Sunday, May 31, 2009

Europe Here I Come Part 1


The trip from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur by Air Asia was uneventful as everything was on time. The baggage that we carried was within the 30 kg limit that Air Asia allowed us to carry for two persons.
I was touched when Kerp PHD called while I was at my sister in law's place before being sent to the airport. Kerp called to wish me a happy and safe journey.
Upon arrival at LCCT KLIA my son came to pick me up with his wife Yanie and two of their 3 children. The children were ready for bed but traded their sleep in order to welcome their paternal grandparents. Their maternal grandparents are staying with them at the moment after their maternal grandfather suffered a stroke and is undergoing post stroke treatment by undergoing traditional massage in Malacca. Being from Taiping, staying in Labu is nearer for them. He seems to be recuperating quite well and regained some of the bodily functions.
Irsyad and Ayen came to greet us at the airport.
When I switched on my handphone at the airport, I was surprised to see many missed calls from Pak Idrus of In passing Malaysians. Returning Pak Idrus' call, he advised me against the use of of any electrical appliances for cooking at the hotels in Europe due to the difference in voltage used except for UK. Our appliances work on 220-240 volts whereas most UK countries except UK uses 110 volts, he said. This means trouble as we had to cook our own food while on the tour as advised by the Travel Company. A hurried call to the company's representative confirmed that there is no problem with the electrical system which gave us some assurance and confidence as nothing with regards to food will be a problem.

At my son Azrin's place with his father inlaw who suffered a crippling stroke.

Logging to the internet I saw a flood of comments from friends wishing me a happy and safe journey to Europe. I was greatly moved. Most wanted me to post about the trip with loads of pictures which I will certainly be most happy to oblige. Just like me, most of my friends are not so well endowed to be able to holiday in expensive Europe. I am only able to do this after my retirement from service after reaping some income from my investment on ASB. So you see I didn't really spend my retirement benefit, just spending the income accrued from it.
That night we shared the room with our grand children as the guest room is already taken up by my daughter in law's parents.


We woke up early as we had to be at the KLIA at 8.30 AM at the latest.

My grand daughter Syakirah who slept when we arrived last night was up early to send us to the airport. Though we have another 10 kg. that we could carry, we didn't add in anything extra except for the thick jacket which I borrowed from Azrin for the trip up to Mount Titlis for the snow experience. So our luggage remains the same numbers of 4.
Since a friend from Seremban who is a fellow Tomoi fan by the name of Zakriey will be coming to see me off, I had to be even earlier to be able to have some time to chat.

Coffee with Zack at the airport.

Met some of the other travelers in the same group. Soon the representative from POTO Travel by the name of Zainida came and gave us a short briefing and checked our baggage in. We were informed to check in at 9.30 AM and be at gate C13 which is located at the satellite airport which necessitated the use of the aerotrain. Since we had used this satellite airport several times before we were quite sure of where to go and even managed to lead the first time users in the group.
Zainida of POTO Travel (in white and blue) will be the tour leader, she gave us a short briefing.

Our baggage were checked us in and later the boarding passes were distributed to us. Though we were booked on Gulf Air, we were boarded on Jet Airways together with their own passengers and MAS passengers who code shared. Below is the Boeing 777 that we will be boarding.
The 777 is a good plane. My son who is a pilot with MAS flies one of these as a First Officer.

If you could afford the business class, you can have one of these seats which is fully reclining. While getting ourselves seated we met this Iranian by the name of Amir who invited us to visit his country. InsyaAllah, one day we will get there.

While flying this is all we could see from our window.

When we neared Bahrain we could see an almost barren island in the sea.

From the plane window we could see a stricken vessel spilling fuel into the sea.

After getting bored with watching with the movies in the plane, most of the time we were staring at the planes flight path. The planes ground speed of almost 900 km per hour seems to be too slow for the 7 hours flight to Bahrain. How I wish I could use the control unit to push the plane to fly faster.224 miles to Manama the capital of Bahrain which will take us another 36 minutes. We will soon land and get a rest. It is great to break journey like this rather than having to endure a direct flight to Frankfurt, our first destination in Germany. The airline is providing us a room to rest in Manama while waiting for the onward flight at 1.00 AM the next day.

We finally touched down. I was fascinated at the planes mechanism utilized as visible from the window.

The flight stewardess and steward wishing us thank you at the exit. We were quite happy with their services. We were well fed as this was a full service flight.

At Manama Airport we were transferred to the Al Safri Hotel by the hotel van. The room given was quite comfortable.

We were checked into Al Safri Hotel in Manama Bahrain. Since the hotel is in a newly developed area, there is not really much activity around the area. There was no wifi in the room which is only available at the coffee house and you must buy yourself a drink to qualify for the password. When I first switched on my computer I had a connection and after a few exchanges of messages with my son in law in Labuan, my connection was cut off.
Hotel Al Safri in Manama Bahrain.

We walked around the hotel area and found lots of development going on there.

I befriended the doorman who was wearing a very special uniform.
We were provided with buffet dinner at the hotel which we extremely enjoyed. While there a musician from Sri Lanka played the saxaphone to the accompaniment of taped music. I took a video shot of him playing the instrument and later Mahendran copied to his notebook. He really appreciated my video clip of himand played a few other numbers at my request.

After the dinner I took a walk outside the hotel and captured some shots of the area. Below is a night scene outside the hotel.

The area around the hotel at night.
Though our flight was at 1 AM, the hotel management asked us to vacate the room by 9.30 PM. I guess they have other guests checking in and needed to prepare the rooms. So by 9.30 PM we were transferred to the airport and had to wait for several hours more before boarding the next flight to Frankfurt. This time we did fly the Gulf Air which uses the Airbus 340. I prefer the earlier Boeing 777 on board fascilities compared to the one available on the Airbus.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Trip To Europe Begins Tonight

The trip to Europe will begin tonight when we take the Air Asia flight at 8.40 PM from Kota Bharu Airport to LCCT KL. We will put up the night at our son's place in Enstek Labu which is just 20 minutes drive away from KLIA. We will be departing by Gulf Air the next day at 10.30 AM for Bahrain before the onward journey to Frankfurt Germany.
Despite the problem of the influenza A H1N1, we have made up our mind to go on with this trip as any cancellation would be too costly for us having paid the full amount for the trip with Poto Travel Kuala Lumpur. We bought the package during the March 2009 MATTA fair and we like the unhurried pace of the itinerary where we will be putting up in a hotel for two nights before moving on to another hotel in another city. As an elderly person of above 55 yrs, this company gave us a small discount. From what they told us there will be 32 of us in the group. Quite a large group.
For the trip we have made ample preparations in terms of clothing since the weather in Europe seems to hover around a cool 12 degrees Celcius in Amsterdam and 21 degrees Celcius in Paris. Of course it will be very cold in the snowy Titlis Mountain of Switzerland where we will be taking a trip up at an additional cost of 50 Euros each. Hey I need to see whether I can manage to balance myself on a sky since when young I used to roller skates around. I know they are not the same but somehow I feel confident that I can do it at least long enough for my wife to take a video of me. Then I can show the grand children what grandpa is still capable of doing.

These are the bags we will be bringing along. Enough clothing for the 13 days duration from KLIA on 26th May and back on 7th June. Since we will be cooking our own food for the whole trip, we brought along a mini rice cooker and an electric kettle complete with the food rations. Of course we will be sampling some European cusines if we can find the Halal kind.

Two bags each. The yellow travelling bags are courtesy of Poto Travel.

We brought along some kain batik lepas to be given away as present to those people in Europe that may turn out to be friendly to us. One of them is of course a Mr. Nick Habgood whom I did blog about before in my blog The World Is Full Of Surprises. Nick is the partner of Azini Capital of London. Nick has agreed to meet us in London on the evening of the 5th of June 2009. Ain't that nice? Meeting someone whom you have only known by chance on the internet is really something I will not want to miss. Another couple that I would like to meet very much is Abe Awe Goneng and his wife Kak Teh. Can you spare abit of your time for us?

Nick Habgood (right) with his partner Michael.

Many will be curious as to why do I bring kain batik lepas as present. For those who don't know, this piece of cloth with simple patterns has multiple uses among rural Kelantan folks of which I am part of. It is often used as a semutar to wrap around the head just like a turban. As a semutar it can act as a protector of the head of any unexpected knock. It can be removed from the head and used as a baby's support when you have to carry a heavy one like my grand daughter Balkis when she was six months old. Ahh.. the uses are too many to mention here, I will have to blog about it after my return from Europe to tell you all about it's uses.

The kain batik lepas can be used to support a heavy baby on your hip. This was how I carried Balkis around when she was with me for six months since she was six months old.

A makcik using the kain batik lepas as shawl.

Technically this is not exactly our first trip to Europe. We had been there before. This picture of the other half taken in front of Mark and Spencer is proof of it. Anyway this outlet is in a town at the tip of Europe. It is in Istanbul Turkey to be exact. Turkey is making the most of the fact that part of Turkey lies in Europe and is selling it to tourists whenever they visit Istanbul. Yeah we went there while we were in Turkey just to be in Europe. We had to cross the bridge from the Asian side to go over the European side.

Yesterday I was surprised to see this orchid species blooming. I have been keeping it for almost 5 years and this is the first time it blooms. It is the Rhyncostylis sp. It used to found in the wild but now it is not so common. Look how beautiful it is as if it knows that I am leaving and thus blooms in time before I leave for Europe.

To Ee Lynn aka Cover_Operations'78 of the blog Combat Loaded & Mission Ready!, I will be blogging from the hotels on a daily basis should there be internet connections. Thanks for the good wishes.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Electcoms Jelajah Malaysia 2009

This post is almost a month over due since the event happened on 4th April 2009. I have promised Mat Salo that I will post it soon after the event but my attempt to do it at My Pasir Mas blog was aborted as I wasn't comfortable with Wordpress especially when a post involves so many pictures. In fact I have uploaded all the pictures into the gallery.

Anyway Mat Salo, this post is for you in mind as you have asked for it.

The small town of Pasir Mas was abuzz with the activity of preparation for the flagging off of the Electcoms Jelajah Malaysia 4th leg from Pasir Mas to Kuala Terengganu. The third leg had ended in Tanah Merah a day earlier and Pasir Mas was chosen as the starting point for the 4th leg. How lucky can we people of Pasir Mas be to have the event in Pasir Mas at our own doorstep.

The price of holding the event is the closure of the main road to Kota Bharu. All traffic to the road to Kota Bharu had to be diverted to go via the Lemal bridge. Locals going elsewhere along this route knows the smaller roads that can bypass this section.

This is where the flag off will begin beside the mini stadium of Pasir Mas infront of the Pantai Timur supermarket.

Here we can see Myvi Perodua cars carrying advertisement lined up for the event.

More of them here.

More of them.

A fleet of the superbikes too.

Traditional music was provided by the Rebana (big drums) and serunai dan gendang ensemble.

Azhar is the local rider and here he is signing autographs for those who asked for it.

If you are into souvenirs from the event, they have a booth for them. Most items are sold from RM30.00 upwards.

Some riders are taking it easy before the event by resting under the shade trees.

Taking it easy.
An international rider was busy tucking his powerbars into his shirt.
Some spare wheels

The Indonesian team
The international riders are very tall.
This bike needs more air.
Handing out the cards.
A pretty face handing out cards to the crowd.
I saw this rider warming up. I like this shot as I managed to blur the background by panning the camera.
This guy is checking his stock.
This shooter is shooting with a Nikon D3. Together with the telephoto lens this camera can cost more than the cost of a racing bike. Care to guess how much is the cost of it?

Having a bite to build up his energy.
Brad is staying cool in the van's shade. The scars on Brad's face was the battle scars from last year.
The master of ceremony.

She came over for Pak Zawi to have a closer look.

Another team waiting for the start which was scheduled at 11.00 AM.

A rider with scars and injury of the previous leg had to be given some kneading by the phsiotherapist.
This is my friend Azmi a local rider. He is not a participant but how he wished he was one of them. He asked to be given the chance to ride behind the other riders but even that wasn't allowed.
The Big Boss of the event greeting 'Apa Khabar ?' to the school children.A rider signing in. This was the last pic I took at the signing as immediately after I was told to move out of the area as I was not an official photographer covering the event.
I went back to Mekasar to catch the riders after the start at 11.00 PM in town.

The big bikers arrived first.
Here they come!

At this point they are still bunched up.

They are getting nearer.
The leader of the pack looked at me as I took photographs of them.
Look Ma, no hands! This is the tail of the pelaton.
A TV camera will definitely draw the crowd's attention. Who knows their faces may appear on TV later that night.

Within seconds we saw the last of them
Ambulance vehicles follow them closely incase of any mishaps.

The backup cars comprising of Proton Wajas came in their wake.
Bro Mat Salo, its better late than never to post this blog.