Thursday, February 28, 2008

The explosion within

It was a normal working day for me. In fact, I was going to meet up a dear friend for dinner after work, so I thought I wanted to go back and take a shower first. Even the traffic was kind to me that day, and I could reach home in a jiffy.

Once I turned the key to my room, I tried to push my door open, but it was stuck. I pushed it harder but to no avail. Then, with all my force, I PUSHED the door one big thug, and I could just barely let myself enter - Only to chance upon a terrifying sight.

My floors exploded! And it was a serious and huge crack, so much so that almost 60% of the floor in my room were cracked. And they had to swell up such that I could not even open my door fully.
Look at all the residues this explosion resulted in. They even landed on my desk and on my bed. I was so thankful that I wasn't in the room when it happened. Or it would have scared the hell out of me.

Crack crack crack... the sounds that were made when I was walking on the floor.
Major cracking in play... :(
Never really thought this could happen.

Lesson to learn: Always ensure that the floors do not produce hollow sound. Else, change to wooden panels for safety. Imagine what would have happened if I were in the room during the explosion? I might have suffered cuts.. and worse still, trauma.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I just want to pen down how I feel...

It started with a mild discomfort when I was trying to read a document. The vision was somehow distorted. It was not blurred. Just distorted. Like I was hallucinating, or disoriented. It was weird. But I knew what was coming up. It was a dangerous warning of a something bad ahead. It was all too familiar. Whatever I was seeing, the images seemed to lag a few seconds behind. It gradually grew worse to a mild headache.

The discomfort was irritating since I couldn't concentrate on my work. My head spun once in a while, but if I settled down and calmed myself, I felt slightly better. I wanted to stop the worse from happening, but I knew I had a slim chance.

Later, after 30 minutes, my head started throbbing. So much so I had to force myself to see the in-house doctor. Darn doctor didn't know what he was doing. I didn't care, I only wanted the MC to go back and rest. Luckily I got it. But wait, what did it say? Half day MC starting from 1pm. It was only 11.15am. How was I going to withstand it? The pain was growing exponentially and then, I felt nauseous. I rushed to the nearest toilet and puked and puked. Grossed me out.

I thought things would get better after relieving, but boy, was I wrong. I tried to concentrate on my work. 11.30am. I told myself I would leave at 12pm. 30 minutes wouldn't be so bad, right? No, another bout started to kick in and I had to rush to the toilet. Where in the world did I get all those liquid in my body? I didn't even eat much during breakfast. 11.45am. I told myself, this was it. I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to go home.

Home indeed. Needless to say, my first visit was to the washroom to do you-know-what. Argh... Why didn't the headache just go away? The stench was horrible. I then forced myself to sleep, but the pain was not unlike a tight ring clutching inwards on my skull. It was painful beyond words and I was desperate to fall asleep. To be numb. Thankfully I managed to go into slumber in the end, for a good 3 hours. Waking up after that, I felt much better but still a subtle aching feeling at the back of my head.

I forced some bread into my stomach since I did not eat anything since breakfast. Slept another 2 hours after that, and felt as good as new. Or that's what I thought. What the hell was that? Was it migraine? Was in something worse? Was it just a normal headache?

I checked the internet for migraine and it gave the similar symptoms that I experienced:
  • partial obstruction of the visual field - Check
  • feeling of heaviness - Check
  • sensitivities to light, movement - Check
  • nausea or vomiting - Check
Am I suffering from migraine? *gasp*

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A long post about "Bali in 3.5 days..."

After weeks of planning and excitement, I finally landed in Bali, safely. It was 8pm local time and the queue at the immigration counter was horrendously long and I had to wait 45 minutes for my turn, in the airport with only 1 queue for foreigners. And no air con. *sweat* Clearly, that was not the best way to feel welcomed, but I was patient. I knew the best was yet to come. And I was right!

Getting around the foreign airport was not difficult, since the size is very much smaller than our own KLIA. Upon reaching the entrance, I saw the hotel bellboy with Saucer's and my names on a banner, looking for us. The ride to the hotel took us approximately 15 minutes, but the warm and bubbly Budi kept us company. However, great company and excitement aside, I was famished! Budi recommended a famous seafood restaurant in Jimbaran, Bali, that provided free transport from the hotel, to us. Yes, please! Anything to cure me of my starvation!

We reached the recommended restaurant, called Ganesha, which was located just by the seaside. How fabulous!
Candle lightCandle light

It was already 9.45pm when our food finally arrived, and I thanked God for saving me from hunger. *LOL* Ganesha was not exactly cheap but the seafood was definitely fresh!
Ganesha menu

I especially loved the humongous grouper (2kg!) that was grilled deliciously. The fish was indeed too huge for only 2 persons, but it was the smallest available fish that night, since we went there late. We stuffed ourselves silly with the fleshy fish. I swear to you, there was indeed one point that I told myself I wouldn't want to eat fish for the next one month. But that vow only lasted me barely one day :P
Ganesha, Jimbaran - Grouper 2kg
2kg grouper
Ganesha, Jimbaran - Grouper 2kg
Look at how each piece of fish comes off as a slice! And oh by the way, the 2 kg fish only cost RM66. Isn't that cheap?

Another dish we ordered was the King prawns. In my humble opinion, this dish was rather costly and shouldn't have been ordered. The prawns were succulent all right, but very far from being 'king', if you know what I mean. The sizes were only slightly larger than the normal prawns that you would find in a plate of Char Kuey Teow, go figure.
King prawns
King prawns

The squids, however, were more delectable. They were also fresh and very chewy. And I've never tasted grilled squids before, so it was a rather new experience.
Ganesha, Jimbaran - squids
Grilled squids

The traditional Balinese sauces that came with the seafood:
Ganesha, Jimbaran - sauces

Complimentary Kangkung with any seafood dish ordered...

Fresh fruit juices that washed down food perfectly!
Fruit juices
Fresh fruit juices

Needless to say, that was indeed one satiating meal for me and I left Ganesha feeling contented. :)

The next morning, I took the free shuttle service from the hotel to the nearest town called Kuta. The sun was shining glaringly and the weather was extremely hot. However, that did not deter me from exploring Kuta with an umbrella! *grin* The streets of Kuta were regularly filled with peddlers approaching tourists with 'free' coupons or 'Scratch and Win cards'. The hotel driver warned us about this beforehand and told me not to be conned.

The town of Kuta was located just next to the sea. The beach was relatively deserted at my time of arrival, possibly due to the scorching heat. I know I wouldn't want to get burn under the sun. :P
The pictures of the following beach were taken just in front of the Discovery Shopping Mall in Kuta, also known as the central point of Kuta.
Kuta beachKuta beach
Kuta beachKuta beach

Discovery shopping mall Kuta
Witch @ Discovery Shopping Mall, Kuta

After admiring the beach for a good 15 minutes, I proceeded to explore the streets of Kuta instead. Coming from Malaysia is an advantage since I'm able to communicate with the locals using their mother tongue.

Busy streets of Kuta

According to the locals, there's a place called Joger in Kuta which housed many of Bali's T-shirts, souvenirs and handicrafts under one roof. The ambitious me managed to get there by WALKING under the HOT sun for 30 MINUTES. Impressive, huh?
Joger, Kuta
Joger entrance

Joger, Kuta
Joger, Kuta

Exterior of Joger

The selection of T-shirts in Joger was beyond words! In fact, there were so many that I did not know how to choose. I ended up not getting any because the queue was just too long at the cashier. I had another 1 hour or so to get back to Discovery, where my shuttle would pick me up by then.

Another 30 minutes of walk back to where I came from, and I was pretty much out of breath and sweating profusely. Then, I saw something which caught my eyes. Krispy Kreme doughnuts! Have I heard about its popular doughnuts ! I still had less than 30 minutes before my ride came, so I took the opportunity to pay dear Krispy a visit. *wink* After all, there's no Krispy Kreme in Malaysia, so the visit was a must for doughnut lovers!*salivating*

Krispy kreme

Krispy kreme
Oops, I ate one before remembering to snap this pic! -.-"

Oh and by the way, this visit to the Kuta town happened right on Valentine's day itself. :) Hence, the remaining of this day was already blogged earlier on this post.

Moving on to the next morning, I engaged a driver to take us around Bali. His name is Ketut, and I found out that in Bali, the locals' names are usually prefixed, according to their seniority in the family. Ketut signifies the 4th eldest sibling in the family, while Nyoman represents the third, Made represents the second eldest, and so on. Ketut was very punctual and appeared friendly.

We started with our first destination to Batu Bulan. This place is famous of its batik, songket, art and sandstones. Being a Malaysian, batik is not something new to me, hence our stop was just brief.
Batu bulan songketBatu bulan batik
Batu bulan batikBatu bulan batik

Songket and batik in the making

Batu bulan artBatu bulan art

The impressive collection of art

Next stop, we went to Ubud and visited one of the 'Pura Desa' or village temple. According to Ketut, there are many temples in Bali but most of them bear similar features. Therefore, I only chose to visit one which was along the way without having to travel far.
Temple in Ubud

Temple in UbudTemple in Ubud
Temple in UbudTemple in Ubud

Our next destination was a stop at the Ubud market. Well-known as a tourist spot, this market was filled to the brim with various arts, t-shirts, accessories, bags and every thing you could possibly think of, in one area.
Ubud market

Ubud market
Ubud market

Following that, we visited Mt Batur, which was a still-active volcano. Since it was located at a higher altitude, the air was cool and breezy, a very pleasant change from the hot weather in Ubud. Facing the magnificent view of a volcano with an equally breathtaking lake just brought shivers that embraced me to the bone. The power of nature, definitely unsurpassed.

Mt Batur
Mt Batur
Beautiful Mt Batur under the mist
Lake Batur
Lake Batur - a perfect accompaniment to Mt Batur

No visit to Bali would be complete without the visit to the famous terraced paddy fields. There are many locations that you can spot paddy fields but they are more prominent in the Ubud area.

Padi terraces (Ubud)
Terraced paddy fields

Aren't they amazing? :) This post has grown too long for good! I shall continue with the rest of the entry in another post. Stay tuned! :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Of good rooms and great views

Bali has been known to many as the place to go for peace, tranquility, relaxation and rejuvenation. However, one must be smart in choosing a suitable and nice hotel/resort to achieve all that. Choose a hotel in the middle of the busy city or at the road sides of sleazy stalls, and you would never want to return to Bali anymore. Therefore, I put in extra effort to search for the perfect hotel for my stay, nothing too pricey but not too cheap either. I took the fuss-free option of choosing via the AirAsia website so that I can book both the flight tickets and hotel stay in one package. After much scrolling and price comparison, I found the perfect spot in Nusa Dua, called the Swiss Belhotel Bay View. Many would say that Nusa Dua is a place for the rich and famous, and hence the hotels here would cost a premium. This hotel is rated 4 stars and by booking early, I managed to get the rate of approximately RM200 per night, with daily breakfast and free shuttle to the Kuta city.

Read through my post and you will agree with me that it was money well spent! :) Reached the Bali airport at night, welcomed by the sweet bell boy from the hotel, Budi. According to him, Swiss Belhotel is the highest hotel in Bali and thus provides a magnificent view.

At the lobby

The next morning, I took the opportunity to explore the hotel before going for the complimentary breakfast. It has two swimming pools, one at ground level and one at level 6, overlooking the magnificent Nusa Dua and the sea. The ground level pool is just gorgeous and huge!
Swiss Belhotel Bayview Nusa Dua pool
Hotel ground floor pool
Ground level pool
Hotel ground floor pool

I then proceeded to the restaurant called Sky Terrace, located at the 6th floor. This is very accurately named because once you're up at level 6, there is a beautiful view of Nusa Dua and it is possibly very close to the feeling of dining in the sky. :)
Sky Terrace
Sky Terrace

The decoration in Sky Terrace is very Balinese with all the Balinese wooden furniture and the arts screaming out loud.
Swiss Belhotel Bayview Nusa Dua Sky Terrace
Sky Terrace indoors

The buffet spread was nothing too splendid but it was the view and the surroundings that mattered the most, yes?
Sky Terrace breakfast
Sky Terrace Buffet breakfast spread

The breakfast I had was simple but sufficient. I especially loved the chicken porridge which was flavourful and smooth, if you know what I mean.

Sky Terrace breakfast Sky Terrace breakfast
Breakfast at Sky Terrace

Now here is the gem of the hotel... the swimming pool located just outside of Sky Terrace. If you swim to the far edge of the pool, you can actually have a breathtaking view from above! More so if you swim in the evening, there will be a brilliant night scene from no other than the pool. Isn't that so very romantic? :)

Sky Terrace pool
Amazing pool

Then one can opt to dine alfresco just next to the pool or dine indoors in Sky Terrace. Of course, during the day time when the sun is shining hot, I would definitely choose the indoors! *LOL*

Sky Terrace poolside Sky Terrace breakfast
Poolside dining or indoors?

Sky Terrace
The witch was here! ;)

Later in the evening, I went for a pampering session at the in-house spa, called Kawas Spa. The entrance to the spa itself already boasts of serenity. And true enough, I did find serenity from within!

Kawas Spa
Kawas Spa @ Swiss Belhotel Bay View

Apart from the magnificent surroundings of the hotel, the room itself must not be short of comfortable. The Deluxe suite that I booked is so huge, it makes me just want to stay in most of the time.
Deluxe suite living room
Spacious Living room

Deluxe suite dining room
Dining area

The bathroom area is clean and new, with rather contemporary design.

Deluxe suite bathroom Deluxe suite bathroom Deluxe suite bathroom

Finally, the bed is luxurious and cosy, definitely worth every penny.
Deluxe suite bedroom

The only drawback during my stay though, is that I was there during the rainy season where there were strong winds every night. Due to the presence of a door leading to the balcony from the bedroom, there's always a howling sound whenever a strong wind blew, which affected my slumber.

Still, with such a great view overlooking the sea, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, I really would not complain. ;)