A Travellerspoint blog

Home sweet home

We landed into Gold Coast about 25 minutes late despite leaving KL only about 10 minutes late. Perhaps we tried to avoid some turbulence. The transit was done in the one hour timeframe except we lost a passenger. While we were retrieving and offloading her luggage, she turned up. Poor little old lady; bless her.

The door closed immediately behind her and we set off to Auckland [Auckland-travel-guide-1139106] an hour late. We landed equally late but fortunately the queues at Auckland weren't too bad. Still, it was a remote gate which required a bus ride.

This marks the end of another adventure in the Malay Archipelago!

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Homeward bound via JB & KL


View 2017 Natuna & Thaipusam in Singapore on alexchan's travel map.

I finished my last mango this morning, opting to peel it like a banana. It was juicy and I had to eat it over the sink. Muesli followed later after I packed my stuff away for the last leg home.

Checkout was 1100 so I went down at 1045 and walked across the river to the Queen St bus station for the bus to JB Sentral. The queue was long but it moved swiftly as a bus came in and took on a large chunk of the crowd. I got on the second bus and was on my way in about 15 mins.

We were dropped at the border after a 30 min drive. Singapore formalities and the queue for reboarding took a further 30 minutes before we made a slow drive across the causeway. Inside the Malaysian CIQ complex, the queue for foreigners were long whereas us locals had only a short queue for the autogates.

I exited at 1240 at JB, a little less than 2h after leaving the hotel. The next bus to Johor’s Senai Airport was at 1300 which would get me there at 1340. That would mean a travel time (Queen St bus station to Senai Airport) of 2h40 compared to my previous 2h when there were absolutely no queues. I’d say it wasn’t too bad considering the post-CNY and weekend crowd.

As I had lot of time on my hands I decided to take the 1400 bus and dragged my luggage along the walkway around JB Sentral and to a couple of malls across the road in search of Johor Laksa (a fish-based laksa). It was in vain; even the places that normally sell them didn’t have it at that time.

Arriving at the airport, I had just over 3h before departure and took my time to retrieve a change of clothing so I could have a fresh change after a shower at KLIA2. Even for international flights to New Zealand, the kiosk check-in worked complete with passport scan (without throwing up a name mismatch with a Malaysian passport that’s always experienced in New Zealand). Bagdrop wasn’t automatic as they wanted to put a transfer tag on it.

My hopes for a Johor Laksa in the Plaza Premium Lounge was dashed as I found the place closed since April 2016. I spent my time quite comfortably outside paying for a Coke Zero and later a very delicious cafe latte before boarding.

The aircraft came in late by 25 mins (due to a delay from its previous sector from Langkawi to KL). We got away 30 mins late. The so-called 50 mins flight included about 15 mins of ground time. As soon as we finished climb, we began our descent into KL. The Malindo Air flight which left a few minutes beforehand was visible in the distance lined up to land on the other runway. It was like a slow-motion race as we came into land together and we probably touched down within a second of each other.

With my transit time reduced to 3h30 due to the delay, I managed to grab 2h in the lounge. That was adequate for a drink, a meal and a shower. I wanted to go through security a little less than 1h30 prior to departure in case of queues, and be in the gate lounge about 1h prior in case there were issues.

I was asked at the gate if I had my return ticket out of New Zealand. I knew I didn’t one having a resident visa (electronically rather than a label). I queried asking if the APP had gone through as “OK to Board” or “OK to Board with Onward Ticket” but wasn’t given a proper answer. It was just easier to show them my ticket from my next trip and make them happy.

The nearly full flight to Gold Coast left 10 mins late. I was meant to have been in a full throw of three people, being the meat in the sandwich. Both on either side had been split from their party which included an infant. The lady in the window seat managed to get a better option and moved away allowing me some extra room.

I took a sleeping pill after take off which helped me get 5h dozing until the second meal service 2h30 prior to landing. I wasn’t hungry so it was just sitting up and doing stuff.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Thaipusam on the Eve


View 2017 Natuna & Thaipusam in Singapore on alexchan's travel map.

large_5550_14868177155111.jpgKavadi close up. Apparently there are 108 spiers.
I walked out to Serangoon Road nearby after breakfast hoping that the Thaipusam procession would be underway and sure enough it was. Devotees witih various forms of kavdis dribbled through. It wasn’t a continuous stream. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Since I couldn’t get any antihistamine cream and my sandfly bites were in bad shape, I thought I’d go get some antihistamine tablets to complement the creams that I was already using. I walked against the flow of the devotees to speed up my encounters.

Afterwards I took a taxi to see my aunt and give her some stuff from Mum. Lunch with aunt, cooked by her maid Pat, was good as usual. I took a taxi to near the Sri Thendayuthapani Templeon Tank Road which was the end point of the procession where the kavadis would be offered to Lord Murugan.large_5550_1486817720160.jpgKavadi close up. Apparently there are 108 spiers.

There were lots of barriers meaning that I had to walk a fair bit to get to an opening where I could get close to the devotees and walk alongside them to the temple. This was the only place where there was a queue of devotees.
Unlike at KL’s Batu Caves I followed through into the temple; in KL the crowd was so bad I felt that I would be intruding but it wasn’t the case here.

All-in-all, the Singapore experience was a bit tamer and wasn’t an assault on the senses at all (not for me anyway). This is Singapore after all and there are rules, eg. there was a ban on music for 42 years which was only lifted in 2015 and even now, music is only allowed at fixed points. Having said that, I did notice a little bit of litter which is unlike Singapore at all.

I did wonder why the procession all the way to the temple was held today as it was only Thaipusam eve. The procession had finished late night on the Eve whereas in KL, there was still plenty going on on the actual day of Thaipusam.

My cousin’s son Darryl (Ah Hai) dropped in to see me in the hotel around 2200. I hadn’t seen him for about 40 years! We had a nice little catch up but not for too long.

With Thaipusam all out of the way a day early, I had tomorrow all free for lazing!

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Back to Singapore for Thaipusam


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large_5550_14868018449283.jpgLittle India on the night before Thaipusam eve. I understand the lights are leftover from Deepavali or Pongal.
I chose to take the 1130 ferry to Singapore as it meant I could leave close to my hotel checkout time and get to Singapore around the checkin time (with an hour time difference).

After my breakfast of muesli, papaya and milk, Anton picked me up at 1015 and dropped me at Harbour Bay a short distance away. I changed my spare rupiah to ringgit as I didn’t need any more Sing dollars.

It was a short wait before boarding the ferry. Just before the doors closed, a large group of Indians with big luggage scrambled on. They were ship crew all flying back to India from Changi tonight.

As we approached Sentosa, a Singapore Police Coast Guard (yes, the Coast Guard is part of the Police) pulled up and commanded our large ferry to stop. A couple of cops boarded and took a walkaround.large_5550_14868018547194.jpgLittle India on the night before Thaipusam eve. Devotees carrying the Paal Kudam (pots of milk) to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road.I’m not sure what they were looking for or what they could have found out but I guess it is the usual Singapore deterrence.

It was a very slow chug in the waters close to Singapore and we arrived about 20 minutes late. I took lunch at the ferry terminal before joining the long but fast-moving taxi queue outside to Hotel 81 Dickson.

I headed through Little India [Little-India-travel-guide-1326097] to explore the area in preparation for Thaipusam and went to a mall to get some antihistamine cream for my ghastly bites but it was in vain (no cream only tablet in Singapore I was told).

As a horrendous downpour set in and appeared to linger, I had dinner of Nasi Lemak in the mall. It was formerly from Adam Road and claimed to be the best in Singapore, Johor and maybe even Batam. Pretty meh compared to what I have in Malaysia or New Zealand!

I managed to make it back dry eventually and picked up some pale long mangoes (my favourite type) at three for SGD10. Pretty pricey; not sure if I got cheated. I just can’t believe that this country does not have laws on having to display price unlike in Malaysia.

Around 2200 I walked out to Serangoon Road near my hotel to see the start of Thaipusam. Like in KL, it was the pall kudam bearers (pots of milk) usually on their head. I went to bed looking forward to seeing Thaipusam again in the morning.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Back to Batam


View 2017 Natuna & Thaipusam in Singapore on alexchan's travel map.

With a mid-morning departure from Natuna back to Batam [Batam-travel-guide-1313415] I neither had plenty of time nor had to rush. I had a breakfast of soto next door before being taken to the airport by Yuli. It wasn’t a long drive but speed was restricted in the military area.

Check-in was slow in the tiny room that wasn’t really an airport terminal. I got to the counter shortly after the aircraft arrived. The system had conked out halfway so I had a handwritten boarding pass and a manual bagtag.
Meng and Bey had turned up to say goodbye which was sweet. I boarded shortly after for the flight back to Batam. While scheduled for 1h25 it took 1h45 today (per the announcement and also actual). So even though we left on time, we arrived late.

I had Whatsapped Anton the taxi driver to pick me up. At the Mercure/Merury Hotel, I was assigned an unrefurbished room. It was very worn and felt like a completely different hotel from my experience a few days ago. But it was only for the night and it meant I got in before official check-in time.

I took an angkot to Nagoya Hill for lunch and bought some fruit and spend some rupiahs before staying indoors to catch up after days without decent internet. I headed back to the same mall again for dinner using the hotel shuttle and treated myself to dessert at Es Teler. I tried their Es Teler and it was expensive and disappointing. There were small bits of nangka (or cempedak), avocado and coconut.

Going to bed, I noticed my sandfly bites from Natuna were getting very prominent, pointy and itchy. Time for some antihistamine cream when I get to Singapore to complement the anti-itch and hydrocortisone I had been rubbing on.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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