Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok by Bus and vice versa

I had just finished an interesting and exciting 4 days 3 nights trip in Bangkok from 12 April - 15 April; however, I did not reach my office in Kuala Lumpur until April 16, 2110 hours. I had decided to take a bus ride all the way from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur on the return trip. If you are traveling on a shoestring budget as I did, I hope this post may be of some help to you.

My initial plan was to take a bus ride from Kuala Lumpur Pudu Sentral all the way to Hat Yai and then from Hat Yai to Bangkok. As much as I have planned to do that, it was well planned.

Before going on, please note that there are two main bus stations, Bandar Tasik Seletan (for all buses going South Bound to Melaka, Johor Bahru, Singapore etc), and Pudu Sentral (for buses doing North Bound to Ipoh, Penang and even to Thailand Hat Yai).

I have planned to travel to Bangkok by Bus from Kuala Lumpur, Pudu Sentral Bus Station, on 11 April to Hat Yai and then to transfer to another bus from Hat Yai to Bangkok. However, when I reached Pudu Sentral station on 11 April, I was informed that most buses going to Hat Yai leaving 2200 hours or 2230 hours was fully booked; there were only 1-2 bus companies left with trip to Hat Yai on that day.

Yes, it was crazy ... many are traveling to Hat Yai for the Thailand's Songkran festival for a very good reason. If you like to be a child again to indulge in some decent wet fun, the Songkran festival is definitely not to be missed.

Traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai to Bangkok on Bus

As I have booked my hotel from 12 April - 15 April, so I was hopping to reach in time to check in. However, it was only a day before departed that it dawned upon me that the trip alone to Hat Yai from Kuala Lumpur would already take about 7 hours and onward to Bangkok would need another 12-14 hours; there is no way I can reach in time, without late checking-in to the hotel. Earliest I could reach Bangkok in the hotel was around at least 2000 hours in the evening on 12 April. That was provided that I traveled non-stop, meaning once I reach Hat Yai, the bus was ready to take me to Bangkok immediately. That was of cos not the case.

After realising that I couldn't possibly make it in time, I booked an air ticket with Airasia instead and flew in on 12 April first flight at 0645 hours. It was a mistake I made and a few points to note if you want to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok:

1. Take note of the time duration, Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai (~ 7 hours) and Hat Yai  to Bangkok (~ 12-14 hours). Do give yourself some traveling time as you may not end up in the exact bus station in Hat Yai that is also providing buses to Bangkok. Make sure you check with the counter staff in Pudu Sentral bus station before buying the bus ticket. If you want need to reach bangkok on a specific date, you may have to give yourself an allowance of 36-48 hours of travel; taking into the commuting time between transfer as well as point 2.

2. Check the bus schedules for the trip to Hat Yai from Pudu Sentral bus station first. Apparently, they do not have regular trip. On the day I reached Pudu Sentral at around 1200+ hours and I had missed the morning bus at 0930 hours which I saw in one of the bus companies. Thus, the only option left was 2200 hours or 2230 hours in most of the bus companies.

3. If possible, check the bus schedule from Hat Yai to Bangkok so that you can better plan your trip. Unless you are not traveling on tight timing or that you do not mind spending some time in Hat Yai before catching your bus to Bangkok. Of cos the latter would be better and you can have a little time to move around Hat Yai.

The cost of the ticket from Kuala Lumpur Pudu Sentral varies from Malaysia Ringgits 55 (offered to my friend from another bus company just about a week ago) to 80 (offered to me by one of the bus companies on 11 April) 

Traveling from Bangkok to Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur Pudu Sentral on Bus

I was pretty lucky to get myself a hotel which has a direct bus service to Sai Tai Mai, the Southern Bus Terminal for south bound bus to Hat Yai. I boarded the bus number 511 on Sukhumvit Road which is just below the Thong Lo BTS. Please make sure you boarded the bus in the right direction towards Sai Tai Mai. The bus stop is just in front of 7-11 store. Just double confirm the direction with the bus driver or the ticket seller in the bus.

The ride took about an hour plus and which would only cost you 21 Baht compare to taking the cab which may set you back by as much as 180 Baht. But of cos you save time traveling on cab, provided there are no traffic.

I have checked the timing for buses to Hat Yai at earliest 1700 hours on 1st Class VIP and latest 1930 hours on 2nd Class. What's the difference between the two? Besides the cost, of cos is the legs space; you would appreciate the more leg space with 1st class. Even for first class, there are two types, one cost around 1200 Baht (24 seats) and the one I bought was 724 Baht (if my memory did not fail me and may be 32 seats).

I reached Sai Tai Mai bus stations around 1340+ and scouted around for bus ticket first. As soon as I bought my ticket for 1930 hours I walked around. There are quite of number of eateries where you can choose from; from the familiar KFC, to Chester's Grill (fast food concept, tried once from recommendation by a friend and I must say that I was pretty impressed by the cheap but aroy food).
Black Canyon Hot chocolate
I ended up with a hot chocolate at Black Canyon at 50 Baht and occupied my time reading alibaba, the book on Jack Ma. This lasted me till around 1700 hours. With another two hours to go, I decided to have a walk again to look for a place to charge my phone. It was then I realised there was another floor and decided to take a look.

Basically, the is nothing much on the second floor except a small food court with more local food as well as some small store and arcade game centre. There was nothing that attracted me and decided to just find a place to sit down. After resting my leg, I decided to take a pee and guessed what I found (on the left)? Alright, I'm not a frequent traveler. I thought it is a brilliant idea.

After my interesting found, I headed to the first floor again to find a place to charge my phone which was totally flat by then and managed to find a baggage services which also provided phone charging. Thus, I settled down to get my phone charge for an hour before heading down to the platform to board the bus.

One thing I found very impressive was that the bus left on the dot - yes, exactly at 1930 hours. Thus, my journey from Bangkok to Hat Yai started. Along the way, while I was still awake, I observed that the bus picked up more passengers, probably at its agents' office until the bus was filled.

And the real journey towards Hat Yai started. I was switching between dozed off mode and half awoken mode and the bus stopped once around 0000 hours for food before it went on again.

By the time it reached Hat Yai, Phatthalung the next morning, it was already almost 0900 hours on 16 April. I went straight to the information counter and asked for where I could take bus to Kuala Lumpur and was guided by one agent towards an office just outside the station. Bought a bus ticket (~ 750 baht) for 0930 hours and waited for the bus. Shortly at 0930 hours, I was picked up by a bike which brought me to an agent office and that was where I boarded the bus at 1000 hours. The same thing happened, the bus picked up more passengers at a few location before it headed off to the Thailand-Malaysia border.

And at the border, more passengers were picked up. The bus made several stop for lunch and for toilet breaks before it reached Kuala Lumpur at around 2000 hours. I had lost track of the time as my phone was totally flat again.

Overall, it was still a pretty present trip and I would add on safe too.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Tanah Lot of Bali, Indonesia

This group of photos were shared by my friend who was in Bali recently. This series captured the Tanah Lot, a famous rock formation off the Indonesian island of Bali. The first two shot were taken about 15 minutes just before sunset. Tanah Lot is home of a famous pilgrimage temple, the Pura Tanah Lot and a popular picture motiv for tourists.

According to
Wikipedia, Tanah Lot means "Land in the Middle of the sea" in Balinese language. Located about 20 km from Denpasar, the temple sits on a huge offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide.

Entrance Ticket Price : (as on 19 August, 2008)
Domestic Children : Rp. 5.000, Adult : Rp. 7.500
Foreigner Children : Rp. 10.000,- * Adult : Rp. 10.000

Tanah Lot of Bali, Indonesia before Sunset
Tanah Lot of Bali, Indonesia before Sunset
Tanah Lot of Bali, Indonesia at Sunset

The following shot is from denzani from sxc.hu

Tanah Lot from sxc.hu

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Singapore Flyer

Singapore Flyer
Singapore Flyer
Singapore Flyer
For the information of those who are not living in the Singapore, please allow me to say a few things about it. My first reaction when I heard that Singapore is building the Flyer - reproduction of the London Eye? Not very original and creative. London Eye was then the world's largest observation wheel. Now Singapore Flyer took over the title ... at least until the next one comes up. Standing at a stunning 165m, the Flyer is the height of a 42-storey building – that’s some 30 metres taller than the famed London Eye.

According to the
9 Great Reasons To Visit article from the offical website, "It’s the only place to see Singapore’s magnificent cityscape. As the wheel turns, you’ll be treated to a visual 360° feast of iconic and historical landmarks and views from the Marina Bay to the Singapore River, Raffles Place, Merlion Park, Empress Place and the Padang. There is no other place in Singapore that offers these breathtaking, panoramic views." You can find more information at: http://www.singaporeflyer.com/

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Walk Along One Fullerton

The other day I was showing a friend around Singapore River, One Fullerton and the Merlion Park. It has been one of my favorite spots at night where you get to dine by the Singapore River in the twilight. Not that Singapore River is in any way spectacular but the atmosphere and ambience at One Fullerton all blend in magically with the soft lighting to make it an ideal romantic dining place with loved ones or friends. If you are looking for coffee, you can find Starbucks there too. Talking about Starbucks, I can still smell the aroma of the coffee; it really smelt heavenly.

One Fullerton at the Singapore River is not only a favorite spot for some Singaporeans where they get to savor a range of good restaurants offering international cuisines to local Singaporean dishes but also a good spot for tourists after a long day of malling and walking around Singapore.

If you like seafood, I would recommend the No Signboard Restaurant, a name given by the White Pepper Crab from No Signboard Restaurantcustomers. Be adventurous to try the famous Singapore Chili Crab or to try one of their specialities, the White Pepper Crab (take a look at the picture on your right). However, I have to warn you that it might be a little hot and spicy for people who do not take spicy food.

For those who are not into the fanciful restaurants and fine dining, I challenged you to buy your own food from the nearby Lau Pat Sat (which is about 5-10 minutes walk from One Fullerton) and have your dinner, the picnic style, at the Merlion Park. Imagine casually eating under the twilight, with the sea-breeze blowing gently in your face and the sound of the waves lapping against the seawall. Not to mention the stunning backdrop of Singapore's skyline at Raffles Place on one side and the Esplanade on the other side.

Merlion ParkOf course, not forgetting the Merlion. From Uniquely Singapore, the Merlion was designed by Mr Fraser Brunner, a curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium, the lion head represents the lion spotted by Prince Sang Nila Utama when he re-discovered Singapura in 11 AD, as recorded in the "Malay Annals". The fish tail of the Merlion symbolises the ancient city of Temasek (meaning “sea” in Javanese) by which Singapore was known before the Prince named it “Singapura” (meaning “lion” (singa) “city” (pura) in Sanskrit), and represents Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village.

Oh, before I forgotten, please remember to keep the place clean and tidy after you are done with your picnic or you may be fined for littering.

A picture of Merlion with Fullerton Hotel in the background
A closer look at Fullerton HotelFrom the Merlion Park, you can also have a good view of the Fullerton Hotel, which is one of the premium 5-Stars hotel in Singapore. Back in 1928, it was the largest building ever built and cost over 4 million dollars. In the early days, the building was occupied by the General Post Office. It was also a place that witnessed many election campaign rallies.

Esplanade, Theatre on the bayWhile I was taking a walk along One Fullerton toward the direction of The Esplanade, the theatre on the bay. I can't help but fell in love with it; the lighting of the building and the reflection of the building on the Singapore River was simply beautiful. I managed to take some photos of it but it seems nowhere close to seeing it with your own eyes. The photo was taken using Sony Ericsson K810i Cyber-shot phone in the twilight landscape mode. The colors appeared closest to the naked eyes.

The whole tour starts around 10 pm and ended around midnight. If you want to take photos of the Merlion in the Merlion park, you do have to be there earlier because there will switch off the lighting and the water splashing from the Merlion at certain hour. Oh ... how can you get there? You can either take a cab ride or you can take the MRT to Raffles MRT Station and it will take you around 5 minutes to walk to One Fullerton.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Extreme Skydiving Adventures Will Not Disappoint

One of my friends has been talking about skydiving for a while and he has reflected to us that he need to keep his weight below 100 Kilogram (not too sure if this is a general requirement by all establishments providing skydiving service or it is the requirement of the establishment he enquired with). I have been thinking about it too after I tried bungee jump last year. Ever since young, I have been wondering how does it feel like to be 'flying' in the air just like superman. The closest experience I have, besides flying in the plane, was in my dreams where I was flying just like superman! I think I must be crazy!

Besides the dreams that I had, I reckon the next closest is skydiving. Bungee jump was fun and exciting but it could not really give me the feeling of free fall. Skydiving on the other hand will give me that feeling of free fall at speeds of up to 120mph. How does it feel like? I can read the testimonials or write-ups by others, but I will never know how it really feels like until I try it out myself. Since I have no interest at this moment to become a skydiving instructor and since I only want to have that skydiving experience, I think tandem skydiving will be the great choice.

According to
skydiving.com, "Tandem skydiving is an incredibly easy, safe and enjoyable way to experience the excitement of skydiving without having to learn how. Free fall at speeds of up to 120mph and enjoy breathtaking views during you canopy ride. Feel a total sense of freedom while securely harnessed to your personal sky diving instructor. The exhilarating free fall combined with the peace and tranquility of the parachute ride makes your tandem skydive a unique experience you will never forget. Allow 2-3 hours of your time for the experience of a life time. Tandem skydiving is available 7 days per week, all year."

Skydiving! If the very word gives you a shiver of dread, you are hardly alone. Or perhaps you're one of those people who lives for thrills like these. Either way, an extreme skydiving adventure might be just the activity you've been looking for. People like to throw around the phrase "pushing your boundaries", but extreme skydiving actually delivers on this promise. Truly, no sport can give the same kind of adrenaline rush as jumping out of a plane into free fall at ten, thirteen, even as high as eighteen thousand feet above ground!

Now, not everyone is ready to jump, as it were, straight into this kind of extreme sport, save for the very most hardened thrill seekers among us. It takes more than a little bit of mental preparation (or a truly exceptional disposition) to be ready to jump out of a plane and plummet to Earth at speeds exceeding a hundred miles an hour. For instance, consider how far one falls in extreme skydiving. Say you jump out of the plane at thirteen thousand feet; typically one opens the parachute at about twenty five hundred feet and then gently drifts the rest of the way. This means there is a free fall of nearly two miles!

When you stop to think about it, what other sport or activity will allow you to hurl towards earth at speeds of up to 120mph and then gracefully float onto the ground. This experience is unmatched by any other adventure sport.

Obviously, you can't just jump out of a plane completely unprepared. Skydiving lessons are a necessity, not just a good idea. There is of course a small degree of danger associated with extreme sky diving, so lessons are an absolute must. Skydiving certification can be obtained relatively quickly, depending on the particular skydiving instructors and methodology used. Sometimes you can become certified in as little as two days.

Be sure to pay careful attention during your classes and ask any questions about anything you are not totally clear on. There is literally nothing unimportant covered in skydiving lessons. Don't worry about sounding silly in class, everyone was new at this at one time, even the instructor. You will learn hand signals to communicate while in the air, how to operate your equipment, all the necessary information will be covered in your skydiving lessons. Again, and this cannot be stressed enough, pay attention and ask lots of questions.

After learning a little on how to handle yourself and your equipment while extreme skydiving, you should feel much less apprehensive than before if you were, and more prepared whether or not your attitude was more of the "I was born ready" variety.
And as with anything else, preparation is key. Extreme skydiving can be an unparalleled thrill, but without proper preparation is hazardous. With the required number (or more, never do a real dive until you feel ready) of skydiving lessons under your belt, you will be perfectly ready to experience the unmatched exhilaration that skydiving, and especially extreme skydiving have to offer.

About the Author, Steven Milstone: Find the latest information on skydiving visit http://extremeskydivingadventures.com as well as http://extremeskydivingadventures.com/Tandem_Skydiving.html

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Extreme Bungee Jumping Adventures

I had a hell of an experience last year when I tried bungee jumping for the first time in my life in Phuket, Thailand. I had always wanted to try out bungee jumping, at least once in my life, before that. When I was in Phuket last year, I happened to come across World Bungy at Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand and without thinking twice, I went for it! The rest is history! I must say it is truly an eye-opening (or were my eyes closed) experience. Everything happened in a flash and so fast that before I knew it, I was already bouncing up and down like a Yo-yo.

The owner explained to me the procedure, process and charges for the whole bungee jump. I remembered signing up some declaration forms stating that I was in the sane mind and physically fit to take up the jump. After making the payment, the owner told me that I can take a look at a jump first before deciding that I will surely go for it.

My friend and I proceeded to a clearing where we could see someone preparing for the jump. The crane took the person up to the 60m height and we saw the man standing at the edge of the platform. He was looking down at his friends who were shouting to him in a language that we did not understand. The shouting went to and fro for about 5-10 minutes and I guessed the man was thinking too long that he did not jump in the end. As we watched, the owner said to us, "He should not have looked down and should not have waited too long to take the leap. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for you to make the jump. So when you are up there later, don't think too much and just jump."

After witnessing the failed jump, the owner asked me, "Are you still going for it?" "Yes!" I affirmed. Looking at the pond below the jump, I asked the owner, "Will the jump takes me into the water or it'll be out of the water?" The owner replied smiling, "Do you want to be in the water or out?" Looking at the dirty pond, I laughingly replied, "I want to be dry!"

Getting tied up and ready for the jumpThe preparation for the jump took about a short 10 minutes or less. First, my weight was taken and then written on my palm. The staff then carefully tied up my ankles with sort of a protection before they asked me to kangaroo-hop to the crane that will bring me up to the height of 60m for the jump. I would say I was a pretty good and obedient student; I followed their instruction almost perfectly. The owner of the establishment told me again, "When you are up there, don't think too much and don't look down." That weren't too much information to remember too.

Taking the ride up the crane for the jump at 60mI still remembered on my way up to the jumping height, I was talking to the staff that was going up with me and he was giving me the last set of instruction. "When you are up there, you will move to the edge of the platform. When I say 'ready,' you will echo back 'ready.' Then I will count 3, 2, 1 and you will jump out of the platform with your arms opening wide like a cross." He said. I went through the instruction that he had given me in my head and I pictured myself doing the jump. It is too late now to give up the idea of jumping as I remember a few words the owner told me, "No jump, no refund!"

Standing at the edge and getting ready for the jumpIt took the crane about 5 minutes to reach to the height of 60m and I did a kangaroo-hop to the edge of the platform.Standing at the edge of the platform and holding on tightly to whatever I can hold on to. I was waiting for the staff and I took a quick look downward (so I wasn't exactly obedient but I wanted to see how high I was and how it looked downward at this height). Somehow, my friend and all the people below looked smaller and I can barely hear what my friend was shouting. I brought my head back to the horizontal level and took a glance at the scenery in front of me. The staff shouted, "Ready?" I echoed back, "Ready!" He then counted down, "3 ... 2 ... 1 ... jump!" The actual jumpAnd I hurled myself forward and out of the jumping platform. That split seconds of falling and for once the clock stopped ticking and I could only hear myself screaming, "Woooooooooohhhhhhhh!" I was already reaching the ground. What followed was the dangling action like a yo-yo for about a few minutes before coming to a stop.

I was 'fish' to back to the ground with a bamboo pole and I gladly grabbed the pole. The staff pulled me in to a platform besides and pond and untied me from the support. What an exhilarating experience! Yes! I had finally done my bungee jump! What's next? Skydiving? Maybe.

When I was back at home and some of my friends gotten to know of my jump, they were saying I must be crazy ... who in the world with a sane mind would do such a thing. Maybe they are right ... but I know that bungy jump, although it seem like a dangerous activity, is safer than driving to a large extent.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Planning Your River Rafting Trip With The Kids

Copyright © 2008 Norm Schoenhoff

Most kids will be thrilled to go on a whitewater rafting trip or adventure, and it's a terrific opportunity for a family vacation or get-together. You'll need to pack a few extra items to make sure the trip is fun and safe for everyone involved, and kids will need to dress appropriately for both water and on-shore activities.

Rafting with kids also requires a few extra safety precautions and considerations, and you may need to contact the outfitter to find out about extra amenities, safety protocol, and rafting lessons for your kids' first experience.

Here are some other key things to keep in mind as you plan your adventure:

Activities for Kids

Many whitewater rafting trip packages offer a number of activities beyond the river. From camping on the riverfront to hiking across the wilderness, kids can take part in a variety of fun and exciting outdoor activities as part of their experience. If your kids have special needs, you'll need to make sure they will be all right with any activities, games, or adventures scheduled along with the trip.

Types of Trips Available

Beginner's whitewater rafting trips are usually perfect for kids, as these contain milder waterways and rapids. Review the different options available; there are many wonderful and exciting beginners' trips in Northern California, and these offer unique views, attractive camping sites, and adventurous rivers to watch the area's wildlife and scenic landscapes. You'll need to find a whitewater rafting trip that is simple, fun, and not too challenging; the South Fork American is one of the most appropriate whitewater rafting adventures for beginners, and is a great choice for kids of all ages.

Length of the Trip

Not all kids will enjoy an entire day or overnight trip for their first whitewater rafting adventure, so you may want to consider just a half-day trip instead. Many outfitters offer a wide range of packages and trip options, and you can still enjoy some of the best trips with just a half-day course. Consider different options depending on your kids' skill level, age, and general interest.

Rafting Company or Outfitter Protocol

Find out what the rafting company allows and doesn't allow for your trip. Some outfitters will provide all rafting gear and food for your entire trip, and others will offer facilities and camping equipment for your trip. You'll need to let them know how many kids will be joining you on the trip so that they can accommodate accordingly. If the outfitter is providing food and snacks, make sure they are aware of any dietary restrictions or allergies so that you have the right type of food on hand throughout the trip.

Packing Comfortable Clothing

Kids need to wear comfortable clothing that's appropriate for their trip and rafting experience. They'll need clothes that can be worn on the raft, and also the right clothing for any camping and nature trails that will be a part of the trip. Sandals, light shoes, and swimsuits work well for kids as they go on the water; then they'll need to layer for any hiking or camping activities on the shore. Pack these in a backpack or tote that's waterproof, so your kids can travel with exactly what they need.

Sleeping Bags and Camping Gear

If your whitewater rafting trips will last longer than a day, make sure you've packed along the right sized sleeping bags and camping gear. These can be stored in waterproof bags, and need to be kept separate from all dry clothing in case they do get wet along the trip. Make sure the kids have plenty of snacks - granola bars, non-perishable foods, and a few pieces of candy - to keep up their energy level until meal time.

Appropriate Shelter

Whitewater rafting trips that extend overnight need to include appropriate shelter and facilities for a good night's rest, this is not negotiable. This is especially important if you're sending kids off on a rafting adventure on their own; still, you'll need to plan for an appropriate camping spot that is safe and secure. Plan ahead by reviewing guides and maps from your outfitter, and get recommendations from experienced whitewater rafters in the area to find out where to set up camp.

Organizing a whitewater rafting adventure for kids is a great way to encourage them to try something new and exciting in the great outdoors. Just keep these important considerations in mind as you plan that trip, and be prepared for a unique and memorable adventure!

About the author: Norm Schoenhoff and his crew have been leading river rafting trips down four of the most beautiful Northern California white water rivers, since 1978. Whitewater Excitement provides trips designed for beginners to experienced rafters, with "Best in Class" standards of safety, service, pricing and quality. Church groups, business organizations, families, and groups of friends regularly make the fun and exhilarating trip down the rivers, with the expert rafters from Whitewater Excitement. Learn more by visiting:
http://www.whitewaterexcitement.com/

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