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Friday 12 December 2008

Drinking the Japanese Way

When I was in Japan, I had plenty of choices of drinks to choose from. However, I am a coffee lover and therefore the Roots Plain Latte was often my choice after lunch. Mind you, this can of latte can be very addictive!


I occasionally opted for the black coffee but I liked the latte the most.



The Georgia Cafe Au Lait was also quite good too, but it couldn't beat the Roots Plain Latte.


One day, I ordered a set lunch from the canteen and I got a pack of drinks free-of-charge. It looked like a pack of milk but it actually tasted like some fruit yogurt drinks.


Tea is the main beverages of the Japanese. So, you can always find several types of them in just one vending machine.


There are plenty of carbonated drinks available too but these were the ones I avoided most of the time, unless I seriously needed a refreshment.



Wednesday 10 December 2008

Wordless Wednesday – Colourful Samba Girls









Location: Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan
Event: 28th Asakusa Samba Carnival
Date taken: August 30th, 2008
Camera equipment: Nikon D70s + Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8D

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Walking Around Brisbane on a Summer Afternoon

I arrived Brisbane Airport at around 2 p.m. on December 1st, 2008, and took a taxi to the Brisbane Transit Centre at Roma Street. It was just about half an hour and my connecting bus to Toowoomba was at 6:30 p.m., so I took a walk around the historic CBD of Brisbane.

I walked up to King Gearoge Square from the Transit Centre and saw this beautiful red-brick church in Gothic style along the way.

The most recognisable building at King George Square is the City Hall built in the 1920s. It has a clock tower soaring up to the blue sky which can never be missed by anyone walking towards King George Square.

From King George Square, I followed Adelaide Street to the direction of the river. The streets in Brisbane are quite typical Australian streets with shops lining both sides of the mall.

When I came to the junction of Adelaide Street and George Street, and turned left into George Street, I could see the old Treasury Building. This building now houses a casino.

Right next to the old Treasury Building is the Bank of New South Wales. Although not an old building, it looks historical enough.

I walked further down George Street in the southeast direction and turned right into Elizabeth Street. Walking up the hill brought me to Queen's Park where the statue of Queen Victoria is located. The building behind the statue is the old Oueensland State Library which is now a luxury hotel.

I returned to George Street and kept walking southeast. There are many interesting buildings along George Street.

At the south end of George Street is the grounds of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) at which the old Parliament House and the Queensland Parliament House can be found.

From this point up, I was stepping on the grounds of QUT.

After a slow stroll on the grounds of QUT, I walked right through the Botanic Gardens just right opposite QUT. There is a promenade along the Botanic Gardens connecting back to the city centre, but without the hustle and bustle of moving vehicles.

Along the promenade has a great view of the Story Bridge connecting the south and north banks.

Cafes and restaurants are also abound along the promenade. However, it was already getting late and I had to walk back to the Transit Centre to board the bus to Toowoomba.

I came off the promenade at Customs House, a beautifully restored building which is operated by The University of Queensland as a cultural, educational and heritage facility. The grand Corinthian columns are part of the Brisbane's heritage icons.

Along my way back to the Transit Centre, I walked past the National Australia Bank.

I also passed by the Post Office Square where the old Post Office is just right opposite. The old Post Office has been the General Post Office of Brisbane sine 1872.

As it was about boarding time for my bus, I finished up my walking tour here and took a last glance of Brisbane City before heading southwest to Toowoomba.

Monday 8 December 2008






Sunday 7 December 2008

A Series of Flight Cancellation and Delay

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) was one of the best airlines in the world a decade ago but the services provided has been deteriorating since, even more so when the budget airlines came into play and the price hike in fuel.

On November 30th, 2008, I woke up at 3 a.m. in the morning to get myself ready for flight MH2547 bound for Kuala Lumpur from Kuching at 6 a.m. I reached the Kuching International Airport just a few minutes before 5 a.m. and waited in the queue for check in. The gentleman at the check-in counter had taken much longer than usual to clear his check-in procedure and the ground staff was giving a lot of explanation while running up and down between the check-in counter and the ticket office. I overheard something like the flight was 'rescheduled.'

When it was my turn for checking in, I got the confirmation of my flight being 'rescheduled' to 2:30 p.m. on the same day! How can a flight be rescheduled to six and a half hours later? If they were honest with me by telling me that the flight was cancelled, I won't be as agitated. Even more so, I was supposed to take this flight to Kuala Lumpur for my connecting flight MH141 to Brisbane at 9 a.m. So, I definitely missed the flight to Brisbane and they ground staff ran up and down the check-in counter and the ticket office to see what they can do to bring me to Brisbane on another flight. However, there was no flight into Brisbane until the next day, and I decided to go to Kuala Lumpur on the next available flight MH2507 at 11:05 a.m. and see what I could do to arrange my flights so that I could get into Brisbane earlier.

When I was on board MH2507, a flight stewardess came to me to see if she could help me on my problem of missing the flight to Brisbane. She told me that there was a night flight to Sydney that I could take and then transfer to a domestic flight to Brisbane from there. I would say that was quite a useful piece of information, and she asked me to go direct to the transfer counter at KLIA to arrange for my flights following her suggestion.

In fact, the ground staff at KLIA had re-booked a ticket to Brisbane for me on the next day but I wanted to reduce the hustle of my hotel and bus ticket booking in Brisbane and Toowoomba that I had made beforehand. So, I wanted them to follow the flight schedules suggested to me by the air stewardess. That took me more than 20 minutes at the Transfer Counter just to get my flight booking done! They offered me free meals at the Concorde Inn that is in the middle of nowhere but I declined. I would rather be on my own expenses to KL city centre to spend the whole afternoon.

That's still not the end of the story. When I was at KLIA again to board flight MH123 to Sydney scheduled at 10:40 p.m., I found out that there was a delay of one hour! So, I quickly go to the Transfer Counter again to see if I would miss the connecting flight from Sydney to Brisbane, and I was told I would! I quickly asked them to book me a later flight that I could take.

At the boarding gate, I saw a very desperate Australian asking whether his plane flying him to Sydney was going to show up. He was already stranded in Kuala Lumpur for the third day as his flight into Sydney was cancelled for the past 2 consecutively days.

My flight to Kuala Lumpur was 'rescheduled' and probably his flight was 'rescheduled' too, but mine was six and a half hours later and his was 72 hours later! Should I consider myself lucky?

I think MAS is trying to cut cost nowadays by cancelling the flights that have low number of passengers and consolidate them into other flights. I thought this only happens for the budget airlines but MAS is also doing it now! What is the difference of MAS and the other budget airlines nowadays? Why do we need to pay 2~3 times for the same service of a budget airline?

MAS is doing this at the expense of the passengers schedule and convenience, which only a budget airline would do. So, if you are flying MAS next time, be prepared to be stranded somewhere in favour of the airline's cost saving. MAS claims MH as Malaysian Hospitality, but I would say it is More Hassles!

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