Jan 20, 2010

Reminiscing My First Flight Out

I had to go over my dusty albums to figure out the exact date of my first ever flight out of the country. It was 10 years ago, Nov 14, 1999 to be exact bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia via Malaysian Airlines. I can still recall how excited and nervous I was when the company I was working then advised me that I will be attending a regional design planning event for the sports brand that I was handling at that time. Excited of the opportunity of traveling and meeting new faces but nervous because I'll be going there alone, on a foreign land for the very first time. I had very little idea of Malaysia then, so I did some research to familiarize myself with their customs and traditions, their way of life and the people.

KUALA LUMPUR AIRPORT

I didn't set my expectations high when I visited Malaysia. I initially thought, it would just be like my country in terms of development, same roads and infrastructure, same traffic system but I was proven wrong to my delight. Upon setting foot at the airport I was awed by the design and structure of the building, they were much more advanced. I was walking with a smile on my face, really felt I'm on another part of the world. I got through the immigration easily but was held for a few minutes by one officer at the customs area who's having some issue with one of the baggage I was carrying, it was more or less 50 pcs of original garment samples of the sports brand that will be the subject of our design planning in the next few days. I showed them all my documents, my itinerary, the hotel I'll be staying, the office where I'll be going, etc. Some 2 to 3 officers even came forward, one officer is familiar with the company I'll be working with and recognized the contact person in my itinerary, the other guy took note of the hotel I'll be staying and ask for my business card. The whole episode took more or less 5 minutes, I was released afterwards. I wasn't alarmed at all coz I was there for legit reasons and the officers looked cordial but I'm a little bothered with what just happened. Anyway, the next day at my hotel room I received a call from the custom guy who asked for my business card and was surprised at  his invitation for dinner, hmmm, it made me think for a while but declined the offer since I already have a scheduled dinner with my colleagues that night. But then I  thought later, what if I'd accepted the offer, would it made the whole experience more memorable, makes me wonder??

GASTRONOMIC ADVENTURE

One aspect of traveling that I really look forward to is getting my hands and my taste buds on the country's cuisine. I'm not picky when it comes to food but please no dogs and anything crawling! Aside from the international breakfast buffet that goes with my hotel stay which was really ample and overflowing, I always look forward to our dinner. Our lunch was forgettable although fun as we get to gather on the meeting table with the delivered food from some fast food joints and chit chat personal matters before going back to work. On our first night, our group dined at a fancy resto, the name I can no longer recall and had my first taste of Malaysian cuisine, I really liked it! Having a penchant for anything spicy, Malaysian dish became a favorite. The following night we were treated to Thai cuisine by one of the bosses of Hagemeyer who owns the Thai resto, it was delightfully delicious and my first try at eating a pumpkin pie, yummy and unforgettable!!! On our third night, it was Indian cuisine on the invitation of the guy connected with Royal Sporting House who is an Indian national. I can still remember the guy because he was really nice, charming and playful and even insisted that I joined him in his car when we went bar hopping, but he's totally harmless and a gentleman.  It was really fun and unforgettable having tasted 3 different cuisines for the first time in Malaysia, all three delicious, spicy and memorable.

KLCC and PETRONAS TOWER


On my last day, I've managed to check out the city with the help of the two ladies I've befriended in the office. They offered to tour me around the city and did some shopping at KLCC Mall, a six level mall connected to the Petronas Tower, the twin tower  which during that time was still the tallest building in the world. It's size and design is truly impressive. I can only look at it with amazement! Shopping is another activity you would definitely enjoy doing in KL. Their apparel and shoes styles were more current and up to date. But I had to limit my purchases to avoid excess baggage. For the Malaysian handicrafts and delicacies, they brought me to this vibrant and colorful Central Market and had fun going over the items and buying some for "pasalubong".

PEOPLE and CULTURE

A mixture of Malays, Chinese and Indians comprises the people of Malaysia. It was very evident when you go to the malls, walk on the streets, dine on a resto and in the office. It was interesting to note that in my five days of planning and working in that office, I noticed that most number of Indians were delegated to clerical jobs, while most Malays are in the supervisory level and  most Chinese were in  managerial level. I'm not sure if that's also the case in other organizations. Religions vary as well, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians among them. I also can't forget that in Malaysia tipping is considered rude, which is admirable and speaks volume about their character.

A LOT OF FIRST

There were a lot of firsts in this trip that made it truly memorable, that after 10 years, I can still recall significant events that happened, well except for names which I'm totally bad at. I returned there in 2006 on a side trip while vacationing in Singapore and hopefully this year again on another part of Malaysia in Kota Kinabalu. I believe, there will always be a reason to revisit Malaysia.


Jan 10, 2010

Day 2 in Taiwan : Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, National Palace Museum

We started our day 2 a bit later than we originally planned. We realized we had to pack our things already because our flight back home is scheduled just past midnight tonight. We need to check out at our hotel by 1pm and good thing they allow guests to deposit their baggage at their designated area for pick up later tonight. After 30 minutes of enjoying their complimentary buffet breakfast, we head out straight to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall just past 9am, took the very reliable MRT and arrived there in 10 mins, keeping in mind that we need to be back at our hotel by 12Noon.

CHIANG KAI SHEK MEMORIAL HALL


Chiang Kai Shek Memorial is an impressive monument erected in memory of Chiang Kai Shek , former President of Republic of China. It has an area of 24 hectares framed on the north and south by the National Theater and the National Concert Hall. It has a wide open plaza and a garden of beautiful flowers and trees, miniature hills, plants and ponds with plenty of fish, ornamental bridge, waterfalls, etc. Inside the memorial, a ground-level library displays photos and mementos of the late president's life. The plaza in front of the memorial is often used for large scale shows, fairs, public activities and folk performances. International groups also frequently perform here .It has become a landmark of Taipei City.



NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM


We went here after our hotel check out at 1PM and after taking our lunch at MOS Burger, a popular burger joint  seen in  "Taiwanovelas", we just had to try it out! We took the MRT Danshui Line to the Shilin Station and then bus R30 (Red 30) to the National Palace Museum.

Taipei's National Palace Museum houses the world's largest collection of Chinese art treasures. It ranks as one of the four best museums in the world, in a class with the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has a permanent collection of over 650,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest in the world.

For details about visit hours and ticket prices check this site.


After National Palace Museum, we went back to Taipei 101 mall  and search on foot the base of the Elephant Mountain to get a good view of Taipei 101 on top of the mountain. We had some difficulty trying to figure out the location and when we did figure out, we decided not to go through with the hike because our limited time would not permit. We retreated back to Taipei 101 mall and do last minute shopping at JASONS for our "pasalubong" back home then took our dinner at the food court of Taipei 101 Mall. It's already past 8PM and we need to get ready, pick up our baggage deposited at our hotel and head back to the airport by 10PM.

There are so many things to do and see in Taiwan, but so limited time. I'm looking forward to a 5 day trip next time, and hoping for a more leisurely laid back trip and not the amazing race kind. I'll be back Taiwan!!!


Jan 7, 2010

Win a Free Boracay Vacation Package


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