Everybody is in a festive mood as work winds down during the Christmas season. With the bounty of year-end bonuses plus the long stretch of holidays, your customers could be in the right frame of mind to spend.
It has been quite some time since my wife and I travelled across the Causeway to Peninsula Malaysia, and we recently decided to embark on a day trip to Johor Bahru. To heighten the novelty of the sojourn, we decided to take a train from the Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station and to experience what its like to chug along the old railway line before the station is decommissioned and shifted to Woodlands.
Having trekked along the Bukit Timah Railway on foot, we were curious to feel what its like to be seated in the passenger carriages. It was also an invaluable opportunity to travel along a nostalgic, scenic and heritage rich route winding through the central core of our island. Yes, I must admit that we are quite “sua ku” (mountain tortoise) in this respect as our usual modes of transportation abroad are either by air, by car or by boat.
As some of you may know, my family and I went on a one week tour of Taiwan (labelled Taiwan Feast Indulgence), and we certainly had a wonderfully hedonistic time together. Our vacation from 3rd to 10th December covered Taipei, Neiwan, Taichung, Nantou, Kaohsiung, Taitung and Hualien. It was an especially meaningful and fortuitous trip for me as this was the second time I visited the island – my first visit was in 1983 or 1984 back when I was a bored teenager.
Bali has always held special meaning to me and my wife. It was on this tropical island that we had our honeymoon way back in January 2003. Back then, I was so inspired by the holiday experience and customer encounters that I wrote an article that was published in the Straits Times on the legendary hospitality of Balinese.
Sadly things have changed, even at Ubud (Bali’s cultural heart) which is supposedly less mercantilist than Kuta, Uluwatu or the coastal cities. While its verdant and pastoral landscapes have largely remained, the ugly effects of commercialisation and gentrification have left major scars on the island.
To recharge, refresh, and relax, my family and I are heading off to Ubud this afternoon for a short break. Considered one of the more scenic and rustic spots in Bali, Ubud is the cultural centre of the island dotted with numerous art galleries, craft markets, museums and temples. From what I’ve seen and read, the Ubud region is full of picturesque scenes – rustic rice terraces, swaying coconut palms, charming temples, and healing resorts.
Of course, we will also be travelling to other parts of the island like Kuta Beach, Tanalok, and the Mara River (we’ll be staying a night at the Mara River Safari Lodge to experience lions upclose and personal). Hopefully, we’ll be able to catch a procession or two – those are quite spectacular from what I’ve seen and heard.
Do take care during the interim and see you all next week!
On the final leg of our trip to Wilsons Prom (and beyond), we drove from the Mount Baw Baw ranges to the Thomson Dam, which is located just a short distance away from the alpine region. While the view of the dam was pretty awesome in terms of its sheer size, it was also a sad reminder of how severely dehydrated Australia is. The water levels were so low that the dam, which has a capacity of 1,068,000 megalitres, was only 16.7% full (178,783 megalitres).
A view of the Thomson River showing how far water levels have dropped over the years.
On the morning of our third day at Wilsons Prom, we checked out of our comfortable cabin and drove to the Taralgon area (in the La Trobe valley) enroute to the alpine regions. The idea behind this was to see if we can experience the different environments of the lovely Gippsland area of Victoria – from the pristine forests and sandy beaches of Wilsons Prom, rolling hills of pastures and farmlands, to the snow-capped summits of Mount Baw Baw and the alpine regions. With a height of 1,567 metres, Mount Baw Baw is just 120 km east of Melbourne, making it the nearest skiing region to the capital city of Victoria.
Our first stop at Taralgon, where we got down for some rest, food and even retail therapy!
After a monumental hike across the width of Wilsons Prom spanning almost 20 km and 6 hours of hard walking, we decided to up the ante – literally and figuratively – by climbing up the 558 metre tall Mount Oberon to catch the sunset. Fortunately, the trek up and down the mountain (or hill?) is broad and well-paved as it caters to vehicular traffic. As we were keen to catch the sunset that day, we wasted almost no time in tackling the relatively shorter 3.4 km route after a short rest at the Oberon Car Park.
Our vertical ascend began at the foot of Mount Oberon, with a sign showing the only path up and down.
On the second morning of our trip to Wilsons Promontory, we made two pretty long hikes covering a total combined distance of almost 27 km in a day. The first, which I would label as a “Journey to the East” as it brought us from the Western side of Wilsons Prom to the East, was monumental in many ways. It not only brought us through winding passages covering a multitude of forested and rocky terrains, but showed us the awesome beauty of God’s green Earth, enhanced by the endorphins elicited through endurance exercise! While this post will try to capture the essence of our extended walk, nothing beats experiencing the real thing.
Put on your hiking boots, fill up your water bottles, and go!
The first part of our journey was a fairly easy saunter through open bushlands like this.