Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

PostHeaderIcon International Cities of Peace: Hiroshima

Three months later, allons-y.

Hiroshima, Japan.
16 December 2012.
Day 2. 

Today’s destination: Hiroshima – A city most known as one of the epicenters of the infamous atomic bombings in Japan during the World War II which effectively brought an end to the six-year conflict.

  • Waiting for the train at Shin-Osaka Station seems harmless for me as I occupy myself observing the surroundings, observing Japan. It is my first daylight in the Land of the Rising Sun after all.

  • And of course, there’s another first today. My first ever Shinkansen ride – the prominent, world-famous bullet train which, until now, I have only seen in textbooks and movies.

About twenty minutes later, our train arrives and off we go. Our initial plan was to visit Himeji Castle (one of Japan’s first World Heritage Sites) in Himeji, but we have decided not to proceed with it because the castle is now undergoing restoration work that is expected to last until the end of March 2015. The interior is either completely or partially closed to tourists, as well as a few other areas.

  • The train makes a brief stop at Himeji Station.

  • One half of the historic castle can be seen from our seats. Definitely not the best view of it.

  • Having arrived in Hiroshima, we are left to lug our luggage while looking for our hotel in the city.

Once we have found our hotel, we leave our bags and head towards Hiroshima Peace Memorial, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that serves as a tribute to those who lost their lives after the detonation of Little Boy almost seventy years ago. This whole Hiroshima thing eventually hits me hard as I am reminded of the cold, hard truths of the terrible things a human being is capable of doing.

  • The A-Bomb Dome, near which the first atomic bomb exploded, is the only building left from the tragic episode, albeit a skeletal one.

  • Another angle of the structure, formerly known as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall before the bombing.

  • Memorial Tower to the Mobilised Students serves as a memorial to over 6000 students who died from the atomic bomb.

  • Another view of the A-Bomb Dome from the other side of Motoyasu River.

  • Pih and Kona rest at the side of the footpath. Taking a breather on a cool day is in fact a pleasant thing to do.

  • A man looks on in front of  the Memorial Cenotaph.

  • Christmas Carols are being played not far from the cenotaph.

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum: A small-scaled model of the city before the atomic bombing.

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum: A combo of pictures puts the destruction of the city into perspective.

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum: A model of the famous A-Bomb Dome.

  • Hiroshima Memorial Museum: The big, red sphere indicates the hypocenter of Little Boy, roughly 200 meters from the ground.

While we are in the museum bringing ourselves closer to the events that took place before, during and after the bombing of the city, people begin to gather in large numbers outside to celebrate the local team Sanfrecce Hiroshima‘s inaugural J. League Division 1 title. We are obviously oblivious to what’s happening outside the museum, thus the sight of a sea of people surprises us to no end.

  • The team celebrate on a couple of open top buses, joined by probably thousands of the locals.

As the day draws to a close, and after having witnessed and perhaps joined as well the celebration of a football club that we had never heard of, we head back to our hotel, walking together with the Sanfrecce Hiroshima fans.

For more pictures and a more descriptive commentary on the visit, head over to my mom’s blog:

Getting to Hiroshima
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Hiroshima Sanfrecce FC & Hondori Market


PostHeaderIcon Getting to Osaka

Just for your information, I’ve lately been extremely unmotivated (or, you know, just lazy) to update this lamentable blog of mine. Even an update a month seems barely possible… so regarding last year’s visit to Japan in December, I guess I’ll just link to my mom’s blog because she has almost completed the whole trip. Isn’t that simply wonderful? 😀

…oh, and I stole the title directly from her blog too. 

Osaka, Japan.
15 December 2012.
Day 1. 

Then what? Come one, head to my mom’s blog right away! And for the following parts you can either read on from there, or wait for me to post another update linking to her blog again. The choice is yours.

Song of the Moment: Endo Kenji‘s Bob Lennon.

PostHeaderIcon Pic: Kansai International Airport

KIX Osaka, Japan.
15 December 2012.

Picking up the five Japan Rail Pass bought online at the JR Office, just after having landed at Kansai International Airport (KIX) via an AirAsia X flight.



PostHeaderIcon Devoir de Français #1

Le 1 mars 2012.
The climb, in simple french. 😆

Il faisait froid, ce matin là. Je dormais  bien quand mon père m’a reveillé. Je lui ai demandé l’heure, mais il m’a dit qu’on devait sortir tout de suite. J’ai réalisé qu’il était temps d’aller au pied du Mont Marapi qui est le plus haut volcan de Sumatra. On allait faire l’ascension du volcan.

Alors, je me suis douché et je me suis habillé vite. Après ça, j’ai retrouvé mon père, mon frère et ma sœur à l’extérieur de l’hôtel. Le ciel était encore sombre parce que c’était très tôt, mais nous étions prêts quand-même.

Le guide touristique nous a menés au pied du Mont Marapi. Puis, on a commencé à le monter. Il y avait beaucoup d’obstacles et de sangsues, bien sûr. À un moment donné, on a traversé une grande rivière sur un rondin. Petit à petit le soleil se levait. Ça faisait quatre heures qu’on n’a rien mangé et on était fatigués. Donc, on a fait une petite pause. J’ai pris une tablette de chocolat et je l’ai partagée avec les autres.

Après sept heures d’escalade, on a atteint le sommet. C’était magnifique parce qu’il n’y avait aucun arbre et c’était  très brumeux. De plus, il y avait un grand lac là, au sommet du Mont Marapi! C’était génial! Évidemment, l’odeur de soufre était très forte.

Tout à coup, un hélicoptère a apparu avec une petite équipe de tournage! On l’a bien regardé. Soudain, mon père nous a dit, << C’est Bear Grylls de Man vs Wild! >>.

Ah, je le connais! Il est animateur d’une émission sur Discovery Channel. L’équipe, malheureusement, était en train de partir. On regardait l’hélicoptère alors qu’il s’envolait. C’était un spectacle incroyable!

Puis, on y est resté pendant une heure parce qu’il était 16h00 de l’après-midi, et on ne voulait pas descendre de la montagne dans l’obscurité. Mais il a plu et quand on était dans la fôret, le soleil s’est couché quand-même. Finalement, on est rentrés à l’hôtel à 23h00. Ç’a été l’un des jours les plus beaux de ma vie!

*Mlle SF actually commented at the end, “Je ne sais pas si c’est une histoire vraie mais tu…”! Of course c’est vrai! Err…presque. Here‘s the real story. Merci! 

Limesong of the Day: Noir Desir – Le Vent Nous Portera!

PostHeaderIcon Pic: Gwanghwamun Square

Seoul, South Korea.
13 December 2010.

Life continues for the citizens as nightfall approaches in Gwanghwamun, the former capital city of the Joseon Dynasty. Just a little further ahead, in between the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yin Sun Shin, lies the “Sunken Square” which connects Gwanghwamun Square and the subway station.

I was really getting hold of moving around in Seoul via the city’s subway, no kidding. 😀

PostHeaderIcon Pic: Peeking at the Glorious Pitch

Old Trafford, Manchester.
30 October 2005.

This is probably the closest I could get to the ground trodden by the finest footballers from all over the world. A week later, while we were waiting for the flight home, United ended Chelsea’s 40-match league unbeaten run here, courtesy of Fletcher’s looping header.

The result, however, was not enough to reclaim the title as Chelsea remained top at the end of the season, eight points more than second-placed United.

Pic thanks to my dad, taken from HERE. 😀

PostHeaderIcon Pic: Fraser’s Silverpark

Fraser’s Silverpark Resort, Fraser’s Hill.
25 December 2011.

Thick mist shrouds our second home at Fraser’s Hill on the Christmas Eve, with an average temperature of ~16°C all day long.

While the hill resort is some way off from being the most popular of its kind in Malaysia – largely due to the fact that there’s not much to offer for the typical visitors, it has nevertheless become our most frequented retreat for more than a decade. Calm, cool and serene with its lush greenery, what more could you ask for? 😀

Limesong of the Day: Steve Sharp Nelson‘s The Cello Song, a soothing piece of music to calm oneself down. :mrgreen:

PostHeaderIcon The End of 2011

Another year gone, another year to live.

As 2011 draws to an end I believe people are tempted to take a short journey backwards, remembering how has the year been – the milestones, the significant events, the revolutionary discoveries, the movies, so on and so forth. To actually describe the year in detail would be an ultimately excruciating task. After all, there’s so much that can be done in 365 days.

Mine has been hugely substantial to the course of my life in general. Why? SPM. Go figure. Here, my very personal review of the year!


If I remember it correctly, the results for SPM 2010 were announced on the 23rd of March. Thank God I got a few sweet A’s and A+’s, good enough to apply for a scholarship. Petronas handed me an opportunity at the EduCamp in Tronoh… where I think I failed miserably. Khazanah is not worth mentioning, simply because I knew it all along that it was a long shot. A very long one, really. In the end it was only MARA who approved my application, albeit with an offer to enroll in a Pre-Spain Programme at UniKL MSI instead of  the preferred Pre-France Programme. After weeks of uncertainty finally we managed to find a spot for me in UniKL MFI for the PFP.

THE VOLCANOES: Beholding Anak Krakatau, Scaling Mt Bromo.

We love volcanoes and mountains, that’s not a secret. For me it all started two years ago when I conquered my very first mountain: Mt Marapi, the most active volcano in Sumatra. The activity which I initially regarded with scorn –  climb up, then descend, what’s the point? That was so ignorant of me 😆 – became one I look forward to all the time.

Mt Bromo, Mt Batok and Mt Semeru in the background; Mt Marapi from the town of Bukittinggi; the erupting Anak Krakatau.

In January we visited the highly active Anak Krakatau. The volcano, which erupts continuously these days, has the potential to be as fatally dangerous as its infamous mother Krakatoa. Unfortunately, for some obvious safety reasons, the limit radius was (and still is, I think) 2km from the volcanic island. We circled, and never touched her.

Six months later we flew to Surabaya, en route to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, on my third volcano outing. A 1km limit radius was set up around Mt Bromo too, but it wasn’t taken seriously by the locals and the visitors. Therefore, we were able to climb it. Nice.

AUSTRALIA REVISITED: From Mt Gambier to Bright.

Part I, Part II, Part III. I have somehow, left out the last part – the one where we ascended to Mt Hotham. Just too lazy.

I have no recollection whatsoever of the first visit, about 16-17 years ago. I was, evidently, a hopeless little toddler. The only thing that convinced me that it did actually happen was some old photos.

We landed in Melbourne via AirAsia X, headed west along the Great Ocean Road to Mount Gambier, then back east to Bright, and lastly back to Melbourne. And hey, barring that first visit, for the first time in my life I played snow consciously, at Mount Hotham no less! 😀

Oh Bright, I love that little town.

A NEW HOBBY: Playing Classical Guitar.

In between SDAR and MFI there was a very, very big gap of idleness and emptiness. The terrifying 7-month-plus holiday. It could have been something else, but I didn’t look for job or anything like that. The only schedule that I had to follow was the guitar class on Thursday every week. I’m not saying that I wasted the whole holiday by literally doing nothing – I learnt new things, read some books, did the chores, travelled, etc – but heck I did feel like a big fat sloth. Oh, anyway, learning to play guitar was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, though I admit it would take years for me to really grasp all those musical theories and methods.

CHAMPIONS AGAIN: United Leapfrog the Scousers!

No one could have predicted it two decades ago. Heck, people even started doubting Fergie’s United early in the 2000’s, when the Red Devils lost grasp of the Barclay’s Premier League to rivals Arsenal and then Chelsea. That, coupled with their 2006’s UEFA Champions League group stage elimination (that year they missed out the league title for the third consecutive season) fueled speculations that perhaps, United’s time had indeed ended. How wrong they were. Duh.

It was a season where United were, honestly, below average, but so were other teams. That’s the only reason why we won it. Nothing else to say. United winning is not something out of this world, is it? It’s United 19-18 Liverpool. Err..while Liverpool no longer pose a threat to us, a new one has arisen. The noisy neighbors City. Heh.

THE END OF AN ERA: R.E.M. Disband.

From my point of view, R.E.M. were highly underrated. Seriously almost no one listens to them here. One of the pioneers of alternative rock, it took over 30 years for them to finally call it a day in September. I remember singing the Great Beyond in front of the classroom for God knows what. It was some sort of a test maybe. But oh yeah I sure did sing it. 😆
I just hope U2 won’t do the same just yet.

Some of their best songs, excluding the mentioned above:

Losing My Religion (1991)

Everybody Hurts (1992)

Imitation of Life (2001)

Man on the Moon (1992)


MOVIES OF THE YEAR: A Better Life and the King’s Speech.

Nah I will not review movies for I’m not a critic and I just can’t review movies. Don’t know why. But I assure you these ones are excellent, and thus I think I just leave a couple of trailers here…

A Better Life.

The King’s Speech – this one was publicly released early in January 2011. I just watched it last week. 😆

THE DRAGONBORN COMES: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

I used to be bla bla bla (like you), then I took an arrow in the knee. What an outdated meme. Anyway, this game is friggin’ gorgeous and highly both entertaining and addictive where one could spend hours of playtime without actually realising it. Set in the medieval world of Tamriel, the story is appealing, and the gameplay immersive, even with those tons of bugs. If you enjoyed the previous series or Fallout 3 and New Vegas, you should play this. If not, then Angry Birds would be fine.

Skyrim Timelapse!

Oh I think I should put the trailer here, too…

GAINING FROM GAMING: Barra’s FIFA 11 Tournament Champion!

Okay. It was a small and low-budget tournament held in July at Barra, a popular eatery in Shah Alam, absolutely nothing like those international ones or even Game Monster‘s for that matter. There were supposed to be 12 players, but only six turned up so I needed to beat just three other contestants to win the first prize – RM150, which I did. 😆

Hey at least it’s the real deal, no?

Well that’s about it I guess, I’m rather sure I’m missing something here. Wanna read about revolutions and life-changing events? Go somewhere else.

And comme d’habitude I’ll end this post with a rendition of one of the best themes ever! 😀


PostHeaderIcon Tengger Sand Sea

East Java, Indonesia.
15 – 18 September 2011.

This is Volcano #3. (#1 and #2)
*the pics, unless otherwise stated, belong to my bro Nas. I did not bring my camera this time.

We set out at dawn and landed in Surabaya via a direct flight from KLIA to Juanda International Airport. And as always, thanks to AirAsia.

Our favorite in-flight meal, Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak. With a spork no less. 😀

We are then picked up by a couple of guys from Surabaya Transport in this cute van.

About 100km to the south-east of Surabaya is the well-known Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, the home to two volcanic complexes with the highest peak in Java, Mount Semeru. Our accommodation, Bromo Permai, lies in Ngadisari, one of many villages scattered around the Tengger Caldera. Obviously, the fertile volcanic soil provides a source of living for the locals and the volcanoes the source of spiritual beliefs.

The entrance fees to the National Park – Rp25000 is converted to around RM9.

A sign reminding visitors of the administrative details of the National Park.

And this is the view right in front of Bromo Permai – the smoking Mount Bromo on the left and the dormant Mount Batok on the other side.

Another shot of the duo later in the evening.

Then we take a (short) walk around the place – it is fairly cold for a high hill village.

It isn’t long before we are approached by local vendors selling t-shirts, knit hats and gloves. The temperature can drop to well below 10°C.

You see, even the authority is very apologetic. 😆

Thick volcanic ash covering the path, probably as the consequence of the recent eruptions.

…and a random cat.

And that’s all for the day. The next day we get up even earlier, at 4.30am we are all ready for a 20-minute “jeep” ride to the foot of Mount Penanjakan.


Then we get off the jeeps and start climbing up in the dark. The exhausting physical activity is made worse by the cold temperature and the high altitude – some visitors decide to hire the local horses to the top. Among the visitors, there is no doubt that the French are the most significant and make up the majority of them. I can hear them uttering semi-comprehensible words all the time! 😆

We arrive before dawn and wait for the glorious show to commence 😀

Here the locals set up mini stalls, preparing and selling hot beverages and foods for the climbers. The dim and distant lights on the rim of the Tengger Caldera are the village from which we came from.

Turn slightly to the right and you’ll see the trio of volcanoes.

A closer look of the volcanoes. Both Mt Bromo and Mt Semeru are highly active and has been erupting continuously.

The sunrise.

The volcanoes in the daylight.

Another view of the volcanoes while we’re descending Mt Penanjakan…

…and the rim of the Tengger Caldera.

In the same jeeps we proceed back to the village and descend into the Tengger Sand Sea in the direction of Mount Bromo. After a rough and rocky ride we’re dropped off quite far away from Mt Bromo.

Between us and Mt Bromo is a Hindu temple that plays an important role in the culture and beliefs of the Tenggerese people.

The face mask proves to be essential during the climb – the surrounding is very dusty thanks to the fine volcanic ash.

There are also horses for hire too, for those who don’t fancy trudging across the dusty sand plain under the sun.

And there are lots of them.

The walk is kinda exasperating, but  I believe it is nothing compared to Mt Marapi.

The steps of stairs are the final hurdle.

And finally! At the end of the stairs, we’re welcomed by this huge crater of Mt Bromo. We gape for a while, and realise that this volcano is still very active and has been erupting regularly, with latest major eruptions in January this year.

And the fact that there is not much space at the mouth of the volcano does not help either – one can easily stumble and fall into the crater, a definite one-way journey.

Oh, and not forgetting the sleeping Mt Batok. 🙂

Satisfied and pleased with what we have seen today, we start to descend all the way back to the jeeps.

Later that day we leave the village and return to Surabaya before taking our flight home on the 18th September. So that’s it, Volcano #3 done. I’m looking forward to another exciting journey of volcano-hunting or mountain-climbing, and I’ll definitely continue doing this for a long time to come. 😀


PostHeaderIcon Pic: Tengger Caldera

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, East Java.
16 September 2011.

Visitors flock on Mt Penanjakan, around 2900m above sea level, to witness a trio of volcanoes. The dormant Mt Batok takes centre stage in front of the smoking Mt Bromo and Mt Semeru, farther in the background. It is one of the many stunning views the nature has to offer.

I’ll try to put up something regarding the trip soon!

*pic thanks to my brother Ayinaim 🙂