Wednesday, 30 September 2009

My First Tremor

I felt my first tremor today.

It was just after 6.00pm and I was in the office looking at a clip on YouTube. Suddenly I felt the chair swaying. Then I felt dizzy and I thought I was falling sick due to the amount of gorging I did earlier in the day at an opening ceremony.

After a few seconds I could not take it any longer and asked my colleague if he felt the ground moving.

"The ground IS shaking," another colleague confirmed. It was then that I realised I had felt my first tremor after the numerous times that Peninsular Malaysia has felt tremors before and I didn't feel a thing.

The fire alarm did not ring nor any announcement made. Since it was already after working hours, we shut down the computer, grabbed our bags and headed downstairs. Whilst some of us went down 24 floors on foot, I took the lift.

When I reached the lobby, many were already gathered in front of the building and spilling out onto busy Jalan Sultan Ismail. Those in other highrise buildings surrounding my office also started coming down and assemblying outside.

One of my colleagues who had left for home text me that Indonesia was hit by an earthquake that measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. With a magnitude like that, no wonder we felt the tremors! But my heart went out to those who perished in the earthquake.

At about 6.50pm the building maintenance fellas announced that it was safe to return to the offices. And some of the workoholics went back to work.

Since traffic was like crazy, I headed to Aloha to chill out before heading back to my apartment, which by the way, is on the 17th Floor.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Stonehenge In Half A Day

When I was planning my trip to London, I wanted to visit Stonehenge after all that I've heard and read about it. So I informed Nat and he booked a half-day tour to Stonehenge for two from London.

On tour day the weather was bright and sunny - perfect for a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site!

We left the flat late that morning and took the 149 bus to Monument station where we hopped onto the tube and got down at the Victoria station. Then we walked to the Grosvenor Hotel on Buckingham Palace Road which was the pick-up point for the tour.

The bus left the hotel at 1.45pm and the 2.5-hour drive to Stonehenge felt like forever.

It was approximately 4.00pm when we arrived at the site and there were many people there already.

Looks like we were not the only ones interested in stones.

At the entrance to the site guides and officials were handing out brochures and audio guides to visitors.

These audio guides are extremely important if you want to learn more about Stonehenge, and it is included in the ticket price. But you must return them before you leave.

And if you're thinking of keeping them as souvenirs, think carefully as these audio guides have inbuilt alarms that will make you look so guilty the moment you cross the barrier out of the site.

After collecting our brochure and audio guide, we walked into a tunnel. When we came out at the other end Stonehenge emerged in the distance

and I was excited to see it. But somehow it didn't invoke the same awe and wonder like when I saw the Pyramids in Egypt for the first time a couple of years ago.

The stones were cordoned off and nobody was allowed near it.

I can imagine if tourists were allowed to touch the stones. Many would be climbing onto them for photo opportunities and some would even scribble their names on the stones - "Julie was here" ...

However this did not deter a couple from having their wedding photos taken there.

This couple can proudly show their kids in the future that mum and dad used Stonehenge as the backdrop for their wedding photos. Cool!

Nat and I walked around the stone formation while stopping at certain markers to listen to the audio guide and to read the brochure that provided a detailed explanation about Stonehenge. We only had one hour till 5.00pm before the tour bus makes its way back to London.

As you can see from the picture below, Stonehenge is situated in the Salisbury plains which is practically in the middle of nowhere.

Turn 360 degrees and you'll see miles and miles of flatland wherever you turn. Because there were no tall buildings around, it was very windy and my hair was flying all over my face. The sun was also scorching and I was glad I had shades to shield my eyes from the afternoon sun.

Soon we completed the entire circle and it was also time to head back to the bus.

Although this prehistoric monument is Britain's greatest national icon and is probably one of the most recognisable icons in the world, somehow it didn't stir feelings of awe and wonder in me as how I anticipated.

After all the hype about Stonehenge, it lives up to its description as just a formation of stones and nothing else impressive.

But nevertheless I can say that I've seen Stonehenge in real life and I can now tick it on my "Been There, Done That" list.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

My Bags Are Packed

So my bags are packed but I'm NOT ready to travel 10,549 kilometres to the other side of the world for some R&R.

Reason is because I was so busy the past few weeks completing writing assignments that I didn't have time to do enough research on the places I plan to visit.

Ever since I got bitten by the travel bug, doing research before travel has been part of my travel experience. I feel more ready if I had done enough preparation before I board the plane. Well ... anyway I can still research during the 12-hour flight.

I'll most probably update this blog when I get back after the Raya hols. Will share with you what I saw, smelt and tasted over there :-)

And to all my friends everywhere,

Selamat Hari Raya Aildilfitri & Happy Holidays

Friday, 4 September 2009

California Fitness is Now Celebrity Fitness - Fitness Club Cease Operations in Malaysia

I found out something yesterday - California Fitness in Lot 10 has changed management to Celebrity Fitness. And I think members are upset with the new management. That's why they have been searching on the internet and that explains why I had many hits on my blog entry which you can read here.

I went home and logged onto the Celebrity Fitness website and found out that the club has acquired all 3 California Fitness clubs located in Lot 10, Mid Valley Megamall and Sunway Pyramid.

So what's happening here? My guess is that California Fitness is not making money in Malaysia so they've decided to ditch it's business here. This means there won't be anymore California Fitness club in Malaysia at all.

And since Celebrity Fitness is looking at expanding its gym network in Malaysia, this is an opportune time and a win-win situation (didn't we hear this phrase to death?) for both parties.

Bernama also carried the news which might give a better understanding of what's happening.

Personally, I have no preference for any club. Most important for me is that the club needs to have good facilities that are well maintained.

And luckily Amber Chia's contract as Brand Ambassador of Celebrity Fitness expired last year. Otherwise we would be seeing more of her.

I know Amber Chia is an aclaimed fashion model and all, but as Brand Ambassador? Give me a break. Have you seen Ms Chia in person? She looks like a bag of bones. The bones on her chest are so visible that looking at her makes me want to have 10 meals of banana leaf rice in a row.

When Ms Chia was Brand Ambassador of Celebrity Fitness, the message that she sent out is that you must be super thin and waif-like in order to be healthy and active. I think this represents a poor image of a healthy lifestyle.

Thank goodness Celebrity Fitness didn't renew her contract, but they were dumb-dumbs to sign her up in the first place.

On the other hand, look who California Fitness chose as their partner in Malaysia - none other than my favourite action hero, Jackie Chan.

I think Mr Chan makes a positive Brand Ambassador for California Fitness because of the action movies and kung fu that he does.

He is indirectly telling people to lead a healthy lifestyle of proper diet and exercise. And I think that is what a positive Brand Ambassador for a fitness club should be 'shouting'.

In fact, California Fitness has partnered with international athletes like Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O' Neal and Yao Ming "to create signature clubs that advocate fitness and help reach the company's mission of making fitness a way of life for everyone," as what is written in the club's website.

It's a pity California Fitness has ceased to make it's presence felt in Malaysia. A fitness club that partners with international athletes to make fitness a way of life for everyone is better than a fitness club that signed up a fashion model as its brand ambassador.
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