Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 - Not many travels but lotsa learning

At the end of each year, I go through my customary look back at the year.

I travelled to only 2 places in 2016. But there were many learning opportunities throughout the year to improve my career prospects, health and just for the sake of pursuing passion. Here goes:


Travelled to Nepal (again!). Was supposed to do Everest Base Camp but was unsuccessful because we couldn't fly into Lukla where the trek begins. You can read all about it here.

View of Kathmandu city from the rooftop of Hotel Yambu.


Travelled to Kuching, Sarawak for the first time. Went there to participate in the Kuching Marathon.

Also took the opportunity to visit some interesting sights in Kuching and gluttoned all the way with Kuching food.


Took part in 2 fun runs: Kuching Marathon and Score Run.

Finishers medal.

I also registered for the Precious Ladies & Men's Possible Run on 12 December 2016 but didn't go because it was raining that morning.

Will be doing my first 10km on 8 January 2017 at the MPI Generali Run. Keeping fingers crossed that I'll be able to complete the race within 1 hour 15 minutes which is the time limit I've set for myself.


Enrolled for the Chartered Bankers course offered by the Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers. 

I completed my first module, Marketing and Selling in Financial Services on 20 November 2016.

I've got 2 more papers to sit in April 2017 before I move on to the final level, i.e. Chartered Bankers level.

This is how the study text look like.


Started taking up tai chi and completed learning the 37 steps, Cheng Man Cheng style on 19 October 2016.

Attended push hands technique workshop on 21 October 2016 at Cova Square in Kota Damansara. The workshop turned out to be a self defence class instead of push hands which was a disappointment. What a bloody waste of RM399.00.


Completed a Basic Nail Course where I learned to give a manicure, pedicure and buffing amongst other things.

Somehow I've developed an interest in making nails look pretty and healthy. I still need to work on my nail polish application though, to make it look flawless.

My manicure/pedicure kit which is included in the fees. 


Added 4 Hard Rock Cafe bottle openers to my collection, i.e. Amsterdam, Helsinki, Pattaya and Yokohama.

I could have added Lisbon, Macau and Munich to the collection, but was on a cost discipline exercise. Hard Rock Cafe bottle openers don't come cheap, you know ...


Started embracing a minimalist lifestyle because we actually don't need much to live. Having less stuff also means more space to free my flat and mind. Cleaning my flat is also so much easier with less stuff lying around.

I started this minimalist lifestyle by slowly decluttering my stuff using the Konmari method. It's a slow process but I'm getting there.


Happy New Year 2017 everyone !

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Updates in the Langtang region after the earthquake (as of September 2016)

In September 2016 when we went to Nepal and couldn't do Everest Base Camp because of bad weather, we diverted our trekking endeavours to the Langtang region instead.

The Langtang region was one of the most affected in the 25 April 2015 earthquake that crippled the trekking industry in Nepal. Langtang was officially closed to trekkers after the earthquake and reopened in April 2016, one year after the disaster.

Here are some updates about Langtang (as of September 2016):

1) Landslides and rockfalls haven't been cleared yet

Here's a photo of a landslide that have not been cleared yet:

Some village were flattened by the earthquake and villagers just rebuilt their homes next to the landslide, like this:

2) Trekking was dangerous

Because of the uncleared landslide and rocks, there were loose stones and sand in many parts of the trek which made it difficult and dangerous. The cold, wet and miserable weather didn't help either.

There was one part of the trek where we had to cross a rockfall of loose stones and sand on a mountain's ledge. The path was on a 45% gradient and was so narrow that we could only place one foot in front of the other. If the stones and sand had given way, I would have tumbled into the raging waters below and be swept away.

Our guide Sujan was holding onto me while Ram our potter took my trekking pole and widened the path for me to step on. Here's a photo of a similar path (obviously I couldn't take a photo of the real path because I was holding onto Sujan for dear life!):

The Langtang trek was by far the most dangerous trek compared to my previous treks to Poon Hill (October 2012) and Annapurna Base Camp (May 2014).

It was unfortunate that we trekked Langtang at the end of September 2016 because it was just after the monsoon season and still raining on most days. With the rain came the blood sucking leeches constantly trying to lodge itself onto our clothes and skin. Each time we reached a pitstop, I asked Sujan and the others to help check whether there were any leeches on me. All in I got bitten 4 times.

Because of the cold, wet and miserable weather, the paths were muddy, slippery and difficult to trek.

The views were also blocked by clouds and mist most of the time.

Worst is that our clothes could not dry and we had to carry damp clothing in our knapsack.

After almost a week in such conditions, I decided to breakaway from my 2 fellow trekkers and head back to civilisation to a small town called Dhunche while the rest continued their trek to Gokyo Ri.

The main road that runs through Dhunche.

Thankfully the weather in Dunche was sunnier and I didn't feel so miserable. I could dry my clothes at the top of my guesthouse while admiring a view like this:

3) Limited facilities

Facilities like guesthouses are located far and wide. This affected our timing, especially for lunch. You see, if there are numerous guesthouses along the trek, we could stop at whichever guesthouse when it was lunch time.

Since the guesthouses in Langtang were scattered sporadically, there were times when we had to have lunch earlier around 11.30am because we would reach the next guesthouse at about 2.00pm only. Sometimes there were no guesthouses at all and we had to stay hungry till 2.00pm. Luckily we had biscuits, chocolates and snacks to give us energy till the late lunch.

Despite the limited number of guesthouses, some of the guesthouses were newly built after the earthquake. So we had the privilege of enjoying brand new facilities like this guesthouse here:
Summit Guesthouse in Thangshyap (

4) Less trekkers

There were not many trekkers around when we were there. This could be because of the limited facilities and also because it was not the height of the trekking season. In fact we were practically the only ones in most of the guesthouses.

According to our guide, most trekkers prefer the Annapurna and Everest region which were not largely affected by the earthquake. Like what I told my fellow trekkers, Everest and Annapurna are 'brands' of the mountaineering world. And peope always want to be associated with big brands.

If you tell people that you trekked in the Langtang region in Nepal, their response would most probably be, "Where?" You will definitely not get such a response if you mention Everest.

5) The locals are still recovering from lost of loved ones

The locals plant flags in the spot where their loved ones perished in the earthquake:

During our 2-nights stay at Panorama Guesthouse in Kyangjin Gompa ...

... I saw this collage of earthquake victims located in the common area:

The staff at the guesthouse told us that these victims were family members of the guesthouse owner.

In the evening, the guesthouse owner's old father would come to the guesthouse to ring a bell:

He was like in a trance each time he rang the bell and I could not help staring at him. He must be pining for the lost of his loved ones. Imagine being left all alone after losing your family members in the earthquake. After ringing the bell for a good 10 minutes or so, he would tuck into dinner prepared by the staff there.

The locals were not the only ones who lost loved ones in the earthquake. Take a look at this plate on one of the rocks in Kyangjin Gompa:

In conclusion

Nepal being a nation that relies heavily on its trekking industry to fuel its economy will definitely get back on their feet again after the earthquake.

We all need to give them a chance and visit them irrespective of whether you're a trekker or not. There other things to do in Nepal apart from trekking like visiting the Chitwan National Park to spot the one-horn rhino. Just remember not to visit Nepal during the monsoon season (June - August) or in September because you'll be acquainted with lotsa leeches.

This sentence at the back of our bus from Dhunche to Kathmandu captures the resilience and determination of the Nepalese people:

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro - Absolute Battery Power

I don't usually blog about the stuff I use in my travels because I'm not paid to do so. But I'm going to make an exeption this time because I'm really impressed with the Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro especially its battery power.

During my recent trip to Nepal, this phone with the mother of all battery power (5,000 mAh capacity) lasted 9 days in the Langtang region without having to recharge. Incredible isn't it?

How I did it?

First of all, I switched the phone to flight mode at all times. In case you may not know, in flight mode all apps and whatnot in the phone are shut down and this saves alot of power. There was no coverage or Wifi in the mountains, so we didn't need to use any of our apps. However in flight mode I still could take loads of photos, especially since this mother of all phones has a 32GB internal memory and a 16MP camera.

Secondly, I switched off the phone at night and kept it close to my body to help preserve its power. Batteries die faster in cold conditions, you know.

My other 2 travel companions with lesser mortal phones were always on the lookout for powerpoints at every pitstop in the trek to charge their phones. And in the mountains, powerpoints can sometimes be difficult to find. For me, I didn't have to go through all that hassle because I had the mother of all phones.

My New Pursuit - Chartered Bankers Course

I recently enrolled for the Chartered Bankers course offered by the Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers (AICB).

The course has 3 levels, i.e. Executive Banker (EB), Professional Banker (PB) and Chartered Banker (CB). Candidates must pass 3 modules (subjects) in each level to move on to the next.

While studying for my first EB module, Risk in Financial Services, AICB announced the accelerated route entry and I was lucky to get 'promoted' to PB level and skipped EB completely. I was overjoyed because having to pay for this course myself, being able to skip 3 EB papers means money saved!

On 20 November 2016 I sat for my first PB paper, Marketing & Selling in Financial Services. It's been more than 10 years since I sat for a proper exam. However the whole process of preparing for an exam came back clearly to me - from mugging non-stop 1 week before the exam, getting my 2B pencils sharpened and last minute note browsing just before entering the exam hall. I even used the same pencil case that I used when I was in Form 6 and college!

Now that my first PB paper is completed, I plan to register for 2 more papers, i.e. Customer Relationship Management and Business Lending for the next exam in April 2017. If I pull through I'll move on to CB level. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Glorious Food in Nepal

People have asked me before about the type of food available in Nepal, and especially on long treks in the remote mountains.

In this post I'll share with you photos of food in Nepal that I've had the experience of tasting during my three trips to that country.


The most common dish in Nepal is the dhal bhat:

This is dhal bhat with chicken curry that I ate in the mountains.

Dhal bhat served on heavy bronze cutlery in a fancy restaurant in Kathmandu.

The dhal bhat consist of steamed rice, lentil soup, vegetables and papad. You can also order chicken curry to go with it.

The local people eat dhal bhat for brunch, lunch and throughout the day. I daresay that the dhal bhat can be considered as the national dish of Nepal, if there's such a title.

The guides and porters in the mountain eat dhal bhat for ALL their meals. They claim that dhal bhat gives them energy to trek for hours on end. There's even a poem that goes like this:

Dhal bhat power, 
No sleep, no shower

Apart from the dhal bhat, there're also other rice dishes like this simple meal of steamed rice and vegetable curry:

There's no fresh meat in the mountains, so I requested for a fried egg instead.

Fried rice is also another rice dish which is widely available:

Ate this mixed fried rice in the Langtang region. I love that they sprinkled cheese all over it.

(2) MOMO

The second food that I would like to introduce to you is the momo:

Momo skins are like the skin of Chinese dumplings. However momos can have various fillings like chicken, vegetable, cheese or even a combination of all. Momos are served with a dip which is usually tomato based.

During my recent trip to Nepal I had momos in soup for the first time:

Momos in tomato based soup.


Third item on the list is thukpa:

Thukpa is a Tibetan noodle soup.

Not many people would know what a thukpa is when hearing it for the first time. Even I didn't know what it was but got acquainted with it soon after my first trip to Nepal in 2012. 


During my recent trip to Nepal, the Tibetan bread that I had in the Langtang region was flat and round like a chapati. It was different from the Tibetan bread found in the Annapurna region where it's puffed out like this:

Tibetan bread found in the Annapurna region is shaped like a colon (couldn't think of any other way to describe it) and puffed out.

Our guide, Sujan explained that Tibetan bread is prepared differently in different parts of Nepal which explains its different shapes.

(5) SOUP

If you would like to have a light meal, you can try the soup like this mushroom soup served with an omelette.

Sujan informed that ginger soup or tea is a good for attitude sickness and I drank it few times during the trek:

I told myself that I must finish reading Kiss the Girls during this recent 2 week trip to Nepal. Indeed, I finished reading the book and left it at Hotel Yambu for other travellers.


According to Wikipedia, the Newar people are historical inhabitants of Kathmandu. Here are some Newari food:

Nobita wanted to try catamari (top left) which looks like a pizza. Raj ended up ordering another 3 items for the three of us which you can see in the photo. 


Pasta is also widely available:

I had this mixed pasta for breakfast during my stay in Dhunche.

And here's a collage of food that we ate in one of the restaurants in Kathmandu:
Clockwise from top left: Momo in tomato soup, chowmein (yes you read it right, they call it chowmein too like in Cantonese), briyani and briyani with papad.

Just to give you an idea of the choices of food (and prices) available at the teahouses in Nepal, here's the menu at one of the guesthouse in Thulo Shrapu:

All prices are in Nepali Rupee and as at September 2016.

So that's my pictoral introduction of food in Nepal. I hope you enjoyed looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed eating the food :-)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Why We Couldn't Do Everest Base Camp

Our first attempt to do Everest Base Camp (EBC) was unsuccessful - all because we couldn't fly into Lukla which is the starting point of the trek.

Here's a recap of what happened:

We flew Malindo Air from Kuala Lumpur and landed in Kathmandu on 16 September 2016 at around 9.30pm.

We stayed at the pleasant and cosy Hotel Yambu during our stay in Kathmandu.

The next morning (17 September 2016) we met up with Raj the owner of the tour agency and paid him the package fees for the entire EBC trek which covers accommodation, meals, return flights to Lukla, guide, porter, etc. In our conversation with him, he mentioned that the weather has not been good. However he confidently assured us that we will be able to fly to Lukla the next day.

With this assurance, we spent the rest of the day shopping for gear and clothing in Thamel. I managed to buy a nice stretchy trekking pants for NPR2,000.

There're various shops in Thamel selling all sorts of trekking gear and souvenirs too.

On the morning of 18 September 2016, we woke up to grey and gloomy skies. And then the heavens opened and it rained heavily. My heart sank - I knew we won't be able to make it. True enough, we didn't even need to go to the Tribhuvan International Airport (where flights to Lukla depart) as Raj just need to call up Lukla Airport to see whether it's opened.

In case you're wondering why the pilots are so poorly skilled that they can't land a plane at Lukla Airport in a little rain, let me share with you the reason. You see, Lukla Airport (also known as the Tenzing-Hillary Airport) is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains. According to Wikipedia, its runway is only 527m long! The History Channel, in a 2010 programme titled Most Extreme Airports, had rated Lukla Airport as THE most dangerous airport in the world!

Whenever it rains, the weather gets misty and foggy which makes it difficult for the pilot to fly the plane to Lukla, let alone land it at the airport. So to avoid hitting a mountain or something, they will just close the airport and cancel all flights in bad weather.

Raj was still hopeful that the weather will improve and that the Lukla Airport will reopen. So he told us to be on standby till 12 noon. Apparently flights to Lukla even go till 4pm if the weather improves. Kathmandu may be bright and sunny but if Lukla is misty and foggy, it's still a no go. So we kept our fingers crossed.

By 12 noon there was still no sign of Lukla Airport reopening and I was already losing hope.
After lunch Raj broke the bad news to us - that Lukla Airport will be closed for the whole day. He also informed us that he was unable to get tickets for us the following day, i.e. 19 September 2016. Apparently Lukla Airport was closed the entire week before we arrived in Kathmandu. So imagine the backlog of travellers who would have been waiting for their flight to Lukla.

Raj was able to get tickets for us on 20 September 2016. However there's still no assurance that the weather would be good on that day. Moreover flying out on 20 September would mean that we would have lost our 2 buffer days for acclamatisation in Namche Bazaar and Lobuche, which is relatively a big risk.

At that point we decided that instead of working with moving dates and with so many uncertainties, we decided it's best to let EBC go and do another trek instead.

Alas, all the training, planning and money invested in the past 2 years aiming for EBC have become wasted effort.

Honestly, if I had been travelling alone, I would have asked for a refund from Raj and return home to Kuala Lumpur earlier.


1) Because this was already my third time in Nepal (was here in 2012 and 2014) and I had already seen the majestic mountains that Nepal has to offer (eventually all mountains will begin to look the same, just like temples and churches); and

2) Because my main aim of going to Nepal in 2016 was to do EBC and nothing else. So since we couldn't fly to Lukla, might as well cut my loses and save the money to do EBC at another time, or save the money for another trip. I didn't want to spend money to do another trek just because I was already in Nepal.

But alas, there were 3 of us - one loves trekking and was really enthusiastic to do another trek despite being her third time in Nepal too. The other person was his first time in Nepal. I couldn't abandon them, it had to be a group decision and the group decided to trek to the Langtang region instead, which we did.

Will I attempt to do EBC again?

Well, the dream has been buried temporarily. If I decide to do EBC again, I'll attempt to do it via Tibet to eliminate the risk of not getting into Lukla Airport. And also because I've never been to Tibet.

In my next posts, I'll share with you how to time and plan your EBC trek. Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Turtle Sanctuary or Turtle Torture at Glory Beach Resort?

I was at Glory Beach Resort in Port Dickson last weekend with my family.

What turned out to be a weekend getaway to celebrate my brother's birthday turned out to be a stressful experience with turtles. 

You see ... Glory Beach Resort boasts of having a turtle sanctuary and conducting turtle conservation activities. 

The resort claims to have release close to 8,000 hatchlings into the sea since conservation initiatives began at the resort around 8 years ago.

Here are some photos of Glory Beach Resort's communication on its turtle conservation activities:

Main display in the lobby informing guests about the feeding time at 11.00am daily and the 8.00pm evening talk held every Saturday and on public holidays.

Buletin board with turtle news. 

 More information.

Glory Beach Resort has a nice beach where turtles come to lay their eggs. When the eggs are hatched, the resort keep the hatchlings in the Turtle Hut until the little critters are older before letting them go into the ocean.

Hatchlings in the Turtle Hut.

This is the water tank which houses 5 adult turtles: 

Saltwater from the ocean is pumped into the water tank. The resort said they'll release few of the turtles into the ocean soon because they're now older and able to fend for themselves. Moreover the tank is not big enough for 5 adult turtles.

Since wildlife always amazes me, I took the opportunity to attend the 8.00pm talk that Saturday evening. 

I must say that the speakers did a relatively good job in creating awareness amongst the guests on turtle conservation. Here are few points from the talk:

a) There were initially 30 different species of sea turtles on planet earth. However there are only 7 species left. 
b) Out of the 7 species, 4 species come to Malaysian beaches to lay their eggs. The 4 species are green, hawksbill, leatherback and olive ridley.
c) We must not throw rubbish (especially plastic bags) around because it'll end up in the ocean and cause death to turtles that consume the plastic bag. 

The speakers also had a box where guests can put in their contribution which will go towards turtle conservation efforts at the resort. The speaker told us that the resort buys turtle eggs (RM2.50 each) from the market so that they can hatch them to be released into the ocean. Donors who contributed minimum RM10 received a key chain each.

After the talk, the speakers said they were going to show hatchlings and turtles for educational purposes. 

What happened next, I didn't expect at all:

I thought they were going to just show hatchlings to the guests. To my horror, they distributed 5 hatchlings for guests to touch and hold.  

I'm no turtle expert, but I do know that turtles (especially its hatchlings) are delicate and need special attention. They are certainly not to be handed around to be touched and manhandled. 

When I asked the lady speaker whether it's ok for the hatchlings to be treated like that, she said it's ok for educational purposes.

Next they brought out one of the turtles from the water tank:

Can you see all the hands touching the poor animal? After the spectacle, they washed the turtle with fresh water before placing it back into the saltwater tank.

Due to popular demand there was another talk on Sunday morning before the 11.00am feeding time. Again they brought out one of the turtles for show and tell:

Must be damn cool to and ego boosting to take photos with wildlife, post it on social media and receive many Likes.

Feeding time. Would have been bitter sweet justice for the turtles if someone got bitten. 

If this turtle could talk, he would have said, "Fu*k off you dumb humans and leave me alone!".

Seeing all these makes me wonder whether Glory Beach Resort's turtle conservation efforts are monitored by the authorities. The speakers claim that they are working in collaboration with the authorities and WWF. 

When I checked, they only had a Certificate of Appreciation from the Fisheries Department of Malaysia displayed in the lobby: 

Doesn't mean anything. 

Don't get me wrong here. 

I commend any turtle conservation efforts including that of Glory Beach Resort. After all, everyone of us has a role to play in giving these beautiful creatures a chance to survive in this harsh and dangerous world.

However I disagree with the way these turtles are treated at the resort.  

If the resort wishes to show and tell, they could just show the hatchlings to the guests, not hand them around to be exposed to so many dangers. What if one of the guests (especially children) accidentally drop the hatchling and stepped on it? Accidents do happen, you know.

As for the adult turtles in the water tank, the resort could just let the guests into the tank area to look at the turtles but don't allow any touching. Placing the animal on the table for everyone to see and touch will cause distress to the poor animal. 

Now that you've read my story and seen the photos, what do you think about the whole incident?

Note: You may read more about sea turtles at the WWF website here.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Uber

I started using Uber only last month. It was a 2km drive from Bandar Baru Ampang to the Ampang LRT station, and the driver was called Adrianne.

Since that day, I had started using Uber almost everyday to work until early last week when Uber fares went up 2.4 times! Before the fare hike, Uber rates were more economical compared to taking the taxi. Now it's even more expensive!

Anyways, here are advantages and disadvantages of using Uber, based on my experience:


Driver looks for the passenger - The Uber driver comes looking for the passenger, which is convenient especially in locations with hardly any taxis. In the case of taxis, the passenger has to look for the taxi and this is inconvenient especially in locations where there're hardly any around.

Convenient payment method - Payment for the fare is billed straight to my credit card which saves me the hassle of having to look for small change. It's convenient and I like it.

Uber has announced last month that they have started accepting cash payment. By introducing more flexible payment methods more passenges are able to use Uber especially those who don't have a credit card.


Unfamiliar routes - Most Uber drivers I've rode with use Waze to navigate their way. They're unfamiliar with the route because they're not full time drivers. The problem arises when Waze sometimes lead us through a longer route which not only causes the fare to go up, but is a bloody waste of time especially when I'm late for an appointment. If I'm familiar with a particular route, I'll usually give the directions so that the driver don't need to use Waze.

Most taxi drivers don't use Waze because they know the roads like the back of their hand, including back lanes, fastest route to get to a destination, how to avoid routes with heavy traffic, etc. This is an advantage compared to Uber drivers. In fact, I've learned many shortcuts, 'jalan tikus', etc. from taxi drivers.

Availability of taxis (in certain locations) - In locations where there're many taxis, using taxis may be the better option, because waiting for the Uber driver may take up to 10 minutes especially during peak hours. You may think that 10 minutes is not long, but it is, especially in the morning when I need to get to the office before 8.45am.

Unable to detect my location - Despite numerous times I've used Uber to travel from my condo to the office, Uber still can't detect my exact location, i.e. the name of my condo cannot be found in Uber. And I'm not talking about some condo in a forsaken place - my condo is in a prime location in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. So each time a driver is assigned to me, either one of us will have to call or text the other party to confirm my exact location. Calls and text messages = costs, no?

No insurance coverage - Passengers are unable to make an insurance claim if they get involved in an accident while on a Uber ride. Didn't know about this until a colleague pointed it out. But personally, not having insurance coverage does not bother me much.

Having listed down the advantages and disadvantages of using Uber, I'm still using taxis after the Uber price hike last week.

Will I go back to using Uber? Answer: Only if the fare is more economical compared to taxis, because at the end of the day, I will select the option that gives me the most savings.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

For Rent - Merdeka Villa Apartment in Bandar Baru Ampang


Please email me at if you're interested to rent. Thank you.

  • 930 sq ft
  • 2 + 1 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms with water heater
  • Master bedroom comes with:
    • Built-in wardrobe (floor to ceiling with anti jump system)
    • Newly upholstered queen sized divan with mattress 
    • Air-con
    • Attached bathroom with brand new water heater
  • Partially furnished
  • Comes with 1 covered car park
  • Gated and guarded
  • Near to amenities: 7-Eleven, 99 Minimarket, Spectrum, Giant, wet market, schools, banks, food court, shops, etc.
  • Ampang LRT station is just a 5-minute drive away.
  • Available immediately

Living room

Master bedroom

Master bedroom comes with a built-in wardrobe

Attached bathroom in master bedroom

Second room

Third room


  Second bathroom

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