Friday, February 26, 2010

Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si Temple is one of the most famous tourist attractions on the island of Penang. I last visited the temple ages ago. When I went to Penang during the Chinese New Year celebration, I decided to include Kek Lok Si in my itinerary.

Kek Lok Si Temple was most beautiful at night when the decorative lightings were lit. We – my parents, relatives and I – set out at about 7.00pm, hoping to get a night view of the temple. Unfortunately, there were thousands of people who thought the same way, and the narrow road to Kek Lok Si was heavily congested. Knowing that it would take forever to reach the temple, we aborted our plan. (Anyway, we did view the temple from afar.)

We gave it another try the next morning. The traffic was smooth this time, and we reached Kek Lok Si in no time. Our first stop was the newly-erected giant statue of Kwan Yin (Goddess of Mercy). It was 7.50am, but the statue would only be opened to public at 8.30am. I took a glimpse of her before heading to the ‘main section’…

This is a picture taken at the main section of Kek Lok Si. The pagoda is the most recognizable symbol of the temple…

Another angle…

As it was Chinese New Year, the temple was decorated with rows of lanterns. Some of the lanterns bore the names of the ‘donors’…

Monday, February 22, 2010

Random Notes on AirAsia

Self check-in kiosk

I was on a business trip to Sabah last January. As the management wanted to cut cost, I was ‘forced’ to fly with AirAsia, the budget airline.

I decided the give AirAsia’s self check-in service a try. You know, Tony Fernandes is doing everything to improve efficiency and cut cost. If passengers check-in by themselves, the workload of the ground staff would be reduced. Ideally, this should speed up process at the counters and help the airline to cut cost. AirAsia’s website declares:

Our self check-in service gives you a quicker, more convenient way of checking-in. Now, you can choose to check-in at your convenience by using your mobile, at our airport kiosks or via the internet… We assure you it’ll be quick, convenient and easy to use. Try it now!

Thing didn’t turn out so rosy. After checking-in at the kiosk and obtaining the boarding pass, I still had to check in my baggage at the counter. And on that day, the queue at the ‘baggage drop counter’ was longer than those at normal service counters!

Self check-in is useful if we do not have baggage to check in. But with tight security imposed at the airports these days, how often can we fly without check-in baggage?


AirAsia used to hire only female cabin crew, but now it has started to observe gender equality. In my return trip from Sabah, two out of the three cabin crew were males. Unlike the stewardess, who wore red, the male cabin crew wore black. I don’t really like their black uniform. And, apparently, I prefer pretty stewardesses to handsome stewards


I saw an AirAsia stewardess closed the cabinet door with
a kick of her heel. C’mon, can you please be more feminine?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kikey Loo

I visited my aunt in Penang on the second day of Chinese New Year (Feb 15, 2010). Kikey Loo, the world trotter, was back in her hometown then. I contacted her when I reached Penang. She told me that she was at her father’s shop, which happened to be near my aunt’s house. I decided to pay her a visit. After following her online for a long time, I finally meet up with my ‘idol’.

I mentioned to Kikey that my aunt used to sell chee cheong fun nearby. She told me that she knew my aunt. Then her father intercepted, noting that they were actually relatives. (I later confirmed this with my aunt.) It turned out that Kikey was the relative of my relative!

Kikey gave me a keychain which she got from London. Thank you, Kikey

Friday, February 19, 2010

Highway Traffic

This picture was taken on Feb 12, 2010, when I was on my way back to hometown for Chinese New Year celebration. The traffic was slow on this stretch of the highway. The reason: there were police officers 5km ahead.

Malaysian drivers are flexible. They like to speed at 130 or 140kph on the highway. But they are ready to slow down to 50kph when they spot officers in uniform. That is, even though the speed limit is 110kph!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lanterns in Thean Hou Temple

Chinese New Year is coming. As in previous years, Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur has been decorated with hundreds of red lanterns…


I will return to my hometown in the next couple of days. I won’t have Internet access while I am away. How can I survive without the Web

Tuesday, February 09, 2010





曹操,叫做Cao Cao,很蠢的漢語拼音,因為有八成美國觀眾,會唸成Cow Cow – 母牛母牛?另外一成會唸成Chow Chow,是北京狗的意思。。。

因此,漢語拼音是很蠢的發明,非要跟十九世紀的韋氏音標對著幹。韋妥瑪(Thomas Wade)是英國的傳教士,十九世紀當了駐中國的公使。他幾乎是英國史上第一個學懂中國話的人,把中國話用英語註了一套音標。像曹操,按韋氏音標,應該是Tsao Tsao,中國的夏朝,叫The Hsia Dynasty,姓張,叫Chang。。。


那是陶傑的看法。我的看法稍有不同。必須知道,漢語拼音是為中國人而設,不是給講英語的人看的。所以漢語拼音不符合英語拼音不是大問題。不過大陸出版的書,往往在封面加上個漢語拼音標題,就很多此一舉。譬如我手上一本書,封面上寫著《內蒙古之旅 NEIMENGGUZHILU》。懂中文的人,必定只看漢字而不理會漢語拼音。不懂中文的人,看到了NEIMENGGUZHILU也不會明白,有啥X用?




Sunday, February 07, 2010

Day Trip to Melaka

Melaka must be one of my favorite places for excursion. I went to the historic city twice last year just to take night photos. Recently, I spent my weekend there again.

As usual, the famed Jonker Street and its surrounding area was the focus of the trip. Each time I strolled in the narrow roads of this area, I experienced something new. This time, Chinese New Year was near. I spotted a giant ‘lion head’ for lion dance performance…

My friend bought some cookies in a shop. I saw a girl making ‘pineapple tarts’ at the store front, and quickly snapped this picture…

There was a shop selling bound-feet shoes (三寸金莲). Nobody has bound feet today, so these shoes are merely for display…

I tasted, for the first time, the famous satay celup of Melaka. The more common satay Kajang is grilled. Satay celup is more like a marriage of satay Kajang and hot pot (steamboat). The food is cooked in a metal pot of boiling sauce…

Friday, February 05, 2010

Should you get an iPad?

Apple finally unveiled its highly-anticipated tablet computer on Jan 27, 2010. The new gadget has been ridiculed for its name, which sounds like high-tech tampon. Jokes aside, should you get an iPad?

Well, if money is not an issue, and if you love gadgets, then by all means get one as your new toy. Otherwise, ask yourself this question: If you already have a PC/Mac and iPhone, do you still need an iPad?

One factor to consider is typing on iPad. With iPhone, you hold the device on your left hand and type with your right hand. iPad is too big to be held with one hand, so most likely you have to place it on the table or on your laps. Here is where iPad is at disadvantage: you can adjust the angle of a notebook screen, but you can’t do so with iPad.

Another factor to consider is that iPad can’t do multi-tasking, so you can’t surf Web and listen to music at the same time. (But I won’t be surprised if Steve Jobs address this issue in future models.)

In the end, I expect iPad will be primarily used as an electronic reader, i.e. device for reading e-books. One can download e-books from Apple’s own iBookstore. Prices begin at US$12.99 for each book.

Another possibility is to use the gadget as the replacement for students’ text books. Imagine carrying an iPad instead of five or more physical books. However, in order for iPad to be widely adopted as text book replacement, its price has to come down substantially. You don’t want your kids to carry a US$499 gadget to school.

Travelers may like iPad too. They can download electronic version of Lonely Planet for reference. Of course, they must make sure that they can recharge the device along the trip. Theft is another concern. (Kikey Loo, are you interested?)

As for myself, I noted in one of my posts that I am a technology laggard. I doubt I will purchase an iPad in 2010.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My First Experience with GPS

I am a technology laggard, being slow in adopting new technology. While Kikey Loo, our London-based blogger, has been traveling around Britain with the aid of GPS device, I only recently decided to purchase a Garmin Nüvi.

Before I give my views with regard to Nüvi, let me digress a bit. Back in those days when I was in the United States, I used to download driving directions from Yahoo, and copied them on a piece of paper. Driving was easy in America. I never needed a GPS device.

Now let’s return to the Garmin. After using it for a couple of times, I have to say that I am a little bit disappointed. First of all, Yahoo (America) gave us the options of ‘shortest route’ and ‘fastest route’. Garmin doesn’t – at least not in Malaysia. (Update: Upon checking, I found that Garmin does give us the option of ‘faster time’, ‘shorter distance’ and ‘off road’, though my experience suggests that its algorithm isn’t so accurate. Plus, its search function is terribly slow.)

Secondly, as it is tough to look at Nüvi’s 4.3” screen while driving, I have to rely on voice prompt navigation. Unfortunately, the GPS unit tells me to “turn left” or “turn right” too early. If there are a few junctions adjacent to each other, I could easily make the wrong turn.

What’s more, the fear of theft implies that I will keep the device at home most of the time.

So, should I simply sell away my Garmin and revert to using Google Maps? Unfortunately, that may not be a good option either. I once downloaded directions to Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur. Google Maps told me to turn into Jalan Syed Putra. Somehow, I couldn’t locate the road. The problem of driving in Malaysia is that the road signs are either too small, hidden behind trees, or absent altogether.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to navigate around this country…