from 1300 feet above see level to approximately 4600 feet is usually a challenge for even veteran drivers. It has deep ruts (75 profile tires on 16-inch rims won’t save you here) and drastic drops and sharp turns with deep ravines at the sides. You’ll also encounter steep inclines (and declines) up to 20-plus degrees. At some point, when the mud and ruts end, you’ll have a bit of a rock-crawling adventure that if you’re not careful, you might shred a tire. Landslides also are a threat at all times. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented me from having a professional media crew along for this trip so you’ll end up seeing my iPhone photos and only when I could stop or slow down. Texting or talking on the phone can be done (illegally of course) while you’re driving but NEVER do it when you’re off-road!
And here are some tips when going off the beaten path…
1. Keep your thumbs in the air â€“ right off the steering wheel. Otherwise, if one of your front wheels hits a snag â€“ and it will do of course â€“ your steering wheel will rote at a heck of a lick, and if your thumb is in the way of a rotating spoke or wheel strut, it hurts!
2. Use engine braking to slow your descent down a hill not the brakes. I usually “walk-down” a slope in 1st gear. If the back end starts to slide around then ACCELERATE slightly to re-gain control. If you brake when driving down a hill and a skid develops EASE OFF THE BRAKE. It goes against your instincts but you will gain traction again and therefore be able to steer. Wheels must be turning to be steerable.
3. Don’t fight your steering. When driving through demanding terrain, avoid the tendency to hold the steering wheel in a death grip â€” let the wheel move around and gently guide the vehicle.
4. Be aware of your vehicles ground clearance and location of its lowest points. Allow wheels to follow their own route inside a deep rut and avoid over steering.
5. Check the water depth before fording a river!
* The generally acceptable maximum for a highway or road gradient is about 6-7 degrees.