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The last time I went diving was October 2013 in Maldives, a full 2.5 years passed since I breathed underwater, until last week, when we revisited Tenggol Island. The very island I got my diving certificate more than ten years ago, and also the island I dived the most. How time flies.

Tenggol Coral Beach Resort
Tenggol Coral Beach Resort

The east coast highway is now completed, heading to Dungun took us only 4 hours (excluding the detour to Bentong for breakfast), we left KL at 6 in the morning and got there in time for the 11 am boat transfer to the island. It was also an easier drive than previously when you had to navigate through the old coastal road that can sometimes be congested with big & slow lorries.

As a consequence then, the island is now being visited more than ever, and perhaps lost a bit of its mystic of almost being a deserted island that we used to love.

KY, Haze, Rich, San San at Pulau Tenggol
KY, Haze, Rich, San San at Pulau Tenggol

Anyway, we paid about RM 1.5k each for a twin sharing room with all meals included, boat transfer from Dungun, and 7 boat dives. Slightly more expensive than earlier deals, but it was fair considering the upgrades of the facilities & meals. Will get to that later.

Anyway, I want to document my dive log here as per my usual practice.

Day 1
Dive 1
Site: Coral Garden
20/5/16 3:18 pm, 55 mins, 21.7 meter, 30 Celsius, 124 bar of air
Bumphead, 2 types of nudi, black shrimp on cushion starfish, coral fish

Dive 2
Site: Tanjung Gemuk, evening dive
20/5/16 5:58 pm, 57 mins, 19.4 meter, 31 Celsius, 117 bar of air
Nemo, huge morel eel, trumpet fish, rock hopper wrasse, huge nudi, lovely coral garden
Fish eagle with fish or sea snake captured. Nice slow drifting current

Day 2
Dive 1 – Tokong Laut
21/5/16 9:27 am, 48 mins, 26.6 meter, 29 Celsius, 118 bar of air
Lots of boulders, some swim through which is always one of my favorites.

Dive 2 – Tokong Timur
21/5/16 11:43 am, 60 mins, 20.8 meter, 29 Celsius, 134 bar of air
The other group saw whale shark at other dive site. We didn’t but was a reasonably nice dive too. Warm water of 29-30c too. Rainbow runner, school of fish.

Dive 3 – Turtle Point
21/5/16 3:38 pm, 61 mins, 16.3 meter, 31 Celsius, 113 bar of air
Trying to hunt for whale shark, didn’t find any
Lots of goby with shrimp pairing. Some pvc artificial habitat for the fishes.
Always love the black damsel among corals.

Day 3
Dive 1 – Thai Wreck
22/5/16 9:18 am, 49 mins, 30.2 meter, 28 Celsius, 130 bar of air
Lovely atmospheric dive, took a few pics around the wreck. Deepest dive so far.
Again plenty of goby with shrimp at Sandy bottom.

Dive 2 – Amazing Grace
22/5/16 11:37 am, 61 mins, 18.6 meter, 30 Celsius, 120 bar of air
Last dive of the trip. Also one of the loveliest.
Saw 2 turtles, maybe could have been the same one. Trigger fish. Also saw 3 blue spotted rays.
Big giant garupa. Played with Nemo, catch and release style. Saw jewel garupa too.

Thai Wreck, one of my favorite dives
Thai Wreck, one of my favorite dives

A thing to note for myself is that I have to start checking my equipment at least a couple weeks prior to the trip. I only did so a night prior to this trip and discovered 2 optical cables & my macro lens were missing. The lens lent to a friend but the cables .. well, I may need new cables.

Additionally, we discovered that Haze’s dive computer ran out of battery, with mine being quite low in power as well. We also should have tested the BCD in the swimming pool, cos that would have avoided me discovering that a plastic part had failed right before I was about to go into water for my first dive.

Lessons learned.

food at the resort in Tenggol has since tremendous improvement
food at the resort in Tenggol has since tremendous improvement

One of the best things that happened to having more visitors to Tenggol, at least at Tenggol Coral Beach resort that we went, is that now they serve proper food!

In previous years, you basically “eat to dive” and there were very little enjoyment to be had from those barely edible meals. Now they actually offer fairly decent buffet spread that wouldn’t be out of place in a 2-star hotel in the city.

there was even steamboat dinner on our last night
there was even steamboat dinner on our last night

In fact, on the last night they even prepared steamboat dinner with a hot pot on every table, complete with names of the group all assigned properly.

There’s also now a mini market of sort that you can purchase additional drinks (aka alcohol, soda etc) or snacks to be charged to the room. All in all it is now a much hospitable set up than before, and with 24 hour stable electricity supply & hot water as well. We were pleasantly surprised by this.

our dive guide - Jess
our dive guide – Jess

I have a feeling I would see Tenggol again in future trips, the diving was pretty decent, getting there is now easier than ever, makes for a perfect long weekend getaway.

 

After 2.5 years of not breathing underwater, and over a decade since I first got my license at Tenggol island, this is the 4th time back to one of my favorite islands.

image

Tenggol here we come! Can’t wait.

After spending a good day at Skytrex, I started to research a little on the fun adventure stuff we can do for reasonable amount of money right here in Malaysia. As I was pondering what to do with Haze on her birthday weekends, I recalled seeing a picture of whitewater rafting on one of my whatsapp groups.

A few clicks on the web browser later, I booked ourselves a half-day trip of whitewater rafting at Nomad Adventure in Gopeng, Perak.

Nomad Adventure Earth Camp at Gopeng, Perak
Nomad Adventure Earth Camp at Gopeng, Perak

Nomad Adventure offers quite a few different recreational activities, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, caving, rock climbing, abseiling, and more.

We chose whitewater rafting as it only needs a minimum of 2 pax, and half a day’s rafting with commute time to Gopeng will take almost a day anyway, which fits into our schedule.

we got our safety gears, then a lorry ride to upstream
we got our safety gears, then a lorry ride to upstream

We showed up at Nomad Adventure’s Earth Camp at Gopeng at about 8:30 in the morning after paying for our trip a couple days prior via bank transfer. The camp is ony some 10 minutes or so from the highway exit, which is easy enough to find.

We were then introduced to our guides and got kitted up with safety equipments, which includes a helmet and flotation device.

After that it was a some 30 minutes truck ride with our rafts to upstream. We drove passed several villages and chalets, a bit of a scenic drive I’d say.

white water rafting!
white water rafting!

Before getting on the raft, we were being briefed by our guide on the do’s & don’ts, which also includes a practise session on what to do and how to get rescued should you get thrown out of the raft.

After which was rafting time!

A raft houses 3-6, which includes a guide. Our raft was just Haze, myself, and a very helpful guide, and our “team” had three rafts watching out for each other.

It was a load of fun, part workout, part adventure, and fully immersed in the beautiful pristine jungle. The whole journey took about 1.5-2 hours, including a stopover at a halfway point where we had a little bit of picnic (an apple each).

The adventure was over just a little after midday, and it was definitely something that I would do again, but this time around maybe wait for rainy season at Cameron Highlands so that the rapids will be even more intense!

map to Nomad Adventure Earth Camp at Gopeng, Perak

Address:
Nomad Adventure Earth Camp
Jalan Hussin, Gopeng, Perak
GPS: 4.430745, 101.181127

I’ve been to Taman Botani in Shah Alam several times, mostly for cycling. The huge park located at Shah Alam offers many kilometers of roads that is closed from traffic for cycling, jogging, and has a host of other nature driven attractions like mini zoo, paddy field, and even a 4-season house.

The most exciting activity at this place though, has got to be Skytrex Adventure.

three adventures to choose from at Skytrex
three adventures to choose from at Skytrex

Several weeks ago when the kids came over during school holidays, we decided to bring them for a little bit of good old fashion obstacle challenge/adventure.

The challenge is split into 3 categories:

  • little adventure
  • big thrill
  • extreme challenge

registration and "training"
registration and “training”

The little adventure has a maximum height of 5m and comes with 23 challenges, big thrill with 17 m highest platform and 26 challenges, while the ultimate extreme challenge goes even higher – at 22m and with 34 individual challenges.

They cost RM 35, 45, and 55 each, you can go as a group, a couple, or even just individual, I believe.

yep, it gets pretty high on top of the forest
yep, it gets pretty high on top of the forest

Since we were all newbies who only has a little bit of ego, we chose Big Thrill. Now 17 meter may not sound very tall, but once you get on the highest platform and start to look down, it does get pretty scary.

After all, 17 meter is equivalent to about 5 story high.

hang on to dear life!
hang on to dear life!

To start off, we were fitted with the safety harness, you’re also encouraged to bring your own gloves as the activity does require protection of your palms.

We then proceeded to the training ground and was taught how to use the equipment properly. There are two carabineer/clicky thingy and they are designed to have one hanged onto the cable at all time, you literally cannot detach yourself from the safety cable throughout the whole challenge.

The obstacles include climbing vertical ladders, flying fox, hopping through planks way high on the tree line, and more. It was very exciting and also physically exhausting.

we completed it!
we completed it!

There are instructors in many of the stations coordinating and helping you, and if you feel that you can’t complete due to fear/exhaustion or whatever reasons, there are also exit points to get off the challenge.

If you’re looking for a few hours of thrill in the greens and being able to do it safely, check this place out. After all, it’s only half an hour’s drive from KL.

I’m quite sure we’ll be back for the Extreme Challenge next time.

map to Taman Pertanian, Shah Alam

Address:
Skytrex Adventure
Taman Pertanian
Jalan Liku 8/1, Seksyen 8,
40000 Shah Alam, Selangor
GPS: 3.095400, 101.511013
Tel013-276 9841

Earlier this month on the 1st of September 2015, Malaysian Airlines officially welcomed the start of its new company Malaysia Airlines Berhad. As with many of you, my first ever flying experience was with our national carrier, with what has happened in the past 18 months or so, I personally felt that this is a significant step to the right direction for the company to once again proudly graze the Malaysian skyline.

Flying with Malaysia Airlines Berhad on the first day of business
Flying with Malaysia Airlines Berhad on the first day of business

Together with a few other writers, I was invited to take a short day trip with the new MAB to Penang.

To be honest, last I flew back to Penang was almost two decades ago when I took a flight (and was upgraded to business class, my first business class experience!) back to my hometown, down with dengue.

To commemorate the occasion, the customers on this particular flight was given a cute little pilot bear.

Malaysian Airlines Berhad CEO Christoph Mueller on Sept 1st, 2015
Malaysian Airlines Berhad CEO Christoph Mueller on Sept 1st, 2015

The CEO of Malaysian Airlines Berhad, Christoph Mueller, was on location to make sure everything runs smoothly, and to salute the aircraft before we take off, it was a proper sent off, albeit only to a location 45 mins away.

breakfast at 1977 kopitiam, Paya Terubong, Penang
breakfast at 1997 kopitiam, Paya Terubong, Penang

Upon touch down in the Pearl of the Orient, we first took care of the most important business – breakfast!

We headed to Paya Terubong and jumped right into 1997 kopitiam. The restaurant is named after the year in which it was established. To be fair, I’ve never been here (as I left Penang in 1996 for college).

The loh mee I ordered turned out to be more than satisfying, I particularly love the super spicy sambal. and of course the availability of those soft & smooth pork skin didn’t hurt at all. The char kuih teow we shared was pretty decent, and kuih teow soup received positive remarks too. It was a pretty good start of the day.

heading up to Penang Hill
heading up to Penang Hill

After breakfast, we went up to the highest peak of the island – Penang Hill.

There are two ways to head up to the hill – by the new & improved cable car from Ayer Itam, or use the Number 11 bus (your 2 legs) and walk your way up from the road next to Botanical Garden. Of course, we chose the easy way up.

Not to be outdone by Paris’ love locks, Penang Hill has our very own section of the same thing too, I found it pretty cute. If you didn’t bring your own locks, they’ve got a stall manned with traders who are quite eager to sell you a few models of locks, rather enterprising.

the old cannon's still there, but the cable car is now much faster
the old cannon’s still there, but the cable car is now much faster

I walked up to the highest peak and made sure to take a photo next to the cannon, reminiscing a similar picture taken at the same spot when I went up there with classmates at the age of 10 or so, time flies man.

Oh, make sure you take the lowest car on the way down, the faster speed makes for quite a pretty thrilling ride, I love it.

the famous Ayer Itam asam laksa
the famous Ayer Itam asam laksa

After Penang Hill, it was time for lunch, and since we were already at Ayer Itam, the famous laksa right next to the morning market made for an obvious choice.

I’ve had this laksa from when it was sold for RM 1 per bowl, and glad to say that it still tastes the same as it was from decades ago. Check out this old blog post of the place from almost 10 years back.

Fort Cornwallis, where Sir Francis Light first stepped foot on Penang
Fort Cornwallis, where Sir Francis Light first stepped foot on Penang

Fort Cornwallis was our next destination. This was the place where Sir Francis Light, the founder of modern Penang first set up camp on the island. The historical site isn’t overly interesting to be perfectly honest, but if you’re hungry (unfortunately we weren’t), the mee sotong at the adjacent food court is excellent.

Rumah Peranakan, I've never been to this place even though I'm from Penang
Peranakan Mansion, I’ve never been to this place even though I’m from Penang

We then moved to Peranakan Mansion, a typical mansion for affluent Baba & Nyonya from a century ago. This mansion was super impressive and definitely worth every sen of the entrance fee. There are over 1000 pieces of antique & collectibles on display. I am quite embarrassed to be a Penangite who only stepped foot in this building for the first time.

If you go to Penang, be sure to pay a visit to this place.

Masjid India, the oldest mosque in Penang, and the nasi kandar next to it
Masjid India, the oldest mosque in Penang, and the nasi kandar next to it

Continuing the tour of Georgetown, our Muslim tour-mates took the opportunity to pray at the oldest mosque on the island – Masjid India.

As for the rest of us, it was an excuse for nasi kandar. I had nasi tomato from the Nasi Kandar Masjid stall (next to the famous Nasi Kandar Beratur which opens only at night). As with most nasi kandar in Penang, the curry was thick and flavorful, but it didn’t have as much umph as I had wanted, I guess I expected just a bit more.

Penang road cendol and rojak
Penang road cendol and rojak

For tea break, we headed to Penang road to have some cendol. There are two stalls operating across the road from each other, and to be honest, they both tasted as good as each other. Some may argue that one is “definitely better”, but I can’t tell.

Oh, the rojak is pretty good as well.

a visit to Chew Jetty before we head back to KL
a visit to Chew Jetty before we head back to KL

Chew Jetty was our last destination before heading back to the airport. The famous residential jetty now has about half the houses converted to make-shirt shops of sort. In a way it was perhaps slightly less charming? I don’t really know what to make up of it.

My grandparents stay very close to one of these jetties at Weld Quay, so as a kid I used to roam around the different jetties with no shoes, carelessly side stepping open nails and barely secured planks. There was definitely a sense of nostalgia.

Oh, by the way, I also tapao 10 packs of laksa back to KL, and happy to report that airport security did not think it was a bad idea. 😀

Best of luck, Malaysian Airlines!

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