Friday, 18 April 2014

BBC News: What makes Jerusalem so holy?

I saw this story on the BBC News iPhone App and thought you should see it:

What makes Jerusalem so holy?

As the Christian festival of Easter and Jewish holiday of Passover converge and a surge in pilgrims is expected in Jerusalem, the BBC's Erica Chernofsky explores what makes the city so holy.

Read more:

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Thursday, 17 April 2014

My Condolences to the Family of Karpal Singh

The whole nation was shocked to receive the sad new on the demise of noted lawyer and seasoned politician in a road accident early this morning. I hope his family members will remain strong in coping with this unfortunate event.

Despite his opposition to hudud, I personally consider him as a man of principles who was not afraid to speak up the truth and fight the injustice.

What a big loss to Malaysia.

Goodbye, Tiger of Jelutong.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Day Three in Bangkok

Today I'm on my own because my host is working. At first, I wanted to have breakfast at the halal foodstall in front of Tesco Lotus, but unfortunately it was closed.

So, I went to Tesco Lotus and bought myself some green salad, white bread, tuna spread, banana and low-fat milk. After that, I headed straight away to Abstracts, and having my breakfast overlooking Lad Phrao and Chatuchak from level 31 of Abstracts.

I received a text from my cousin, asking a favour to buy him an iPad Mini cover. But he asked me to get it from MBK Mall. Although the weather was not as hot as yesterday in Udon Thani, I was hesitated to go all the way to Sukhimvit. So, I just walked to Union Mall.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Day Two in Vientiane

I started my second day in the capital city of Laos with American breakfast - toast with butter and jam and a cup of black tea. Andrew had got up earlier and went out for a walk while Masahiede was still sleeping.

Just right before I chewed my last bite of toast, the Dutch lady (I'm so sorry, I really cannot recall her name) came and joined me.

We talked about work and of course, travel. She's a buying assistant (her own word) for a chain of departmental stores in the Netherlands. This is her second time to the Southest Asia region. She visited Indonesia five ago and now she is on a mission to cover Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Like Andrew and I, we're leaving Laos today but on different journeys. She will be taking a sleeper bus to Luang Prabang, the journey that I'm dying to go! While Andrew will be taking the 9.30 am bus to Vien Vang, I will be taking a two-hour bus trip to Udon Thani, before taking sleeper train to Bangkok.

At about 9.15 am, I bid farewell to Masaheidi, Andrew, Emma and the Dutch lady. Instead of taking tuk-tuk, I decided to walk my way to the Central Bus Station. On my way there, I stopped for a while at the Vientiane Jamia Masjid, which is next to the Ibis Hotel. The masjid was built in 1970 with the donations from Lao people. It's a small green-coloured mosque, but unlike Jamia Masjid in Bangkok or Yangoon, the nearby food stalls do not sell halal food :(

I also passed by the National Library and the Presidential Palace. Nevertheless, these two places are not open to public (tourists in the case the National Library) and I just took a couple of pictures from outside. Opposite the Presidential Palace is Sisaket Museum, which was in 1818.

Not far from this museum is Sala Tao Mall, and I guess it's the only shopping mall in the city centre because I didn't find any in my two days there. Next to the mall is the infamous Morning Market, which opens until evening every day. I did not give them a visit because I don't have much kip left. So, I went straight away to the bus station, which is just across the street. The bus station was built in 1990 with funding from the Japanese government. If I'm not mistaken, there were quite a number of development projects in Vientiane that were funded by foreign governments such as Japanese, Vietnamese, German and French.

The bus station is also small, which caters both intra and inter city buses. I bought a 10.30 am ticket which costs only 22,000 kip. The bus fare to Nong Khai is only 15,000 kip.

The 48-seater bus was full, with only four foreigners and the rest are Laotians and it departed at 10.30 sharp. It used the same Frienship Bridge as the shuttle train I took from Nong Khai to Thanaleng. The security process at both immigration checks were quick and smooth. Alhamdulillah, slightly over an hour, the bus sped up it way to Udon Thani after crossing the border.

Goodbye Laos, in shaa Allah, will visit you again.

A Day in Udon Thani

The bus that I took from Vientiane, Laos arrived at Udorn Thani Bus Station at about 12.30 pm.

The weather was hot and dry. I quickly walked to the nearby shopping mall i.e. Central Plaza Udon Thani. I was strolling the 5-storey mall with the intention to grab a quick lunch. Unfortunately, I didn't have much choice. The safest option is filet-o-fish at McDonald's. As per tips given by Encik OC, you just need to ask what kind of cooking oil they use, whether it's vegetable-based or animal-based. 

Next, I went to the Apple reseller store to recharge my iPhone before proceeding to the train station. Central Plaza is not that far from the train station, about 5-minute walking. The train fare is 669 baht, which means 19 baht cheaper than the fare from Nong Khai. Once again, I bought the upper berth because of two reasons. Firstly, it's a night trip so I won't be seeing anything much. Secondly, it will be less cool in the upper berth because cool air is heavier than warm air (if my secondary school Physics still do me justice).

I asked the tourist policeman whether there is locker for rental so that I could leave my bag while strolling along the nearby UD Town. He was very kind to offer to look after my bag himself  in his office. Alhamdulillah, there are still kind-hearted people around :)

Udon Thani or some may call it Udorn, is a city in the northeastern Thailand, in a region called Isaan. It's about 82 km from Vientiane and about 60 km  and 564 km from Nong Khai and Bangkok respectively. Beside bus and train station, it also has its own airport. Basically, the city is well-connected with various mode of transportation.

To be continued...