Monday, February 27, 2006

Of trips and treasures.

Hey remember me? I've been a busy (ok and lazy) bee since my return from Manila. Ok, updates:

The main purpose of the trip was to visit family, some of whom I haven't seen for more than 10 years. My 'little' cousins were anything but little. I spent the weekend at their studio apartment and they showed their Sabahan cousin around. My cousin, Patrick, works part-time for Magic FM, one of the local radio stations and he even got me on the show as a guest! So i did a little Sabah promo, talking about places to see and things to do. And then I got to choose some songs and even met some of the other DJs. One of them, Mike, was nice enough to play tour guide -along with my cousins, of course - during my trip. Mike is a hilarious guy and I was amazed at his broad knowledge of Manila and its history(considering he's not from Manila. His hometown is in the province). He was like a walking encyclopaedia! We visited Luneta Park, the spot where
Jose Rizal - famous national hero- was executed by the Spanish, after being accused of rebellion and the like. It's a huge,sprawling park with beautiful statues; the most prominent one being Jose Rizal's in the centre. We drove by the bustling Baywalk along the coast. The whole stretch is filled with dancers,singers and stand-up comedians, scattered with little cafes and restaurants. It's a really busy area and you'd be really lucky to get a parking. We obviously couldn't so we proceeded to drive around Manila some more and stumbled (yes, stumbled, my so-called 'guides' were suprised when we found the place) upon the walled-city of Intramuros. An amazing piece of architecture that goes around for miles. Inside the 'city' are barracks and you can read more about the city's history here. I didn't manage to take good photos of Intramuros because 1) it was dark and 2)my camera sucks.
Anyway, apart from all the touristy things I did, there were LOTS of eating (cheap), drinking (even cheaper) and shopping (hell yeah). My biggest gripe about Manila? THE TRAFFIC. And maniac drivers - no offense but you have to experience it to know what I mean. We're talking about a country with four lanes of traffic on a highway meant for TWO lanes. Heart attack anyone? I came home tired, happy and not as broke as I expected to be. I will be back fer sure! Oh and more importantly, the guys are cute.

I was in Tawau from the 23rd till the 25th of Feb. Yes, for work. I visited the Balung Eco Resort (honestly a bit of a yawn if you're not into, er, crop-life), Tawau Hill Park (beautiful waterfalls, giant palms and easy trekking) and Bukit Gemok. That last stop is one I will never forget. I trekked up and down a muddy and slippery hill for a good two hours. For the first 20 minutes, I was worried about leeches and getting my new Nikes stuck in mud. For the next hour and forty minutes, the only concern I had was to NOT slip, fall, hit my head on a giant rock and die. Unfortunately, on the way down, I slipped twice but managed to keep my ass mud-free. The trek actually leads to a 700 metre (or something like that) canopy walk, which gives you a spanking view of Tawau (scared of heights? You might wanna skip this). So after an hour or so of huffing and puffing up that hill, the view was worth every aching muscle in my body. Of course, once we got up...i realised we still had to go DOWN. And this proved to be more of a bitch actually. But you know what? I'm glad I did it. Great way to clear your mind.

yeah, my Nikes were muddied beyond recognition. And they're barely two weeks old, sigh.

KK City Tourism Treasure Hunt
I arrived in KK on Saturday evening and had an early night because on Sunday, i had a treasure hunt to go on. I woke up at 4am. Yes people...FOUR a.m. Even my cats were still sleeping. Anyway, the flag off was held at Nexus Karambunai (some 30 minutes from KK) so we needed an early start to get there in time. Good thing we did too because we were the second car to be flagged off, yay. My team consisted of Charlie (the navigator), Haw (driver), Jusliah and myself. It was a really cool experience and I'd love to do it again. Besides solving clues, we also had some physical and mental challenges to perform along the way. One of them involved lugging a sack of rice across a wooden bridge walkway thingy while memorising the sequence of peaks found on Mount Kinabalu. When you reach the finish point, you have to identify the peaks. We mixed up a couple so we lost some points there. It was a very VERY long day, with some arguments in the car ("I'm telling you guys, we're going the wrong way!") and frustration mounting ("If i don't get something to eat now, I'm gonna bite Jusliah's arm off..."). But more importantly, there were lots of unforgettably hilarious moments and four good friends just having a good time. The icing on the cake was that we won fourth place in the closed category (for sponsored teams). Yay! I would've liked to won third place though...RM1,000 sounds good don't you think? haha yeah yeah, good enough we won something, I know. We got a hamper, t-shirts, sacks of rice (i kid you not) and a day trip for four to Borneo Kellybays for some water sports.

....I still would've preferred the cash.

photo time!

Time check: 6bloody15am (can't tell from our smiles can you?). Team 34, ready to rumble!

Time check: 6:50am. My office sent three teams. These are the monkeys. Still fresh and unaware of the horrors to come.

Time check: 9am-ish. Me and Jusliah going mental with the clues.

Time check: 220pm. The final challenge, The Blowpipe. We missed so Charlie had to eat a live sago worm so we could score at least five points. Yum.

Time check: 520pm. Getting restless in the ballroom so snapped my shoes. You can still see the muddy bits from my Tawau trip.

Time check: 530pm. Is this gonna end yet? Need. Sleep. Now.

Time check: 6pm. Yay. Time to go home and fight over the hamper's contents.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Well, I’m off to Manila for a short holiday and to visit my relatives. Haven’t been there for 10 years now and I’m pretty excited about the trip. I leave tomorrow, Thursday, and will be back on the 14th. I don’t really have an itinerary but among the must-do will include shopping, visit at least one tourist-y place, hang out with my cousins and check out the night life. For as long as I can remember, each trip to Manila was mainly visiting a shopping mall and staying cooped up in my grandma’s place, located light years away from the city centre. This time around, I really want to see more of Manila. I mean, it’s embarrassing that my mum’s from there and when people ask me where they should visit when in Manila, I draw a blank. Er…My grandma’s house?

Trip aside, I’m working half-day today. Got stuff to clear up as usual before I go on my holiday. On a more somber note, my brother in law’s been in the hospital for the last three days, compliments of dengue fever. The whole family is understandably worried and we’re all pulling our weight to help my sister out during this rough time. She shuttles back and forth to the hospital several times a day and has three kids at home to worry about on top of it. So my parents have been taking care of my nieces and to put it in a nutshell, everyone looks like zombies due to lack of proper rest. Since my parents are out of the house some 22 hours in a day, I’m in charge of making sure the house doesn’t burn down and there’s some sign of life in the Leong residence. My sister was supposed to join us on our trip to Manila tomorrow but that’s definitely a no-go. Although my parents and I are excited about the trip, I don’t think we’ll really rest easy until my bro in law is truly out of the woods. Get well soon, Nick. Ok friends, time to get back to work. Sorry I’ve been out of the blogging loop for a while but given the circumstances, I hope you understand. More tales of the traveler when I get back next week.

Oh and if you celebrate the commercialism, emotional pressures and misleading romanticsm of Valentine’s Day… Happy Valentine’s Day in advance. Bah, humbug.