Traveller Yg. Sengkek

Its a journal of some sort about recollection of my journey to various parts of the world with my friends since 2009...and with my wife and our Rayyan Eusoff since 2014...no luxury is needed...its all about exploring new places...along with great buddies...accompanied by great foods...not to be forgotten...having great time...















Sunday, August 7, 2016

Rayyan Eusoff goes Czech Republic



Czech Republic is not exactly an obvious choice to go for a holiday. At least not for Asians. In comparison with the countries in Western Europe, countries in the Eastern Europe are hardly noticed. But of course, it is always a new experience. Especially for Rayyan Eusoff and wifey. This time around, we planned for two cities in Czech Republic, Prague and Karlovy Vary respectively. 


We flown via Smartwings from Dubai to Prague. Smartwings is one of two low-cost airlines that flies direct to Prague, with the other one being Flydubai. The ticket cost AED2,500 return for three of us including 15kg check-in luggage and meal. Rather affordable as compared to other airlines. Flydubai also cost almost the same as they were also having promo tickets to Prague that time which include meals and 20kg check-in luggage. The main difference between the two airlines, aside from the services, is the timing. Smartwings' flight timing is 7.30 p.m. from Dubai and 10.30 a.m. from Prague and flies three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) while Flydubai's operates daily flight and fly 8.10 a.m. from Dubai and 1.30 p.m. from Prague. The flight took 6 hours and 30 mins from Dubai to Prague. 


Arrived in Prague in the middle of the night, the taxi from Prague Airport to the city cost about EUR25~KC600. We were lucky enough that a friend of ours picked us up from the airport and we stay at his home for the length of our trip.


The following day we went for sightseeing in the town and also i went for Friday prayers in the muslim centre in the town centre. The prayer hall consisted of two-storey building near the train station. It is not exactly visible from the street but it is rather easy to find. There is a restaurant that serves halal food within the area. As the first leg of our journey will be in Czech for 4 days, we bought the 72 hours transport pass which cost EUR12~KC310.


Sightseeing in Prague is rather enjoyable. As compared to the last time i went during Winter, Summer was packed with people. Each and every corner of the city was filled with tourist especially the tourist spots like the Old Town Square. Prior to that we went for sightseeing in a park near the apartment which boasted magnificent view of the city. 


Karlovy Vary was our destination after Prague. Took a Regionjet bus from Florenc bus station. The ticket was rather affordable. It was EUR6 one way, return was EUR12. There was wifi on the bus, and complimentary drink as well as LCD to watch movies (there was no entertainment LCD in the Smartwings flight). The journey took 2 hours and we departed at 8.00 a.m. from Prague, returning from Karlovy Vary at 8.00 p.m. Day trip for 12 hours, including the journey time. Karlovy Vary was beautiful. We just walked along the river, had lunch and coffee in between, and spent the day away in the city nestled between mountains. Sounds rather romantic. Eventhough it was marred by rain in between, we were actually feeling blessed as there are no rain in the UAE. Hahaha. We took our time to relax, walk and enjoy the atmosphere. 


The first day in Prague, the sightseeing was done in the city centre, so the third day we went up to the Prague Castle. Must visit place in Prague. Stood majestic above the hill overlooking the city, Prague Castle offers a view to die for. Went up with a tram, and went down by walking straight to the Charles Bridge then continued to the city centre. Can't get enough with the beauty of the town. The old buildings, the gothic architecture, the river, the hills, everything blends well to create an unforgettable memory.


We left Prague for Rome the following day and it will be updated in the next entry.


This marks the third time for me to Prague. The first time was in Spring, the second time in Winter and this time around during Summer. Each time it offers different perspective of the city and never fail to enchant me. For me Prague is one of those cities that you don't have to spend to enjoy. You would be happy by just walking around, then have a cup of coffee on top of the hill overlooking the city. In term of cost, it is also not beyond reach. EUR2~KC49 can get you a nice cup of cafe latte. For EUR6~KC149 could get you a hearty muslim meal. The rest of the days could be spend by just taking its tram and go around the city. One of the best thing about the city is also that the public transport are rather baby family. Pushing Rayyan Eusoff around in the baby stroller is not a problem at all. This is also will be Rayyan Eusoff's final trip before he reach 2 years in few days. After this, instead of paying 10%, Eusoff's ticket fare will be almost the same price like abah and mama. But regardless, it won't deter Abah to bring Eusoff around the world. This time its time for Rayyan Eusoff goes Czech Republic.

T.Y.S

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Utter Silence of Liwa


Middle East experience is not complete without some desert experience. True enough. Living in a country surrounded by sand dunes and beautiful desert landscape, one can't ignore the temptation of the how it is like. Me included.



As part of our one weekend one Emirate travel series, we booked one night stay at a hotel in the empty quarter of UAE, Liwa. Located 175 kilometers beyond Abu Dhabi city, we drove all the way to the Western region of Abu Dhabi, in close proximity to the Saudi border. Tilal Liwa Hotel, a secluded hideaway leisure resort perched on the edge of Rub Al Khali Desert. Getting to the hotel from Abu Dhabi entails a long road-trip across the desert through the small city of Madinat Zayed. One thing that was striking about the hotel is that it is literally at the end of the road. The hotel could be spotted a good 5 kilometers away, or more.



First of all, we have no complaint about the hotel. Tilal Liwa Hotel is a strikingly Arabesque 4-star (as accredited by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority) property that combine the elegance of the Arabian Nights. I am all into Arabian-style deco nowadays, from the solid panels, to the lights and intricate details of the carvings, everything are lush and classy. A lone property amid the whirling desert dunes, with the outer facade looks like an Arabesque castle complete with traditional wind-towers, a trickling fountain and a very solid, brass-studded door. Talking about the drive, please fill in full tank as along the way you will feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere. Better be safe than sorry, because the distance between one petrol station to another in between Abu Dhabi city and Tilal Liwa is enormous and not many of petrol stations along the way.


We originally booked a standard room online with breakfast for AED250 but were given a free upgrade to a room with balcony and pool views. The pool has stunning view overlooking the Rub Al Khali desert. It seems endless and magical as if it came out from those stories from 1001 nights. First thing we done after settling ourselves in the room was going on for the camel ride. Something new and different and totally Arab. Hahaha. Cost about AED40 for 10 minutes ride. Kinda expensive but it made such a good memorable photo. Was eyeing for the ATV but with the scorching hot sun, phewww, nevermind. Food was rather pricey at the hotel, mainly due to the fact that the hotel is the sole provider for food within the 20km radius. But we had lunch anyway at the restaurant, just a simple Thai food. Cost us about AED160 for the meals and drinks.  


Ever since we started traveling with Rayyan Eusoff, one of the deciding factors of any hotels that we will stay revolves around the pool. And I have to say that the pool was fantastic and Eusoff was all set and excited to take a dive in the pool. We stay in the pool for almost 2 hours and by the time we were going back to the room, Eusoff was not ready to go. Babies and pools. Ermmm.


That night we decided to have a dinner in the town. Drove 20 km from the hotel to the city centre of Madinat Zayed. One thing people have to understand is that, not all cities in UAE looks like Abu Dhabi city or Dubai. There are normal looking small cities that still capture that Arabian feeling like Sharjah, Al Ain or Ajman, to name a few. But Madinat Zayed is none of those. Hahaha. Small city with no tourist attraction per say. Dinner in one of the restaurant we had our eyes on. Can’t remember the name of the place but we just went ahead, ordered Mandi and Briyani and mixed grill. Burp. Knowing the portion of the food served here, it was more than we could take.


Comes morning, we were taken by surprise of the fog surrounding the hotel and compound. Wow, it felt as if we were in a tropical rainforest or some horror movie. Hahaha. But it was quickly dissolved when it was getting hotter. That morning we just stay in the room, went for that another quick dip into the pool after breakfast and headed back to the city.


Perfect weekend getaway I have to say. It was great out of the hectic life of the big city into a great silence in the middle of the desert. Pure relaxation and may I offer a suggestion for the next time in places like this it’s better to go full board or at least make sure you have enough to eat to satisfy your hunger. The hotel was beautiful, the service was good, with exception of the major blackout on the day of our departure (when there was no power, there was no water as well because the pump was not working). Will we go there again, yeah sure why not? Because you know you need it once in a while. Breaking away from that noise into the utter silence of Liwa.

T.Y.S

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spontaneous Sharjah


I just bought a car. Second hand car, wait, its actually third hand. But it is still in a good condition and could bring us around. Which is pertinent to our road trip activity by the way. While we are at it, we believe it is cool to go to each Emirate in the UAE if we have the time.

This time it is the Emirate of Sharjah.


Abu Dhabi is the biggest Emirate which accounts for 87% of the whole UAE. So while driving to another Emirate, one actually spent most of the time getting out of Abu Dhabi. From Abu Dhabi to Sharjah it took about 2 hours 15 minutes. We use the outside road and avoid going through Dubai city. Eventhough on the map it took longer, but believe me with the traffic, it is a better option.


Actually it was rather spontaneous. Woke up Friday morning and thought that why don't we go out of Abu Dhabi. Not to Dubai coz we have been to Dubai. Next to Dubai is Sharjah. Wifey said ok then immediately we just pack some clothing and started to drive from Abu Dhabi at noon and arrived in Sharjah around mid afternoon. The first stop was straight to the Corniche area near the Heritage area. Parked the car near the Heritage area (on Fridays, 1 hour of free parking, otherwise it is AED5 per hour), then started to walk. This is actually one of the must-do in Sharjah, to enjoy the Souks. There are few Souks within the heart of Sharjah area. The dedicated website for it is indeed useful to navigate your way around. (www.heartofsharjah.ae).


We also visited the Sharjah Museum, Sharjah Gallery and walked along the Sharjah Creek. Then move on to another must-see in Sharjah, the Central Souq. I love the building that housed Central Souq. While wifey was not too crazy about it coz almost the whole stretch of the ground floor was only jewelry and gold shops. The upper floor however was more to my liking. It featured some fabulous carpets and house deco. I am all into it since we bought a house but still under construction back in Malaysia. Cannot wait to start decorating the house once its ready by 2018. For the time being, it is the time for me to survey the prices and think of what concept we want to apply to our home. I have to say that nowadays i fell in love with the lights and lamps in the middle east world. Not to mention also the porcelain and carpets. Beautiful stuffs at a fraction of the price sold in Malaysia.

We did not planned to spend the night, but it was late and we immediately decided to spend the night in Sharjah. Stay at the hotel around Khalid Lagoon. It boasted fantastic view of the lagoon at night and also in the morning. We were given a room on the 12th floor, of course we were rewarded with amazing view.


The next morning after check out, we went to the Al-Noor Mosque which just next to the hotel. Beautiful mosque overlooking the lagoon. We should have spent the nite in the waterfront but decide against it as it was too crowded. One of the main attraction is the water show. Rayyan Eusoff would have love it. But maybe next time then. We went back to the city centre and wifey bought some stuffs in the Souk.


Overall it was great weekend getaway. It is nice to see and experience another Emirate other than Abu Dhabi. But like i said, Abu Dhabi is the largest Emirate and there are so many things that could be done in Abu Dhabi alone. We will do that as the time goes. Sharjah however gave you the more old-fashioned feel of an arab city. It is like wifey said, it felt like going to Malacca. But of course it is way different that Malacca. Rayyan Eusoff enjoyed every moment that we spent in Sharjah even under the scorching hot sun. Cannot wait for our next adventure to another Emirate. I have already set my mind to go to Ajman next. Will write an entry about our Ajman experience in the next entry. This time it was all about Spontaneous Sharjah.

T.Y.S.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Living in Abu Dhabi


As the title said it all. I have been relocated to Abu Dhabi since end of February 2016. So this entry will not be about traveling to Abu Dhabi. Instead it will be more about going around Abu Dhabi and hopefully the rest of the Emirates. 

Living and traveling to one place is different. When you travel you can basically plan the whole trip and make the best out of your budget based on a short period of time. Living on the other hand involves getting to know the city thoroughly and the lens will not only focused as a traveler but expanded towards living like a local. Or almost like one. 

Rayyan Eusoff and wifey joined me few days ago after i settled down and managed to get a basic idea of living in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully it could ease them with the transition of moving to a completely new world. Malaysia and UAE are different in plenty of ways especially the way of life. 

This is the first entry of the series of living in Abu Dhabi. More to come soon.

T.Y.S

Monday, January 11, 2016

Where Had I Been in 2015

Wow. It has been a while since i last updated my blog. 2015 has been an incredibly busy year and i barely had any time to do any writings which most are rendered to work-related matters. But i had traveled more in 2015 compared in 2014. Mainly because of work-related and mostly to the same place with exceptions with few new places that i have never been before. Lets see how 2015 was for me.

January

Kota Kinabalu

The view from the pier by Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu.

February

Langkawi Island
 
Eusoff's first trip to the ocean in Cenang beach.
 
March

Cebu, the Philippines

Sunrise by the sea in Shangri-la Mactan Resort Cebu.
 
April

Yangon, Myanmar

Sunset by the Inya lake in front of Sedona Hotel Yangon.

May

Manila, the Philippines

Sunrise overlooking the skyline of Makati City from New World Hotel.

June

Kuching

July

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Steep stairs going up and down of Angkor Wat.
 
 Beijing, China

The famous Tianamen Square from the road.
 
September

Manado, Indonesia

Morning view from Sintesa Peninsula Hotel Manado.
 
London, England

Few hours of transit in the Terminal 4 London Heathrow.
 
New York, USA

The yellow cab of New York City.
 
October

Hong Kong

Few hours of transit in Hong Kong airport.
 
Chengdu, China

Night view from Jing Jiang Hotel Chengdu.
 
November

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Dinner with a view of Prambanan Temple.
 
December

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Beautiful canals of Amsterdam.
 
The Hague, Netherlands

The International Court of Justice in The Hague.
 
Paris, France

The famous Arc de Triomphe of Paris.

The year 2015 was filled with travel for me. It left a lot of sweet memories for me as well as i ventured to new cities that i had never been before, going to places that i had dream about throughout my life and most importantly bringing Eusoff to see more of what the world has to offer. Regardless of the fact that most of the traveling i had done in 2015 are work-related, it still afforded me new experience each time. 2016 comes with a promise with more travel experience not only for me, but also for wifey and Eusoff.

T.Y.S

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Rayyan Eusoff Goes Switzerland

After much sightseeing in the Netherlands, that weekend we went to Geneva. Bought return ticket Amsterdam-Geneva via Easyjet for RM875 for the three of us (infant fare is EUR26 flat for one way).


Took the early morning flight from Schiphol and arrived in Geneva about 1 hour 30 mins later. The airport is not as big as Schiphol and it was rather easy to navigate your way around. The airport provide a complimentary train ride to Cornavin, the central station in town. Just pick up the tickets at the luggage belt. However, lucky for us, my friend picked us up from the airport and went straight to her house in Meyrin instead. Her house is just a walking distance from France. No joking. We were literally going back and forth between the two countries in just a few minutes. Hahahaha. We went to France just to buy some groceries and went back to Switzerland in just a few minutes.


Once we settled down and put the luggage in her house, we went on 45 minutes drive to the outlet mall in Aubonne. Don't expect JPO-like outlet. It is a mall complex with several shops selling discounted products. Not much high-end fancy brands but it was okay enough. I managed to buy a Reebok baby shoes for Eusoff for CHF17~RM50. Wifey got herself a handbag. Myself? Nothing. Hahaha.


We return to town and went directly to the UN office. It was still early but since it was winter, the daylight went out quite fast. By 5pm it was already dark. We took pictures in front of the UN Office and the famous broken chair. However the pics are rather dark and Eusoff was totally covered from head to toe as the wind were quite strong. You can't see his face underneath all those clothing. Hahaha.


Rest for the nite then resume the next morning. 

My friend has something to do that day, so we were on our own. I have no problem with that since i already practically planned how to spend the day. At first i was thinking to go to Mont Blanc or some excursion out of Geneva. But then again, wifey never experienced Geneva and i have another friend in Geneva. So we went out to the town. Took the one day tram pass for CHF10. On Sunday the tram pass covered for 2 persons. Eusoff is still an infant so there were no charge for him. The tram is very baby-friendly as it was easy for me to just push my stroller inside the tram since the platform and the tram entrance was at the same level. There were even a signage of where the family with babies could sit.


Reached Cornavin (the central station) and started our walk. The famous lake Geneva is just 10 mins walk away from Cornavin. Along the way, there were Christmas market and you can find halal restaurants as well. No worries there.


Met up with a friend who brought us to have this fantastic cheese fondue for lunch. As we requested for non-alcoholic cheese fondue, the restaurant exchange the wine with apple cider. It tasted marvelous. I would suggest anyone who are going to Geneva to try it out. But it was kinda steep CHF29 per person.


The we just took a stroll along the bridge to the old town of Geneva. Climbed up the hill to the Palais Du Justice. Then we just walk and walk and took as much pictures as possible. We said our goodbyes to my friend for entertaining us the whole afternoon and went back to my friend's house. Since it was dark even at 7pm we just immediately freshen up and packed our things for our early morning flight back to Amsterdam.


The next morning we woke up and headed straight to the airport. But the security check was hectic in the morning, better be prepared to be there earlier to avoid any mishap. I ran to the gate to ensure that we are not barred from boarding the flight. Also to ask them to wait for wifey and Eusoff as wifey had to walk slower since Eusoff was sleeping. We managed and fly off to Amsterdam.


Officially Switzerland was the second country that Eusoff has visited. Unofficially we also made that 1 hour trip to France just to buy some groceries (Voltaire and Geneva shared borders). It was interesting experience. How to travel with babies. Before this i always heard lots of comments of how difficult it is to travel with babies but in our case it was a smooth experience. I enjoyed it tremendously. Now i already started thinking of where am i going to bring Eusoff for our next travel. Eventhough Eusoff won't have any recollection of all these trip, i will one day tell him a story of Rayyan Eusoff goes Switzerland.

T.Y.S
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