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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Nightmare On My Sheet

I had a terrifying nightmare the night before that haunted me. This was how it went:

It was sometime in the afternoon, the sky was bright and sunny, evident from the sunlight that shown in from windows that I didn't look at. I was in the hypermarket of a bustling mall full of people, there was a sale going on and I was checking out the stuff. My dad came out of no where and showed me some amazing Twisties flavour that had a variety of flavour in one pack that was really full, unlike our real life pack of snacks that has loads of air in it. I frantically went to look for this amazing junk food along the aisles of promotional items.

Time seemed to suddenly accelerate. While it felt like it was for a moment, the mall suddenly showed signs of closing. I found the junk food and grabbed two packets full of the processed munchies. While I made my way to the counter, I was suddenly transported to outside the hypermarket. Confused, I quickly tried to make my way back to the hypermarket because I have to pay for the packets of goodness. The lights in the mall was shutting down, and the shops started closing. As I made my way to the entrance of hypermarket, I saw a small boy crying outside, he seemed lost so I stopped and asked him where his parents were, he said they were looking for that junk food I was looking so I thought, oh well, I can just give him one of mine, but, huh? The two packets in my hand disappeared! So I held the kids hand and rushed back to the hypermarket with him to find my junk food and his parents. As I pace walked towards the hypermarket entrance, I couldn't seem to reach it, like the distance between the entrance me and kept growing. As I picked up my pace, the mall around me contorted and transformed into what seemed like an abandoned coal mine. I suddenly started to feel scared like something bad was coming. I finally made it into the hypermarket, a staff called out to me saying that they were closing but his voice sounded distant even though he was right in front of me. The hypermarket slowly got dark and the aisles twisted and turned like a maze.

I couldn't find the junk food I was looking for so I decided to leave the hypermarket, pulling the kid behind me, we left the exit and came into a long dark space, the only light coming from the hypermarket, strange, weren't the lights going out? I asked the kid if he knew where his parents were but the kid had let go of my hand and was walking in front of me. I was holding something in my arms, I wasn't sure what but it felt like it was the two packets of junk food I thought I lost. We walked in the dark towards a fire and to my horror, beside the fire was some monster or demon or something. It was like a man but with red wrinkled skin, he had yellow eyes and some sharp teeth protruding out of his mouth, the only thing he was wearing was a loincloth. The demonic man said to the boy, "Oh how delicious, I can't want to eat her and her babies". I got upset and shouted at him, "What are you talking about, he's a boy!", the demon said to me, "Take a good look again, it's pregnant!". I turned to look at the boy in front of me, it was dark at first so I didn't see. More fires suddenly came to around us and I could see that in front of me was no longer a boy, but a small blue demon, that looked the same as the red demonic man, but it didn't even look pregnant in any way, it still looked like a kid demon. Weird. I then noticed that I was in some kind of cave, surrounded by similar looking demons and bonfires. The adult demons were all dancing around the fires and the small demons were put in rows, seated in front of a big fire, ready to be cooked and eaten by the adult demons.

I ran in horror, terrified of what had happened around me. As I ran, all these demons started chasing after me, saying that they will catch me. The world around me seemed to spiral. I do not know if I actually woke up or not, I was in my bedroom, it was dark but I could make out all the details in my room, the only difference was that the demons were in there with me. They appeared above me with their arms outstretched to grab at me. I couldn't move, I couldn't scream. It was like something was pressing on me. I squeezed my eyes shut and screamed in my mind, afraid of what was about to befall on helpless me.

I suddenly came to in another dream. I was in a school. Everything seemed normal except I was constantly on the edge of my seat, afraid that the demons in the previous dream would appear. Whatever that nightmare was, it haunted me, but I was safe. Eventually I managed to keep calm and went along with the weird course of this new dream, but the nightmare continued to haunted me after I woke up. I wondered if I experienced sleep paralysis or a panic attack, but I won't know for sure. How terrifying. I haven't had a nightmare in a long time.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oh hey! I'm still alive.

It's been a long time since I last wrote an entry. 2017 rolled around and it's already February. That's all. I'll end this with a chorus from my new favourite song for my best friend who lacks the confidence to get to know girls.

"Someone in the crowd
could be the one you need to know,
The one to finally lift you off the ground.

Someone in the crowd could
take you where you wanna go,
If you're that someone ready to be found."
- Someone in the Crowd (La La Land), Justin Hurwitz

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It's Quiet Uptown

How do you face this situation?
No way could reality be like the simulation.
The thoughts that riddled my mind with questions and imaginations,
Caved in with time, constant guilt and worry like palpitations.

Could it have been different if it was at another time?
The pieces could maybe fit just nicely like verses in a rhyme.
The guilt that hammered my mind with responsibilities intertwine,
With fear and disempowerment, constantly creeping down my spine.

I worried so much.
I thought too much.
Things that seemed right just did not seem to take flight,
even with all my might, I just didn't see all of the light.

At the end, my one true comfort is darkness.
I went to see it again, to embrace it's friendliness.
After a while I could get up again, look at awkwardness.
Reel in the line and fire up that specialness.

Open at the Close

It's been a long time since I last updated my blog, huh? I was just lazy to update.

At the end of July, the inaugural Asian Quidditch Cup 2016 took place in the USJ11 football field. There were three teams participating, the two Malaysian teams, Damansara Dementors and the Subang Chimeras, as well as the champions hailing from Australia, the Australian National University Owls (ANU Owls). This was the first time we experienced an actual quidditch match, with the help of the more experienced ANU Owls players, we learned a lot and gained experience (and injuries) from this tournament.

The week after was Sri KL's Leo Quidditch Tournament. It was more casual match targeted for high school students. Some of us Damansara Dementor players participated as we were invited to both assist and participate in the games. Half way through the tournament, I had to pull out because of the injuries I had sustained from AQC. I then changed to help referee the games because the kids were not very well informed about the quidditch rules. During this tournament, Xander got badly injured, especially when his toenail almost got ripped off his toe. The firs aiders had to extract his toenail. It was nasty but cool at the same time.

After that I took about a month off from quidditch to recover. I went back two weeks to watch the casual Sunday games and then three weeks I didn't go. When I went this Sunday I felt like I was so out of shape.

Can't wait for more games to come.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ploughing Through Phuket

Nothing spells 'perfect' like a holiday trip when a public holiday is happening or vice versa. Lydia's mom had planned a trip to Phuket, Thailand about the same time Lydia planned for Laos, and I like it how her mom put the dates when the Raya holidays are effective.

I really didn't know what to expect for Phuket. I've never been to Thailand before. Well, I did but I was 2 years old, the only evidence is a photo of tiny little me standing like a blur case by Patong beach. I was busy at work (and too unbothered) to look up at stuff to do in Phuket, I took it for granted that the Chin family would have done it but about a week before the holiday, Lydia's mom asked Kayla and me to do some research. Lydia also mentioned to me a few days before about James Bond Island. So I had to do my research and boy, I sure was glad I did. There were so many things to know about Phuket. For the first time, I made an itinerary.

Our trip this time didn't involve a morning flight so we didn't have to stay overnight in the airport. However, a day before my trip, my family was going back to Penang to visit my grandparents since it was the Raya holidays, it was a perfect time for my sister, who came back for the summer holidays, to visit them. So, I slept over at Kathleen's place. The plan was for me to go to Lydia's place to go to the airport together after lunch but then Lydia messaged me in the morning asking if I could go earlier and join them for lunch instead so I did that. I put down my stuff at their house and then we walked to the restaurant nearby to have chicken rice. The initial plan was to take the public bus to the LRT station and then to KL Sentral but apparently there were no buses passing by so Audrey downloaded the Uber app and we called for a driver to send us to KL Sentral.

There boarded the shuttle bus and headed to KLIA2 where we met up with Kayla and her mom. We then proceeded to head to the boarding gate but we were too early, by an hour. I had brought a card game to play but the situation couldn't call for it so we just sat at the chairs outside our gate and waited for our plane to arrive. We thought we'd just wait out this one hour but little did we know for what was about to come. Our flight got delayed.

It was raining in Thailand and clouds were heavy. As we entered Thailand, the rain had stopped but the sky was already ready to descend into darkness. I was kinda surprised with the Phuket International Airport. With my limited previous experiences with other East Asian countries, Thailand was like an upgrade to the lot but still not quite there yet but maybe that's just Phuket. I haven't been to Bangkok. Maybe Bangkok is like Kuala Lumpur?

Upon exiting the arrival hall, some people speaking in English with heavy Thai accents started promoting tour packages and van services. After a short discussion, we decided to just get a van to our hotel instead of buying any packages at the airport because we thought that maybe the prices there would be a lot pricier than outside. We went outside the airport after paying for our van and we hopped on with a group of other tourists. The journey out of the area took a while. Eventually we reached a tourism outlet where we were offered tour packages to various places of interest in Phuket. The parents (read as two moms) were indecisive and told us to make the final decision. So Lydia and did the math for us and we made sure that the package offered has got transport and food and whatnot. After a long discussion, we all agreed to by the one day James Bond Island tour package (actually more like a small Phang Nga Bay tour). To me it seemed a little pricey but I know little about tour packages and stuff like this, also I'd rather make sure I have a good time experiencing stuff than not at all.

It took about half an hour for our van to head out of wherever we were and into Patong. There were a lot of winding roads up and down steep hills. Lydia and Audrey felt carsick and dizzy. Fortunately for us, the van dropped us at our hotel first, just as it started to rain. Lydia had booked two rooms. A room for two for Kayla and her mom, and a room for four, for the rest of us. We decided that Audrey and her mom share one bed, and Lydia and I share the other. We were afraid that it'd be awkward but lucky for us, the bed was a king sized bed, there's enough space to have a gap in between. Our room has got three sections, one big room like a master bedroom and one small room like really small. The room with the bigger space (let's call it the main room) has got all the stuff there, a television, fridge, snack bar (there were pocky, soft drinks, beer, and condoms *childish snicker*), a ridiculously tall closet, a coffee table and a small balcony. The small room has a bed and a closet built into the wall (one door is jammed), that's it, there wasn't much leg space either, a single luggage bag can block the way but oh well, we're not here to stay in the hotel. Lydia fiercely made a point that she absolutely hates mosquitoes and we must keep the door closed at all times to avoid them from getting in.

After changing and getting ready, we all met back down at the reception/lobby/cafe (it's all joined together) and we went out to have dinner. There's a cafe in our hotel but we decided not to have food here as it seems likely to be more expensive than the food we can find outside. As it was still raining, we didn't want to be too picky about where we eat, so when we saw a Thai restaurant, we made a decision to eat there. Lydia pointed out to me that a Japanese restaurant a few shops away from our hotel serves good Japanese food, it was mentioned in a lot of reviews online, of course, we didn't eat there during our entire trip. The restaurant we were at was sandwiched between rows of souvenir shops. There we ordered some Thai local food. I had pad thai and shared a bowl of tom yam soup with Audrey. The food there wasn't quite there but our clear tom yam soup was good.

After dinner, the rain had stopped so we walked along the street checking out the stalls. There were bags and clothes. It quickly became apparent to us that the stuff in Phuket are pretty pricey. Lydia and Audrey compared the prices of the things sold with that of in Krabi. After walking around we decided to walk up the opposite direction on the other side of the road. There we took the chance to survey other restaurants for places to eat at for the next few days. Soon we came upon a very noisy street, crowded with tourists and locals. It was famous Bangla Road, paved with lots of bars on both sides of the street. There were a few ladyboys clad in revealing showgirl outfits standing around getting people to pay to take photos with them. Also scattered throughout the road were locals trying to sell tourists tickets for sex, ping pong shows and the like. We strolled along the road looking at all the sights until we reached the end of the street where we could see Patong Beach. We turned around to go back to where we came in from. We tried to look for a night market so we went into a street on the opposite side of Bangla Road. Lydia commented about how she had cravings for the Thai green papaya salad (som tum) while we were waiting for Kayla as she was checking out some bikinis. We walked until the end of the block but no night markets so we stopped at one of the convenient stores (this one is Family Mart; there are a lot of convenient stores here, they are everywhere!) to buy some stuff. I got myself a large bottle of Chang beer. Surprisingly Kayla also wanted beer, she bought a Singha Light. After our purchase, we made our way back to our hotel. I didn't drink my beer that night. We went to sleep early as the next day was gonna be a busy day.

I woke up on the dot the moment my alarm rang. Lydia was already awake but lazing around. Everyone got up at about the same time and we all got ready. Kayla and her mom were already at the lobby when we got down. We then walked down the road to go have breakfast. We have had decided to try eating at this restaurant called No.6. The night before we saw a really long queue outside the restaurant, which points to only one logical explanation, "the food is good". The prices on the menu was on the cheaper side too when compared to other restaurants. We were the first to reach the restaurant as it had just only opened for business. Each of us ordered a meal from the breakfast menu, which mostly were different ways of having eggs with toast and a choice of coffee or tea. I had my eggs scrambled with tea. After our breakfast, we walked back to our hotel to wait for our van. The van arrived not too long after we returned to the hotel lobby. After showing our receipt, the van driver let us in and we were on our way, to pick up other tourists. On the way, we saw other shops and restaurants further away from where we explored the night before, notably Hard Rock Cafe and Hooters (Too bad we didn't go). We also went through Bangla Road, which seemed dead and empty, deprived of the night life and all the bars closed during the day. We had to go back out the same winding road up and down the hill. Lydia felt really sick this time, she had to open a bottle of ointment to keep her from vomiting from carsickness.

We finally arrived at our destination and we followed the driver to where we had to be gathered. Lydia wasn't feeling too good so she went to force herself to vomit in case she got seasick on the boat that we'll be taking. After a registering ourselves and a short briefing from our guide, we all got onto our boat out at the pier. The weather was great but it was starting to get a little gloomy. The guide got us to try and sit within our own groups in pairs but Lydia wanted to make sure that she wouldn't puke on the boat so she sat behind. To balance out the weight on the boat, I eventually somehow ended up sitting alone but that was fine, I got the whole seat to myself. We were on a speedboat so it was going pretty fast and that made the wind feel great. I looked back to check on Lydia and she responded by flashing a smile. Audrey wasn't looking too good but that was probably because her mom was gripping her arm so tightly (she's afraid of water? I'm not sure). Kayla and her mom just looked normal.

We arrived at our first location, Hong Island (Koh Hong) where we were to kayak around. Our guide started talking to some other locals on kayaks and then he turned to us and said that the kayaks are all currently occupied so we'll head to the next location before returning. Our boat then continued to speed off towards James Bond Island (Khao Phing Kan). The place is dubbed James Bond Island because it was where a scene from The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed at. The sky was already moody at this point so when we got there, we couldn't take really nice photos. The water was at high tide too. Besides the iconic Koh Tapu which can be seen in the James Bond film, there was also the flat limestone cliff that tumbled to see on the island. After taking photos, we headed back to the boat. The sand on the island were mostly seashells of various sizes. The sole of Audrey's foot was pierced by a tiny seashell and we had to help her pull it out. Later on, we got back onto our boat. This time Lydia sat in front with her mom and Audrey sat with Kayla. I sat at the back where Lydia was to enjoy the view from the back of the boat.

Our next location was Koh Panyi, also known as the Floating Muslim Village. It's a fishing village built on stilts by fishermen, connected to a small island. We all gathered at the inner pier after getting off our boat and our guide introduced the place to us as well as about how the village is built in a strategic location, using the massive tsunami incident in 2004 as an example, our guide told us that the village was barely affected as the mangrove trees in the surrounding area protected the whole island. A buffet lunch was prepared for us, which was included in the tour package. There were many other tourist groups around also in for the same buffet lunch. Our guide lead us to a dining area and instructed us the house rules for dinning as well as the dishes that are prepared for us. There was fried rice, a variation of pad thai that was unique to this village, fried chicken, deep fried battered prawns and onions, some vegetables and tom yam soup. On each table was also a plate of pineapples. I secured a table while the girls (and moms) went to get food. After that I went to get my own food and helped Lydia bring bowls of tom yam to the table for each of us. The food was pretty good especially their fried chicken, deep fried battered prawns and onions and tom yam soup. It started to rain while we were eating. After that we had our fill, we went to the souvenir shop section to have a look around before getting on the boat again, which by this time, the rain had stopped but started to drizzle again.

After everyone got back onto the boat, we headed back to Hong Island. The seating this time is the same except I've moved to the front and sat with Audrey because I didn't want to sit at the back already as I was worried the rain will drench me. At Hong Island, we had to go in groups of two (excluding the kayak paddler). Audrey didn't want to sit with her mom because she said her mom would be panicking a lot and ruin the mood for her so Lydia has to sit with their mom (kinda selfish of Audrey but welp). Naturally, this means I sit with Audrey because Kayla will be with her mom. We all got onto our kayaks and the paddler took us along the water in between the towering limestone hills that come out of the sea. While the others were moving together in line close to the hills, our paddler decided to take us around a different route that was longer but that plan failed as the rain started to fall. Our paddler then quickly took us into the shelter under the hills back at the route we were supposed to be in but he didn't want to stop and took us further down to see more things before crossing over to another hill that houses a cave that visitors can go into. However, it was high tide and therefore, the kayaks can't go in, the cave ceiling was too low and hence dangerous. We had to turn out and see other parts of the island. The rain stopped when we were going out and I took the opportunity to try and paddle the kayak but as I never had experience kayaking, I didn't bring us far. We returned to our speedboat and took turns to get back on. Then we started to head out to the next place as the rain fell again but after a short while of speeding off, our guide turned to the driver and they were discussing something. After that, the boat turned around and went back to Hong Island. When the motor stopped, our guide informed us that the tide has gone down. At low tide, we can walk into a cave we missed earlier but not everyone has to go because we're required to walk in the water. A few people agreed and we started to remove our shirts to reveal the swimming attires we've been wearing. Lydia, Audrey and Kayla removed their pants but kept their shirts on, same with some other women. The moms stayed on the boat because they didn't want to go into the water. Our guide told us to move together in a single file and to move fast. We all then made our way into the cave and came out into a beautiful clearing where there were a few mangrove trees (it started to drizzle again). A guy from Hong Kong tripped over a rock and hurt himself. Our guide quickly checked on him and he said he's alright albeit bleeding. I sat in the water because I was shivering from the cold. Our guide then gathered us and told us about the structure of the cave area and the mangrove trees. We then made our way out again and looked at the glistening limestone within the cave. We made it back to the boat and we dried ourselves. I used my towel to cover myself as protection from the cold. After treating the Hong Kong man and another woman for their injuries, we continued our journey into the sea in the rain. Audrey had some cuts in the soles of her foot from some sharp rocks but they were not bleeding so she shrugged it off albeit the stinging pain.

We reached our last island (which name I forgot) and we quickly got down and took shelter just before the heavy rain came in. Soon the rain stopped and we took off down the beach to the sea to swim. The moms again didn't go down. The four of us played around a bit, mostly enjoying the water. We could see the dark clouds in the distance coming again so we took our time. Our guide bought fruits and drinks for the tour group so when the rain started to come again, we went back on shore and under the shelter and helped ourselves to the bananas, watermelon and pineapples. As the rain calmed down a little, our guide ushered us back to the speedboat. We were gonna have to rush back to the tour agency to avoid the oncoming heavy rain.

As it was raining, our ride was bumpy as the waves were rising and our boat driver was skilfully riding over them. It felt like a roller coaster ride. The rain had gotten strong and raindrops were pelting our faces and strong winds were blowing. Lydia's mom can be heard yelping and screaming at every bounce and crash the boat makes. Personally I was enjoying myself but I was also falling asleep because I was tired and getting dizzy from all the bouncing around. I felt my stomach flip numerous times, worse than riding the Cockscrew in Genting Highlands. Eventually we reached back at the agency. The rain has subsided and we went to get changed and dried ourselves up. Our van driver was already waiting for us and we all hopped back on. Lydia and Audrey didn't want to get carsick again so they quickly went to sleep in the car.

The rain started again on our way back. It was early evening when we reached our hotel. We all unanimously agreed to take a shower and rest until it was dinner time. After cleaning up, all of us collapsed in our beds and took a nap. After about an hour or so (I lost track of time), we all woke up and got ready to go for dinner. We went to the seafood restaurant opposite the restaurant we went to the night before. The price there was the standard rate (read as: pretty pricey) around here but the difference was that there were ladyboys working there. We ordered rice and dishes to share. The food was pretty good compared to the other place. The cool thing about this restaurant is the seafood. Their prawns were massive! I've never seen tiger prawns the size of my arm! Their crabs were big too! Unfortunately seafood exceeds our budget so we didn't order any. After dinner we walked to Bangla Road again but we didn't go in this time, we went further ahead and went into the Jungceylon Mall to have a look as well as take shelter from the drizzle. I spotted a McDonald's kiosk and saw that they had this Pinky Choc Pie which was apparently exclusive in Thailand. It caught my interest so I knew what I wanted to have before we leave Phuket. In the mall, we looked at a directory and saw that there's a 100 baht section so we headed there to have a look. After walking around we finally figured out that the 100 baht section was in fact a bazaar section on the lower ground section of the mall. We walked around and looked at the stuff. I couldn't find the things I wanted so I just followed the girls around, mostly sticking to Audrey because she kept checking clothes and getting left behind from the group. Some of the most interesting stuff I've seen in Phuket at the scented soaps in the shape of fruits such as pineapples, watermelons and penises. Wait, penises? Yeah, penises. I don't know why out of all the fruit scented soaps, penises are included in the fray. And no, the soaps don't smell like dicks. After looking around for some time, we headed back out decided to call it the night.

Oh, did I mention that I was feeling woozy from the boat ride? Yes, most of the time when I'm standing still or sitting down my head starts to spin and everyone else felt the same. Anyway back at the hotel, Lydia's mom said that I should drink my Chang beer so I did. Kind of a bad idea. Beer plus wooziness equals me getting tipsy and then almost drunk fast. I had a big bottle so I offered Lydia to try some and she had a sip. Lydia's mom had implied that she wanted some too but she fell asleep rather quickly after bathing so I had the whole bottle to myself. I don't quite remember what happened. I do remember talking to Lydia a lot while falling sleep but I don't remember what it was about. I do remember this, after I finished my beer, I wanted to throw the bottle away and instead of going to the dustbin, I went into the master bed room. Lydia quickly (while laughing) guided me to the dustbin and I almost fell down when putting the bottle in the bin. I forgot about it and only recalled this event the next morning after I brushed my teeth and saw the beer bottle in the dustbin. Lydia told Audrey and Kayla about it but I don't mind. Funny stuff like that are good to share.

The next morning, Lydia's mom wanted to go to the morning market to see what's there to eat. She thought it was like those street markets with food on sale but it wasn't what everyone thought. The morning market was a market complex called Banzaan Fresh Market selling fruits, fresh cuts of meat and seafood. No food that was cooked and ready (there were but they were more like rice with dishes to pick from, not exactly breakfast kind of food). We went upstairs because it looked like a food court. It was but not exactly. The food court upstairs was special in a way that you had to buy the meat downstairs from the market and bring it up where the chefs would cook the meats for you for a price. After seeing the fruits section there, the moms decided to buy some fruits, they got some tiny pineapples and guava. Audrey wanted grapes but her mom didn't want it so she didn't get it. My attention was caught by these massive durians. They were huge! But they didn't look good like the ones we have in Malaysia. I called Lydia over to have a look at them and we decided that it was definitely not worth getting despite its shocking size. We all decided not to buy from the market to eat and so we left to find other places to eat at. To me it was apparent that Audrey and Kayla wanted to go back to No.6 to have breakfast (by this time it's brunch because the market is far from our hotel) but the moms were indecisive and Lydia was getting upset from their indecision because they wanted to try something different but they didn't know what they want to try and there's visibly no good restaurants around the immediate area to try and yet they were without reason reluctant to go to No.6 for some reason. After a short heated discussion, we decided to go to No.6, much to my relief (and Audrey's and Kayla's, I bet). We were pretty far away so we decided to cut through to get back to the street using the back entrance of the Jungceylon (which, after looking at Google Maps, is a weird, long, diagonal, Z-shaped building). The Jungceylon is a lot bigger than I thought. There's like four or five atriums in the building included a huge open air section that housed a model of a ship (that we saw only later at night). The design of the mall is a lot modern compared to it's neighbouring buildings. The mall wasn't open yet but vendors who set up early were already promoting their good to us already. Kayla bought some fridge magnets at one of the stalls at the first bazaar we passed through. At one of the atriums, there was a sale for local candies and snacks. A vendor offered us to try "coconut jelly" which to us was basically dodol. Their dodol had a different texture than ours and Audrey wanted to get some. Lydia was surprised because Audrey didn't like dodol back home but she really liked this one. The vendor offered a pretty high price so she decided not to buy it. We continued on until we got out of the mall and headed to No.6 for brunch. Lydia and I came to the same indecision, we both either wanted the noodles or the rice. Both of us wanted to see either one's decision but because both of us couldn't decided, we came to the same decision and had rice. She ordered rice with a side of pork while I ordered rice in soup with pork. Lydia's mom decided to order their khao niew mamuang (mango sticky rice) to try and some of us shared it. It was surprisingly good! The mango felt really refreshing. It was really different from what I've ever had back in Malaysia. After lunch, we decided to check the prices for the Simon Cabaret show and also walk to the beach to have a look. Earlier that morning, Kayla and her mom had walked to the beach already. Kayla tried to contact Lydia but at that time, everyone was sleeping so she decided to go without us. Lydia told me shortly after we woke up that morning that she felt a little upset with Kayla for going to the beach without us. I thought to myself about how Lydia sometimes does the same to us so I didn't comment. However Lydia is a forgiving person so she had forgotten about it.

Along the rows of stores, we stopped by a few of the little tourist stalls to enquire about the pricing to see the Simon Cabaret show. Eventually we reached the beach and we went down to walk along the shore and let the waves wash against our feet. But not too long after standing around on the beach, rain clouds came rolling in. We thought we can wait it out but the winds started blowing strongly and the rain came down. I almost got blown off my feet from how strong the wind was. We all ran back to the rows of shops and eventually took shelter in an empty restaurant which turned out to be the cafe of a hotel. Luckily there was a washroom and a public shower room so we used it to wash our feet from the sand. After the rain came to a drizzle, we walked back our way to the hotel and stopped at one of the tourism stalls which had the cheapest tickets to Simon Cabaret show. Lydia's mom has seen the show before many years ago and wanted to rest, Kayla's mom doesn't want to spend more money and says that she wants to rest as well as her excuse so only the four of us kids (*cough* young adults *cough*) bought tickets to the show. The price for the tickets got even cheaper because the price that was mentioned was for VIP seats and because the VIP seats were sold out, we were left with the normal seats. The lady at the counter was very friendly and made sure that we got all the details and stuff we need to get to the show. Audrey even got a free pen from her just because she mentioned that the pen was very nice to write with when she was writing down her details for the lady. After that we went back to the hotel to have a rest before dinner.

I don't quite recall why or what time but after cleaning ourselves at the hotel, we left to go to the Jungceylon again to buy souvenirs. Walking around and around, we finally decided to buy some silk scarfs. There was one that seemed cheap but we decided not to buy from there as the colours were not that nice. We walked on and after looking around, we found a vendor who sold some really nice coloured scarfs but her scarfs are 250 baht. We spent quite a long time there deciding and finally bought them. I picked a rainbow coloured one for Kathleen because I know she loves rainbow coloured stuff. After that we headed out where we found an atrium with some clothes sale. I picked out some shorts for myself and Lydia got a pair for her dad. The girls wanted to buy shorts for themselves but the place didn't have a fitting room so they decided not to because they feared that they couldn't wear the shorts after they paid for it. We exited the mall and headed for No.6. We thought we were early but a queue was already formed and the restaurant was packed. The moms queued in line while the rest of us went to a souvenir shop to check out the things on sale. Lydia and Audrey were looking for a specific elephant figure that they wanted to buy for their dad but they just couldn't find it. Later we returned to the restaurant and soon we had our seats. We ordered some dishes to eat with rice. They were sweet and sour clams that we saw every table had ordered for the past few nights, fried battered prawns that also every table seemed to have ordered, chicken cooked with cashew nuts, fried water spinach (the locals call them morning glory), and tom yam goong. I must say, that dinner was the most satisfactory dinner I've had in Phuket. After dinner, I told the others that I wanted to go get that Pinky Choc Pie from McDonald's and asked if anyone wanted to follow. Audrey and her mom wanted to follow me, while Lydia, Kayla and her mom wanted to go back. Audrey instructed Lydia to bath when she got back so we can bath quickly the moment we got back so we won't be late when the van to the Simon Cabaret show arrives. So off we went. I had seen on the standees outside the McDonald's restaurant and the kiosk in Jungceylon have different prices, the kiosk with it at 60 baht and the restaurant with it at 55 baht. I thought maybe it was because you had to pay addition for how the kiosk was a convenience but I was wrong. While Audrey and I went into the restaurant, her mom went to look at some clothes at a vendor's outside. The price I had to pay was 60 baht. Turns out 55 baht was before tax. Because we had to walk a really long way to the restaurant, when Audrey's mom asked about the price, the two of us said it was 55 baht with mischievous smirks on our faces, to avoid her mom from making a fuss. When Lydia asked, we told her the truth. On the way back to the hotel, Audrey and I bought fried chicken from the road side vendor we saw the night before because it smelled really good, and also because Audrey had cravings.

We made it back to the hotel and Lydia was in the bath much to Audrey's annoyance until Lydia came out and explained. Turns out Lydia, Kayla and her mom went to see some other shops that we missed, so she came back later than initially planned. I let the two sisters try the McDonald's pie. Lydia didn't quite like it and Audrey thought it was not bad. I thought it was brilliant. After bathing, we shared the fried chicken, it was pretty good. Immediately after the sisters finished the remaining of the chicken, Kayla came to our room, ready to go down. Lydia's mom came back to the room (I forgot why she went to the lobby) and alerted us that our van was already here. We then quickly made our way down, Lydia and I slower than the other two because we had to grab our jackets, just in time before the van left without us. Lydia handed him our receipt and he quickly did a check, because we were sitting all the way behind, the driver failed to pass us our redemption tickets as he was in the drivers seat. He kept it with him first and took us out to the cabaret.

The journey wasn't too far. According to Google Maps, we could have walked 15 mintues down the street to the cabaret but luckily we got a van because it was raining. Luckily for us again, when we arrived, the rain stopped. We were quickly ushered into the reception queue to get our seating tickets. When we reached the counter, the man there asked us for our redemption ticket and we said that our driver has it. Turns out we had to have our tickets. Lydia and Kayla then quickly rushed out to the drop off and told Audrey and I to stay near the queue to wait for them. After some time, the two girls returned with the usher from earlier. The usher talked to the man at the queue and then proceeded to show a piece of paper to the woman at the counter, before telling us to wait and left. The woman at the counter called for Lydia to go over and after a short exchange of words, Lydia came back and told us that someone else has accidentally taken our tickets. Our driver really did forget to pass us our tickets because of the haste earlier and turns out an usher Lydia was talking to was doubtful that our driver made a mistake which led to Lydia getting pissed. The usher who took guided us out of the van earlier saw them and knew which van to call and so he contacted the driver who in turn provided him with our redemption ticket number. With our tickets mistakenly released, we had to wait for some time before the staff can verify the wrong tickets and give us those instead.

After a long time of waiting, 10 minutes before the show starts, the woman at the counter called Lydia and provided us our tickets. Relieved, we joined the queue that formed and waited but shorty we were redirected to a different entrance because turns out we were queueing up at the VIP entrance. Our normal ticket entrance was empty and we were the first in line, which worked to our favour because the normal ticket seats were of free seating. When they opened the entrance, we quickly moved together and got the front middle seats in the hall. Our normal ticket seats were location above the VIP seating, looking out over the theatre. The cabaret show was very entertaining. It was amazing with their dazzling lights and costumes. Some segments were very funny and some performers (who were all men and ladyboys) went down the stage to interact with the VIP seated men, some kissed them and some even let them motorboat their chest (ladyboys of course). It was entertaining and funny. One guy was even pulled on stage to perform with the ladyboys, doing poses and awkwardly dancing on stage. After the show, the performers stood outside the exit for people to take photos wih them (you have to pay). We went out and got back on our van after the same group of people were gathered together. We were the last to be dropped off, but we didn't get off at our hotel. We were by Patong beach where we hadn't walked at night yet so we asked if the driver and drop us off and he dropped us outside Bangla Road. Audrey informed her mom about our little adventure. We walked over to the beach to enjoy the night wind and watch the waves crash on shore. We also played with our shadows and took photos. Walking along the rows of shops, we bought some snacks as supper. We got a pretty delicious banana and Nutella crepe from a vendor by the side of the road. After walking for a while, we turned and walked back to Bangla Road and stopped by 7-11 before we went back to our hotel. We bought some bread for breakfast and cup noodles as supper because we were hungry. It really is fun when parents are not around.

The next morning we had to wake up really early because we had a morning flight and it takes about an hour to get to the airport. We got to airport and I lost to temptation and ate at Subway. Their BLT has pork in it which our country doesn't have and I definitely did not regret despite the expensive exchange rate. After that we went into the boarding hall and waited for our flight. Lydia, Audrey and I walked around to check out the duty free shops. Our flight was delayed because of the weather conditions and we went back later than planned.

This trip to Phuket is definitely one of the more exciting holiday trips I've been on with the girls. I look forward to more trips with them and I hope next time, no parents.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Walking Singapore

It was about a month before it opened that I seen news about a pop-up Pokemon Cafe was opening in Singapore. I started planning for a trip to go down in a heartbeat. The first person I asked was Kathleen but she wasn't sure yet because she's got plans already to go down to Singapore with her mom to watch the Les Miserables theatrical play. The next person I asked was Audrey because I know of her fondness of Pikachu despite her lack of knowledge about Pokemon. Audrey and I started to come up plans to go down to Singapore in July. While plans were made, I asked Rachael as well and she coincidentally have plans somewhat to go down to Johor but it wasn't confirmed yet so she'll let me know later on. Soon enough, Kathleen and I came to a conclusion that we can't go down together on the date that I've decided on unless I switch dates and join her family to see the musical play but I don't really wanna be a remora to her family so I regretfully declined. Rachael confirmed that she can't go down to Johor because she's got exams at the same time so she's out. That leaves Audrey as the only one who's on board with the plan but things took a turn when Lydia suggested that instead of Audrey going to Singapore a second time, I join their Singapore trip a month before my planned plan with their aunt. That sounds more like a realistic plan because I wouldn't want Audrey to make so many trips and send so much money having two trips down to Singapore, so I dropped my July plan and join the sisters' (and their horrible aunt) on their Singapore holiday trip.

As the girls (and aunt) already had purchased their flight tickets and their accommodation, I had to buy mine myself. Getting the flight tickets to Singapore was easy but return flight was out of the budget I had set so I went to buy a coach ticket back to KL which was cheaper. I asked the sister if it was okay for me to share their room, I offered to pay my share and after about a week of discussion (I think the right word is "convincing") with their aunt, I was allowed to join them but Lydia was still concerned that the hotel clerk would not let an additional tenant into the room so we hatched a plan where I would try and sneak into the hotel unnoticed.

As the trip was on the weekend, I packed my stuff and after work I went to Kathleen's place before going to the sisters' place. As per usual, we put the night at KLIA2. My flight was an hour earlier than the others so I left earlier than them. It was quite the exciting experience because technically I was flying out of the country alone. Lucky for me, I got a window seat so I got to see the morning sky over the Singapore Strait.

Upon reaching the airport, I started planning how to meet the others. Lydia had said to meet at the first information counter but what she didn't take into account is the fact that there are two wings in Changi Airport Terminal 1. After using the loo I thought maybe I sit by the Social Tree where I can see the plans coming in from the big window so I could maybe spot the next AirAsia plane coming in but then I realised that the planes could be coming in from the opposite side where I can't see so I walked over to the nearest information counter and asked about which gate the next AirAsia plane from KL is coming in. And so I walked over to the gate as the estimated time for the plane to come in was in about five minutes from the point of time enquiry.

It didn't take long for the plane to come in and after meeting up with them, we made our way out of the airport. Lydia went to get the Singapore Tourist Pass to get on the all the trains and buses. Initially I thought of using the pass I got the last time I went to Singapore but then I decided to get the tourist pass as well as I foresaw that we'd be using the public transports a lot.

Our first stop is the hotel located in Chinatown. After walking for some time, we found it and they went in to check while I waited outside. Later on, Lydia came out to take my bag. She said check in is at 2pm so we can't go in yet but we can leave our bags inside with the receptionist. I wanted to change my shirt for the next itinerary but because I wasn't sure what was really going on, I didn't get to wear my Pokemon shirt.

With this, we headed up to Bugis for lunch. To me, there wasn't a need to decide what to eat because I know that I would for sure eat at the Pokemon Cafe. All of us made our way to the top of Bugis Junction. We (Audrey and I) already knew about the three hour queue that was there the first few weeks when the cafe launched so to my surprised the queue wasn't that long when we got there. Lydia and the aunt (obviously) didn't want to eat there so they were gonna somewhere else to eat. Audrey was hesitant because the items on the menu were expensive. I already had checked the prices to I was prepared. I told the others that I didn't mind if I ate alone because I was the one who had all the intention to have the Pokemon Cafe experience but Lydia insisted Audrey that I should be accompanied so Audrey waited in line with the giant man baby that is me. As we were nearing the end of the queue, a staff member took our order and to my horror, dismay, disappointment, and despondence, the Pokeball cup that comes free with a certain meal was out of stock. I almost lost all intention of eating at the cafe but I didn't let myself fall because this cafe was the main intention of my trip. Audrey was indecisive about what to order on the menu so to ease her decision, I offered to treat her as thanks. We got seated and not too long after, the Pikachu mascot come out! Everyone in the cafe got excited. Some kids went crazy. I went crazy. But I know I shouldn't go all out crazy so I was screaming internally and kept bouncing in joy in my seat. Audrey just shook her head in amusement to my childish reactions. I ordered a Pikachu's Sweeeeet Pancake and a Pikachu Iced Latte, and Audrey got a Battle on Pikachu! Level-up with Rare Candy!. Lydia and her aunt came to check and us after their lunch and they were just in time as Audrey and I were taking photos with Pikachu, so Lydia joined us in a photo.

After lunch, I went to check out the goods at the Pokemon Cafe official merchandise shop. I promised my sister that I'll get her a shirt because she always got me something from the US. I also bought a souvenir for Rachael and Yati. After I was done, we met up with Lydia and her aunt again and we went down. Lydia said she wanted to check out this belly dance competition that was gonna happen in the mall but before that she mentioned that she saw a lot of Pop! Funko bobble heads so we went to check that out at a hobby store nearby. I was in awe because there were so many characters! Even limited edition ones. After we were done looking around, we stopped at another store just a shop away and had a look at the good sold inside. This was one of those miscellaneous items store that has a range of different items sold inside. Just as we entered the shop, my phone started ringing and to my surprised Feng was calling me via the Facebook Messenger app. She saw my Facebook post about me in Singapore and decided to meet up. Apparently I forgot to update her about my trip being pushed forward to June instead of July. She invited me to join her for a beer at night as it was a Saturday and I was totally on board. I had to double confirm with her to suite my group's itinerary, I also informed Lydia about my plans for the night. In the store, my interest was completely taken by the Rubik's cubes and other cube puzzles in a display case while Audrey was looking at these banana plush keychains, and Lydia and her aunt were looking at mood rings. Audrey picked one banana and we went down to see the belly dancing competition. While watching the competition, we checked the time and decided it was time to go and check into the hotel. At the same time, Audrey met up with her friend, Wendy. Wendy followed us to the hotel. By the way, did I mention I used up more than half of the total Singapore dollars I brought on this trip? Yeah. Pokemon Cafe is expensive as heck.

We got to the hotel and we checked. Audrey then quickly rushed me past the receptionist office telling me to go first while they take the bags to pass to me later inside. We made our way to our room and I must say, this hotel is really a tight place. 5footway.inn is a pretty nice place. There are a few outlets around Singapore. Our room is located at the highest floor all the way at the back so we have a view above the rooftops. There's a pantry outside on the roof of the same floor but it's under renovation. The room itself is pretty interesting. I'm not sure about the other floors but in this three persons room, there is a double bed and a single bed. Before I get to the part about the beds, let's talk about the room. The room is really narrow but long. It's just right for three people and small luggage. Once you enter the door, the shower stall is on the right. Straight ahead and you see the double bed and a long and narrow bedside table/desk/stand/what(?)/thing just narrow enough to put small stuff like phones, wallets or a small bag (but the bag will fall). Over the double bed is a big window where you can see the clear blue sky and the neighbouring rooftops. It was a tight but snug room. So.... Where is the single bed you ask? Well, just behind the shower stall, in between the double bed and the back of the shower stall, is a big ladder. The ladder goes up above the shower stall, and that's where you find the single bed, over the shower stall. Yes. Over the shower stall. Nope, not at the side, not behind, not under. Over. How you ask? Over the shower stall is a layer of cement and then there's the bed. I don't quite know how to explain how or why but it works and it's amazing. Before the trip, Lydia and Audrey suggested that I bring a sleeping bag to sleep in because they didn't know what the beds will look like and if there was space for me. I completely agreed with them. However, the girls' aunt said that it's better if everyone sleeps on the beds. I didn't need to sleep on the floor in my sleeping bag. I guess she was being nice. They discusses the possibility of me sleeping in the single bed above but Audrey quickly shot it down, reasoning it with the fact that I'm afraid of heights and so I shouldn't sleep up there. Lydia and I know very well what the real reason is though, Audrey really hates their aunt and so she won't sleep in the same bed as her no matter what. I chimed in again that I don't mind sleeping on the floor but the aunt insists that I sleep on the bed, so to stop the discussion, Lydia agreed to let me on the bed with them. To make space, the three of us were to sleep on the bed horizontally. I didn't any more space for declining so I just agreed.

Our next itinerary is to go to the Singapore Night Safari. The girls' aunt took a shower first while the rest of us relaxed on the bed. After everyone was ready, we all headed out to take the MRT to Ang Mo Kio. Wendy took us to have dinner at a food court in Ang Mo Koi. She recommended her grandaunt's duck rice and noodles but she didn't order from there because she felt paiseh as she said her grandaunt would treat her a meal. The duck noodles sure did not disappoint me. As we walked around Ang Mo Koi, it brought back some memories as my uncle, aunt and cousins lived there before moving to Yishun, and currently, Sembawang. Over dinner, I checked with Lydia about the plans at night and after we came up with a convenient solution, I updated Feng about the plan and we decided to meet up in Ang Mo Kio. It's easier because she lives here and I will be back here as well after the night safari. Wendy showed us to the public bus to take to the Singapore Zoo and then she went her way back home. I didn't noticed that she left until the bus departed from the station. Sorry Wendy.

The bus was pretty full of tourists who were all heading to the Singapore Zoo but Lydia and I only identified two groups of people, three Koreans and an Indian family. We later on found out that this other Chinese guy was also a tourist when we asked him if he knows which stop we have to get off and he said he doesn't know either. Basically all the tourists in the bus wasn't sure which stop to get off on but when we reached, we immediately knew because the bus literally stopped outside the zoo.

The one hour bus ride had us just in time! ...To miss the first session into the Night Safari. The 7:30pm slots were sold out so we had to take the next one, which was shy of the time we were planning to take to go back, for the ladies, to avoid missing the last public bus and MRT, and me, to make it in time to catch up with Feng. We got our tickets and we had to wait about an hour for our turn so we waited around the entrance area, took some photos with the displays and checked out the gift shop. Soon enough we waited in queue for our turn to go in when the announcement was made. The queue was freaking long, the sky turned from dim to dark. Luckily for us, the Thumbuakar performance started when we were right in front of them so we got to see them up front! I was very impressed by their fire breathing performances. I have never seen people juggle fire the way they do. Watching them do their tricks felt as if they were real fire benders from The Last Avatar. As their mesmerising performance was over, we all got to go in. From this I knew that the management of the zoo was very well done. After scanning our tickets and going in, we made our way to see the Creatures of the Night Show. The good seats were already taken so we made our way to sit at the side where we can be as close to the center as possible. The show was pretty amazing. We got to see some animals, like an otter, a snake, a hyena. There were other nocturnal animals too! It was so cool! After the show was over, we made our way to ride on the tram for the night tour with fingers crossed that we won't over shoot our planned time. I don't quite recall what it's like during the day (I've been Singapore Zoo during the day before), but at night, the animals are like out and all over the place. Some animals are within touching range, but of course, people on the tram are advised to stay on the tram and not touch the animals. From deers, to boars, to tapirs. The most impressive one was the elephant. The pre-recorded announcer often does not do justice to what's really happening in the exhibits as the animals are either on the opposite direction or sleeping or just laying around. When we reached the elephant exhibit, the voice on the speaker said to look right and see the majestic elephant and to my great surprise, an elephant stood still beautifully under the moonlight in the clearing of some trees. For a moment I thought it was a statue because I thought it wasn't possible that out of all the animals we've seen so far could there be one where it was perfectly standing there, all ready and embellishing it's beauty to the zoo's visitors, standing perfectly under the curtain of moonlight, when suddenly it started moving it's ears. I was full of awe and glee! I had never seen such raw beauty of wildlife in person, only on television and most of the time they were CG. We missed the tiger feeding session so we went to the end and quickly headed to the bus station to catch the bus back to Ang Mo Kio.

Surprisingly the route back to Ang Mo Koi was shorter than expected. Along the way I kept Feng updated and she was already at the station waiting for us. Upon arrival it wasn't hard to spot her because she was sitting right by the door. So together we headed down southeast towards Clarke Quay while the others headed back to Chinatown. I tried to get Audrey and Feng to talk but Audrey doesn't open up easy to new people so Feng and I just chatted away. We only had one key to the hotel so Lydia, Audrey and I arranged that I'd have to message either one of the two sisters via Whatsapp when I am done. If they fall asleep, I was to spam either one of them. I hoped I didn't have to resort to that because I'd feel bad about it. Feng and I talked while we walked around Clarke Quay, deciding on where to have our drink. I tried to find a quiet place but because of the Euro Cup, almost every bar was loud and crowded. We then decided to go to Brewerkz instead, which was where I initially wanted to go to. Their beer menu has changed and so I got a fruity one which was pretty nice to me. Like before, I still know nothing about hops and whatnot about home brewed beer. Feng ordered a plate of fries with some sauce that I have forgotten what it was. Time flew as we talked over the one pint of beer and fries. After the bill was settled, we headed back to the noisy area to have another drink but we decided to have Sombersby ciders instead. Still, I got pretty high and I lost track of time. Because I had set my phone to not use background data, I did not receive Lydia's messages until I opened the app. I felt so terrible, I told her that I was on the way back and Feng called for a GrabCar. However the GrabCar driver was not familiar with the area and it took a while for him to find our immediate location. After exchanging farewells in the car and getting off, I quickly messaged Lydia to inform her that I've reached the hotel. As a safe measure, I messaged Audrey as well but replies were not coming in. In the moment of being tipsy, I increasingly spammed Lydia (Audrey as well but mostly Lydia) with the first things that come to my head, to which I can only recall because I can read them. I had to run off to find a toilet to use because my bladder was about to burst. Thankfully I could still make decent rational decisions because I had put "peeing behind some bushes" as one of my options and I wouldn't want to know that happened when I get sober. I ended up running down to a restaurant that was thankfully still open late in the night. I pretended that I was a patron and calmly walked in to use their toilet and sneakily made my way out after I was done, all while still tipsy. Eventually saw the double ticks turn blue and Lydia told me that she's coming down to open the door and a wave of relief washed through me. Just as I went over to the door, a guy walked out so I quickly stepped in before the door closed and I went up to the second door and waited for Lydia there. Her sleepy face appeared behind the window in the door and she apologised that she had fell asleep while waiting for me. I in return apologised many times while she kept saying that it was okay. While Lydia went back to sleep, I quickly took a shower and I knocked out on the bed right after without waiting for my hair to dry.

The next morning, I surprisingly didn't have a hangover or any headaches. Our itinerary for the day was to go to the Underwater World as it was closing down, in fact, today is the last day of it's operation. We wanted to hurry so Audrey and I went down to the common shower rooms while Lydia was in our room's. Before we headed out, Lydia shared my messages with Audrey and they laughed about it. Audrey was a little disappointed that my messages to her were not as funny as the ones I sent to Lydia. Huh. So we made our way out of Chinatown and took the MRT to Harbour Front. We entered VivoCity and walked out to see some people dressed in army uniforms (National Service or just what?) showing people to this mockup battleship. It was some kind of event going. Cool part was that there was a real helicopter on the fake battleship. We made our way towards Sentosa Island and crossed the bridge. We weren't sure where the Underwater World was located so we walked around and found ourselves in front of Universal Studios, it was so damn cool! I wanted to take a photo by the globe but at the same time I didn't want to because I wasn't going there so a photo might be deceiving but now that I think about it, I should have. We asked for directions and a grumpy looking girl gave us directions but it didn't quite make sense to us because we had to take a train? So what we did instead was walk to the opposite side of where we were and figured out our way. We eventually came to a massive parking lot and we walked around it to some bus stops which were exactly where we needed to be. Lucky for us, a bus arrived just in time and we hopped on.

It didn't take long for us to reach outside Underwater World. There wasn't a very long queue outside but inside was pretty packed with people. While Lydia went to buy the tickets, Audrey and I had a look around the place outside. We first went to look at this tower that leads to Fort Siloso opposite Underwater World, then we went to see turtles swimming in the water. I was amazed, I didn't expect to see turtles of such large sizes swimming outside the Underwater World building. Maybe the water had salt. There were a flight of steps that went under so you can see more turtles swimming behind a glass wall. After that we went back up and regrouped with Lydia and the aunt. I wasn't quite sure what I was expecting but after going through the ticket check, there were so many petting areas. You could touch small stingrays, starfishes, I think there was a sea cucumber? I didn't dare to touch them. We walked further in and there were some small aquatic animal displays. Our attention was soon captured by the huge open water stingray tank. Inside the tank were three types of rays and one of them was massive! It's tail was so long! Some of the smaller rays kept swimming near the sides so people could actually touch them, one of them was even friendly and kept coming near to play (or something? I don't know? Let humans touch it). Lydia managed to touch one of them and she convinced me to touch it as well but the rays were moving so fast and more and more people blocked the front row so I gave up. We then moved further in and looked at some fish and crabs. There was even a tank with salamanders. I didn't know salamanders can actually stay underwater for long periods. I got excited seeing the horseshoe crab but the girls didn't wanna go see them. So we moved along and there was a tank with a camouflaged octopus. We tried to find it but to no avail, if it was empty we'd be fooled as well. I soon spotted something that blew my mind. There was one housing nautiluses! It was the first time I saw an actual nautilus in person! Most of them were still, hanging on to the sides of rocks but one of them moved and started swimming around! I was so full of awe. After that was a section full of various crabs. There were some Japanese spider crabs, some smaller crabs of various species, even one that looked furious and was in what I think is a fighting stance. Moving along we saw clownfish and jellyfish. However, this section was so packed. We decided to quickly hop onto the conveyor belt and go into the tank tunnel where we got to see various fish and sharks swimming around and above us. It was quite a sight. The conveyor belt goes one around and back to the area with the clownfish and jellyfish. We squeezed our way in to see the jellyfish and after that we headed back out and had a look at some seahorses before going out to the exit. We stopped by at the gift shop and checked out the stuff. We could see other closed sections of the place from the gift shop and Audrey pointed out the dolphin one to me. Most of the aquatic animals have been sent to other places, the dolphins went to Hong Kong. As the place was closing down, a lot of their items were on clearance sale. Lydia decided to get Kayla a gift, a jiggle eyed shark pen. Audrey and I picked out a pin. After that we went out and headed back to take the bus. The sun was out and it was too hot so the girls decided against going to see Fort Siloso. Before leaving, Audrey wanted to get one of those press coin souvenirs because it has the Underwater World's design. I helped the girls get it because some strength was required to press the coin using the handle. After that we took the bus and got off at the first stop we saw that had a cable car station because Lydia wanted to ride one, but the station we got off at only goes back to the Underwater World so we walked instead. We passed by the butterfly park and the Sentosa Merlion until we reached Resort World Sentosa. We stopped to take photos outside Madame Tussauds.

Lydia wanted to check out the casino and so we went. It was my first time entering a casino and by golly, it was pretty cool but I wanted to get out. A massive gambling den is not the kind of place I want to be in as I have a personal dislike for gambling with money or possessions. We watched some people play various card games and Lydia looked like she was entranced by it. Just looking at her and I could tell that she felt like trying (also because she said it herself but she didn't dare to). We had a look at some slot machines which I didn't know modern ones were very different from the ones I see on television before moving on to look at other gambling tables that hosted other games like Big Small and roulette. While Lydia and her aunt watched a Big Small game, I walked a little further with Audrey and watched, to my horror as a group of old people (from China, their accent gave them away) lose millions and thousands worth of chips to the roulette table. I knew as much as I was curious and eager to watch people gamble, I wanted to get out. After letting Lydia know that we were gonna go get some free drinks, Audrey and I made our way to one of the drink counters and helped ourselves. There, the two of us agreed that it was time to go because we noticed that the aunt has been playing the shoulder devil, convincing Lydia to try and gamble. But to our horror, Lydia and the aunt has disappeared from where they were supposed to wait for us. The casino is huge and there a hundreds of people in this place. As calm and possible, I lead Audrey around the nearby tables and we soon found Lydia and the aunt standing at one of the Big Small tables we were at. My heart sank and a wave of disappointment and concern swallowed me when I saw a stack of chips in Lydia's hand. The two of them were so focused on the table that they didn't notice they lost us. Audrey and I went over to join them, there was nothing I could say because it was too late to get Lydia out of there. Lydia and the aunt were still watching the table first, I soon noticed that on this table, the dices kept rolling small numbers so unknown reasons. Playing safe, Lydia put one chip in three different numbered boxes on the table and she won some money. Other people kept putting big amounts on other betting slots like Big, Triple number and the sort but Lydia just kept playing safe, putting her small chips on the numbers, one to four. Eventually it was evident that the tables was odd as the dices kept rolling small ever single turn. Lydia won more than she lost. Even after they changed the dealer, the dices still kept rolling smalls. Eventually a high positioned casino staff put a sign on the table telling that soon the smallest amount that can be bet was at $500. Audrey and I used this opportunity to pull Lydia away from the table. The two of us were hungry and Audrey was upset because Lydia gambled. Lydia turned to me for support on her side but I told her nicely that I was also afraid and disappointed. She then smiled sadly and made her way to the exchange counter. I really can't tell what goes on in her head. Apparently their aunt footed out money for Lydia to gamble so Lydia returned all the money to the aunt, even the one she won. I don't know about the others but I felt that their aunt had a disappointed look because Lydia didn't win bigger money. Audrey and I agreed later on that if Lydia were to loose the money, their aunt would put all the blame on her. What's more is the aunt didn't treat anyone to anything, not even Lydia, even though she had won money. Says a lot to me about how stingy their aunt is, the two sisters' tales sure didn't tell me enough.

Everyone was hungry so we made our way out to find food. Audrey wanted to check out this Malaysian food court so we went there. I was against it because I knew for sure that the food there is extremely overpriced and the taste would not be as good as it is back home. After looking around the place, the girls decided it wasn't worth the money and we went out. Not knowing what to eat, we decided to walk back to VivoCity. I suggested trying Mosh Burger to the girls. I had pointed it out to an outlet at a different place the day before but I had no idea where else has it, and my service provider changed from Singtel to StarHub so my roaming can't work and therefore I can't Google it, Audrey also faced the same problem. So we went to look at the directory in VivoCity. The girls saw that there was a Long John Silver restaurant here so they wanted to see the price because apparently Malaysia doesn't have this franchise anymore. We walked around in a few circles because we were not familiar with the structure of the mall. Eventually we found our way and to the girls' disappointment, Long John Silver was closed for renovations. We then decided to go to the food court within the mall. We found a seat and so Audrey and I walked around together to pick out our dinner. While we had our dinner, Lydia slept. To me it looked like she was exhausted from the sheer excitement of gambling for the first time. Audrey kept urging her to get up and eat something. After a bit of complaining, Lydia eventually got up and had chicken rice for lunch.

After lunch, we took the MRT to Clarke Quay. I wanted to show the girls the large chrome spheres outside the Asian Civilisation Museum that I've seen before. Lydia has asked me about them before when she saw I had set one for my Instagram profile picture. So we walked along the river and we made a turn and walked into the middle of the skyscrapers around Raffles Place because we saw a sculpture of some sort. We sat outside One Raffles Place and took a rest and looked at some of the modern art sculptures standing around the grassy area. It was breezy and honestly I almost fell asleep. The place was busy but quiet and that made it feel so peaceful. Audrey needed to use the bathroom so we went into One Raffles Place and looked for the loo. The place seems like a small mall built into a office building. Most of the shops were closed and we suggested that maybe the shops here open the same time as office hours and since it was a Sunday, they would be closed. The only store open was Uniqlo. We walked back out and headed towards the Cavenagh Bridge and made it across to the chrome spheres. We took a few photos and then we headed back over towards the Merlion, past Fullerton Hotel.

We didn't spend a long time with the Merlion. Lydia and Audrey wanted to take the MRT over into Marina Bay Sands, but I suggested that we walk over there instead. Reluctantly they followed and we got to see some live bands play by Marina Bay. Apparently there was a music festival going on and Marina Bay Grandstand was hosting it. A number of bands were playing at the same time in different sections and a metal band started playing as we passed by the The Float. We walked into The Shoppes and I lead the girls up to the roof to their pleasant surprise. They wanted to walk around the mall but instead we got to see some nice sights on the roof. I thought maybe we could walk on the OCBC Skyway so I lead them to the Gardens by the Bay. We were all tired from walking but I kept pushing on, I may have made the sisters upset. Saying that since we were already at the gardens, Lydia lead us to the information counter to see the price to take the buggy to see the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest but then everything was out of our budget so we decided to walk around the gardens instead. As the sun set and the sky turned dark, we made our way to the Supertree Grove to catch the light show. At first Lydia had us sit under one of the trees but I pointed out that we can get a better view on the grass where everyone else is. Lydia was a little reluctant but the rest of us went over to the grass. After checking if it was wet (which it wasn't), we sat on the grass and eventually laid down to watch the light show. That night they played some songs from the 70s and 80s (I think, some enjoyable oldies). Audrey said the last time she came, she saw a better light show.

After the light show was over, we walked back to The Shoppes and took the MRT back to Chinatown. I forgot to take the girls to see the Helix Bridge at night. Lydia had planned for us to have dinner at a restaurant near our hotel, which turned out to be the one that I had went in to use the toilet the night before. Audrey and I planned to order our individual meal, she wanted rice and I wanted noodles but the aunt looked at the menu and when she saw that there was only one type of fried rice, she turned everyone's mood a 180 and said that she's rather go back to the hotel room and skip dinner as she was sick of eating noodles. At that moment I lost my tolerance to their aunt's attitude but I kept my cool. Lydia didn't want their aunt to just leave and ruin the dinner mood so Audrey and I agreed to ordering some dishes and eat rice together. When we made our order, the waitress rudely asked us why we didn't fill in the barbecue ordering list. Turns out the restaurant wasn't the kind of restaurant we thought it was. This place is more of a China style Chinese barbecue restaurant, it was only after we noticed that majority of the people dinning there were from China (tell from their accent) and that the staff there were from China as well. I deduced that the waitress was annoyed because instead of just taking the ordering list from the table, she had to stand and take orders. Anyway, among the items, Lydia ordered mapo tofu, to everyone's delight. However, I forgot a crucial information. China's mapo tofu is different from the Malaysian mapo tofu that we enjoy, I only remembered when I put the tofu in my mouth and there was a strange numbed tingling feeling in my mouth. Lydia mentioned that the tofu tasted weird and so I told her about the difference between authentic mapo tofu, and the Malaysian variation altered to suit Malaysian tongues. The two sisters were surprised. We tried to finish it but the strange numbing feeling was too strong to enjoy so we left a quarter of it left. After dinner, we went back to the hotel and called it a night.

The next morning, we took our time and lazed around in bed. Lydia, Audrey and their aunt has to head to the airport to take their flight back, and I have to head to Boon Lay to find my bus. We packed up our bags and checked out. At the Chinatown MRT station, we parted ways because I had to take a different line from the girls. After hugs and goodbyes, I headed down to Dhoby Ghaut. I had time to spare so I went to see the Hamleys in Plaza Singapura. After that I went to have lunch at Mosh Burger before taking the MRT down to Bayfront and visiting the Hamleys in The Shoppes @ Marina Bay Sands. After my short visit, I started my journey to Boon Lay. I had arranged to meet my cousin, Dominic but because I didn't have my plans fixed, I couldn't inform him earlier. By the time I had it planned out, he wouldn't make it in time to see me because it would take an hour for him to arrive and by that time, I'd have to go, basically time constraints. I got to Boon Lay and asked for directions to the Boon Lay Shopping Centre, which I had to take a bus to. A very friendly Indian man talked to me on the bus and he told me which station to get off at as his stop was earlier than mine. I found myself early at where I had to be in the Boon Lay Shopping Centre (which was more like a morning market with a roof) but to my horror, I couldn't return the Singapore Tourist Pass there. I had to return it at a bus or rail station counter. I quickly got on a bus again and went back to the Boon Lay bus station to change. I was panicking the whole time because I was worried that I wouldn't make it in time but thankfully I was still early to wait for the bus. There were not a lot of people with me in the shuttle bus back to Kuala Lumpur. The journey took about five hours, it was a little over 10:30pm by the time I got to 1Utama. I was the only one to get off at 1Utama, everyone else got off at Berjaya Times Square.

This Singapore trip wasn't too bad. It's the closest the three of us can get to having a holiday without parents around. Well, I already kinda have had an experience of a holiday without my parents. Hopefully we can soon travel together, along with Kayla, without any parents.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Look Around, Look Around

Time to vomit a bunch of work rants.

So I'm like past six months into my job, the graphic designer in this company and it's so boring, stagnant and dull to the point I'm sick of it. Let's break it down. There are periods at work that I call, busy periods and down time. Busy periods are straight forward, they are at the end and/or the start of a month where I have to work my ass off to finish a bunch of promotional signage for the stores of this company and it started off as super frustrating because the materials I had were raw and nothing was definite. So what I did was standardised the local look of the international generic signage to suit our country's marketing direction and created a template. Now, the busy periods are not so hectic and complicated as I have these templates and I am now already accustomed to this work behaviour. Second is the down time. Down time is when workflow becomes very slow because I have almost nothing to do. It's in the middle of the month when I have completed all the the signage that I have to do and no one from the Singapore branch or the fashion departments bug me for any sort of work. There are the occasional approval of visuals and signage from suppliers but that is so seldom and easily done that I can finish them in the blink of an eye (exaggeration). Down times make the worst at work because I have nothing to do, and because of company policy, I must report in at my workplace and with nothing to do at my workplace, I sit at my desk and do nothing, surf the internet, watch YouTube videos, play my mobile games, all the while make myself look busy. And I am making myself look busy as of right now while I type out this rant for my blog that I have pretty much almost abandoned because I have become so jaded with life at such a young age. It might sound like the best thing in the world because I am getting paid for sitting around at work but no. For someone like me who's in the constant need to either sleep, or work when I am at my workplace, pretending that I look busy when I am not makes me so restless. It's so bad to the point that I am showered in a wave of relief that the annoying people from the Singapore branch or the fashion department disturb me with their stupid questions, and irrational and idiotic requests (basically because they have no design fundamental knowledge and their ideas for a visual makes me want to puke profanities), because I finally have something to do.

Other things I do also include the posting of advertisements, updates and news on the Facebook page. At first I was reluctant when I was told I had to do this because to me, this is another job all together, a Facebook Page Moderator. But what the heck, it's better than nothing to do anyway. I also created and set a guideline for our suppliers so that no one steps out of line and adhere to our company's guidelines, which in turn is set by the main branch over in the UK. There are other things too like arranging a section for signage such as shelf edge strips, wall bay headers, and generic store visuals but those are kinda like house keeping for my department in my opinion.

I had started asking around for a job that was still related in the toy industry but I wasn't focusing on getting myself out there yet but now that this boredom at work has become so unbearable, I am going to push myself to get out there and look for designing jobs else where. So do I have a list? No, not really. But I have an idea of where I want to go and find a job at. If possible I want somewhere where I also have this freedom of working alone in my own department, be my own boss but with a direction from the help of co-workers in different departments. That has been the case for me in my current company. It's great because I am in my own command, I don't have to make sure someone else is getting their job done or if they are following the guidelines set by the main branch. Making sure that the Singapore branch is doing everything right is already a massive pain in the noggin.

I had thought about staying in this company for two years just to make it look good on my resume but with the way things are going down now, I think I'd rather not. My boss is another major factor to my decision. After my confirmation, there was no increment. Okay, sure, maybe I have to wait out a bit, give it half a year and maybe he'll just increase it, but no. You know what he said to me a couple of weeks after my confirmation? He said, you want to get a higher salary, you have to work more than what you are paid for. And I never ever brought up the question about my increment to him before. He just came to the store one fine day, called me out to discuss some projects and then went on to tell me that load of bullshit as if he terasa pedas. What's more is that he doesn't acknowledge any hard work done by members of his company. There are way too many details to complain about my terrible and stingy, poor excuse of an entrepreneur boss, and I don't want to go into it. So up my diarrhoea laced rectum will I work more than what I'm paid for! I won't work outside of my work hours either because OT is not acknowledged unless it's officially recorded and to be officially recorded, it needs to be acknowledged by the boss, and hence, not happening. Also, do note that above all these, I'm terribly underpaid because I work not only for the toy department, but for the Singapore branch (which I should expect to be paid in Singapore Dollars for this) and the fashion department, and also, I post stuff on the stupid Facebook page (which is a different job all together). So that's three places and two positions but I'm only paid for one. Mega bullshit.

I have my eyes set on some companies that I would want to work for but I'm not sure how I would fit into their equation. Also because of my low self-confidence and self-esteem, I am afraid of move and make changes. However, I'm breaking through those restraints as I'm nearing wit's end. I need to move and learn new things, meet new people. That time will soon come.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lost in Laos

On the first week of June, I went on a holiday trip to Laos with Lydia, Audrey, their mom and Kayla. Everybody had been looking forward to the trip and it was most obvious with Audrey and her mom.

I didn't know what to expect. I know nothing about Laos and I was too busy with work to do any research about places to visit in Laos. When I asked, Audrey also mentioned that she had no idea where we were going to visit. There were plans to go to Luang Prabang but it was a 10 hour van ride north from our hotel located in Vientiane so there were doubts within the group about going there. I had suggested going to the Plain of Jars but it was also a 10 hour van ride but south. So we decided to check the rates of the travel in Laos before finalising any of our decisions.

We put the night in KLIA2 like when we went to Cambodia two years ago and in the morning, we caught our flight to Laos. Upon arrival in the Laos International Airport, we changed our US Dollars into their local currency Lao Kip, because in Malaysia our forex companies don't exchange for Kip. Their currency is mostly in the thousands with 500kip being the smallest denominator and 100,000kip being the largest. They don't have coins so that makes things somewhat easy to carry money around. Most of the time during our trip, using Lao Kip has been a confusing episode. I was able to quickly understand the exchange rate to our Ringgit quickly however.

At the airport, we took a van to our hotel. The driver spoke to Lydia's mom and as expected, he was trying to strike a deal for us to hire him as our driver to take us around to visit tourist locations. Lydia's mom didn't agree to the rates he was offering so she told him that we will think about it after he dropped us off. In the car, the driver spoke to me in Lao but at the time I wasn't sure if he was talking to himself or talking to me but it seemed more like the latter.

We checked into the hotel and we went to our rooms. Lydia and Kayla got a room to themselves, and Audrey, aunty and I took the other room that had a double bed and a single bed. We rested for a bit before heading out. Lydia and Audrey stood out a lot because of their fair skin and also because they're pretty to begin with. I soon came to understand that I however, appear as a local to the locals there. A lot of the locals speak to me in Lao and after I respond with English or a shrug with a confusing look, only they realise that I am not Laotian.

Our first itinerary is Buddha Park. Lydia's mom said that we can't trust the tuk tuk drivers in Laos because unlike in Thailand or Cambodia, the drivers here charge at a high price and they don't like haggling. If you haggle, they'll drop you off at a random location, and leave you there to find your own way to your intended destination. So all of us started to walk. Kayla's research pointed us to go look for the local bus station to take the public bus. Our hotel didn't have a map to provide us with so we had to just walk without any certain directions. On the way, we stopped at the Talat Sao Shopping Mall to have lunch and try to get directions to the bus station but not before stopping to have a look at the Hor Kham or in English, the Presidential Palace (or Office or Building). The mall however, is not what I'd expect. It's called a mall but it's only got two floors and only the ground floor is relevant, on top of that, there are only two eateries. After a small disagreement, we decided to eat at the restaurant instead of the road side stalls (because flies are swarming everywhere on the food and stuff). Not a single staff in the restaurant speaks English so ordering our food was a little problem, luckily the menu had English translations for the items so we just pointed to the name. However, the waitress still got Lydia's order wrong and served her the wrong drink. We decided not to ask to change because they probably won't understand anyway.

After we paid for lunch, we went to the cafe in the mall (the only other eatery) and asked for directions to the bus station. We saw some Westerners at the cafe earlier so we figured that maybe someone at the cafe could speak English and thank goodness we were right. After getting directions, we made our way there but we weren't sure to take the bus. After escaping some persistent van and tuk tuk drivers, we somehow figured out which bus to take and we hopped on. The bus ride took about an hour before we reached right outside Buddha Park. The bus conductor was kind to hold the bus and inform us that we have arrived at our destination.

We paid our entry fair and walked into the amazing park. Statues and idols of various Buddhas and figures scatter around the park, each one telling a different tale. One of them is something like a monument of some kind. We walked into it and climbed to the top. I was scared out of my wits because we were so high up with minimal safety support. We made it back to the ground and we walked around the park to check out each of the figures.

We spent some time there and after that we took the bus back to the city centre. However we were still not familiar with the place and this time a bus conductor was no where to be seen. Lydia saw a building she thought familiar and so we all got off at this one stop. After that we walked in the direction of Mekong River so that we can get an idea of where we were and we walked towards the night market. It was raining and it looked like it will rain again so a lot of the stalls were not open. We bought some food and we made found our way back to our hotel. Before going back, we stopped at a restaurant along the same row as our hotel and had dinner. I tried the local beer, Beerlao. It is similar to the Cambodian local beer, Angkor Beer. After dinner, we checked the rates for going to Luang Prabang at our hotel. The rate was pretty damn high, as we couldn't come to a decision, we decided to do more research at other tour service providers the next day. After that we went back to our rooms and we called it a night.

The next morning, we woke up and got dressed before going down to have breakfast. Our itinerary on this day is to see the Patuxai Monument and Pha That Luang. Like the day before, we made our journey by foot. We sure did cover a great distance walking to Pha That Luang from our hotel. First we made our way back to the Hor Kham because directly opposite the place was Patuxai standing majestically in the distance. Even though the monument looked near, the straight road ahead wasn't that near. The straight road ahead was lined with governmental and ministry buildings on both sides of the road. Just outside the monument was also a school. I noted that there are a lot of people wearing uniforms here. We went to the top of Patuxai and had a look at the view over almost the whole of Vientiane. After taking in some sights, we went back down and headed for Pha That Luang but it had started to drizzle, so we took shelter in a random restaurant and decided to have lunch then. We had these noodles that is similar to Vietnamese pho.

After lunch, we continued our walk towards Pha That Luang. When we got to the temple grounds, we were not exactly sure if we were in the right place because there was barely anyone else around and obviously, no English signs, but we were in the right place after all. There were three different temples within Pha That Luang apparently, with the golden one as the main attraction. We walked around and took photos before going in to see the golden one. There wasn't much to see as it was just a square shaped area with the stupa in the middle. We can't climb up to see the inside as it was sacred so we just hanged around the outside and took photos. We did a group jump shot before leaving. As we were leaving, more tourists arrived so it was a slight relief to know that we weren't the only tourists around.

As we made our way out of the place, rain clouds can be seen nearby and it was raining just a few blocks away. We quickly tried to make our way back but the storm cloud arrived and we had to take shelter in one of the buildings' shaded parking lot. The rain was heavy but there were no lightning or thunder. After a short while, the rain stopped and we continued our walk. After a really long walk back to the Hor Kham, we changed directions and tried to see the other temples around but there wasn't much to see because one wasn't that much to see and also it was closing time so tourists can't visit the temples already. We decided to walk towards the night market again along Mekong River.

After the rain completely cleared up, the beautiful sky remained. We sat at this wide open area and watched the sky and waited for the night market to open. While watching the river, it dawned on us that the huts we see across the river was in fact Thailand. To me, that was really amazing, to be able to see another country on the other side. As the sun set, this group of locals had set up this sound system and a started working out. It appears that it's some workout class of some sort as a huge crowd of people in exercise attire joined and started working out in almost perfect synchronisation. Lydia's mom noted that there was something to see down by the river and she wanted to go down to see it, but the rest of us didn't really want to. At first I thought maybe it was some kind of immigration stop because we also saw a soldier with a firearm walking down there but later on, we saw a Westerner walked there, talked to a guy by a signboard and then continued in. So Lydia's mom insisted that we go down and see and so we kind of reluctantly went down. Turns out it was also a tourist attraction but it wasn't well received and because of so, it wasn't maintained. Regardless, we went in to see anyway. Some locals were also going in so it shouldn't be a problem. There was a gallery of sand sculptures (we saw the huge elephant one earlier on before the sun set but I thought it was an attraction that wasn't ready yet) where apparently some kind of sand sculpture festival was held. There were a few different sculptures from various South East Asian countries participated such as Cambodia, Vietnam and even Malaysia. As the place wasn't maintained, weeds and weather has damaged the sculptures but as the sun set and the sky turned a mix of purple and orange, Lydia and I took the opportunity to take nice photos of the sky. We made our way closer to Mekong River until we were at the bank. The evening sight was breathtaking. Some local boys were playing football by the side and some couples were taking photos. We stayed until the sun went down before heading back to the night market.

We walked around the night market checking out the stuff. Most of the things on sale were apparel, somewhat to my disappointment. Before we went further into our windowless shopping, we went over to the side of the main road where the food stalls were to have dinner. We got some kebabs in the form of burgers which were by far the best burger kebabs we've had in Laos (the only burgers and/or kebabs we had in Laos). At this point I realised that for some reason I didn't have an appetite in Laos, maybe it's because I can't get used to their food or because their food tastes so bland or overly sweet, depending on what food it is. After our fill, we went back into the night market and walked around to shop. After a long time walking with nothing we went back to the hotel. Before heading back in, we stopped at a nearby tour service to check the price to go to Luang Prabang to compare with all the other rates we've seen so far during the day. After a really long discussion, the vote to go to Luang Prabang lost and we started to consider going to Vang Vieng instead as it's a 4 hour ride, which was much closer. However we needed to do research on what to do there and Lydia was especially concerned about the weather conditions there as most of the weather reports reported it as heavy rain. We could potentially spend a lot of money to go to this location and only enjoy the sights of rain in a shelter. We then went back to the hotel and called it a night. Lydia's mom was certainly upset with our decision as she had the intention to see the sights despite the expenses but the two sisters were adamant about spending too much money and I can't help but to agree because the price for the van ride to Luang Prabang or Vang Vieng was pretty high and much was to be considered for us who are either still studying or doesn't have a good enough salary.

The third morning, we went to book a van to take us to our airport for our last day before going to look for breakfast. At the same time, we started making our decision to go to Vang Vieng. Google results couldn't show us any real interesting things to see or do there so we decided to just tour around the place and check out what we've missed. Lydia also wanted to do massage and spa hunting for the next day so all of us can relax. We saw a map on the wall of the place where we booked our van and there was a mall shown in the map, so we decided to go check it out. When we found the place, it was very disappointingly small so we didn't go in. Instead, we stopped to have brunch at a food stall by the road. The food there was surprisingly good! I had pork porridge while the others had noodles. These were by far the best local food (that isn't burger kebabs) that we've had in Laos. Lydia also went to a juice stall on the opposite of the road to buy a manga smoothie that was good as well. I went to get a kiwi shake from there. After that, we continued walking. We passed by a really nice looking hotel and we went in to have a look because Audrey wanted Kayla to help tie her hair up. While Lydia's mom pretended to check out the rooms and the rates, the girls got to work. Lydia and I played along and some how we managed to get a map of Vientiane from the hotel. When the hotel clerk wanted to show us a room, the electricity suddenly went out. Turns out the whole street had lost power. We then went out to continue our journey.

After checking out a massage and spa place that appeared kinda shady, Audrey and Kayla stopped to eat some roti prata. Lydia and Kayla told me they heard what sounded like men enjoying themselves (*wink wink) in the spa place. While the girls ate their snack, Lydia and I decided to head towards That Dam also known as the Black Stupa as there are some spa locations along the way, as shown in the map we obtained. Checking out spa by spa (actually massage), Lydia's decision was getting closer and closer to a final. After looking at That Dam, we headed south east past the Hor Kham towards a "Royal Park" that was shown in Google Maps but not in the map we have. Along the way, we came across a golden shrine called Citypillar. Lydia and Kayla noticed that there was another spa location after it but the uneven road was flooded. As a woman on a motorcycle was about to go in, Lydia stopped her and ask about the spa. The woman pointed it out and agreed joyously to take Lydia and Kayla across the flooded road in towards the spa and massage house. Lydia's mom, Audrey and I then waited for the girls to return. After some time, Lydia and Kayla returned and we continued towards the Royal Park. We stopped at a store to have some fried noodles that's similar to our Maggie goreng. Audrey commented that it's the best fried instant noodles she's had.

After food, we continued towards the Royal Park but soon enough, things started to look desperate, it appears that the park does not exist. Audrey and her mom are feeling really tired from all the walking and tension started to grow because we had just walked a long distance away to see nothing. After being a lost for a bit, we then managed to make our way to the pavement by the Mekong River again and headed up towards the night market. We spent the night again looking at clothes. This time Audrey bought the pants she was looking for and after having dinner at a different store near out hotel, we headed back to call the night. On the way, we found another massage place and Lydia made her final decision to come to this one because it's cheap and at walking distance.

The next morning, bad news ensued. Lydia's mom woke up with vertigo and she was really unwell. I went to call Lydia over and we tended to her care. So the rest of the day, all five of us stayed in the room and watched TV and played with our phones in silence as to not disturb Lydia's mom. It was only until evening that Lydia's mom started to feel better. Lydia and Kayla then went to buy some food for her. Audrey offered to stay back and take care of her mom while the remaining three of us go for our massage. *cough*

After the massage, we went back to check on Audrey and her mom. She was feeling much better now and insisted that she can take care of herself alone in the room. So Audrey followed us down to go buy dinner at a food stall at the end of the block. After buying the stuff, we went back to our room and had dinner together there while watching a movie on the idiot box. *cough*

The next morning we all woke up early and got ready to go home. Lydia's mom was feeling a lot better already but Lydia told me she was worried that her vertigo would come again during the flight. So I took it to me to make sure Lydia's mom is feeling well too. We got to the pickup point for our van and we headed to the airport. Turns out we were an hour too early, so we had to wait. After a discussion about the leftover money we have left and also about changing Lao Kip to Thai Baht and the forex in Thailand, we decided to change our remaining Lao Kip back to US Dollars at that moment because we were not sure if we could change Kip to Baht in Phuket. The money changers, along with a bunch of other stores were not open so early yet so we had to change our money with the transport service counter. We had a safe flight back to KL and I bought some chocolates at the duty free in KLIA2. I later had lunch with the Chin family after Lydia's dad picked us up.

I give Laos a four out of ten rating, would not recommend because the tourism there isn't encouraging and the food there is mostly bland and meh. The sights are good but at that's as good as it goes. If anything, I'd recommend Siem Reap over Laos, that's a city over a country, that should say a lot. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my trip to Laos. *cough*