Happy New Year 2010 and Reflections on 2009

Happy New Year for 2010!


Once again it is the last day in this year's calendar year and what better way to "celebrate" than to reflect back on the year that was 2009. 2009 was a weird year in that the year started off after the financial meltdown in September 2008. Other than the excitement generated by the inauguration of President Obama in the United States in January, the year was already being written off before it even began! I'll begin by separating my thoughts of 2009 into the following categories.

Singapore to Brunei: Flight, Arrival and Royal Regalia Museum

On May 13, 2008 we flew from Singapore to Brunei after coming back from Kuala Lumpur the day before. Brunei is not exactly a tourism hotspot so the only reason we went to Brunei was because that is where my mom was born and also because she never went back to visit after she immigrated to Canada in the mid-1970s...until now.

Since most people have no idea where Brunei is, I thought that maybe I should include some maps of where it is. The country is located on the island of Borneo. The following map shows the relative locations of Singapore and Brunei with respect to Southeast Asia.

The following map shows the places that I visited in Brunei and East Malaysia.

We started our journey in the morning from Singapore's Changi Airport. It is constantly voted as one of the best airports in the world due to the amount of amenities it offers to travellers.

The following shows the distinctive control tower of Changi Airport.


Kuala Lumpur: Merdeka Square and Departure

On May 12, 2008 we spent a half-day exploring the Kuala Lumpur city centre before going to the airport at late noon for our evening flight back to Singapore.

We started out at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre area where our hotel was located and took the LRT system to the old downtown area.

The Kuala Lumpur City Centre area is also where the Petronas Twin Towers and Suria shopping mall are located. In front of the twin towers is a massive landscaped park.


Putrajaya: Malaysia's Other Capital City

Merry Christmas 2009! Now continuing with my series of posts from my travels in Malaysia last year...

On May 11, 2008 after our day trip to Melaka the day before, we went on another day trip to Putrajaya, the federal administrative centre of Malaysia, first stopping at the Royal Selangor Pewter museum on the way there.

Royal Selangor is a famous Malaysian brand in pewter goods and their products make excellent gifts. Another reason for going to the museum was to buy souvenirs at their factory store for back home at a fraction of the price that they sell overseas because everything was priced in Malaysian currency.

Entering the museum, we see a massive model of the modern icon of Malaysia, the Petronas Twin Towers.


2010 Winter Olympics: Highly Expensive Tickets Finally Arrived

Yesterday I received a phone call from Purolator (courier service) at 11:00 am informing me that my overpriced, highly expensive 2010 Winter Olympics tickets had arrived.

I ordered two hockey tickets to the semi-finals and four victory ceremony tickets. The hockey tickets cost me $80 each and the victory ceremony tickets cost me $22 each.

What is unusual for the upcoming games is that they are going to present the medals in a "victory ceremony" each day I think at the 60,000+ seat BC Place Stadium in Vancouver and on each night they will also have performers that represent the different provinces of Canada. I guess I was lucky in that the day that I will be going to the victory ceremony, British Columbia's Nelly Furtado will be performing.

The tickets come with an "Official Spectator's Guide" and according to the guide, when you show your ticket within Vancouver, you will get free access to transit for that day.


Melaka (Malacca): Malaysian UNESCO World Hertitage Site

On May 10, 2008, we hired a taxi for the day from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka for a day trip. We hired a taxi because unless you have a car in Malaysia, it is very hard to get to many places (a situation similar to traveling in the United States). Luckily hiring a taxi for the day was not that expensive. We just asked our hotel to book a taxi and the taxi drivers knew most of the tourist areas and would drop us off for sightseeing while he waited in his car. It took around one hour and a half to reach Melaka from Kuala Lumpur on the taxi.

In 2008, UNESCO awarded Melaka along with George Town in Penang the status of "World Heritage Site".

What makes Melaka interesting to tourists is that beginning from the 15th century onwards it had been colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the British before gaining independence within the Malaysian federation. Also Melaka has a large Chinese population due to past migration and all of these factors contributed to creating a town with a distinct culture.

The Christ Church built by the Dutch in the "Dutch Square" area, an area that was once the centre of the Dutch colonial administration in the 17th century. The colonial administration building is one of the oldest Dutch buildings in the East.


Kuala Lumpur Day 1 Continued: Jalan Alor & KL Tower

This is the second part of the photos from Kuala Lumpur on May 8-9, 2008. This set of pictures is actually from our second day in Kuala Lumpur as we arrived at night on our first day.

Continuing from my previous post:

Kuala Lumpur Day 1: Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC, Chinatown

After we left Chinatown (see previous post) it was already around mid-afternoon so we decided to go to the main shopping and entertainment area of Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Bintang via the KL Monorail.

Another view of the Petronas Twin Towers and the Kuala Lumpur City Centre complex as we walked away from it.