CNY ’09: Langkawi – How to deal with children. Or how not to.May 2, 2009 at 2:17 am | Posted in Travelogue | 4 Comments
Tags: Hong Kong, Jerantut, Kuantan, Langkawi
Another overdue post. For last year’s CNY we went to Sarawak, this year, it was Langkawi island. It was a larger group this time- mom and sis came along, as well as another uncle from Hong Kong and his family.
Before moving on- I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- I really find kids annoying. This time, there were four of them. Kids. They whine. They tire out easily. They’re just irrtating piles of meat, for all I care. One’s own siblings are exluded from this rule, of course (So call me a hypocrite then), but then they’re only annoying when they’re really annoying. Blood ties.
Oh well. I dealt with them alright, I guess- Although I have to admit that minimal contact helped quite a bit. Time to start:
26 January 2009:
Big group of 8 arrived from the depths of Pahang– one from the coastal city-wannabe of Kuantan, and the on-the-way-to Taman Negara (National Park) township called Jerantut. I’ll never get used to saying that out loud- it just sounds so weird…
First item on the agenda- what else? It’s Chinese New Year- cash collection, of course. I know of some people who divulge their yearly collections online, but there’s no way I’m going to do that here- go get Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (Something like the IRS) to screen me if you really want to know. Just be prepared to shell out on plenty of booze and lobster (etc), if you know what I mean…
After the usual pleasantries, tea, and rest, pop and I took two cars and drove them to my cousin’s condo in Salak Selatan– my first time driving there. It was most boring. Nuff said. Met up with the remaining four from Hong Kong, and drove back home to get mom and sis. Dumped the Mazda which I drove to Salak South at home, and we jumped into the Camry- had some trouble with the boot- the blasted thing kept opening up as we went along- until I got out and gave it a right-royal-slam.
The Camry was then dumped at the condo (Dumping, not littering). Total head count now- 16. Three uncles, three aunts, five cousins, one maid, and my own clan of four. Coordination of such a large group would be a nightmare- twas a good thing I wasn’t in charge, eh?
LRT to KL Central. Still had some time, so I was sent to McD to do some shopping- to keep things simple, I just ordered ‘Fillet-o-Fish’ x 16, along with some other stuff. Quite surprisingly, the bill wasn’t as high as I’d thought it would be…
Time for a rant. Everyone was made to wait outside the stairwell to the train platform- one giant jelly-like mass of people and luggage pulsing back and forth behind the barrier. The dense concentration led to a rise in temperature- air-conditioning couldn’t keep up. We were made to wait till after the set time for some strange reason- I think it was for the people to exit, and perhaps for them to tidy up the coaches. Oh, the train was delayed too. Even worse, there was only one entrance/exit to the platform- here’s an award for gross stupidity to whoever designed the befuddled place.
Once we’d gotten into the train- lights went out (in the train). Wonderful. Someone could have gotten a stake in the heart, and no one would have noticed. We had 16 bunks, all of them on ground level. The trouble was that with the lights off, many dimwits just decided to die on their feet, and just stopped. Many more irritating fools just sat on whichever bunk was available- many of them ours, until the lights came back on.
The lights came on. One woman was downright pathetic- she couldn’t even climb up the ladder to the upper bunk, and was trembling the whole while, mumbling nonsensical crud (I can’t do it; No, I’ll DIE!, etc), while her husband tried his darndest best to coax her up. In the end pop traded bunks with her, much to their relief. At last, I could walk past without having to strain to avoid being smashed in the face by a wobbling middle-aged derrière.
Watched the train stations pass by as I tried to will myself to fall asleep. Kampar, Batu Gajah, Ipoh. Some socially inadequate person was taking photos the whole night. I could tell because he (I’m suspecting that) didn’t turn off his shutter sound. Finally managed to fall asleep, probably around 4am. Woke up to find myself passing by paddy fields in Perlis.
27 January 2009:
Sometime around 10am, we set foot in Arau station. Cute little old station with some interesting thingamajigs here and there. Had breakfast at a small stall beside the station- Nasi Lemak and… Nasi Kerabu, I think. I’ve been getting quite a few international visitors, so I guess I’d better give a little lesson on local gastronomy: Nasi Lemak translates to Fatty Rice (literally). It’s a sort of fragrant rice usually served with anchovy sambal, eggs, and cucumber. I can’t really describe the other one^^; Click on the links above for the recipes if you want them:)
OK enough pandering to foreign viewers- back to the travelogue- I’ll be darned if this whole thing turns into some sort of travel guide (In a sense, it is… what am I rambling about now…). We hired three taxis (Or was it four?) to take us to the docks. The driver wasn’t very chatty, which was good. Pop was, though^^;;
As for the docks- the system was terrible. Suffice to say that the people in the Command Centre, those out on the field, and the ferries coming in weren’t in sync at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day the docks is hit by a tidal wave and not a single person would notice. Except the former prospective passengers, who’d be floaring somewhere inland.
The ferry ride was uneventful. I’d hoped that we’dbe allowed onto the deck, but not this time- new regulations, it seems. Every sit still and watch depressing terrestrial TV. Arrived on Langkawi island- rented three cars for easier transport. You do not want to be on an island and have to call for a cab every time you step out of your hotel. Furthermore, the island is pretty big- and I don’t think I saw any buses either. Definitely no trains, for that matter- Langakawi is NOT Singapore.
Once we’d dumped our luggage in the hotel, we headed out for lunch- got lost in a kampung before we finally ended up in town. Chose a Chinese restaurant near Cenang Beach– ‘Lucky‘, it was called. Lucky, right. For the owners, at least. The food was terrible, and overpriced. Bill came up to about RM400. Random tip: if you’re looking for a Chinese restaurant during CNY, and you just happen to find one that’s empty during peak hours- hold on tightly to your wallet and run, because it’s bound to be bad, really bad. Nuff’ said.
We headed over to the, um, big land-locked fish tank called the Underwater World. I remember that once my dad mistakenly called it Underworld… *snicker* and I sincerely hope you know what that means. Ah, the wonders of language:p
There was a lion dance outside- I think I got a brief video of it, will have to check to see if it’s been uploaded yet… don’t know why they were so interested, though. I mean, they’re not from Siberia, right? I wonder if they have Sea Lion dances there… ah well.
It really wasn’t much, but that’s to be expected. The place is old. But then again I suppose that that’s no excuse- I’ve seen my aunts old photos from her trip to Australia, and the Aquarium was just grand. No, no whale sharks, dolphins (In the natural sense of the word), mermaids, performances… the best they had were the penguins and um, otters, I think. Which wouldn’t even move, the lazy things.
Just before the exit, there was a gift shop (But of course)- they took their time there. Sis had her hand cast in wax. One cousin had his done too, but this hand (My idea, actually) would go to the shophouse in Jerantut where it would spend the rest of its life as a keyholder.
Some walking around, then off for dinner. After the lunch fiasco, no one was in the mood for anything expensive- the kids were clamoring for fast food, but luckily the adults ignored them. That’s the way to do it, ha! We split into two groups though- four of us (My family) went for an open-air Malay restaurant, while the other invaded a cramped Indian restaurant.
Food was normal. I was flabbergasted (Just wanted to use that word, I won’t use it again) upon seeing air bali (Bali water/drink) on the menu, and asked the waitress what it was:
Moi: Air Bali ini apa? = What is this Bali drink?
She: *surprised*, flapped hands randomly and just repeated the name of the drink.
Took a few seconds to realise what she meant. Barley. Bah, I was thinking about the overrated Indon island^^; As for the other side, apparently my HK aunt was delighted- her first time tasting such delicious curry, hehe. Guess the curry in HK is still rather ‘international’.
28 January 2009:
I think I forgot to mention this, but my sister forgot to bring her identity card. Which meant that she wouldn’t be able to get on the plane on the way back. Luckily we’d given a neighbour the keys to the house, and had him fax a photocopy of it to the hotel.
Hotel buffet for breakfast, which was rather disappointing. Come on, no cereal? At the very least, some sausages? None. There was an cooked-to-order egg counter though. I should have tortured the chef by going back every 5 minutes with a different order- scrambled. Omelette. Sunny side up. Poached. Ostrich.
Item one on today’s agenda- the Geopark. Or, to be more specific, the cable car ride up the mountain. Nearly forgot this- dropped by at a shop that sold things made from sea cucumber, or as they call it here, gamat. Smelly, but interesting nonetheless.
We stopped by at the Petronas quay on the way, pretty place where all the rich fellas park their yachts- some camwhoring, hehe. But the sun was shining and it was just so hot…
By the time we got to the Geopark, it was time for lunch. We gravitated towards this Japanese restaurant- I was a little suspicious (I knew the prices would be crazy), but went along anyway. There weren’t any big tables, so we got divided into three corners- and nooo… I was put in charge of ordering- nothing wrong there, but I had two of the kids at my table. To be safe, I’d been given a budget to stick to, which was reassuring (Yes, reasonable, rational me).
But with kids at the table, something was bound to go wrong. Not only did we have to order more (I tried to mimic the order at the other table- the easy way out), but they asked me if they could have green tea ice cream. From personal experience I knew that that would just be a plain waste of money, and told them straight, NO. Aunt’s given us a budget, anyway. But seriously, ice-cream before the main course? Kids. Gah.
Yeah, they’d probably hate me for this. Just great, especially since I might be going over to HK after my exams and would have to crash at their place. Wonderful. It didn’t really matter anyway, as when I went out to the other table, they took the opportunity to run to their parents who promptly ordered it for them.
The food wasn’t all that good anyway. And the bill? About RM500. Poof, like that. I really wouldn’t mind such a price if the food was good, but to pay that amount for what was mostly crap… well, not crap. Japanese food, alright, but food for poor people, converted into delicacies for unsuspecting foreigners. Sigh.
There was a nice song playing on the entertainment system, though, and that saved the whole experience- I didn’t get the title, but the lyrics were more or less something like this: “Aishiteru, anata wo, sonna ni…“. Sounded a little like Kiroro‘s Nagai Aida, but not. Definitely newer, fresher. More… ‘poppy’, if I may. Whatever that means. Now somebody help me find this song. What are you waiting for? Go! You can finish this article later, hehe:3
Up in the cable car. There was some confusion due to jumbled up intel and conflicting plans- I asked pop whether we were supposed to go all the way up to the top and come back down, which frankly sounded a little strange. All the way up there, and straight back down? There has to be something at the top…
For the time being though, I just enjoyed the ride up- with mom, sis, and one unc from Jerantut- he was pretty terrified. Scared of heights. Made some phone calls anyway- apparently HK unc’s kids wanted to go to the small petting zoo at the bottom, and their dad being worried that there would not be any time for it, decided on going up and back down. Hmm. As we neared the top, however, I saw something that made me change my mind- a suspended bridge and viewing platform. Screw the plan, I thought, and jumped out of the car upon reaching the station, and cajoled the rest to get out with me.
The next car carried two aunts, the HK kids, and two of the younger Kuantan kids. I tried to get them out, but they wouldn’t. Your dad said not to get out? Just ride up and back down? They moved out of sight and there was nothing more I could do. The next car, however, had also seen the sights and changed their minds. Har har. So much for the ‘stay in the car’ order I received when I called them up. As pop said of me later, ‘sometimes it’s good to be stubborn’. Most of the time, I’d say.
After that, we went back down, contented… to be greeted by 4 disappointed kids, haha! The eldest from HK actually called pop selfish, who then pointed the blame to his dad^^;; We headed for a nearby waterfall after that- it wasn’t much. Mom and sis didn’t go along for this one, though- stayed in the car. Tired out from the heat. Steep climb up there, though- I raced the eldest cousin (and thus the least annoying). Despite me being bereft of exercise for the last year or so, I easily outran him. Hmm.
What must you do when in Langkawi? Hit the beaches? No. Stare at the girls? No. Mountain climb? No. What you must do, it seems, is shop. Or at least that’s how it is for the locals, given its duty-free status. Chocolate and liquor in abundance, but we settled for the choc. Dinner in town.
Leaving for KL tomorrow, so everyone went back to their rooms. I was still a little restless, though… and sis wanted to take a walk on the beach. The beach was too far away, but we did make it to Langkawi’s iconic Eagle statue. I did get a picture of it, but it was late and it didn’t turn out too good. I heard that one political party actually called for it to be demolished, as ‘idolatry’ is against the fundamental tenets of Islam… total bull, and the more rational heads in other parties quickly shot it down. Yay for democracy- even complete nincompoops get a chance to air their stupidity.
29 January 2009:
Had a dream in which I became a Japanese OL (Related post: OL Dream). Off to the airport- two different flights, though, as we couldn’t get tickets for the same flight. I got to go first with mom and sis- which was excellent, of course- as I’d get to reconnect with my bed earlier. Obviously, this is the end of this post. Finally! I’ve finally completed it! *insane laughter, chokes*