Thursday, October 30, 2008


Ahh paghok nnisé, woh ttopoh keno maké mmugosir! *

When I was young I always heard about this creature called mmugosir, or more commonly known as mmugo, yet never questioned about it. Now that I'm older, I started wondering what the heck is a mmugosir?

My grandma would always complain that the fruits in her little orchard were always punoh habih maké ko mmugosir. And we would all just nod and sighed along, with nary an idea what sort of beast is this mmugosir.

Discussions with Kimi would always end up ngabé koksir and entailed a round or two of hysterics fits of laughter at our efforts to identify and give form to this mysterious animal. Usually such discussions would include another animal in - bokbong. I have a better idea of what that is, though I won't bet my life on it though. My best guess is bokbong = musang = a kind of civet. If I'm correct on that count, then why didn't they name Gua Musang as Gua Bokbong instead for the love of God? It's more interesting.

But I digress. Back to this semi-fantasy animal otherwise known as mmugosir, we finally decided to ask from the parents. But the answer given was not even half as interesting as the creatures we thought up in between the bouts of laughter. They said, a mmugosir is just a general word to denote any unknown animal. Yeap, killjoy.

I'm not Mmugosir!

I hope they're wrong though, at least so that I can keep wondering what sort of nocturnal, furry, ghastly creature that is so nasty that it has no qualms about stealing fruit from an old lady =P

* a literal translation would miss the mark, so what this phrase means is basically 'oh crap, the mmugosir ate the apples!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Euro Trip Part 4: Apa Khabar Amsterdam!

Arriving safely in Stansted, we straightaway went looking for a place to crash for the night since we missed the last bus to Luton (our flight to Amsterdam was due the next morning at Luton). Surprisingly, the airport was packed full with people like us. Almost every nook and cranny was filled with travellers spending the night. Some even slept right smack in the middle of the floor.
We eventually settled for a place in front of the check in counters, since that's about the only available place. Before long, we were joined by others and the previously sparsely populated check-in area was soon lined with people looking for a place to sleep.

And slept we did. Only to wake a few hours later to lines of people on either sides of us trying to check in at the counters! We hurriedly grabbed our stuff and moved to the cafe for hot drinks and a place to sit.

When it's time to take the first bus out to Luton, we said our goodbyes to Charis who'll be going to collect her other luggage before heading to Heathrow for the flight home. The three of us promptly boarded the bus (which only had us and another lady as the passengers) and arrived with time to spare for the flight to Amsterdam.

Arrived in Schiphol soon enough and it was drizzling. Had a nice surprise when the blond and blue-eyed lady immigration officer greeted me with selamat datang and bade me selamat jalan . I was expecting to see many Indonesians and Indo-dutch people around, but not from this lady who looked as Indonesian as I am Italian.

Took the train to Amsterdam Centraal station and by the time we got there, the rain was in full force. We had to walk the short distance to the Damrak Hotel and in due course got drenched wet and miserably cold.

Fahmy and Muk went off to the coffeeshops while I decided to brave the rain and went exploring. With a map in hand (though rendered completely useless since the rain turned it into mush in my hands), again I got lost. I was trying to get to van Gogh Museum and HRC, which looked near and easy enough on the map, but ended up overshooting the right bridge by miles and had to backtrack in the pouring rain. It was kinda hard trying to find the right canal bridge since I only had this clue to follow after the map was KIA - take the 7th bridge. Needless to say, I lost count.

Managed to find HRC, but not van Gogh Museum so I headed back towards Dam Square. On the way I remembered that the Anne Frank House was somewhere on the route so I set off to look for it. Found it quite easily on Prinsengracht, thanks to my pathfinder skills (and an abundance of signboards) and spent some time in the glorious heat of the House/Museum.

Had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant somewhere in the maze of Amsterdam streets. Note to self, next time read the menu fully before ordering. I saw a set menu and after reading one or two items and checking the price I ordered it. Then I read the whole thing only to discover Babi Ketjap (pork cooked in soy sauce) as one of the items in the set menu! Luckily the nice Bapak had no problems with me changing my order.

The night was spent in Baba coffeeshop, not doing anything much really =P

Then it's back in the rain to return to the hotel. I was feeling very disappointed since it rained heavily for the whole day and night, I went to bed wishing for at least several hours of sunshine the next day.

Woke up to semi cloudy skies, but at least it wasn't raining. Went back to the nice canals to take some pictures and before you know it, it's time to head back to Schiphol. Greeted with an apa khabar and was sent on my way with a selamat jalan by the guy at the passport checking counter, and with that my Euro Trip ends.

It wasn't as hectic as the other legs, and the rain helped to enforce that too. I was a bit disappointed, but we can only plan right? So travelling to and fro 5 countries in 9 days, 6 airports, inclusive of 2 nights spent at the airport, a missed flight, a wrongly booked hotel, Raya at the Eiffel tower, a flamenco experience not to forget, numerous gelattos consumed and happy times at the coffeeshops (and also 1200 photos snapped), all the effort, time and money consumed was well worth it. It might be the one and only time I'll have the opportunity to do this, and I'm glad I grabbed it with both hands.

Ohh, the aftermath? I spent about RM5-6k on the Euro Trip (lost count really) all in, wrecked a (formerly new) white Jack Purcell from all the walking, blistered and chafed feet to boot too (that last 4 words sounds Swahili pulak dah), lost some weight (yay!), got tanned (not so yay), and gained a whole lot of experience. Would I do it again given the chance? In a heartbeat ;)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Euro Trip Part 3: Buon Giorno Venezia!

We arrived at Treviso airport at around 8.30pm. Initially we were planning to just spend the night at the airport before making our way to Venice in the morning, but it was still early and none of us felt too eager to be sleeping on the floor that night. Hence we made some calls and managed to get a room at Hotel Tri Santi in Treviso town.

Salvatore the owner was very nice in picking us up for no extra charge from the airport, and the hotel itself turned out to be a quite pleasant little hotel on the outskirts of town. After watching John Q dubbed in Italian for a while (with running commentary by Fahmy), we fell asleep soon enough.

Next morning, after checking out we took the bus to the train station and headed for Venezia St Lucia station. It only took about 15 minutes or so, and before you know it the Grand Canal is in front of our eyes.

We headed straight for the hostel, which is located just opposite the station across the Grand Canal. Almost immediately we started our city tour. First we headed for the Jewish Quarter but found nothing much of interest there so we headed towards Ponte de Rialto, the famous white bridge instead. There on, we walked towards Piazza San Marco. We managed to stop once or twice for gelatto fixes. Lecka-lecka don't even cut it close, if you ask me. It was an art trying to eat 3 scoops of gelatto packed tightly on a small cone, cue sticky fingers all around =D

The Piazza is jampacked with tourist, all jostling for a good spot to take photos. We walked a bit further to Riva degli Schiavoni to take more pictures and to just hang around the Piazza for a little bit. It was a beautiful place to be in, looking at the wonderful buildings on one side and the open water and gondolas piered on the other. The weather was cooperating too, it was just perfect indeed.

Then only we look for a place to fill our grumbling stomachs. We found a nice quiet pizzeria just off the main tourist areas, and rested our feet over a long lingering lunch. We went walking around for a bit more before heading back to the Piazza just when the sun started going down. Too bad for us, it was a bit cloudy by then so we did not manage to catch the amber hues that we expected. You can't always have everything right?

Going back to the hostel after that was a challenge. Since Barcelona I have always fallen into the role of 'pathfinder', the guy with the well worn map always in hand. In Venice for the first time, I got lost. But the saying goes that to get the Venice experience, you have to get lost in the labyrinth of small streets and endless canals and bridges. So we got lost and ended up going the opposite way at one time (not my fault this time, honest!). But soon enough I found my bearings back and we found our way to the right canal, bridge and street. It was a relief, since we were all getting quite hungry and tired too.

Dinner was at a nice ristorante by the Grand Canal, right in front of our hostel. The food was good and the ambience was priceless. Too bad it started to get really windy, chilling us to the bone!

Sleep came easy of course, weary bones looking forward to rest for several hours before it's time to get going again.

Next morning, we took the waterbus to Murano Island nearby to see glassmakers strut their stuff. Had lunch in nearby Serenella (the best pasta ever!), and took the next waterbus to Burano Island. Burano is a quaint fishing island, with vibrant multicoloured houses presenting a postcard perfect photo op. We spent only a short time in Burano (but of course, I had time for another gelatto fix!) before heading back towards Piazzale Roma in Venice.

Grabbed our bags, and boarded the bus at Piazzale Roma to head straight for Treviso airport. It's time to go back to London. For Charis it's the end of her Euro Trip, she's returning to Malaysia the next morning while for the three of us, London is just a temporary stop for our next leg - Amsterdam!

And of course, you'll have to wait for Part 4 for that ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


(let's take a break from travel stories first, it'll be resumed after this intermission =P)

Every month on payday, I would do my budget for the month ahead and would try hard to stick to it the best that I can. Of course, I almost always didn't manage to do that.

This month however, my internal accountant is flashing a red flag. After calculating all my necessary spendings, it came up to 85% of my salary! Normally it's not more than 65%, the reason for this surge is that I have to pay off some other bills and fees relating to the house, on top of the usual expenses (car and house repayment, utility bills, LRT pass, fuel etc). Trust me, owning a house is no easy (nor cheap) matter.

So with the balance, I calculated and found out that if I carry on with my normal spending and eating habits, I would be literally broke in 2 weeks. What now brown cow?

Well, I decided I would only eat out during lunches (I have no choice anyway) and eat at home for dinner. So, I did a quick mental inventory of what I have in the kitchen:

1 pc chicken breast
1 bag mixed veggie
1 pack hotdogs
2 boxes murtabak raja*
3 pc instant roti canai (my gran made em!)

12 eggs
1/2 chocolate cake
1 bottle whipped cream
1 bottle Hershey's choc sauce
1 bottle mustard
1 jar mayo
1 pack Cheesedale

1/2 pack dried pasta
2(?) cans of sardines
1 can Prego pasta sauce
assorted herbs and spices
2 packs instant noodles
1 bag rice
1 bottle cooking oil

I think that should be enough to last me a few weeks. It's also a good time to start shedding some pounds off, don't you think? Ahh, it feels just like back in the student days - not having enough money to even eat!

* it's a delicacy from back home. It's named so because it was created to cater to the Royal family at first, and the price reflects it too -_-

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Euro Trip Part 2: Bonjour Paris!

We arrived late in Beauvais airport since the flight was delayed. Took the shuttle bus to Paris and then took the Metro to head to Porte de Chatillon where we had a booking at the Formule 1 hotel.

Arriving at Chatillon-Montrouge was a bit unnerving. It was just past midnight, the roads were almost deserted, and the place looks kinda dodgy too. We walked a bit trying to find the hotel, but then we thought better of it and hailed a cab instead.

Luckily we didn't try to walk, it was quite a distance away. It wasn't the right station to get off really, since it's nearer to another tram station.

So we got in the hotel and were looking forward to a nice shower and a warm bed, but our hopes were dashed. Turned out, Charis wrongly booked the rooms for November! They were fully booked at the time so weren't able to accomodate us. The man at the desk was helpful though, he called the chain and found out they have rooms at another Formule 1 way across town, nearby Porte de Saint-Ouen.

So us four weary souls dragged our bags to the tram station and struggled to get the tickets since we don't know how to operate the machine and after a while only did we realize that it was broken. Luckily the other machine was working fine. Hopped on the tram and made our way to Porte de Vanves station. We were running by the time we got off the tram since the guy at the hotel said the trains run until 1.30am, and it was already 1am by then. So we got in, bought the tickets and sat down at the platform and waited for the train.

And we waited. And we waited. And we waited.

Then one of the staff came around to tell us that the last train was at 12.45am, and not 1.30am. Now what do we do?

Plan A was to sleep at the station and wait for the 1st train at 5.30am, but they closed it down so we walked out in the cold and started walking blindly.

It was the night before Raya, and back home it's around 8am on Raya morning. Dad and Kimi would still be at the mosque I guess, while mom and the girls would be at home getting ready to head off to kampung after sembahyang Raya. Me, I was out in the cold, literally, on the streets of Paris. Such was the folly of the this traveller.

Soon enough the coldness is taking its' toll so we decided to just hail a cab and get to the other hotel no matter how much it would cost. By 3am we were all showered and ready for bed. I called home to wish my family Selamat hari Raya and went to bed at around 4am. A long day indeed.

Next morning, we headed out bright and early and took in a quick breakfast of warm croissants and hot chocolate before rushing to Eiffel tower. Went up to the top and took in the view (while the wind was threatening to blow us off the tower).

Then, we walked across Pont d'Iena and headed along the River Seine all the way to Place de la Concorde. Then we walked through Jardins des Tuileries before arriving at Musee du Louvre.
From there we walked along Rue de Rivoli heading towards Georges Pompidou Centre. From there, took the Metro to Montmartre, alighting at Grands Boulevard station. After purchasing the customary HRC t-shirt, had dinner before heading to Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

Walked along the length of it until we arrived at Arc de Triomphe. By then it's quite late at night and the shops were closing. We headed back to Eiffel to take in the light show before heading back to Porte de Saint-Ouen, back to our hotel for a well deserved rest. My feet were screaming murder by then.

Next day, we took the train to Val d'Europe to visit the designer outlets. Bought some stuff for mes parents, and extra socks for me (yes, my budget only permits me those sadly). Before long, we're back on the train to head back to Beauvais to catch our next flight. This time, we're flying southeastwards. Venice, we're coming for ya!

Catch that leg of the Trip in Part 3 ;)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Euro Trip Part 1: Ola Barcelona!

After checking out on Saturday morning, we headed for London to bum around until it's time to check into the apartment in Bayswater. It's actually more like Paddington seeing how far it was from Bayswater. We spent the night there and after checking out the next morning, we hung around town to kill time before catching the flight out to Barcelona.

We planned to head to Luton at 3pm so as to have ample time. Someone said "rilek la, korang nih kalut betul. Aku dah amek bas gi Luton 10 kali dah, tak pernah lebih setengah jam", so we decided to heed his 'advice' since it sounded like experience talking. Funnily enough, the bus trip took one and a half hour and we missed the damn flight. Of course, that someone is then ranting about "siot lah bas nih, lembap betul" even though it's stated on the brochures as the expected journey time. But pointing fingers does not solve the problem at hand, so we bought the next ticket out to Barcelona and it cost us 8 times more than the original ticket, plus 2 bus journeys (since the next flight is going out of Stansted) and a night that will have to be spent at the airport.

So it was, my first night ever spent sleeping at an airport. It wasn't fun.

Next morning we checked in as early as we can and soon enough were on our way to sunny Spain!

We arrived in Girona just before noon and made our way to Barcelona ASAP since we already wasted half a day. Dumped our bags at the hostel in Ronda de Sant Pau, and immediately took off for lunch and a stroll down La Rambla heading towards Plaça Catalunya.

Headed for the Info booth there to ask about the flamenco performance and bought the tickets there and then for the performance at Tablao Cordobes (it's 35 euros for dance plus sangrias, with dinner it's way more expensive).

With city map in hand, we walked down Passeig de Gracia while admiring the excellent architecture. Several Gaudi buildings were along the road too, plus his lamp posts which incorporated his trademark organic style (and mosaics, of course). By the time we got to the Diagonal station, we took the Metro to the Sagrada Familia.

It was a grand sight, the architectural and sculptural work was breathtaking. We sat down at the roadside cafe just across the road from it to admire the sight.

Then we headed back to Pension Paraiso (the hostel) to shower and get ready for dinner. Deciding that we just had to try the tapas and paellas that we've heard so much about, we headed out in search for those. We ignored the more upscale tapas joints along La Rambla and hunted for a more quiet place. We found a very nice tapas bar in Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, a small square with some tables set out in the middle of it. There's a busker playing spanish guitar melodies nearby too - perfect. And the food was good! But of course, on our shoestring budget we can't afford to really eat to our hearts' content but it was a good tapas experience all the same.

Then it's time to make our way down to Liceu nearby which is Tablao Cordobes where we were to catch the flamenco.

If you are ever in Spain, you must catch a flamenco performance. In Barcelona, Tablao Cordobes is considered as one of the best if not THE best place to do so. The place was small and cosy and it was jam packed with people. And the performance, nothing I can say will do it justice. Vigorous, passionate, lithe, emotive, they're just some of the ingredients. Though I did hope that some of the people in audience would refrain from using flash when taking pictures. It's distracting. Use available light people, please.

By the time it was over, we were hungry again. Daniel and Mike whom we met earlier at Girona airport wanted to find a place for drinks but it was getting late and we were already tired. Did manage to meet up with Jane though before heading back. Lucky for us, right in front of Pension Paraiso, there's probably 5 kebab joints! So we got out supper there before retiring for the night. Thank God for immigration.

Next morning, we headed for Les Corts station via the Metro. What is there? Well, just a short stroll away is the Camp Nou! (teringat plak Hasbullah Awang - "kita bersama lagi di kubu kuat AC Milan, Nou Camp!"). We bought the tickets for the stadium access and promptly snapped zillions of pictures. The place was huge, and evoked memories of games watched on TV previously *wipes eye*. The bad thing was that we didn't get to see the dressing room. Or maybe we missed it, then that would suck worse.

After Camp Nou, we headed for Parc Guell across town. It proved to be a formidable journey from the Metro station. It's an uphill trek for around 1.5km and my calves and knees and thighs were all screaming in unison from the sudden distress it was put under. They have been underused for a long while now, mind you. Parc Guell is an interesting place. There's an observation point where you can see all of Barcelona. There's the center plaza with the mosaic-y seats, curious figures (dog's heads, mosaic lizard etc) and organic pillars, all pointing towards one man - Antoni Gaudi.

Then we had to head back to pick up our bags and then head towards Girona again for the next leg of our trip. We got to the airport in time (since the rest of us made it a point to time keep and ensuire we get to the airport with lots of time to spare), and soon were on our way north heading towards Paris!

And that, will be in Part 2 of Euro Trip ;)

P/S: This is my 100th post, hurrah!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


It's been weeks. Since the presentation, I've been to several countries before finally arriving back barely in one piece. For that, look out for the next entry.

So, leaving the place I called home for four weeks was a bitch to say the least. And I wasn't trumping it up when I said home. After a while, you get a kind of affinity for your room, your hangouts etc eventhough we all know it's temporary. It's a kind of fleeting love. Short and sweet. A four-week stand.

But upon arriving in KLIA, as I exited the glass doors and instantly enveloped by the humidity, it brought a smile to my face. This is home. Broke a sweat within 10 minutes too, no doubt I'm back on familiar shores.

Arrived home and was disappointed to see that my bro has wrecked the house. Open pizza boxes on the table, empty cans on the floor, dishes unwashed, laundry piling in the spare room, and a broken vase to boot. Not even my room was spared. I was weary with 10 days of non stop travel and almost on-existent creature comfort, and was expecting a nice clean house like i left it (thanks to mom and Kak Cho who helped out a lot in getting the place spick and span) so that I can just crash.

So I did the dishes and Makdik helped to pickup some of the thrash, and after that just gave up and slunked down on the couch. After Makdik left, took a long shower to wash off the grime and travel off of me. Before long I was in dreamland, amidst the mess that was formerly my home.

Woke up at 2am, hungry since I haven't eaten since breakfast on the flight and cooked up a quick fried rice with tuna (honestly all I have in the kitchen then was a can of tuna in brine, some rice, oil and the assorted condiments). It wasn't good, but enough to last me until the next day. Turned on the TV and watched DVDs until it was time for me to go to LCCT to catch my last flight for some time (I hope), back to Kota Bharu.

Now a week later, I have a bad flu, coughing incessantly and still having trouble sleeping correctly. That's why it has taken me this long to write something about it. And now, stay tuned for stories from the Euro Trip.