Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trip to US_Food in California (Clam Chowder)!

California, especially in San Francisco is famous for its CLAM CHOWDER. It was so good, I had it thrice; twice at Santa Clara and another time at San Francisco. Personally i preferred the one i had in Santa Clara, a placed called 'THE FISH MARKET'. The restaurant is like our FISH MANHATTAN in Malaysia.

What is clam chowder, anyway? Clam chowder consists of clam (of course!), broth, diced potato, bacon etc. There are two types: England (white) and Manhattan (red). The difference is white is milk or cream- based chowder, and the red one is tomato- based chowder.

In Fish Market, clam chowder comes with oyster crackers. Yummmmyyy~~

Had clam chowder served in a breadbowl at San Franscisco on our last day in US.

The white chowder was exceptionally tasty, that's why we did not try the red one, not even once...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trip to USA_Adapting the Differences

We rented a white Camry as soon as we reached the San Franscisco Airport. The deal was good, it was $1000 for 2 weeks, without the GPS. Knewing we were not US citizen, the car rental guy handed us the GPS without any additional charges. What a nice guy!

6265- will buy this number in toto, magnum and damacai soon haha. If i win big, i'll come back to California, for sure! =)

Driving on a left hand drive car for the first time, might be intimidating for some but all you need is courage and no experience. I, myself was not convinced that i could drive. Parents had been pestering me not drive in US (coz it's dangerous), but come on... I'M IN CALIFORNIA! at least let me drive for once. For the first 5 minutes, no doubt it was tough for me and for everyone else. Then, i felt really good and with a quick adaption, i was hooked on driving. i was so eager to drive and with a great enthusiasm, i guess i had drove no less than 18 hours in total. I'll let you know more in the future blogs. Indeed, it was the very first step, that changed my life.

Back to the story. Taking the freeway (a highway that is without toll, happy!) from the airport to Sunnyvale was exciting. Colleague M drove like an expert. He said he's good, thanks to the computer games that he had been playing for years! I can't agree more. After an hour and upon reaching the Residence Inn (Marriot) on a sunny day made our day even brighter! Everything felt real good!

the entrance to the Residence Inn Sunnyvale Silicon Valley I (by Marriot), yippie!!
It's in the website, and here you go! It's right in front of me...oh myyy...i couldn't hold my excitements!!! =) This was the place where we checked in and checked out, had our buffet breakfast and dinner and did our laundry!

It was not a budget accomodation, so better watch out..It was like $155 per night (excluding tax) and we stayed there for 2 weeks. I'll let you do the maths. Our rooms are located on the opposite street. Though it was near, somehow we depended much on our Camry.

A bed for two. Yup, i shared my room with my colleague J due to some circumstances.

Our kitchen, simple and nice~

This picture is a bit blurry. It's a place where we spent most of our time. There is actually a working place right at the corner, where we did our reports and making conference calls at night~ nightmares of the trip!

p/s: I will not trade my US memories for anything. Three of us went, but sadly one of the colleagues will be leaving the company by this week. She was a guardian to us. A senior who had been to the US before so she knew what to expect. It was really fun having her around. Damn, I'm going to miss her, a lot! Sharing the same room brought us even closer. Take care buddy!

more to come...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Business Trip to US_Short But I Treasured Every Bit Of It!

The city that i worked in California is not Cityville or Smallville. It is known as Sunnyvale, probably because the weather is always, mostly sunny?? nahh, i'm not sure how the name came from..

Extracted from the Wikipedia, "Sunnyvale is a city in Santa Clara County, California, United States. It is one of the major cities that make up the Silicon Valley located in the San Francisco Bay Area".

Silicon Valley is a place that i believed everyone from the semiconductor field would like to drop by. Tadaaa!! I watched so so many movies and played so so many games! ^^

I didn't feel like leaving the plane ;)

The thing that i felt most in US, was the weather. Before traveling, I was VERY excited yet a bit anxious about how my body will respond towards the cold weather. I've never been to a cold country before. Since it was June, we had a cool spring (~ 15degree celcius). "Best time to visit US!" that's what they were saying. And yes, i ENJOYED the cool breeze air a lot. Lunch time was more relaxed.. The coolness was fantastic, especially at night. I don't think i had jetlag, but somehow i don't feel like sleeping when it's time to sleep (2,3am). I knew i had less time to spend in US (silly of me!), so what i did was, i spent my sleeping time, staring out of the window, enjoying the air, the moon and the darkness of the sky, which i never did in Msia :P Don't worry, i still get my sleep, 4hours?? ;P Though the weather was good in CA, i had dry, chapped lips from day one (4th June) till the last day (22nd June). Oh boy, that was the horrible part! My lips was sooo dry that the skin peeled off easily and bled helplessly ;( I did miss the hot and humid Malaysia. Seriously, it's hard to sweat and believe it or not, throughout our stay in CA, there was no rain at all, not even a single raindrop. Imagine how dry this place is!

Beautiful~~ (taken outside our inn, Residence Inns Silicon Valley 1)
by Marriot

More to come~~~~

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Trip to USA_Blessing in Disguise

My flight to US (4th June 2011)was like this: Penang to Singapore to Hong Kong to San Franscisco

I still couldn't believe the fact that i'll be going to the US. Well, anything could stop me from going there, so when the weather was horrible on my day of departure, i mentally prepared for the worst. That was when i prayed really hard.

Bad weather at the Penang bridge =(

First obstacle passed. Yahoo! The plane was a bit delayed but still we managed to board the plane to Singapore. Phewww.....

......Second obstacle occured. No idea why and i still couldn't understand why the pilot delayed the landing once it reached the Changi Airport. The delay worried us. Luckily we were seated at the front of the plane, and we dashed out to our departure gate, running all the while...

but somehow, we missed the connecting flight!!! WAUU....In my entire life, it was my FIRST TIME missing a plane (Imagine how nervous i was)..The airport authority directed us to the counter and got us another flight on the next morning(from Sg to Korea to San Fransisco)....This obstacle was not within our control at all.......aaaarhh...i just want a smooth journey, that's all....In our plan, we thought of having a light and easy weekend in CA, shopping probably.. but now, all dashed....we had to spend it in Singapore...

Anyway, nothing else that we could do. No point of complaining. They gave us 3 complimentary rooms (a night stay at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport), a buffet dinner and breakfast, and a $5 phone card. Wau, very nice of them, i thought we were gonna be stranded at the airport till the next morning.

Let's see what we were offered..

Fuiyoh, this hotel is fantabulous! Not sure if it's 4 or 5 stars hotel.

This is what i called blessing in disguise ^^

This was my weight before the buffet dinner.

And this was my weight after the buffet dinner. HAHAHA...Gained 1.4kg within an hour. Cool =)

This was what i had for dinner. Of course, this was only a partial portion of what i had hehe.. I enjoyed the food very much ^^

After dinner, we took the MRT as my colleague had not been on a MRT before. Since we did not have any SGD ($) with us, we exchanged only a few dollars at the airport (since we won't be here after tonight). But silly us, the amount that we changed was only enough for 1 way. By the time we realised it, we were already on the train and worse till, we were on the last train. If we were to take a bus or a taxi back to the airport, we needed cash., and it's almost late midnight..and out of a sudden, my conscious mind told me to get some cash from a passenger near me. Or should i say, i begged for money, i really did (huhuhu....only a few dollars la).. oh noo...yah, my colleagues laughed at me (and they still do until today), but that was the only thing that i can think of.. It's better to beg now than later..I didn't want to beg in the middle of the street haha. I guessed i have the survival skill ;P ..Surprisingly, that young man understood our predicament and gave me some dollars...Halleluyahh, the SECRET works! Ask and you will receive.. hohoohoo...Anyway, I did not take his money after he told us, the train will travel back to the airport as the last train. Just stay in the train, do not get out from it. Things did worked out well. From this short back and forth journey, i did learned a lot:

1. Be calm, think far and think wide...count your cash before you buy your train ticket (even though the train has already arrived).

2. Sometimes, we need to be thick skinned to save yourself from trouble. Ask for help.

3. Be good to everyone; you'll never know if he/she will help you one day.

4. There are still nice people around.

5. Do not travel at night. Do not take the last train. Very risky.

A very tiring night indeed. It was already midnight when i reached my room. Resting at the bathtube while watching movies was one of the best time i had. And guess what i found on the TV screen? "Welcome Ng. Enjoy your stay at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport". Cool. I was indeed enjoying myself in that room =)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trip to USA_Before Traveling

I've been to U.S.A!! was a dream that came true, finally...Since it was a business trip, i did not travel much, but still i appreciate every moment i spent in the States..No worries i will be back for a vacation hehe..

Before travelling to the States, there is a list of must-do items.Visit, this is the most comprehensive and useful website that will guide you from A to Z. This is also the link to submit online U.S Non Immigrant Visa (in my case) and to schedule an interview appointment. It was indeed a hectic procedure so prepare early (as least 2 months before you travel). To make it short,

1. Pay the visa application fee to Standard Chartered Bank. This is the only bank that will accept your payment. The fee varies depending on which visa you applied. I paid RM450. Keep the receipt. Throughout the visa application, you need the payment code that is printed on your receipt.

2. Prepare all the documents. Fill Up, download and print all necessary forms.
c) PASSPORT PHOTOCOPY WITH INFO (more than 6 months validation)
d) 1 RECENT PHOTO (Different from passport and size 2 inch X 2 inch, white background, no polaroid)
f) ORIGINAL PASSPORT BOOK – OLD & NEW (validation more than 6 months from the date of departure)

3. Fill Up Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form. There is a lot of questions so no rush. Before you begin, make sure you have all the documents listed above to ensure there are no hiccups when answering their Qs.

4. Schedule online visa appointment. Visa interview is done at the Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Troublesome for me as i needed to travel to KL for this interview. Anyway, it was nice having my parents with me. Luckily they knew where the embassy was. I was too nervous then. My visa appointment was 9.30am. Though i reached early i was not allowed to queue. There are people with appointment at 8am. So i needed to let them in first. I waited and waited for my round. I guess the torturing part was not the interview, it was the waiting time that i suffered. I managed to have a few conversations with people around. Sharing their experiences eased my nervousness. I thought the interview will be done in a room but i was wrong. It was just like in a bank, a one- to- one section instead. I would say, it was a systematic and smooth process in the embassy. Yahoo..i got my visa approved! for 10 years!!!

* not so friendly security guard. Shouted ppl at the queue to switch off their handphones. Aunty A who stood in front of me, said she will make a complaint to the embassy once her visa is approved.
* The place is not shaded outside the embassy. Those ppl will be soaked on rainy days. Poor thing!
* No parking.
* Aunties carrying LV bags was a common sight at the embassy.
* Allocate 3 hours to get your visa.

- to be continued...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Budget Trip to Kota Kinabalu (KK)_Part 3

....As the rain started to drizzle in the morning, it was a firm decision that Island Hopping Plan has to be cancelled. After dilly dallying with the car rental matter, we had our brunch instead of breakfast. We had pyramid shaped Hainan chicken rice at Wiya Chicken Rice shop. I had a plate of chicken rice (RM5.5) while BP had roasted chicken + Char Siew (RM7.50). I would say, in terms of taste and price, it did not meet our expectations. Tasteless and expensive. I rate them 3/10. The chicken rice in Kulim is far more better than this! Trust me!

Next stop, YOYO Cafe at Central Point. The bubble tea that it served was GOOOD...Highly recommended! i rate them 9.5/10. Can i open a Yoyo franchise in Penang? ^__^ Without further delay, we started our 3- hours journey (215km) to Tip of Borneo with a full tank of petrol (but we ended up driving more than 3 hours=P ) We managed to spot a very nice building on our way. I couldn't believe it is the Yayasan Sabah building. Check this out:

i wonder how much did they spend on this building ;)

After a looong, loooong looooong drive, here you gooo!!

This is the tip of Borneo! Actually, there was nothing much about this pit stop. It was the journey that matters to me most. But nevertheless, it was breathtaking. Taking turn to drive, looking at the maps, going through wrong ways, it was a tough tough journey. I was afraid, what if our little kancil could not withstand the horrible road and weather. Gladly, it behaved very well. Thinking back, this place is not for any weak- minded guy. At one point, i was so stressful out. That stretched of road really killed me and I remembered sweating like hell. There was no car at all, and the road was soo bumpy. And yes, we took the wrong way. I couldn't remembered how long we stayed at that place, but not for long. One thing for sure, Jon called us to get out from that place ASAP!!! This place gets really dark at night~~~

You see what i mean....DARKKK...Sabah MP should have been fired long time ago~

It was so nice seeing them at last ^____^

Happy faces melt my heart =)

On our very last day in Sabah, it was more of a light and easy day. No more driving for hours. Phewww....We checked out their bus stations, market, Jesselton Point, Segama Waterfront, and not forgetten, our last meal in Sabah had to be good. A wide varieties of authentic pizzas and pasta at Little Italy, KK.

See you again KK =)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Budget Trip to Kota Kinabalu (KK)_Part 2

There are a lot of trails in the national park. We thought of choosing the shortest route just to have the experience but seriously, it was intimidating to walk under the rain and on muddy paths. We saw the entrance to the Botanical Garden but sadly, it was closed. It's alright, we kept on moving until we saw this huge Rafflesia. Wasted no time, we captured a few pics under the rain, huhuhu! Just a few distance away, we saw a wooden hanging bridge. We were so excited~~~ However, walking along the bridge was a nightmare. We didn't know it was unsafe!! It was already broken for quite sometime. No maintainance or whatsoever. Luckily nothing happened to us. On the other end of the bridge, it was nailed (X) to close the bridge. I wonder why didn't they closed on both sides of the bridge :(
Before crossing the dangerous bridge with Kathy ~

The rain got heavier and finally it managed to dampen our spirit to walk further into the trails. No choice but to walk back to our car. Travelling by car was the wisest idea at that point but it hindered us from getting closer to the nature. It's alright, at least we are not W.E.T! After spending quite some time in the park, we finally decided to leave and visit Kundasang instead, which is only few kilometres away. Again, Kathy was happy to join in. Well, what does Kundasang have? It was widely known as the New Zealand farm which produces its own milk. Am i joking?? No i'm nott....It's true that we have our own farm! :)

BP was the driver. With a heavy downpour and terrible roads, BP went passed Kundasang town, heading towards Ranau. With a U-Turn and a lot a lot of bumpy roads and a few stops to ask for directions, we finally reached KUNDASANG CATTLE FARM! Phewww....

Captured from the car ;)
Cows feeding on grains while milking~~
Me + the cold windy breeze- i like it!

DESA, fresh milk from Kundasang_RM4.40 for chocolate flavoured, RM 4 for fresh milk (1 litre). Taste good~~~

Jon planned to have dinner with us at 7.30pm. By the time we received his sms, we are already on our way back to KK, after leaving Kundasang and dropping Kathy at KK Park. Everything happens for a reason. I guess there is a reason why we can click with Kathy so well. Adios! With a very good time planning and estimation, we reached KK town exactly 7.30pm. Jon treated us a seafood dinner, and it was AWESOME!!
Damage: RM117 for 4 persons ^^
That's so much to talk and yet so little time!! Jon and his wife were amazed how independent and adventurous we were =) They guided us to more places but somehow we thought of joining the island hopping on the next day, Manukan, Manutik and 1 more island (forget what's the name). Jon recommended us to 'THE TIP OF BORNEO" (near KUDAT = his hometown), but after a second thought, it was a NO NO from him. He thought it was too far, ~ at least 3hours are needed. So we finally sticked to our initial plan. But before we ended our 2nd night, we went to Sutera Harbour, just out of curiousity. Very luxury, i would say~~ When we were packing our stuff for tomorrow's island hopping (IH), we decided to change our mind. Since we have done IH before at Kuching and Bali, why not we experience something else..TIP OF BORNEO seemed fresh and interesting to us since we knew nothing about that place. Finally, we extended our car rental for another day. What a quick change!
To be continued...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Budget Trip to Kota Kinabalu (KK)_Part 1

BP and I just came back from Kota Kinabalu (KK) yesterday. And today, way back to WORK! Oh boy, i just can't wait to blog about our 4 days 3 nights stay at KK. Comparing to Kuching, we went to less places but more driving this time..seriously, a lot of driving(s)!! Anyhow, i personally like KK more than Kuching. There are lots of surprises and unexpected events in this trip. I just love them! Overall, we spent only RM500/pax which, included the airticket (thankss to AirAsia =)), accommodations, transportation and food, plus car petrol. So cheap!! We did not do much planning this time though we had booked our airtickets a few months back, but thanked God, everything went out was indeed a memorable travelling experience!

Since there was only 1 flight/ day from Penang to KK, it was about 10.30pm by the time we reached the newly renovated/ extended Terminal 2 of KKIA which caters for AirAsia flights only. Terminal 1 is for MAS and FireFly. Don't get confused ya:) My newly-wed USM coursemate, Jonathan and his wife, Elize picked us from the airport. So nice of them! I realised it was a short distance from the airport to the KK town ~around 10 mins drive. Days before, Jon had booked us a 3-nights stay at a service apartment (Promenade) which is situated right at the heart of KK town. Here's the room -->
Not bad for a price of RM81.20/night

Well equipped apartment!
Weekdays mean working days!! Jon couldn't accompany us throughout the whole trip, but nevertheless, he (and Elize) tried to find time to meet us for dinner. That was good enough :) Anyway, there was nothing much on the first day. Jon gave us a car tour, guided us the routes in KK town, showed us shopping malls one after another, and pointed/recommended certain highlighted places to us.

Day 2

We woke up early ~8am even though we had turned off our hp alarm (we thought we can sleep better and well rested the next day).. Yes, I did slept well but BP had sleepless night (hohohoo he dreamt of ghost~~~again). Promenade apartments are just right behind their hotels. Jon asked us to find his friend, A****y who is working there to help us to arrange our transportation and tour plan. But after browsing through the brochures with different kind of tour packages, BP thought we could get a better deal elsewhere, not in this 4- stars- hotel. This trip would just be a light and easy one, since we had no plans in climbing the Mount Kinabalu. After leaving the hotel, we had our breakfast in a local coffee shop, I can't remember the name. But if you can spot Cititel Express Hotel, then you are able to spot this coffee shop too. I had a bowl of kway chap (flat rice noodle with braised pork meat + internal pork organ -stomach, intestines etc), a pork noodle i would say...., and yum yum It was delicious! i wish i can have a bowl of it right now. BP ordered a plate of kan lau noodle (dry noodle). To me, it looked more like wan tan mee in Penang or kolo mee in Kuching. Delicious pork soup noodle (RM5) =)

BP's dry noodle with char siew (RM4), so so only~

After breakfast, we went to Cititel Express Hotel to ask about their car rental. We finally decided to rent a Kancil(M) for Rm100 per day with deposit of Rm200 (It's only RM80 in Kuching, S'wak). This little Kancil was superbly good. Frankly, it is so much better than my WIRA at home! I could not ask for more! And guess what?!, BP's license has expired without his knowledge! Supposedly, I had to be the driver, but..ahem ahem he still d****. Without further ado, we headed to the Kinabalu National Park with the help of Sabah maps and a hand phone gps.. Hurray!! We were excited like small kids !! it was about 11am, when we started our journey, after filling up the petrol.

It was a bit difficult to read the maps at first as, the ones that we had only covered the KK town, until we finally found a complete map of Sabah in the car !! Interestingly, we came across UMS. We heard a lot about how beautiful this place is, and since we were already there, we went in without hesitations. We were lucky that the security guards did not stop us. They never bother to check Kancils, i guess. This university is HUGE with beautiful views of the South China Sea. Amazing...Out from the university, we saw 1Borneo (the shopping complex) and Tune Hotel. Afraid that we might get lost, I asked for directions at Tune Hotel. Tony the receptionist, drew me a map. Very simple map indeed> From Tune Hotel, go straight until you reach the 2nd traffic light--> turn right--> go straight until the T- junction--> turn left--> go straight passing Tuaran-->then turn right to Ranau-->go straight and you'll see the Kinabalu Park. Sounds easy, but hah, it took us ~ 1.5hours to reach to the park.

The roads are winding but wider than Cameron Highland roads. Very exciting and adventurous, but i did felt tensed up as i needed to overtake cars and lorries that were slow. I haven't been driving a Manual car for quite some time, pardon me..And worse still, the gps could not find the map to the national park and the signboards in Sabah is so ChipsMore, now you see, now you don't!! huh?! What do you mean? Well, let me explain. The signboards are only displayed when you are almost reaching the top..Imagine how happy we were when we saw the signboards! Finally, we knew we were on the right track! =) The entrance fee to the Kinabalu National Park is only Rm3 (for Malaysian)/but for non- Malaysian it is Rm15. Both of us forgot to bring our sweaters. This place is on a hilly area, so it's coldddd!! On our first attempt to capture a picture of us with the most spectacular view behind us(the reason we went there), a lady dressed in a mount climbing wear, offered to take pic for us. So thoughtful of her..

Mount KK and us ^^
There was a restaurant situated inside the park. We thought of having our lunch there but to our surprise, they offered a lunch buffet for a whopping price of RM50.50. They shouldn't have charged that high. Mount KK Trails(above pic).. i like this 'take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints'. This was the place we met the sporting lady again, who helped us to take our photos earlier on. Without thinking twice, i asked her if she would like to join us for lunch. Since she was alone and waiting to check- in to her hostel at 2pm, she was delighted to join us. Kathy, was her name and she's from Australia. Walking out from the entrance, we saw a restaurant on the other side of the road. The food price was comparable with the food in KK town. We had fried rice and fried mee mamak. Kathy had a plate of rice with mixed vege in oyster sauce. Sorry, we were too busy eating and chit chatting, no photographs were taken hahaa. It was indeed fun having her around.
Welcome to Malaysia, Kathy!

By the time we finished our lunch, the rain started to drizzle and the weather was getting colder. Kathy offered me her cardigan which i needed it so badly. Though it was raining, we insisted to track at least a short trail in Kinabalu Park. We bought raincoat (RM8 each) but it was not helping at all.

Beautiful rafflesia and us, in raincoats ^0^

Stay tuned...To be continued...