Thursday, 2 April 2020

Life in a time of COVID-19

The Movement Control Order (MCO) has been in effect since 18 March 2020 and will go on till 14 April 2020.

The aim of the MCO is for people to stay home and to practise social distancing. We're also told to wash our hands frequently using soap and water and to use hand sanitisers.

During this time only essential businesses are allowed to operate. Supermarkets and convenient stores can only operate between 8.00am - 8.00pm. However only the head of the family is allowed to go get groceries. Customers are not allowed to dine-in at eateries but take-away and food delivery are allowed. Public transportation such as MRT and e-hailing services have limited operating hours.

The Malaysian Government is very strict on this and many who have flouted the law have been arrested. Yesterday 24 seminarians from College General were arrested for playing football in the college field. They pleaded guilty and were sentenced to three hours of community service on weekdays for three months.

The World Health Organisation has said today that they expect Malaysia's COVID-19 cases to peak in mid-April. So there's a possibility that the MCO may be extended. I tell you ... if that happens, there'll be more people suffering from psychological problems compared to coronavirus.

'Work from Home'

I've been 'working from home' since 23 March 2020 after the Central Bank of Malaysia asked all banks to reduce their staff working in the office to 50%. The thing is ... my bank does not provide laptops for staff due to security issue. Therefore I can only 'work from home' via phone calls and WhatsApp messages. I feel helpless at times but there's no other way. 

More Time

Now that I have alot of time on my hands, I'm maximising it by doing all the things that I didn't have time to do before, e.g. catching up on my reading, blogging (already completed 2 blog posts in a week!), Netflix (finished Season 1 of Mindhunter), etc. It would be a shame if I didn't accomplish anything by the time the MCO ends on 14 April 2020. 


On weekdays I've established a daily routine like waking up the same time as on a typical day to the office. I need to report to my Head of Department every morning via WhatsApp about my health condition, i.e. whether I'm having a fever, whether I'm not feeling well, etc.

After showering and taking my breakfast I'll read the news and do some writing or fiddle around on social media.

Since the laundromat is closed during the MCO, I now have to hand wash my clothing which I do twice a week. Thank heavens that the usage of clothing is minimal when one is staying home. And thank heavens for dry-fit t-shirts which dries quickly. 


I go out to get groceries about once a week and I wear a face mask each time I go out. 

I'm blessed to be living right smack in the middle of the city where there're many supermarkets and convenient stores within walking distance from my flat. 

I'm careful whenever I go out as there have been reports of people getting robbed on their way back from grocery shopping. People are getting desparate these days and some are resorting to robbery and thef.

When I went to get groceries during the initial stages of MCO, I bumped into three youth dressed in black jacket and black jeans in one of the lanes. Their menacing way of walking told me they were up to no good and I quickly walked away as fast as I could. 

During the early stages of the MCO, I had ordered vegan burgers and sausages online and that has lasted me till now. Today I ordered salad in support of local businesses. I made sure I ordered two salads to maximise the delivery charges.

Influx of Nonsensical Information and Fake News

Now with the MCO is in full force and many of us are staying home, people use their free time to forward anything they receive via WhatsApp without verifying the info first. Most of the time the info turns out to be nonsensical information or fake news. I've muted many chat groups and individuals because there's just too much of these being sent around.

What irritates me most is when two people in the same chat group sends the same shit one after the other to the same chat group. Clearly shows that people don't read their messages.

Chartered Banker Examination

My Chartered Banker examination which was scheduled at the end of March 2020 has been postponed to July 2020. 

Part of me was rejoicing when AICB called to inform that my exam had been postponed. When it finally sank in, the other half of me was loathing the thought of having to sit for two papers in July. Well, I'll just have to wing it.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

5 Things to See on Suomenlinna

(This is a throwback post to September 2018)

Suomenlinna is a bastion fortress situated on the islands off the coast of Helsinki in Finland.

Its irregular shape and unique history in serving the defence of three sovereign entities, i.e. Sweden, Russia and Finland makes it a top tourist attraction in Finland.

Contruction of Suomenlinna first began in the mid-18th Century when Finland was still part of Sweden.

The fortress was inducted as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991 for its unique military architecture of its era.

If you get a chance to visit Suomenlinna, you'll need to visit these five attractions:

1) Suomenlinna Church

The Suomenlinna Church was built as a Russian Orthodox garrison church in 1854. As Finland took cotrol of the island in the 1920s, it was converted into a Lutheran place of worship. A lighthouse, serving both air and sea traffic still operates in the steeple.

2) Great Courtyard

Designed by the fortress' founder Augustin Ehrensvard, the Great Courtyad was completed in the 1760s and served as the main square. It was badly damaged in the Crimean War in 1855. The square contains an impressive memorial to Augustin Ehrensvard, the architect of the Suomenlinna fortress.

3) Dry Dock

Suomenlinna's dry dock is one of Europe's oldest operational dry docks. In the 1760s, ships for the Swedish naval fleet were built here, under the supervision of naval architect, F.H. af Chapman. Nowadays the dry dock is used for renovating old sailing boats.

Here's more info about the Dry Dock:

4) Kustaanmiekka

Kustaanmiekka is home to Suomenlinna's original bastion and a late 19th Century Russian defence line, complete with sand enbankments and artillery points. The Kustaanmiekka bastion area provides stunning seascapes all the way to the mainland.

5) King's Gate

The monumental King's Gate is the iconic symbol of Suomenlinna. It was built between 1753 and 1754 as a ceremonial gateway to the fortress. The gate was built on the site where a ship carrying the fortress' founder, King Adolf Frederick of Sweden, was anchored while he inspected the construction of the fortress.

Getting to Suomenlinna

The most convenient way to get to Suomenlinna is to take the ferry operated by the Helsinki Region Transport Authority (HSL). The ferry departs from the Market Square (Kauppatori in Finnish) in Helsinki:

The Presidential Palace (right side of pic) overlooks the Kauppatori. Operators set up stalls at the harbour selling local food and handicraft.

This is the HSL ferry:

A return ticket (adult) from the ticket machine costs 5.00 Euro:

I opted to use the HSL app to purchase tickets using credit card. It's convenient and you don't have to deal with small change which can be a hassle at times. The app is really useful and I recommend you use it if you're visiting Helsinki.

When I was in Helsinki in September 2018, a one-way ticket to Suomenlinna was 2.20 Euro. After checking the current price for this post, I discovered that the price has increased to 2.80 Euro.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Ljubljana to Bled by Bus

(All information is correct as at October 2019)

Lake Bled is a lake located in the northwest of Slovenia. Due to its location in the Julian Alps of the Upper Carniolan region, Lake Bled boasts of serene landscapes making it a popular tourist destination in Slovenia. 

I visited Lake Bled on a day trip from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia by taking the public bus, and I'll show you how to do it.

Buses to Bled depart from Ljubljana Bus Station: 

There's only one bus station in Ljubljana. So all buses (interstate and inter country) come and go from this station.

Here's the counter to purchase bus tickets:

A return ticket (adult) from Ljubljana to Bled is 12.84 Euro:

Buses leave every 30 min during peak hours, 7 days a week. Not sure though whether they operate during major holidays like Christmas and New Year. Best is to check with the station if you're travelling during those times.

After purchasing your ticket, go to Platform 7 where buses to Bled departs:

The bus left the station 1 minute before departure time, so it's good to arrive early at the bus station.

The distance between Ljubljana and Bled is approximately 55km, and the bus ride to Bled took approximately 50 minutes. 

The last stop on the ride is at the Bled Bus Station:

There were not many people around when I reached the station as it was autumn. I reckon the place would be busier in the summer.

Here's the timetable for buses from Bled Bus Station to Ljubljana Bus Station:

The return journey took approximately 1.5 hours as the bus made many stops at small towns along the way back to Ljubljana.

Bled Bus Station is located approximately 400 metres from Lake Bled.

Here's a map of Bled Centre by the Bled Tourist Office:

This map which I snapped at the Bled Bus Station gives you an idea of where the bus station is in relation to Lake Bled.

It was untimely that when I visited Lake Bled the weather was gloomy and cloudy with intermittent drizzles. That explains why my pics in this entry is rather drab, because lighting was bad.

Lake Bled is surrounded by a walkway where visitors could walk the entire 6km circumference of it. 

In the middle of Lake Bled is Bled Island which which houses the Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja church (dedicated to the Assumpton of the Virgin Mary):

A trip to Lake Bled would not be complete without taking mirror pics of it.

During my walk around the lake I saw the locals taking pics and lazing around:

One of the best part about visiting Europe in the fall is that the foliage is usually golden in colour which I love so much:

At the hostel in Ljubljana, a fellow traveller told me that he visited Lake Bled just the day before. 

The weather was bright and sunny and he followed a few locals climb to the top of a hill overlooking Lake Bled. He showed me photos that he took from that hill and they were amazing. 

It was a pity I couldn't do the same walk as he did as I was travelling alone and didn't want to go on forlon forest tracks alone. So that's another excuse to visit Lake Bled again.

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