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AirAsia, care to explain yourself?

So I was looking at flight tickets the past few days on AirAsia and I stumbled unto something that completely took me off guard.

If I was drinking something, I’d probably have spurted it all out in my disbelief.

Or choked on it in my horror.

You might want to swallow that drink first before reading on.

 

Are you ready?

 

It was THIS:

Click on image to enlarge

A DOMESTIC flight ticket from BINTULU to KUALA LUMPUR cost THIS MUCH???!!!

It’s only a 2 HOURS flight!

The usual price for the Bintulu to Kuala Lumpur route is a few hundred ringgit.

Is there something special about this particular flight that it cost that freaking much??!!

And it’s WITHIN THE COUNTRY, MALAYSIA – or did someone forget their History and Geography lesson when fixing the ticket price?!

Well, here’s a Geography and Mathematics lesson for you.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against Australia. (I would love to go to Australia in the near future.) I’m just using it as an example to state my point.

Click on image to enlarge

Bintulu is in indicated by the green arrow.

Kuala Lumpur is indicated by the red arrow.

Both are in Malaysia.

Now, Gold Coast is indicated by the yellow star. And Gold Coast is in Australia.

So, tell me kids, by looking at the map, which distance is further if one was to fly?

From Bintulu, Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

Or, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Gold Coast, Australia?

No brainer right?

Of course, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Gold Coast, Australia is further!

While Bintulu to Kuala Lumpur is a 2 hours’ flight, according to AirAsia’s flight schedule below, Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast takes 8hours:

Click on image to enlarge

So WHY on earth is Bintulu to Kuala Lumpur flight as expensive (and even more so!) than if one were to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast??!!

To make myself clear, this is not an argument of “we can always use another airline if it’s too expensive” but it’s a matter of being charged REASONABLY by airlines for the routes that they provide. Especially in the case of us in Borneo (the island where Bintulu is on, just fyi), my fellow Sarawakians and Sabahans, who have limited options to fly anywhere if we do not first fly to Kuala Lumpur.

And so, by what logic is such a price like this justifiable?

AirAsia, care to explain yourself?

Note: Ticket price correct as at time of writing.

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Wanderlust

I’ve always had wanderlust (that’s a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world, if you don’t already know) and in 2008, I finally grew the wings I needed!

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This list is meant to keep track of where I’ve been through the years and I hope it inspires YOU, too, to travel! Life’s not meant to be lived in one place…

Year: COUNTRY (City or Town etc.)

2008: PHILIPPINES (Manila)
2009: SINGAPORE
2010: MALAYSIA (local travels)
2011: INDONESIA (Bali). SPAIN (Madrid & Barcelona). FRANCE (Paris). ENGLAND UNITED KINGDOM (London & Manchester).
2012: MALAYSIA (local travels)
2013: CAMBODIA (Siem Reap)
2014: PHILIPPINES (Manila & Pangasinan). SOUTH KOREA (Daejeon & Seoul). CHINA (Shanghai & Wuzhen).
2015:MALAYSIA (local travels)
2016: VIETNAM (Saigon/Ho Chi Minh). POLAND (Katowice, Kraków, Warsaw, Częstochowa, Oświęcim). CZECH REPUBLIC (Prague).
2017: INDONESIA (Palembang & Jogjakarta). TERRA SANCTA (+ Abu Dhabi UAE + Jordan)

Let’s see where this year takes us! 😉

Blessed New Year 2018!

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I am going to planet Mars – again!

Seriously!*

My boarding passes:

I went in 2014 for the Orion Flight Test.

Orion Flight Test

And I will be going again next year (2018) for the InSight Mission!

Insight Mission

Martian-status since 18 October 2014 – exactly 3 years ago.

FF

Frequent flyer yo!

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The Mission Patch for both trips:

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Orion test flight mission patch, 2014

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InSight Mission patch

SO EXCITING!

“What this is about?” you ask.

Well, the gist of it is:

In 2014, the names of 1.38 million people were encoded in a chip and loaded on the Orion spacecraft on its first spaceflight test – including mine. 🙂

See the chip here: https://mars.nasa.gov/resources/6752/

And now, applications were opened on October 2 and until Nov. 1, 2017 for the InSight Mission in 2018. Again, the names will be loaded into a silicon microchip which will fly with InSight for its mission to Mars. I have just submitted my name for this mission! 🙂

Here is an image of the chip mounted on the InSight Lander. They will put this second microchip next to this one.

I may not have “physically” been to Mars, at least I can legitimately say I have (even if it’s just in the form of my name in a microchip) gone where not all names have gone before. 😀

(You can read more about the mission here.)

So, are you going to join me?

Submit your name here: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/insight/

Let’s go to Mars!!!

P.S. NASA plans to develop Orion into a vehicle that could one day carry astronauts into space. Who knows, maybe “frequent flyers” will one-day get to call shotgun on a trip. 😉

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How To Make Pempek

Almost 3 months ago, I was in Indonesia.

Palembang was my first port of call before I went on to Jogjakarta.

Part of what I love about travelling is learning about the culture of a place. Indonesia is rich with that!

For Palembang, specifically, one such item is the food!

Now, “Pempek” (or “empek-empek”) is a savoury fishcake delicacy from Palembang, made of fish and tapioca.

Fortunately, I was able to learn how to make authentic Palembang Pempek while I was there!

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The basic ingredients are pretty simple – fishmeat, water, monosodium glutamate/MSG and salt.

But I’d rather show you how to make it rather than type it all out so, here is my video recording of some aunties from St Stefanus, Palembang, teaching us how to make authentic Palembang pempek!

(Don’t worry, all the important stuff are subtitled in all my videos – remember to click the “CC” button to activate subtitles!)

Pempek is served with rich sweet and sour sauce called kuah cuka or kuah cuko or just “cuko”. And this is how to make cuko:

The above is the basic Palembang Pempek. For other variants, you can check my other videos below as well:

Pempek kulit/Fish-Skin Pempek:

Pempek kapal selam/Submarine Pempek
Pempek telur kecil/Small Egg Pempek
Pempek pistel/Papaya pempek

Good luck! Let me know if you succeed and how it taste yeah!
Even better, let me try your creation too! =D

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How I accidentally climbed a Mountain

Yes, you read that right.

How can one accidentally climb a mountain? Well, let me tell you!

I was in Kuching for the Sacerdotal (Priestly) Ordination of a friend, Rev. Fr. Galvin, over the weekend. We used to go to the same University, were of the same intake and was part of the same community, called Young Catholic Undergraduates (YCU), so of course, his Big Day (Ordination to the Priesthood) was bound to be a reunion of old friends.

IMG20170923090355But on the day after the Ordination, some friends suggested we head up to the Catholic Memorial Pilgrimage Centre (CMPC), located at the Slope of Mount Singai, Kampung Tajong Singai, Bau. It is a venue for the Catholic Community to organise retreats, training and religious related events. CMPC was an integral part of our group of friends as we would go up to CMPC at least once a year back in the day. Some of them still do even now, but the last time I went up was 10 years ago, so of course, I agreed to join them.

The Ordination was all I packed for this trip (read: ill-equipped),  but since it was plank-walks and staircases all the way up to CMPC, I wasn’t particularly concerned. Everyone insisted I not use my ladies’ sandals though so I took up Nico’s offer to wear his crocs sandals instead, sans socks. And up we went…

As I recall, going up to CMPC had always been quite a challenge – even back in the day – as some parts were pretty steep. For those who have not been to CMPC, there are Stations of the Cross along the way up that also double as rest-stops. I have gone up without any stops years ago and I have gone up by stopping and praying at each Station as well. But I have never had my knees feel like jelly, which was what happened this time (the difference 10 years make). Lest my knees fully give up on me, I had to stop at almost each Station after the first five, but I still made it up, Thank God.

But that’s where things started to get really interesting.

After a brief picnic (we brought some food with us) at CMPC, Nico suggested, “Hey, shall we go to the top (of Mount Singai)?”

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A jungle path leading to the top of Mount Singai is located just beside the Longhouse.

There were 6 of us in the group – 2 (Syl and Nick) have been to the top before whilst the rest of us (Nico, Ted, Edwin and myself) have not. Prior to this, I never knew it was even possible to go to the top. Needless to say, in excitement, it was a unanimous YES from all of us, although I was starting to feel concerned. I mean, having only brought dresses, dress shoes and a handbag for the weekend (and jeans, tshirts and ladies’ sandals for “casual wear”), I was in no way equipped for climbing a mountain!

“It’s not that high,” said Syl, who had been up a few times.

“How many minutes or hours is “not that high”?” I asked.

“Depends. Some parts are quite steep.”

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And so we started… There was also a group of foreign students from a local private university that coincidentally started their ascend the same time.

IMG-20170923-WA0011My knees were fine during the climb. I wish I could say the same for my feet. Wearing crocs (sans socks!), my feet was starting to blister. And my hands as well, from the rope we use to pull ourselves up along the steeper parts… My handbag – that was just an inconvenience. I was just thankful I could sling it across my shoulder.

 

After a considerable amount of time and climbing a steep part, I asked Syl, “This is the steep part you mentioned?”

“There’s more.”

Internal gasp.

“It’s still a long way up.”

Internal sigh.

We continued our ascend. The group of students earlier had started to split up as some were faster than the others. At one point, our group of 6 became 4 as Nick and Edwin were left behind. When Nick rejoined us, he reported that Edwin could not go up any farther and would just wait for us where he was. And so were 5…

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But one steep slope after another, it became 3 – 2 as Syl, Nico and Ted went up faster, leaving behind myself and Nick who was kind enough to keep me company. My feet was really uncomfortable but there was nowhere to go but up. Fellow climbers (a few from the student group and others) were also taking their own pace (some above us, some below) and Nick would be cheering us all to continue: “Almost there!” “You can do it!” “I can see the sun!” “5 more steps!” “5 more minutes!”

In reality, we were nowhere near the top yet.

Small talks with fellow climbers along the way was interesting though. It made the climb more bearable.

One of the students exclaimed (dramatically): “Someone should make a documentary of me, before I die!” as he huffed and puffed up a steep slope.

Another climber retorted to Nick’s “5 more minutes!” cheer with a “That’s what you said 5 minutes ago!!!” and to his “I can see the sun!”, “I can see the sun from my room, man!”

Funny exchanges happen when people are exhausted. Hahaha.

I passed a climber who was taking a break on the way up.

“As you can see, I am in no way prepared for this climb.” I said, as I motioned to what I was wearing.

“Neither am I”, he agreed. “Just got back from the club and my mate was like, ‘Hey let’s go for a climb!'”

“Doesn’t sound like a great idea now does it?” I quipped.

“No! And I’m tipsy to boot!” he exclaimed.

I chuckled as I considered the next slope…

There were also a few climbers who were on their way down as well and passed us by. I was tempted to ask them how much further we had to reach the top but decided not to, for fear they would say it was still a long way to go.

The most interesting thing that happened on the way up was when one of those on the way down locked eyes with mine as I climbed up a steep slope. It was a familiar face that I had not seen for almost 10 years.

“Fancy bumping into you here!” both Kevin and I agreed. We had a brief catch up as his group was catching up and Nick helped take a photo of us.

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Turned out Nick in turn, knew one of Kevin’s friends.

“I’m with him,” she said, pointing at Kevin.

“I’m with her,” Nick pointed at me.

“So is it still far up to the top?” Nick asked her.

“I turn back halfway,” she replied.

My heart stopped beating for a second. We’re not even HALFWAY up???

Fortunately, she laughed and continued, “I finished already lah. It’s not much further…”

My heart started beating again.

After what seemed like ages and after I don’t know how many “5 steps” and “5 minutes” later, we finally reached the top!!!

Was the view worth it?

Actually, I don’t know.

It was hazy and we couldn’t really see much.

But considering how ill-equipped I was and I reached the top anyways (and it was my first mountain!), I was really pleased.

And that my friend, was how I accidentally climbed a Mountain!

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At the top of Mount Singai, 562 metres above sea-level

For the record, it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the top – not bad for an ill-equipped first-timer hahaha!