Saturday, March 28, 2009

Moore river, Guilderton

Guilderton is a small coastal town north of Perth at the mouth of the Moore River in the Shire of Gingin. It was originally known as Gabbadah, an Aboriginal term meaning "mouthful of water" until its gazetting as a town in 1951. The river mouth regularly opens and closes depending on the seasons, and alternates between a closed lagoon and a tidal estuary.The town is a popular holiday destination for Perth residents who commonly refer to it as Moore River.

See a hut at middle left of the pic? That was our destination.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sand boarding at Lancelin Sand Dunes


Lancelin is a small fishing town nestled between the ocean and sand dunes which is about an hour drive or 94 kilometres north of Perth. The town stretches along the edge of a natural bay which is protected from the Indian Ocean by outer reefs and islands. The protected waters of the bay are ideal for swimming, fishing, boating and using small watercraft and water activities dominate the town’s leisure activities.It is also the safe anchorage for a picturesque fleet of rock lobster boats, which creates a hive of activity during the day around the two jetties. The reefs provide the perfect environment for snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing and wave sailing. Equipment for all activities can be hired in town. There are also many shipwrecks for the experienced scuba diver to explore.

Lancelin is the gateway to a world renowned dive trail. There are 14 wrecks along the coastline allowing for spectacular diving. Lancelin is an international mecca for windsurfers due to the ideal wind and water conditions.

To the east, the town is bordered by endless snow-white sand dunes, which are heaven for sand boarders, dune buggy drivers, motor bikers and four wheel drivers. Dune buggy racing in the sand dunes is a popular recreational pastime. The peaks of these sand dunes give a spectacular panoramic lookout over the township, surrounding sand hills, farmlands, coastline, islands and ocean. Around the point, Back Beach is safe for body-boarding, surfing and swimming, with plenty of hideaways for sunbathing. There is an abundance of marine wildlife. Sea lions reside on Lancelin Island and regularly inspect the activities in the bay. Lancelin is also home to dolphins that frequent the bay daily and are only too willing to show off their catch of fish to spectators. There are also huge pods of dolphins and the occasional seal outside the bay, pleasing locals and tourists alike. Birdlife and wildflowers are plentiful, with bird sanctuaries on the islands and nearby nature reserves ablaze with wildflowers during spring.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Place, Bar & Restaurant, Perth

We stayed at Aarons Hotel throughout the stay in Perth. There is a bar & restaurant named My Place on the ground floor, next to the lobby. We had complimentary breakfast daily at this place.
Just need to tell them your room number and find your seat to be served.
Each of us was given this breakfast meal consists of 2 pieces of 'salty' bacon. a hotdog (with very strong meat smell), 2 smashed tomatoes and 2 special boiled plain taste eggs. That's it! My mum cannot adapt to the salty and 'smelly' food, neither do I. We had the same breakfast the next day till we made complaint to our tour leader. Pathetic meal. However, looking to the menu, this set of meal costs AUD $ 12.00.
Each of us was given 2 pieces of bread as well. You can choose to toast it or take it as it is. Bread toaster
I never used such toaster before. We placed the bread on one side which then they will slide down passing through the heat source and come out on the bottom just like a printer.
There is a lot of variety of jems including butter and honey for you to choose to be applied on the breads. This is edible for us but 2 pieces of bread wasn't enough. Many elderly choose not for the set meal but opt for a change to breads. Pathetically, only additional 2 pieces of breads on top of the current 2 were given.
Coffee is an essential drink for Western people. They drink it like the plain water. Despite not a coffee drinker, I did drink for the sake of trying the different taste of the West. It do seems better.
Besides coffee, there is wide variety of juices including FRESH AUSTRALIAN milks. Due to my cough condition, I did not try any but do have few sips from my mum drinks although continuously being told not to do so. Fruit juices include tomato (the Western favourites), orange, apple and mango. It is all free flow.
This is the sideways dining area close to the washroom. As mentioned, this is a bar as well which of course open at night time. Spotted this man cleaning up the bar area early in the morning. WINES!! Managed to grab his photo. Nice pic~ The setting of the place. Almost all the hotels are equipped with a bar & restaurant type in which extended to the walkways. View from outside the walkways.
Took picture with the bus driver cum tour leader. In most of the Western countries such as Australia and UK, the bus driver has double tasks which also act as a tour leader. It isn't easy to explain and introduce places to the tourists and at the same time focusing in driving.
Wednesdays Wednesday nights are DJ nights with fantastic cocktails.
Karaoke If you enjoy a sing along to some of your old time favourites, or a dance to popular new music, drop into My Place on a Friday evening from 8pm. Bring your friends, or come on your own - the name of the game is having a good time!
DJ Night Get ready to have some fun! Come on down to My Place on a Saturday evening from 8pm and enjoy the music provided by a DJ who plays YOUR songs.
Special; Wednesday cocktails
Wednesday evening drop into My Place for some great $7 cocktails. There will be a live DJ, so you can dance the night away with your pina colada, harvey wallbanger, Singapore sling or toblerone. Special: Karaoke deals
While you are singing your heart out every Friday night enjoy the fantastic specials. Cocktails, Jagerbombs and Vodka Red Bulls are all only $7. It’s all about having some fun so bring your mates or work colleagues.
Prices of some food: Breakfast: Continental Breakfast: Toast with Jam, Marmalade, Vegemite or Honey Cereals, Fruit Juice, Coffee and Tea, Fruit Salad and Yoghurt ==> $12.00 Basic Breakfast: Bacon, Eggs, Sausage, Tomato and Toast ==> $12.00 Full Breakfast: Toast with Jam, Marmalade, Vegemite or Honey, Coffee, Tea and Juice, Grilled Tomato’s, Baked Beans, Sausage, Bacon & Eggs, Hash Brown ==> $18.00 Mega Breakfast: Continental and Full breakfast ==> $25.00 Starters and snacks Garlic & Herb Bread ==> $7.00 Turkish Bread: With olive oil, Olives and dukkah ==> $10.00 My Place Bruschetta: Chopped Tomato, red onion, Basil, Feta Cheese Crumble, lightly Grilled on Garlic bread ==> $10.00 My Place Mix plate: Selection of Tapas, Artichoke, roast capsicum, feta, marinated olives, chorizo sausage, Turkish bread, olive oil and balsamic glaze. ==> $20.00 Nachos: With fresh salsa, melted cheese and Guacamole dip. ==> $15.00 Main Old Fashioned Fish & Chips: With Beer Batter and Salad, Tar tare sauce ==> $15.00 Seafood Platter: A selection of deep fried Seafood and fresh whole Prawns served with Chips& Salad And Tar tare Sauce ==> $24.00 Fish of the Day: Grilled as is or with Lemon Pepper Crust, Chips &Salad or vegetables ==> $20.00 Grilled Salmon: with a balsamic glaze on a bed of mash Potatoes plus steamed Vegetables or fresh Salad. ==> $29.00 Chili Mussels Napolitano: Tomato, herbs, Garlic and Chili sauce, Turkish bread And mayonnaise on the side ==> $20.00 Pasta of the Day: Chef’s freshly made pasta ==> $17.00 Burgers & Sandwiches Grilled Chicken Breast pieces with Cheese, Salad, Mayo and Chips ==> $12.00 BLT: Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and mayo with Chips ==> $10.00 Chicken, Bacon and Cheese Foccacio with Chips ==> $12.00 Ham, Cheese and Tomato Foccacio with Chips ==> $12.00 Steak Sandwich: Steak, Grilled Onion, Iceberg Lettuce, Tomatoes, Beetroot With Tomato Relish or Aeoli and Chips ==> $12.00 American Style Cheese Burger: Big Beef Pattie, double Cheese, Pickles, Onion Jam & Ketchup served with chips ==> $12.00 Pizza Margarita, $20.00, Seafood $25.00, Meat Lovers $25.00, Continental $25.00, Chicken $25.00 How to get there? Address: 70 Pier Street, Perth Western Australia 6000. Phone: 08-92556665 Sources: 64

Monday, March 23, 2009

UCSI University: Fee increment is just a rumour!

UCSI University
Another rush hour day. I slept very late the day before but not going to reveal here. I had earlier set my alarm to 7.30 am and multiple alarms in my handphone with different times. When I first opened my eyes, I smiled at myself for having a nonsense dream and happily looked at the alarm clock. It was 8.40 am. Oh…WHAT@@!! I had an important appointment with some others at 9 am. Gosh! I will be surely late! And the person I was going to meet was not a simple but a high rank person in UCSI University which was the Vice President for Academics, Prof. Kwan. For some unknown reasons, I finally uttered the word ‘shit!’ accidentally.
I reconfirmed to myself. Was the appointment at 9 am? Yea.. it was.. and without further delay, I rushed to the washroom and quickly bathed. I do shave and the ‘fast and furious’ movement caused some bleeding. I guessed I seriously need an after shave cream/oil but the price at Watsons is about RM 20 for a small tiny bottle. Next, I was about to call Han Boon but he managed to call me instead. A salute to him for being calm to know I just woke up and with a nice tone, he told me they will be going up first. We were planning to meet Prof. Kwan to hand in our petition on the passing rumours about increment of the tuition fees which was about 10% or nearly 2K increment. However, the petition letter signed by all students was with me at condo. It was great attitude shown by Han Boon which never can be easily learnt by the rests. He is indeed a good class rep and a good leader as he was the one who plan and lead the group of 11 (but turned out to be 8) to voice up the dissatisfaction from the fellow friends. Again, a big courage and determination were needed. I speeded from condo to university assuming that I was in the final lap of a 4 x 100m race. When I reached to the 3rd floor, I was greeted by the receptionist who then asked me to enter a room she pointed. HUH.. How did she know who I wanted to meet? Then, I saw all of them waiting quietly in the Prof. Kwan room. I was so relief that I wasn’t late at all and started chatting around to cheer up the tense moment. About 10 minutes later, Prof. Dr. Kwan Teck Kim and his aide, senior assistant Mr. Abu Bakar Jalaluddin, Senior Director, Academic & Corporate Legal Affairs came in. It was the first time I meet both of them and they greeted us nicely. After an introduction about us led by Han Boon, he then pointed out 3 main issues for the meeting which was the confirmation of fees increment, petition of increment should it was real and the improvement of facilities. Mr. Abu Bakar was the one who answered most of the questions as he seemed has more experience with the university than the newly promoted Prof. Kwan. He then assured all of us that the increment of fees was just irresponsible rumours of which the university is finding its way to track the people that spread it out to the rests. Accordingly, any fees increment procedure involves duration of a semester of 4 to 6 months before it is implemented. At such, the university will open its ear to feedbacks from various parties during the period before a final decision is made.
In addition, Mr Abu Bakar also acknowledged us that increment is necessary and can’t be prevented in the current economic crisis faced by the world and Malaysia as well. He told us that CPI in Malaysia was 8.0+ in the last month. THAT shocked me as the highest so far that I knew was 7.6%. He also highlighted on the increment of transportation costs as well as the many costs covered by the university since the 5 years back when no increment was implemented. However, the university survived and managed to not put the expenses to the students’ fees. So, few of us addressed on the concern on the increment which might not be able to borne by our parents. Besides, the Marketing and Finance Department had earlier reaffirmed to most of the students that they will pay accordingly to the figure stated when applying entry to this university and any increment will be imposed to the new batches. At such, Mr Abu Bakar acknowledged that increment is an unavoidable event BUT he assured that increment will not be too fast or the coming 2-3 years time. He told us that many from different faculties do face the similar problems and some had some evidences with parents EPF and financial constraint to him as well as others. At such, the university despite is a business will not want to see nay dropout just because of such issue and will try their best in finding a solution. He acknowledged us that anyone of us can meet them personally should they face any difficulty regarding with finance provided with genuine evidences. However, they can look into your problems BUT do not guarantee any definite solution. At such, with the examples given by him, I found the university still considerable OK as they do look through the problems faced by the students. Well, almost ALL private institutions are money sucking as people claimed but the extent is the major concern. Some voiced out on the lack of lab equipments such as tabletting machine, HPLC, Coulter Counter and etc. Wow.. the list was so long. Both Prof. Dr. Kwan and Mr. Abu Bakar agreed that the issue was not something new and they will look further into the issues. He even asked us to write detail problems with the facilities and give recommendations to purchase a newer one that deemed suitable together with the model number. At such, some pointed out that we need to share and waited very long to perform our experiment which was then countered back with the fact that anywhere you went, you still need to share. As for me, I do not know why they asked for increment of so many lab machines. For example, what are the benefits for having two Coulter counter machines? It is a matter of time preferably an hour wait before your turn to use the machine and you can save few hundred thousand with the wait. Is that significant? As for HPLC, as Dr Gabriel had mentioned, we considered very good as the most owned was USM with 4 such machines. On top of that, we are not going to use them all the time but preferably one or two for the whole 4 years. Although, any additional machines are good for us. So, I voiced out on different views. I stressed that if the increment is justified with good facilities and services, the students will still object but it will be a minority voices. I will pay for the good ‘lecturers’, good lab machines and good overall facilities of the university WHICH are not seen yet. In addition, I enlightened them with the high parking rates, difficulty in finding parking, lack of books in the library, no time restrictions for printing use due to stupid uncivilized students printing their whole semester notes spending about 1 hour with the printing, lack of sports facilities eg the basketball/badminton court and the stupid high fees charged by the university bus service. The response was the RM2 paring rate was unavoidable to the claimed ‘security, insurance fees & etc’. Wait.. I thought PARK AT YOUR OWN RISK. Since when the parking is covered by insurance? The issue wasn’t new to them and there might be multistory car park on its way soon. MIGHT… and can you think how much the parking rate will be? The current burden was to climb up hills burning a lot of petrol and then climb down on foot for some distance under the very hot sun. Should there is a multistory packing which is good but unsure the rate yet, one might take at least 15 minutes to travel up by car and down by foot with confirmed sweating~ Regarding on book issues, each and anyone of us is required to purchase textbook by your own. The reason there is only roughly five books per title is to provide various references for students. Should students need increment of text books, you must bring up the issue during your own school’s board meeting. Regarding about the abandoned field or better known to be used by the Africans and some Malays from A Level, there is a suggestion to use some part of the field as parking bays. However, this is in process of greeting agreement as driving on the green field will cause distortion and damage the structure of soil as well as plants. On bus services which charge abnormally high than the outside provider, please forward to the Logistic Department. They forgot about my suggestion of 15 minutes time restrictions on the use of printing. Anyhow, it is not related to the Academics Department. Conclusion. No further increment as for NOW. Increment is unavoidable in near future but the university reserves the right to do so as stated on the disclaimer on the brochures as well as the fees schedule. If you have the letter from DVC on the promise of no further increment, keep it safely as it might be useful. Regarding on improving the facilities of the school, there is new division headed by Mr. Shanker Sathivellu, Senior Director, External Communications & Quality Assurance. The scope of this department is to evaluate basically everything in the university as ‘check and balance’ which is going to ‘audit’ the university and wherever necessary, provide suggestions for improvements. Messages from both Prof. Dr. Kwan and Mr. Abu Bakar; ‘Stop the rumours!’. In another point of view, such meeting was absolutely good as one can voice up their dissatisfaction, opinion, problems and etc. to the university so that their issues will be looked into. I am not sure about other university regarding about meeting with a senior personnel in the university. As for UCSI University, they do take the opinions from the students but whether they will implement the suggestions are totally depend on their judgment.
UCSI University
Photos from: UCSI University official website

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Perth Airport, Western Australia

Finally, I landed on the land of Australia for the very first time. Me destination was to Perth, Western Australian. We arrived about 1.50 am at the Perth Airport. A fact that i interesting to me is that Perth which cover ONLY the Western part of Australia is 16 x BIGGER (claimed to be 20x) than whole Malaysia (including Sabah and Sarawak) but with a very small population of 1.6 million.

Perth, was home to the indigenous Nyoongar tribe with evidence of their ancestors stretching back 40,000 years. A Noongar cultural museum will be opened soon; additional information on aboriginal tours and other cultural offerings can be found at tourist information centres.

British settlers established a free settler colony in 1829 as part of the Swan River Colony. From 1850, an influx of convicts boosted the size of the colony and their labour helped shape the early architecture of the city. The discovery of gold in the 1890's triggered a boom which, with subsequent mineral discoveries, has been key to the city's economy. As capital of the state Western Australia, Perth joined the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.

Perth is a beautiful city with a wonderful Mediterranean climate. It has lovely beaches and parks. Perth people are helpful and welcoming. The lifestyle is relaxed and most people enjoy outdoor activities such as sporting events, barbeques and picnics. Living in Perth will be an enjoyable experience. ( I will justify this in my incoming post)

Perth Western Australia’s weather and climate is best described as Mediterranean, with long dry summers and mild rainy winters. There are four distinct seasons:
Summer: Dec - Feb The hottest months are January and February, and temperatures can frequently reach the mid to high 30’s Celsius (95-100F). Occasionally the weather can reach 38 degrees Celsius or more (100+ Fahrenheit), lightweight cool clothing and sunscreen is essential. The temperature here is crazily HOT! I will justify this in my incoming post. Melbourne can go to as high of 35-40 celcius. Newest record that shocked the Australian! Autumn: Mar – May Very similar weather to summer except milder, warm and sunny but cooler at night. You can expect things to start cooling down toward the end of April and will need some warmer clothing. Winter: Jun - Sep This is the rainy season, interspersed with chilly yet sunny days. A typical Perth winter day may fall between 16-18 degrees Celsius (60-65 degrees Fahrenheit). There are however, occasionally storms, characterised by thunder, lightning and heavy downpours of rain and strong winds. It is advised to have warm clothing and a waterproof jacket and umbrella handy. Spring: Oct - Dec Spring begins at the start of September and from this point the weather quickly warms to fine sunny but windy conditions. The temperatures will continue to rise in the lead up to the next summer.
After a tight security, we came out from this auto door.
After a thorough checking, we came out from this automatic door. The security checking is known to be very strict and indeed is very true. In the incoming passenger card, one need to complete every single column in the form. FAILURE to do so will get scolded by the Custom Officers if his/her mood is not good. No joke! You need to write your name, passport number, flight number, intended address in Australia and health status. Besides, you need to DECLARE the items brought in by you. And NO JOKE that if you did not declare even a small stuff will be fined by the authorities. Not all medicines can be brought in especially the Chinese medicines of which origin from plants. Food is another point in which no dried, fresh, preserved, cooked or uncooked food should brought in. Even the Chinese preserved dates (well, it was Chinese New Year that time) also CANNOT. one of the tour mates got into trouble of having it. Soil or articles with soil attached such as sporting shoes or equipment need to be DECLARED. IF you have a new shoe, that is alright but if it is an used shoes, be sure to declare it if it is DIRTY on the shoe lace. You must write in your contact details in Australia. Even if you are staying in a hotel, you must know the location and the contact number of the hotel.

Airport Security: Before departing Perth Airport, passengers are required to pass through a stringent security screening process to ensure the safety and efficiency of airport and airline operations. The following process is in place to achieve this goal:

  • Passengers check in and have their passport ready for viewing.
  • Baggage make-up - luggage is checked in here, with selected items being screened through an x-ray machine.
  • Passengers enter the departures gate and will move through Customs passport control.
  • At the entrance of the departure lounge, hand luggage and any additional items on person are security screened.
  • Your boarding pass will be checked prior to entering the appropriate gate for your departure flight.
The ambience of the airport at that late night.
Quarantine Matters
These are important NEW facts when arrival in Australia. Tougher new quarantine laws and increased on-the-spot fines now apply in Australia. • All international travellers entering Australia who do not declare quarantine risk items now face an on-the-spot fine of up to $220. This could happen as a result of failing to declare something as small as a piece of fruit!
• Smugglers of prohibited items may face fines of up to $60,000 and a criminal record. For example, a student arriving at Brisbane airport recently was fined $6,700 for trying to smuggle less than a kilogram of dried meat into Australia. • The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) now inspect most international passengers, cargo and mail coming into Australia.
When traveling to Australia, please be aware that if you are carrying a total of AUS$10,000 or more in cash of any currency, you MUST declare the money on your Incoming Passenger Card and when questioned by Australian Customs officials upon arrival. A failure to declare this money may result in the money being taken and you being arrested and prosecuted. It is not an offence to bring this money into Australia. The offence is not declaring the money.
The security here was placed in the highest level. Even at late of night, a policewoman with a detector dog were seen walking around the places. I got to know from my sister that should a detector dog sense something amiss such as drugs, it will stop and station at your place. At such, YOU ARE DEAD MEAT. Not knowing well about their rules and regulations. I do not want to risk anything and thus did not that the picture of the cute little dog.
International airports
Most travellers coming into Australia’s international airports will now have their luggage screened by customs officials. In the past year AQIS has placed around 1,200 extra staff, 35 extra detector dog teams and 48 new x-ray machines at airports across the country. International students must declare ALL food, wooden items or items of plant and animal origin that they are carrying with them.
Taxi? Were we needed to board on taxis?
Just want to highlight that their taxi is like our police car in Malaysia although now due to 'need to chase criminal on high speed car' that make them changes the locally made car to Mercedez (I supposed as debated in Parliament). Information source: Alexander Education group, Ultimate Studies Australia, Wikipedia As at the time updated, the son of SPRM and few fellow Malaysians have been caught at this airport for possessing child pornography and got fined. This showed how strict the security checking and bear in mind not to bring forbidden stuffs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Singapore Changi Airport

Here I landed on the land of Singapore. I have never been here and considered 'visited' with my landing to her airport. In this post, I will justify why Changi Airport is better than KLIA in terms of facilities and services. Singapore Changi Airport is recognised as one of the best airports in the world. With over 80 airlines serving more than 180 cities in over 50 countries, Changi Airport has established itself as a major aviation hub in the Asia Pacific region. With the recent opening of Terminal 3, Changi Airport now has an annual handling capacity of 70 million passengers a year. Source: ChangiAirport.
Do you see me? Taken while waiting the train.
The Chinese New Year decors of Donald Duck and Goofy.
Mickey and Minnie mouse too. From the blog I read, it seems that they are recycling the x'mas decors but with some changes to make it into new year feel. Any comment?
Here was our destination, the flight transfer area. We need to get our transfer ticket to depart from here to Australia using the Qantas Airway.
Immigration checkpoints Some of the shops including 7-11 & Burger King. Phone calls
At Changi Airport, all local calls made is FREE. It means that you can chit chat with your friends, relatives and colleagues for length of time you desire. My mum took the opportunity to call our relatives and her friends.
Gardens at Changi Airport.
It seem that the airport undergo major renovation to convert the previous to a new garden, greenery styles airport with opening of a new terminal.
Mini waterfall correct terms: tropics~
Another facilities offered which is FREE as well is the charging of handphone. I found this service is a good one as should you need to make calls and your hp is out of battery, what should you do? You can't even browse our contact book to make a call at public phone. Various brand of hp charging includes Nokia, Sony Ericson, Samsung and others.
Another great service offered by the airport has is the FREE internet service. User has a maximum of 15 minutes time in each login. I queued up and made a blog post here as well. Remember? From what I observed, most of the foreigners were searching for the maps in Singapore and to look for their target destinations. It isn't a great service?
We went to this food court during our return from Australia to Singapore. Asian foods still the best~
One of the tourmate, Mr. Akhbar told me that KLIA is indeed GREAT in terms of the infrastructure but not when come to facilities and services. It is indeed very true. Regarding about facilities, you can see various free services offered which are convenience to the users. Regarding about service, there are many personnel tagged with 'Senior Personnel' everywhere in the airport compound. Their job is to look after the confuse people who are searching the directions in the airport and provide necessary information to them. Not only that, they will escort you to the destination you wanted even to the toilet! I was so shocked to see such good services rendered by the personnel who brought my mum to the washroom. Will this happen in KLIA? In reverse, you will see many taxi touts chasing after you and forcing you to take a ride from them. Talking about the taxi touts, I can only say Malaysian government are so lousy in handling this issue. Talks and fighting in parliament in the so called making the laws but lack of enforcement. Anyway, do you think Changi Airport is better than KLIA? Finally, before I forgot, the rate of SMS is RM 1.00 from Singapore to Malaysian lines. Cheap? Btw, I just saw Hpility blog on their gathering at Changi Airport. Out of so many places, they chose a place where everything is more expensive than normal. Haha...weird.
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