Sunset at Bali

Spending Christmas at Soori Bali. Fantastic resort and couldn’t ask for more. 

Winter travels around WA

So the family and I decided that we should explore a bit of Western Australia in July and see how winter is like over there. I have to say the primary motivator seems to be the winter bit as it’s blistering hot over in Johor and Jakarta. Only having about a week’s holiday due to the Idul Fitri celebrations in Indonesia and not wanting to spend too much time copped up in a flying metal tube, Perth and Margaret River presented an easy choice.

Flight on Qantas was uneventful except for the rather distressing long queue for the toilet (problems with the single aisle aircraft). Temperature hovered between a minimum of 6ºC and maximum of 15ºC which was absolutely brilliant. QF71 arrived in Perth almost midnight and after being greeted by friends who have migrated there, we were taken to our first base in Perth, the Duxton Hotel. This was a familiar choice as I had stayed here previously when I was in town for a court hearing. It’s an older hotel but they’ve kept the room updated and the location is fantastic.

Started the next morning with an unhealthy but oh so rewarding big breakfast. The family had healthier selections though.

Explored King’s Park to walk off the heavy breakfast and to breathe in all that morning air.

After that it was off to Fremantle to walk the Freo Market, which only opens from Friday to Sunday. Definitely worth a visit just to enjoy the buzz.

What’s next after all that walking? That’s right…more food! Tucked into Freo’s seafood offering at Kailis Fish Market Cafe while watching sea gulls battle for leftover chips.


The next day we collected our rental Toyota Camry from Hertz in Perth to start our road trip down south to Margaret River. While the rental company did try to get us to pay for all sorts of extras, it wasn’t too bad (had read some really nasty comments by customers on the Hertz website itself). Did get suckered into paying for the benefit of not returning the car with a full tank of petrol and did make the return drive a wee bit more stressful as we were trying to return the car on empty to really squeeze value out of that benefit).

Driving in Western Australia is pretty relaxing and with Waze/Google Maps it was actually fun to look up interesting food/pit stops along the way. Broke the journey with a quick stopover at Bunbury and an overnight at Busselton. Stayed at Amaroo Motel which I think offers rather good value. The place is literally a highway motel with the most basic of accommodations. The room was clean and beds comfy and it’s walking distance to quite a number of restaurants so it was definitely a good and cheap choice.

Went to the main attraction in town which was the Busselton Jetty.


Busselton Jetty

Weather was amazing for a walk and certainly helped achieve the daily 10,000 steps goal.

The other amazing thing that we couldn’t miss was going to get a fresh loaf of bread from the Yallingup Woodfired Bakery which was located in the middle of this wooded village area that had loads of kangaroos hopping about and across roads (almost hit one that shot across the road). The experience of ripping into a fresh loaf right out of the oven and munching down the soft and dense bread is just out of this world. Lots of rosemary bushes around the bakery that can be picked and if you have the foresight of bringing along some olive oil … bliss.


Yallingup Woodfires Bakery

After that, there’s no better way to end the day by enjoying the sunset at the Canal Rocks.


Canal Rocks


Onwards to Margaret River next.

Weird weather

The weather in Jakarta had been awfully strange. Out of season storms do however bring respite to the hot, hot day.


View from the office

Commuting between Nusajaya and Singapore

For the entire month of November and probably the better part of December I join the ranks of tens of thousands of people who live in Johor but work in Singapore in the daily ritual crossing the Malaysian-Singapore border. This was something that I also went through last year while waiting for my Indonesian work permit to be sorted out.

The journey starts with a bus journey from Bukit Indah to the Malaysian immigration checkpoint where everyone will make a mad dash to be the first through immigration and thus be at the front of the queue for the bus across the bridge linking the two countries. This rush is necessary as one could end up standing in the bus in excess of an hour when the bridge is congested with vehicular traffic. Once at the Singapore checkpoint, it’s another mad dash across immigration and customs. This is where the casual traveller will look on in envy at those possessing the Singaporean eIAC pass which enables the use of the immigration auto gates whilst they are stuck in what could potentially be a very long queue at the manual counters. Once through, another mad dash ensues for the bus to bring the commuter to Jurong East where the journey continues on Singapore’s MRT trains.

While Japan’s subways are famous for how they have pushers to shove commuters into trains, Singapore’s MRT trains can get pretty claustrophobic during rush hour and it’s not uncommon to have to wait for 2 or 3 trains before being able to get on.


Morning rush hour on the MRT

The journey repeats itself backwards in the evening when it’s time to call it a day and head back home across the border.

It’s amazing what people can endure in the never ending quest to make a living and put food on the table. Much respect to these people and may their daily commute be uneventful and pleasant.

Chinese New Year

I thought it would be unbearable (again) to have to meet up with relatives for Chinese New Year after having skipped such reunions for the past 5 to 6 years on account of my relocation to Jakarta, Indonesia for work. Not only was the experience only mildly annoying (there will always be cousins that are overly competitive in life achievements and uncles/aunts that want to find out how much this/that costs or how much you are currently earning) but my daughter was introduced to a whole group of people she never knew existed before this, which was a good experience for her. I guess being the single child in the family gave her the impression that she’s all alone when it comes to relations and it was actually quite fun to see her face light up having found out that she’s got tons of cousins and uncles and aunts.

I never really enjoyed these reunions as a kid when parents would constantly compare their kid’s achievements to the point where everything became a competition. Oh the stress. Everyone’s mellowed out a lot now and I guess priorities change with age.

Some things however don’t change. Food is still abundant and gaining weight seems to be the order of the day.

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Got a haircut from a local Korean hairdresser when all the other places were doubling their prices to cash in on the rush to gets haircut before Chinese New Year.

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My fears of entering a restive region of China and being near the borders of Kazakhstan and Mongolia instantly vanished when I set sight on the amazing beauty of Urumqi.


Mine site in the morning


Getting ready for a group shot






Cotton fields




My chariot

Urumqi, China

Had the opportunity to visit Urumqi, the western frontier of China towards the end of last year as part of a work visit to the site of the magnesium and spring water mines that the bosses are acquiring. As an overseas Chinese that has never visited the motherland before, it was quite an eye opening experience for me. Never have I had so much mutton in my life and in a span of one week.


China Southern Airlines onboard meal


Campsite meal at Kashka


Mutton rice at Alashankou


Revolving hotpot dinner