| Zee Yusri in Kuala Lumpur |
*Continuation of “Exploring wonders of M’sia through fun & games” published on Pages 30-31 of the December 13, 2014 edition of the Weekend Bulletin
THE next day had arrived. After a good night’s rest at Grand Lexis at Port Dickson, we embarked on an almost three-hour bus ride to Johor Bahru.
For the first two hours of the journey, everyone was quiet – rare for ‘Bus Two’ group.
But all this changed when we learnt we were nearing our first stop of the day, Johor Premium Outlets, a collection of 130 designer and name brand outlet stores.
“Yes, you can drive faster now,” Kian, one of the passengers seated at the back of the bus, jokingly told our bus driver.
Michael Kors, Cotton On, Samsonite or Victoria Secret, you name it, it’s all here! This is a must-visit for bargain hunters, especially since the 1Malaysia Year-End Sale is currently still on. My two picks of the day were Padini and Cotton On.
Soon after, we visited Sanrio Hello Kitty World, truly a ‘pink paradise’. Located at a four-storey building, it is the first Sanrio Hello Kitty theme park outside Japan, which features various walk-through attractions, interactive activities and rides. And of course, a visit to Johor Bahru would not be complete without a visit to Legoland.
To say I was excited would be an understatement. It was electrifyingly fun.
We first toured the Legoland Hotel before visiting the theme park and its water park which is situated at a Lego-themed location. In my opinion, it is an ideal family holiday destination where adventures never end. After all, Legos are everywhere!
For dinner, we visited LAT’s Place, the first-of-its-kind animated restaurant created from the well-known comic series, “Lat, the Kampung Boy”. The buffet spread was superb.
After a long day, we checked into Thistle Hotel. We had to wake up early the next day as we had to catch our bus by 6am.
“Zee! Wake up! It’s 5.30am!” I opened my heavy eyes slowly to see Syima – my roommate – with a worried look on her face. I panicked!
“Oh no!” I thought to myself as I jumped out of bed and went straight to the washroom. It was hectic but we managed to board the bus five minutes before departure. There’s noth-ing quite like an early morning adrenaline rush to kick start your day.
We had to make our way to Senai International Airport in Johor Bahru to catch our 8.40am flight to Kuala Lumpur, where we caught a connecting flight to Penang. We arrived at the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ at 11.15am – just in time for a lunch gathering at Chinese Muslim Restaurant (Bayan Baru).
Our next challenge activity, as part of the Asean Explore Quest Malaysia 2014, was batik colouring at the Craft Batik Factory. At first, this sounded like an impossible task to me. I was totally mistaken. It was a fun experience. I’d never imagined that I would one day transform a simple white cloth into a picturesque batik artwork.
After the challenge, we checked into Golden Sands Resort, a short five-minute drive from the batik factory. My teammates and I explored a variety of local hawker food at Gurney Drive. My top pick was the Penang Char Kuey Tiaw. I highly recommend you to get yourself a plate if you are ever here. It was irresistible. Paired with a glass of fresh sugarcane juice, the meal was perfect. I couldn’t help myself – I had to have seconds!
The next day, we went to a world-class tourism destination, Penang Escape Theme Park, where you can swing from tree to tree like a monkey, leap like Atan (the hero of the park) or go ape on the rope walks.
My teammates and I had to complete a number of challenges before lunch.
One of them was the ‘Monkey Business’ challenge. I couldn’t help but look at the hanging ropes that were more than five metres above me.
“I cannot imagine being up there,” I thought to myself.
However, I did muster up the courage to take on ‘Level 1’ of the ‘Monkey Business’ challenge. (The higher the level, the higher the height of obstacles we had to face).
After completing a number of challenges, we had lunch at the theme park. We took a short break at our hotel before starting our next activity – sunset viewing at Penang Hill, which is situated more than 2,000 feet above sea level, has the best panoramic view of George Town and other metropolises on the eastern coast of Penang Island.
After enjoying a sumptuous seafood dinner at Pen Mutiara Restaurant, we explored the longest bridge in Southeast Asia, the 24-kilometre Penang Second Bridge. We used the 8.4-kilometre Penang First Bridge to get back to our hotel later in the evening.
The next morning, we boarded a ‘Hop-On-Hop-Off’ bus to get to George Town, where we took a closer look at amazing wall murals painting at Chew Jetty, one of the biggest waterfront settlements in George Town. We also visited the ‘Made in Penang’ 3-D Interactive Museum, which is so much more than just posing with trick art or 3-D murals.
As all the artwork was done by Penang artists, the museum has successfully combined fun, culture and history of Penang into intriguing displays that allow visitors to have a quick and easy understanding of Penang.
To mark the closing of the Asean Explore Quest Malaysia 2014, a Gala Dinner themed ‘Glamorous Nite’ was held at the Grand Ballroom at Rasa Sayang Resort, Penang.
At the Gala Dinner, Brunei’s local artist, Annabelle Voo Pei Pei, was the first to perform, serenading the crowd with Jaclyn Victor’s Koleksi Gemilang and another song that merged two famous Indian songs – ‘Bole Chudiyan’ and ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’.
Batik designed by various teams were also showcased on stage. However, it was the creation of Team Myanmar that won the hearts of the judges. Meanwhlie, under the category ‘Journal contest for artists’, Pei Pei of Team Brunei emerged as the winner for having the best creative journal.
It’s always hard to say goodbye.
As I made my way back to my hotel, I thought about all the fun times I had with my teammates who were once complete strangers to me.
Time does fly when you’re having fun. The week went by in a blink of an eye.
I would like to convey my thanks to Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines for this wonderful trip.
I also wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Pei Pei and her mother who was also the ‘Mom of Team Brunei’.
My message to the chatty Mr K, Jennie, Gen, Syima, Marul and our hardworking marshal, Syamil, is that I would always cherish the memories made in this trip.