Mention “Phuket” and eyes light up at the thought of shimmering beaches and aquamarine sea waters. The island has been immortalised in movies and regarded as the perfect destination for an “exotic” beach getaway. Google images depicting day cruises, sunbathers and picnics on the beach convince you that yes, this is paradise on earth.
The allure is slightly diminished with the volume of tourists in Phuket during busy seasons, but with the right tour company, you can still have a sandy-beach perfect vacation. I was struck when I came across rave review after rave review for this tour company called Simba Sea Trips, when scouting for a good tour of Phang Nga Bay. So I booked, with confidence, albeit with a tiny sliver of too-good-to-be-true doubt at the back of my mind. Plonking down mucho money for two (4,200 Baht per person) via PayPal can make you a bit nervous.
The massive volume of swirling, gushing water at Niagara Falls will immediately captivate any onlooker’s attention. (Imagine if you are watching it upclose on a boat like the Maid of the Mist ride — more on this in a bit.)
It sure captured the imagination of Annie Taylor, a 63-year-old American schoolteacher and, of all things, an amateur daredevil stunter who became inspired to secure her notoriety by being the first person to ever go over the Falls. As if that wasn’t enough, she was to do it riding inside a wooden barrel.
Racing towards the cliffs at high speed, water exiting the Niagara River tumbles off the crestline, covering 10 metres in a second and creates a heavy mist towards the end of its’ downward trip into the gorge. Niagara Falls, a series of three waterfalls (Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil) that sit between the border of New York, United States and Ontario, Canada, is approximately 50 meters in height, allowing the water just about five seconds to hit the bottom.
You would think that ordering a coffee, tea or juice would be just that simple. It is, at a modern eatery or cafe, but a novice will almost certainly need time to get used to the terms used for ordering drinks at a traditional Malaysian kopitiam. If Starbucks wasn’t established thousands of miles away in Seattle about 40 years ago, I’d have thought they took the idea of custom-made drinks from our kopitiams, which have been around for almost twice as long as Starbucks. (You know how they are with their drinks. Care for a tall, iced, no whip cream, no sugar, half soy milk, half low-fat milk, green tea frappuccino, anyone?) Continue reading
A decade of driving on the right side of the road had my parents worried about me getting behind the wheel in Malaysia. Here, we drive on the left.
“Can still remember the roads ah? Will you be disoriented or not? Later drive on the wrong side then kena accident, then how? And do you know how to drive Dad’s old Volvo?”
Valid questions. But my pride wouldn’t let them know that. I’m a grown woman now, for goodness sake.
“I’ll be fine, I learned how to drive here in Malaysia,” I said with a tone of exasperation. “Of course I know how to handle a car, been driving for over ten years. I’ve even driven a full-size SUV in America, something none of you have ever done.”
Tires crunched under the car as we drove slowly onto uneven parts of the worn, tar road. Riding alongside on her motorbike was Aunty, a private caretaker at the cemetery. One hand steered the bike whilst the other held a broom that she pumped upwards in acknowledgement upon seeing us. Aunty stopped when we parked on the side of the road, dismounted with broom still in hand and began chattering happily to my dad and uncle.
Saturday morning dawned early (March 1) for Schubert, a grey, shorthaired house cat. The alarm buzzed madly at 6 a.m., waking his human friend, who seemed to be in a great hurry to get up. Schubert ambled around her, gazing upwards intently until he was given a pat on the head. She even reached for the catnip flavoured treats this morning and he got three – they are never handed out so early! Then, as he was just done crunching up the last piece, his human friend walked him into a blue carrier bag, zipped it up, slung the bag (with Schubert in it) over her shoulder, and walked out the front door of the house in Rockville, Maryland, where a friend’s Hyundai stood parked waiting for them.
The hotel room was quiet, except for the unobtrusive, low-volume Korean voices drifting from the flat-screen television. I peeked out the window and down towards the lit empty streets with resignation — it was 4:00 a.m. on Friday here in Korea after all.
Earlier in the evening on Thursday, I arrived in Incheon Airport, excited that I could take advantage of a 24-hour layover to explore the highlights of Seoul. I’d made big plans and plotted out what I wanted to see. After unloading my bags at the hotel, I would ask the front desk for directions to the famous Dongdaemun, set out on an evening walk to the city’s vibrant shopping district and stay there till the wee hours of the night to leisurely browse all the goods. The next morning could be spent taking in the city’s popular sights before heading back to the airport. Continue reading
This post is Part II of my Transporting Your Pet from the USA to Malaysia post series. While Part One discussed travel accessories, Part Two will be all about travel documents that you’ll need on both USA and Malaysia ends. In fact, before you make other arrangements, your pet’s documents should be the first step in the process that you should handle, as some may require extra time before you can get the permits and certificates. Due to the slightly complicated procedures on the Malaysian side, I decided to wait till I had all the necessary paperwork before writing about this part of the process. Continue reading
Women and cats. Those of us with gentle souls can’t help it. Those squishy, baby-sized furry creatures with their big sparkly eyes — sadistic predators though they might be in the animal kingdom, their sweetness and affection towards us bring out the instinct to protect almost like we would our own children. I brought my four-year-old Schubert from the county animal shelter to live with me when he was just five months old. Now he’ll be going with me on this big trip, and he’ll need the right cat travel equipment to get there safely.
Transporting your pet from the USA to Malaysia — halfway around the world — is a big decision. Continue reading