Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kandy (Teas & Elephants)

After sitting cross legged on the floor at the edge of a jam-packed rustic train for 3 hours, you expect nothing less from a famous city like Kandy to deliver.

And delivered she did.

Kandy, one of the more famous city in Sri Lanka surged in popularity after AirAsia connected most parts of South East Asia to Colombo. Sri Lanka has been popular for decades on its elephant conservation and tourism, but for the longest of time too, Sri Lanka had suffered from various tensions which have caused a lot of religious and political unrest.

But beautiful things do not need to fight for attention.

Over the years, the conservation efforts and wildlife tourism of Sri Lanka, or everything for that matter, which include its vibrant economy, people and culture crept through the ears and sights of traveler of all kinds, westerners largely who then slowly but surely put the word out there that Sri Lanka, IS the next big thing in Asia.

To be honest, I had no idea why we chose to visit Sri Lanka other than the fact that both our ancestors are from Sri Lanka, so it felt just right that we visit this beautiful country just once before we die.

But the more I read about Sri Lanka, Kandy, Colombo, the more I fell in love with it.

Did you know that Sri Lanka is an entire island itself? Imagine their ancestors which some have recorded may have found Sri Lanka as early as 125,000 years ago is just simply unimaginable. With its international maritime relationship with India, and rich in resources, Sri Lanka developed through various monarchs and then reached to its modern period through explorers from Portugal, Holland, France and then the Great Britain. Among its colonisers' legacy were the now the world's famous, tea plantations which have honoured them as one of the world's best tea producers.

And Kandy, was the capital city of the world's top tea producer. It is believed to have the highest form of tea quality, with the best of technology. Now, Kandy enjoys brewing from its tea tourism as well which includes classes, visitations and partnerships.

Myself and Daren were privileged to go on a 30 minutes tour at one of the finest tea workshop in Kandy, and even tried their world famous teas!

And then there were the real reasons we came to Kandy for.

Lo and behold, the Sri Lankan elephants! At Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage.


I was SOO HAPPY I get to see these giant elephants at their "natural habitat" because they're still being monitored as this effort was to multiply them and keep their generations. The conditions are a lot more natural than zoos, because they're free to roam around these huge area which are acres of plantations, but are trained to come back to their respective homes. Like the Orang Utans in Sandakan, sometimes, the animals have a bigger chance of surviving and multiplying if they're in the watch as opposed to being completely in the wild, some die from poisons, some through lack of food.

One part of the visit was the allowance of watching the elephant bathe in the river, seeing almost a hundred of them walking towards the river was a DREAM. Seeing them bathe at their own will and just seeing them interacting with one another IS THE ULTIMATE DREAM.

We visited two orphanage, one the government owned orphanage which allowed us to ride on the elephants and have real interactions, like bathing them and hugging them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was an AMAZING privilege. 

I was so happy, I cried :')

You can steal all my money, but you can't take away that memory of me. HAPPY

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Counting Days

This year I volunteered myself to sing for carols and do my rounds of charity in a local hospital. While I expected lots of fun, and some kind of sadness because we're seeing kids who will be "stuck" more like in the hospital this festive season - I wasn't expected to be completely touched by the visit the way that I was.

The rounds in the hospital was already tough on me, and after the carols - each of us connected the kids the way we wanted to. Some spoke to them and their families, some played games, while others continued the rhymes.

I didn't speak to any because I was already depressingly affected by the whole visit of the wards and seeing these heroes through the hands and eyes of Doctors, Nurses and Medical assistants were the creme de la creme.

During my last round of the ward visit, I decided to speak to a boy (presumably around 7 - 9) who stood by the corner of his ward looking out for the group dressed adoringly in red and glitters. His mum came from behind and started chatting up with me, asking me where we were from, and what the prizes were.

AND THEN I DECIDED TO ASK THE MUM.

I asked the mum what his sickness was and when will he be discharged. It really were the most natural questions to ask someone who are in the ward, I figured. Until the mum told me, that he's had heart and liver infection for the longest time, and that he is to be discharged now. Halfway through while talking to the mum, I realised that the boy was dressed in the fanciest Chelsea jersey, blue jeans in what seemed like a brand new pair of sports shoes.

I gleefully asked the mum, "wow, these are all new??"

Mum smiled at me and said, yes, we are to be discharged today because we cannot afford operations and we have to go back home and "stay positive". Living with a doctor for the past 6 years taught me to understand these terms more than ever - this means, the family and the kid are counting days.

I lost it that moment, and ran out to the hallway and cried so hard that I didn't want to stop. But I did, I had to.

I realised God or anyone up there has given me SO much of time and love around me, that there is ABSOLUTELY no reason for me for one second to be sad. Or pessimist. Or depressed.

Of anything.

Also, I should never speak to anyone in hospitals anymore. I just shouldn't. I'm not cut for the hospitals - I will leave that to my brother.

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sutera Sanctuary Lodge at Kinabalu National Park

I'm happy to see that the charm of the little town Kundasang has resonated with SO many over the years. With the majestic Mt Kinabalu as its setting, Kundasang enjoys it vigorous economy among the locals and tourists. I always suggest Kundasang to everyone because it's a cross between the highlands and the nature, and Mt Kinabalu Park is Malaysia's first UNESCO Heritage Site. With so much richness, history and charm, it's almost impossible for a small town like Kundasang not to find its way to the hearts of repeat tourists and locals alike.

My favourite thing about the journey up to Kundasang?




These local vendors along the way that sell delicious local fruits or foods and this breathtaking view of the valleys and the hills! Whenever we locals visit Kundasang, we always buy their fresh produce like fresh vegetables, chillies, flowers.

Mmm.

I had to visit Kundasang/ national park over one weekend in September for work and were lucky to have been given the opportunity to stay in one of the more luxurious resort in Kundasang - under the Sutera Sanctuary Lodge. These quaint resorts / villas were built so beautifully and each has its own uniqueness.

The view has a full frontal view of the Mt Kinabalu and it's peak, and is done up with its own heater, separate seating area, coffee tea facilities, heater, and just the most comfortable bedding.

They even have a fire place! Charlene and I got so excited over the fire place that we eventually asked the guys to light it up while we were chilling at Bevern's place. It was so magical, like Christmas we could only imagine!

Because it was only between Charlene and I we each took one room. I had the queen bed all to myself while she decided on one of the bunk bed. AH. I already imagined having kids around the house enjoying themselves. The rooms were delightful, they had bath robes, their coffee tea facilities, bathrooms were heated, they had the complete toiletries, a dining table facing Mt Kinabalu - OMAGAD everything was spectacular!

I was informed this beautiful place cost about MYR 600 - MYR 800 per night, but if you could share this with a few more, I'm pretty sure you could save so much more!




It was so misty during our stay, so completely different from being in mainland KK!


Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Earnest Life

Ever since I moved back to KK a few years ago, my life has changed in many little ways that I personally felt... have saved me. The ideal life of a fresh communications Bachelors' graduate from Australia is to work with the fanciest, biggest in the industry with quirky perks like meeting celebrities, making big friends from the industry, with money-cant-buy social experiences.

In fact, I had them.

Fast forward 2.5 years later, the reality was, I had a 50% paycut, demoted one level, thrown into an industry I know nothing about, zero friends to hangout with (my high school friends were all over the world too and had now developed their own cliques) and to top it all - I had to stay with my mum. The reality was incomprehensible at that time, but I was busy adapting to the new life that I forgot time had helped me a lot more than I had credit it for.

And at that point in my life, I saw what people meant by - "give it some time".

I worked diligently in that new industry job I got. With the 50% paycut, I dropped the fancy lifestyle, I started working hard in networking all over again, I stopped big travels because of the money I DON'T have, and developed interests in new places. I picked up on all the reading I had left behind when I was in a busier life in KL.

I was doing everything I could to simply, survive.

Time and earnest work granted me the opportunities to meet interesting people like I used to again. Upon meeting all these interesting people in the industry in KK, there were times when I stepped up the game by personally messaging them on the side projects that I was very interested in. I loved writing, and I knew that I could furnish myself with more projects had I been more involved in more writing projects. Sometimes, I get these big breaks, sometimes, no one calls me for a good 6 months -- there were long hiatus, people don't remember to include me in their projects anymore. The most important thing in the entire world for a kid like me is and has always been networking. I hold the idea so close to my heart that when my bosses shifted jobs, I remained the friendship. When people invited me to parties I know NO ONE of, I went ahead. There were awkward times, there were friendships that I made that never lasted, there were people who tried their luck on me.

Today (four years later), I earned more on a monthly basis than I was back in KL when I left it. I have a lot of beautiful friends who have been colouring my life in good and in bad times, I have a lot more side projects on my plate. I have been harnessing my writing hobby so much more. I own an apartment at my own expense. I could welcomed friends from all over the world to this part of the world. I TRAVEL SO MUCH MORE! I have more disposable income than I had EVER before and I could still give my mum some and treat friends from time to time. When I listed down the amazing things that I have gathered living in an average earnest life... I could have never imagined that an average earnest life like this could be so.... rewarding.

And the single most important thing that I have more now is, Time.

And because of that, I felt that greatness is everywhere.  Greatness is in the lines of the books you read, greatness is in the extra hours you have at night catching America's Next Top Model, greatness is in your mother's smile, greatness is in your pet's purr, greatness is in your photo ops, greatness is in your friends' updates, greatness is in the long distance relationships that you hold dear, greatness is your attitude.

The move I made was initially uncertain, but thanks to time and my sincere intention of looking out for the best for myself has made me understood, that life will treat you greatness and earnest if you are to it.

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Newly Reimagined Volvo Xc60 is Now Available in Sabah!

My plan next year is to lookout for a new ride, partly because my 9 year old Gen 2 is already giving way and maybe, just maybe I could finally afford one. When I was invited to the launch of the new Volvo XC60 my first impression was - oh man! There goes my money!

Look at its sweet sweet interior.



Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Cost of self-planned 9 Days 8 Nights to Paris - Amsterdam - Istanbul

After the FunnyMalaysia article circulated around and went viral on my newsfeed, I was inspired to calculate my own Nine Days Eight Nights self-planned Paris - Amsterdam - Istanbul trip and log down how much exactly it cost me here.

I love the fact that some of us are really exemplary when it comes to budget traveling and are still able to enjoy every little thing during their trip. Which goes to show that really, you could go wherever you want so long as you plan it carefully and with a bit of a discipline, IT CAN HAPPEN! (without breaking your bank).

First of all, you must register into yourself that a euro trip (anywhere for that matter) is not impossible and is not as far as you thought. 

Mum infront of Rijksmuseum. I LOVE THIS ART MUSEUM! 

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Cafe Culture in Europe

One of the many thing that I missed and loved the most about Europe (Paris + Amsterdam) was its Cafe culture. Although I've only been to Paris and Amsterdam, I see the consistency in appreciating their coffees and that culture in these two cities.

Minus the fact that I don't really "drink coffees", I really love how you could catch up with your friends and families while enjoying the chill breeze of spring overlooking or having that adorable dandelions sprouting out around you as the backdrop, of course with french and dutch languages filling the air and buzz of the ever busy streets of Europe no matter how big or small. And that "see passersby" culture in Europe is so distinct to me I love telling everyone about it! What about the range of patisseries to choose from? Meringue? With cream or without? Green tea based teas or coffees? Light coffees? Eclairs? Chili sprinkles on top? The choices were endless. They have everything you could imagine!

My first breakfast in Paris

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Traveling can be the most ADDICTIVE thing.

Just by a flick of a phone, you would stumble upon one breathtaking picture of a place you never knew, yet already loved. You tell yourself that it is yours to discover, and it's yours to learn. And then you start Googling about this mystical place. And like any hidden gem, the more you know about anything, the more in love you fall for it. Then you start searching for flights into that mystical place, hoping you'd stumble upon something more affordable. You'd look at your calendars every minute hoping you could somehow lock those dates in your head and tell the world that you're going to the most awesome place. Or you'd dream you'd be able to telepathically try and bring those dates nearer to you as fast as you can. In the most complex of excitement you're tangled in, you'd want to both tell the world and keep it to yourself.

And when the day came, when you're actually queuing up to board the plane; you applaud yourself because despite the workload, time, distance, finance etc, you are proud of yourself, simply because you are DOING IT, going to leave everything behind going to the unknown mystical place you fell in love with.

Kandy, was that mystical place for me. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Future Birthday Letter I Wrote to Myself

"Dear Jacqkie,

You are probably going to regret reading this on your birthday. You are probably going to hate me for doing this world's most cliche thing, but for what it's worth, you have thought how this will (really) NOT hurt you, instead it could remind you of what your aspirations were for the year.

I have decided to not send this email to you on the 31st December, because I figured it will be too late to change the course of how you will remember your 2014.

You are writing this at your work desktop at the furthest corner of the office, and as you look around, you are reminded of how different things were a couple of years back when you were still in Kuala Lumpur. It's 6.38pm, and you have done most of the things for the day since 5PM. You have become a more organized person, a more reserved person when it comes to your judgement but most importantly you are slowly opening up to your colleagues. You have the biggest restraint when it comes to relationships, for whatever reasons, but now that you are slowly opening up, I couldn't imagine what could be when you're reading this. You're probably getting ready to hang out with them! :) In my humblest of request, I hope you do so.

2013 has been both interesting and fearful. The idea of jumping back into the whole nine yards is always scary, but you know how to strive to be happy, and the world knows he is a good man -- I hope you are having fun with him somehow.

You planned for a European trip to fulfill one of your mum's biggest dream, to see the tulips in real life. I pray to God, that you keep striving to make the trip happen and see it plastered all over your blog by the time reading this.

I am glad that you have become a better person. I have this faith that you are only going to be greater, and the humility you have in you... is astounding. Please stay grounded. In times of being a leader, in times of sharing advices, in times of celebration. Stay grounded.

I am stopping this email here not because I am done talking to you but because you are going home to catch dinner with your mum and your brother. Something of a domesticated practice that you have been going through for as long as you've been back.

Save money, don't do all the luxurious things in the world, they don't keep your soul at peace. You keep your soul at peace.

Happy 26th Birthday. I hope you have fun."

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Homestays via Airbnb at Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka was my first time trying out airbnb as a guest. My family has been hosting numerous people from all walks of life through airbnb and it's about time that we do the same in a place so foreign like Sri Lanka, to call our second home.

This trip was very close to my heart because I went with Daren after so long of not traveling together and to utilise airbnb seemed like the perfect choice.

Daren and I went through a couple of options, a lot of options actually, the more we read about all these wonderful hosts the more I fell in love with them, and the more I got indecisive. Eventually, we've decided that he is to decide on the stays at Kandy, while I needed to decide on the stays in Colombo.

Mr Dijen's House - First Home (First Night in Colombo)
Our first homestay via airbnb was in a very beautiful house with some very edgy black stone walls. Upon reaching the bus station, we followed Mr Dijen's instruction very closely  and options were the bus and tuk tuk. Because we were very exhausted with back to back flights, we decided on the tuk tuk. After about 20 minutes (the jam was quite bad), we finally reached the supposed junction to Mr Dijen's house. We got lost for about 5 minutes looking for it because there were some construction just outside of the road, but when you walk into the actual lane - IT WAS SO LOVELY! I loved the exterior so much I started snapping the moment I walked in.


We were greeted by Mr Dijen who introduced himself so humbly, and so gentlemanly, I knew in that instant, he would be a kind host. He showed us to our room and assured us the freedom we have in utilising the whole place. Because we were there for only one night, he started chatting up with us about our plans and if there were anything else he could do for us (such a sweetheart!).

Honestly, coming to a comfortable home is really just what any traveler could appreciate. Staying in Mr Dijen's home offers just that and more. He had prepared for us the most amazing breakfast spread :) :) :)



Mr Dijen's Listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/915610

Mr Gerard - Second Home (Second - Fourth Nights in Kandy)
After three hours of being in the train to Kandy, my legs were all jelly and all I wanted was a good ol' lunch and rest. I was extremely grateful that Mr Gerard had offered to pick us up for FREE from the train station. Seeing motorists and tuk tuk going up and down the hill in the most narrow roads possible is just amazing. Gerard himself was a funny guy who choked on Daren's question "what medicine do you take when you have flu here?" "*pause* Vitamin C?".

Of all the home stays in Sri Lanka we had the privilege to stayed at, Gerard's was the best. By miles. He and his wife would prepare us this elaborated local Sri Lankan breakfast that was the most delicious spread of food in Sri Lanka I've ever had. I enjoy the breakfast so much I would top my rice up again and again T____T So good. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the photos!

The property itself is big, complete with its kitchenette, microwave, fridge and television and is surrounded by trees and greens all around.


There is a bit of a climb though going to the home. Because it's perched on the hill, if you're worried for your parents or elder people then please consider. Daren and I enjoyed the walk so it was no issue.

Mr Gerard's Listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/486362

Ms Gayathri - Last Home (Fifth Night in Colombo) 
After our momentous trip to Kandy, we rode back to Colombo to catch our flight back to Malaysia. This time, I chose another section of Colombo which was Colombo 7 (versus Dijen's Colombo 4). This was like an upped housing area with a complete sanctions of security. The only access to this home was using tuk tuk and is about 10 - 15 minutes away from town (with jam). Ms Gayathri was a colourful lady who Daren and myself could very well relate with because she is media and advertising. Her house like all the homes we stayed with were very beautiful and interesting. Ours in particular was an all white room with book shelves right up to its ceiling. It felt like the perfect place for long stays, especially for its secured area, and cozy book ends at the corner. I'm thinking perfect for kids as well. I even managed a few pages of "The Life of Mahatma Gandhi".

Daren and I had the chance to really sleep in at Gayathri's because it was our last night and the next flight was at 4pm. It was comfortable and had everything cozy.


Ms Gayathri Listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1002559

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Eco Wildlife City Sandakan


I know I owe Sri Lanka's complete post for the longest time, but since I'm now going back and forth to Sandakan, I might as well share more on this beautiful eco wildlife city for all of you. Sri Lanka will take a LOT of my time which I'm working on at the moment.

For starters - If you and your family only have the weekends to spare to travel anywhere you could in Malaysia, please choose Sandakan. Especially if you have kids. Sandakan used to be British's main port after their first move from Kudat, and if you followed my Instagram you would have known that it was reputed to have the most millionaires in the world thanks to the timber industry. As a result? Till today, Sandakan houses some of the richest people in the world, but they camouflage with everyone else so humbly.



The last time I was in Sandakan was 14 years ago and a lot has changed since then. Not drastically, but you do have some international brands sprouting slowly now, and the charm of the wildlife rehabilitation centres and sanctuaries have developed by leaps and bounds. Some even say the standards of the wildlife sanctuaries and centres are probably among the best in the world. I love the part when the video says "that these centres are conflicted between providing a sanctuary to these protected animals and delivering the requests from tourists of seeing these endangered species." 


I stayed at Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan, and it was epic. The place is right in the heart of Sandakan Harbour overlooking the Sulu Sea. They have the best views in the entire of Sandakan, stretched as far as the eyes can see. At one corner you'd see the berhala island with sunrise, and the other with sunset. They also have this infinity pool that overlooks both the Sulu Sea and Sandakan Bay which is truly breathtaking.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

MH - Malaysian Hospitality

When mum and I decided on our destinations for the Euro Trip back in February, we had left the vital bit the last thing to decide on - which airline?

Some friends told us to take Qatar Airways, rightfully so because they have had an excellent service record and they were in fact on promotion (which was just nice). Some proposed Singapore Airlines for the same reasons (which was quite expensive at that time). But mum wasn't sure about any other airlines but the airlines she grew up with, back in hay-day when there were absolutely no competitions.

So we did. "Plus, we should probably help them out"

We decided on Malaysia Airlines, largely because it should feel most like home when we're traveling 13 hours to Paris, and about 9 hours from Istanbul back to KL. Plus, the rates were pretty competitiv with Qatar Airways. So after locking in our tickets, we were ready for our long haul flights.

***

It was my first experience being on board Boeing A380 Double Decker that probably accommodated nearly 500 of us en route to Paris - and it was insanely amazing. I was wondering why we had two entrances (top and bottom) had I only seen the stairs going up the upper deck when I went to the lavatory halfway through the journey.

I was like, F*CK, this is a huge plane! As if seeing the huge plane's take-off through the external camera wasn't an indicator that the plane was gigantic. Minus the glamourised flawless take-off and the magnificent A380 at its glory sky high, the most worthy thing to speak about when it comes to Malaysian Airlines, above anything else and beyond was its service.

I have had always heard of the metaphor 'Home away from home' but nothing ever came close to pinning or living more like in that definition than being in THAT particular April 10, MH 20, 11.40PM flight from KL - Paris.

Smiles and welcome greetings were expected, but not the bit when they realised I had trouble sleeping, so they gave me a few more pillows and suggestion of some drinks to relax me. Or that part where they chatted with my mum because she had wandering eyes, or that bit when they noticed my colourful socks, or when they assured my mum she could have as much peanut snacks as she wanted, or the part when they asked us our destinations and shared some suggestions. All these with instinctive sincerity.

I haven't been trying a lot of other airlines, but others that I had used previously were not even the slightest bit of close to the service I had received from this spectacular bench of stewards and stewardess from this flight. I had forgotten why Malaysia Airlines was what it was, but that flight reminded me everything about my childhood, about my dad, about my mum, and why it was the most prestigious airline ever graced the sky in the 90s. It was like the Ratatouille of flight. Their hospitality was impeccable.

(while I slept like a baby the entire flight from Istanbul - KL)

I remembered trusting them with my toys, my games, and my parents who traveled a lot with them and in that 13 hours of probably the most amazing flight I had ever been on in my entire life, I remembered why exactly, why WE ALL loved Malaysia Airlines - its Malaysian Hospitality.

I had decided to share this story because I regretted not tweeting it to @MAS right after the flight, I regretted not telling the world what a remarkable the team @MAS had supporting its back, I had regretted not giving them credit.

All the deserving credit.

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Birthday Weekend, Gathering, and Reunion

That 9th of August weekend was one of the more happening weekends I've had in quite sometime. Naturally, I don't have happening weekends. I just don't. A few friends had their engagements and wedding at the same weekend but not at the same place.

Sister's 22nd Birthday 
I couldn't celebrate with my family that Saturday because I had another engagement to attend to, so we celebrated her birthday the Friday night before at this fancy restaurant called Kudos at town.

I got her a balloon bouquet and a tricky candle that relights after blowing. MUAHAHAHA. She kept blowing for a good 5 minutes only to realise that they were magic candles!


Simple setting, but food was to die for! We needed an alone time for the four of us too, so it was just perfect. That was the fastest fine dining experience I've ever had. I had my favourite pesto pasta, bro had his shank, mum fish, and seafood pizza. 


SUPER AWESOME. 

Genevieve's Engagement
And then there was Genes' engagement!! After 7 years I think, Ron finally put a ring on it, and they're on their next stage! Genes and I have been friends since we were in Primary 4, that makes it 14 years of friendship. We've been through primary, sunday school, and high school and remain crazy through it all so I am stoked for Genes and Ronald!!

Her engagement was done up very humbly at home with close family and friends, and we're soooo happy we're part of the ceremony :) :) :) :)

CAN'T WAIT FOR LITTLE GENES + RON!!



Lydia's Wedding + Mini Taylors Reunion 
Right after the engagement I flew to KL for Lydia's wedding at Park Royal. I was so excited to meet up with friends from Taylors! We met up with the rest for lunch before the dinner at Piccadily's and I must have been the happiest girl. Eventhough I was only in KL for one night, I am happy that everyone I love was sitting around me!

(I'm sure you've seen these photos)

LOOOOVEEE THESE PHOTOBOOTH PHOTOS done up by WOW Photo Booth!! Not only do they send these photos directly to your email, you get the hard copies as well.  I loved the photos so much I kept looking at it before I sleep, and ended up sleeping with these photos in my hands. Ahhh, I think I looked the happiest.

For the complete gallery: http://wowphotobooth.pass.us/khern--lydia





Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Friday, August 15, 2014

ATAS Motor Show 2014 Happening This Weekend! 15 -17 August

Nothing like a kick ass motor show to kick start your weekend!

The Auto Traders Association of Sabah (ATAS) will be hosting their 6th ATAS Motor Show this weekend from 15th August - 17th August from 10am - 9pm at the Sabah Trade Centre in Likas.

Entrance fee? FREE.

This exhibition is the single biggest motor show in Sabah, so really, if you love all cars and motors, and are motor enthusiasts, you shouldn't miss this. I know a lot of Sabahans wouldn't, this is like their thing.

There will be over 40 participants during this ATAS Motor Show this year offering special promotions to visitors during the event and other lucky draw activities. Daring exhibitors will get to try a chance to conquer the 30 feet high Isuzu giant ramp.


The ATAS Motor Show 2014 participants include car dealerships such as Sime Darby (Ford & Jaguar-Land Rover), Universal Motor (Isuzu), Right Power (Hyundai), Inti Deras (Big Bikes), Edaran Tan Chong (Nissan), Fook Loi / Anak Sabah (Great Wall Motors), Maxspeed Auto (Mazda), Book Siew (Honda), Boston Auto (Chevrolet) and UMW Toyota.

For more information, call +60168269344 (Yvonne), or email atas3131980@gmail.com or visit http://www.facebook.com/atas1980

CHECK IT OUT!

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

6 Days Ago

It's been five days since I've loaded newsfeed of any kind. Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram.

6 Days ago we were shocked with yet another airplane tragedy. And in all honesty, the recurrence and the violence of it all made it a far more heartbreaking news to digest, yet alone understand - after the news, I had an indescribable magnitude of disappointment on weapons and war between nations buzzing me like a circle around me following me all day and haunting me in all of my daily tasks. I was overwhelmed.

I was greatly disappointed in a lot of bigger things in the world. So great that it took all the words from my being that I just, didn't know how to express anything about it.. Nothing could come out from me.
 
Added on by people's own rendition, interpretation, theories, stories, sensationalism, comments  about the event - I didn't want to continue to be drowned by it.

6 days ago, I decided I'm going to take my time to recover from the shock, to withhold the questions I have for God, the loss, as well, as wanting to be that one person to give the time and respect for the families and loved ones involved in this loss and confusion.

That said, I am preparing for another trip I reckon just in time to debunk whatever fears slowly creeping in. I hope you could pray for my safety xx

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Jazz Bar in Kota Kinabalu, Sully's Bar at KK Times Square

It's been 3 years since I've started settling myself down here in KK. And within that year, I've got myself lingering around a good honest job, a good balance of work and play, restoring my faith back and creating adventures for myself.  

One of the loveliest found this year was this local Jazz/ Blues / Oldies band and/ or the Sully's Bar. Usually a 5 piece band, this band is probably as quoted by Chris the best band (musically) in Kota Kinabalu. They play the Bass, Cello, Organ, Harmonica and even the Congos.

Picture by Sullys Bar
I especially love how they sing and play to Malay musics as well, making them truly the coolest and most wholesome band around. If there's any one bar I truly recommend, this is it (and no they don't pay me to do this) I just figured a good gem should be shared. You see ladies in their headscarves, people coming with their kids - everyone comes to this bar!

Also, you'd be surprised to see some people breaking into dances at times. The crowd there is splendid. Prices? I've seen better ones - but all good if it's just for a drink or two :) 
 
Sullys Bar 
Check out their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/sullysbar.asia 
For R.S.V.P Please feel free to call us at 088-447-107 or SMS to0145728430
info@sullysbar.asia
http://www.sullysbar.asia                            


Love, 
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Istanbul in 3 Days

"Like a Tequila Shot after a couple of Long Island Teas. A perfect closure." - that was first thing that came to my mind when my friends asked me to describe the place (after Paris and Amsterdam). I just couldn't think of another way to end the trip but with a jolt of energy like Istanbul. Istanbul was the final leg to our 11 Days Trip from Paris - Amsterdam - Istanbul.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Istanbul was One of its kind.

The more I know about the beautiful city the more I fall really really hard for it. The people, the east meets west culture, its scenic esplanades, THE FOOD. Good glorious food.

Turkey
Democratic and liberal, Turkey is a beautiful mish mash of a nation that is in the border with about 8 countries - Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Largely, of Islam by religion. Contrary to popular belief, Turkey's capital city is not Istanbul (although it is the largest, Ankara takes pride in being the main city). However, Istanbul is more notorious for its character and charm. And has just recently been awarded the #1 City of the year as voted by Travelers through Tripadvisor.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The different simple people I've met somewhere

I miss writing terribly.

This morning, I randomly browsed through my favourite blogs (travel ones, rightfully) and figured I should pen down some beautiful moments tonight, because, I just feel like it. After much thinking, I've decided to describe to you the different simple people I've met in my life while seeing the world.

Something tells me, that people who speak the same language as me are obliged to be better enough or kind enough to me (because I'm their people), so those who do not know how to speak the same language, or look like me - and yet, extended their kindness, must truly be something else.

That kind man that saw my mum carrying her own bags and decided to drive us to our destination

Yes, we trusted that man.

I asked this middle aged Turkish man in his full brown suit and small glasses drooping from his nose white hair on the sides, but barely, after 10 minutes of tossing and searching our hostel, failing miserably getting lost in the intersections of intersections of the vibrant Sultanahmet. Thinking he'd probably lazily point to the direction where the hostel is, instead, he asked me whether I was with anyone, and then when I pointed my mum at the corner who's already fanning herself in the cold at this moment smiled at me and looked me in the eyes and said - "let me drive you and your mum. I know you can walk, but I must help your mum."

You either take that leap of faith and trust his simple kindness, or you just don't. I chose the former :)


Sunday, June 08, 2014

Amsterdam in 3 Days

So we traveled to Amsterdam from Paris via train. Reached the tram / train station at Paris Charles de Gaulle at about 5.00am to catch the 6.15am bus.

We bought our tickets online via Nhispeed and I would strongly recommend you to do the same. There were only a few times the train travels to Amsterdam in a day, and we figured the earliest would be the best. We didn't want to lose any daylight - so it's always best to reach Amsterdam earlier. Best part was, the train ride wasn't as expected. Well it's always fine with me, but I was traveling with a 60 year old mother, so a lot of things do concerned me.

We learned that there were going to be only three stops. Of which you had to literally run your life for, because the transitions were only about 6 - 8 minutes. And with big luggages, it could mean the hunger games run.

Ride to Amsterdam. Kid infront of me was busy selfie-ing with himself :|


Two of the first stops were within France itself. From the first to the second we passed through Bruxxels, which is more famously known as Brussels, Belgium. Belgium wasn't in our list, so skimming through Brussels through the train ride was very pleasant. Brussels looked modern and yet humble at the same time. There were tall buildings around the not so tall ones - and it looked - clean. I also noticed a lot of solar panels installed on their houses, which I find intriguing knowing the fact that they don't really have much sun... I mean compare to us. So if a European country who doesn't have much sun does it, we should really consider for country. Imagine the savings we could have done!


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kaamatan Festival, Harvest Festival in Sabah, Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia is pretty reserved when it comes to partying. Malaysians on the other hand, know where to find the best parties or make the best parties.

And Sabahans undoubtedly, are the best at it.

If you ever wonder when exactly is the best time to visit this beautiful side of the world, try the month of May. Not only it is the best weather - all sun, all day (right on time for the harvest), it is also the month of learning of the natives in Sabah and also hum, partying. The month will start its monthlong harvest festival celebration, and this is when I strongly, strongly recommend you to explore the local districts in Sabah and get into their harvest festival parties.

Do not fly in Kota Kinabalu and flap around the city WAITING to be invited to these local village parties, you either make friends with locals to get into one, or humbly explore them yourself. Y'know, like classic old times exploration.

They start their games, drinking and singing the first thing in the morning right up till..... well let's just say they can't stop until they're stopped. They're so much culture association with this event, this month, and this particular month has heavy association with drinking too. I hope this doesn't deter those who don't drink, because you don't have to, you can learn about the culture, about the history and about what each native represents because it's one of the more interesting one there is.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos to justify this celebration since I came back for last year's and I didn't get to snap any, but if you've got anyone who've done a full coverage of this month's festival or the previous years' and the year before or the year before or.. then -- please look up, but trust me, it's a good one when you explore.

Here are some suggestions of how you can maximise this festival :-

May 
Every weekend in May - try going into any local districts because they will conduct the classic beauty pageants to represent their districts as well as games and partying.

Last week of May - try heading to KDCA by this time already. KDCA is THE PLACE for its climax on 30 & 31 May. There will be the beauty pageant (undue ngadau) finale, all kinds of local food, drinks, singing, local done up clubs (trust me, it's a sight to be hold, it's small tents done up to a dancing area). You might as well learn the dialect by now.

30 & 31 May - try heading there first thing in the morning. Then start your day exploring all the houses there. If you could catch up on the finale of the Unduk Ngadau (beauty pageant) then please do. You will see wolf-whistles cheers of all the fans from different districts, it's going to be a sight to remember. Try learning everything you need to know about these native races, go to each of their houses, join their local games, learn about what they're good at, what they're big on. Stay on for the night for more socialising, drinking, singing.

By the end of month, you'd be wanting more. But, my friend all good things must come to an end.

So visit us next year again!

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Paris in 3 Days

My mum and I just spent 12 days traveling from Paris, to Amsterdam to Istanbul. Our main purpose of this trip was, wait for it, wait for it, for a plant.

Well not a, but basically we were chasing tulips. It all started when I showed my mum Fresh's blogposts on the Tulip Festival in Istanbul when she sat down unfazed, and said, "this is my dream. I have always wanted to see tulips. Tulips everywhere." 

And knowing me, the moment I even start thinking about it I try really hard to make my way to it. I told her, then let's do it. This was in January, and right after that we started cracking our head.



Paris Day 1

Since we were from Kota Kinabalu, we had to take a flight into Kuala Lumpur really early in the morning, spent our day with the loved ones, and made our way to KLIA in the evening for an 11pm flight. We reached Paris really early in the morning, around 6AM and had to manoeuvre our way to the hotel via shuttle train and tram.


Monday, May 05, 2014

Art Heals: Eclectic Ecstatic Community Art Night Returns in Kota Kinabalu

Eclectic Ecstatic, a monthly event that aims to bring together the entire creative community in Kota Kinabalu made its return at El Centro last month for its second installation with the theme of ‘Art Heals’.

One of the event’s main highlight was featuring the award-winning master piece from local naïve artist, Awang Fadilah (Jacqkie is a huge fan!!) and the Sabah Naïve Art Group. 50 over of their artworks which decorated the wall of El Centro added so much colours as well as creating unique visuals towards the event’s space. If you happen to love the artwork, you can purchase them as well because they are available for sale too.
 
On top of that, some of the Sabah’s top local acts came to show their support in which includes alternative-post rock band, Versatile; ukulele group, OrkesAkiuku; sister duo Alice Alive; and Jobless Giraffes featuring Scott Daryl Hadjiril from Diary of Us. There were other acts that took the stage were guitarist from melodic metal band A Million Evil Faces, Aized Emir Kual who performed alongside with singer-songwriter Rozella; as well as Joanna Quintin and Friends. Artist Deanna Maria Elizabeth entertained the guest with some poetry while comedian Harjinder Kler kept the crowd roaring with laughter. Never a dull moment when it's Eclectic Ecstatic. 



 Versatile


 Scott Daryl Hadjiril from Diary of Us             
         
The event also saw international participants including back-by-popular-demand Rae Kissing Fire from the United States who entranced the crowd with a fire dance, and a very special performance by What a Hard Project, a creative duo that hails all the way from Spain and Argentina.


Rae Kissing Fire from United States


What a Hard Project

The main goal of this event was to give locals a platform and safe space of freedom to freely express themselves without any creative boundaries.  

According to the organizers, the theme ‘Art Heals’ was chosen for this installation as they realized the importance of spreading the message that rings deep and true to many people including themselves.

We all know what it feels like to be down or ill and have limited option to turn to for help, but art uplifts us.  All art forms, from beading to painting and drumming to dancing, is a powerful tool to heal all aspects of us, and we would like to use art to support those who need them the most in the near future, but we first need to create awareness and raise funds for that. ” said Devi Kusardy Cox of TACKit."

And as artists especially, there are many barriers which make it a real challenge to create and produce artworks, be it financial, society’s perception and judgment or other personal matters, but when we stay true to our passion and focus on doing what we love, our art is always there to give us strength, pushing us forward.  ‘Art heals’ is an important message and having free community events like this, helps us spread the word.” added RozellaMahjhrin of Contagious.

This is a non-profit community event and the organizers encourage people in the community to contribute in whatever way they can so that they can sustain Eclectic Ecstatic and continue providing a platform for creative individuals to showcase their talent. It’s good to know that the sponsorships for Eclectic Ecstatic are mostly based on trade system.  Hence, Katie King of El Centro provided the space for free and the Sabah naïve art group is giving 30% off profits from sale of artworks. Besides that, there were charitable individuals like Borneo Magic Bead affiliated artist SaijaMarit Wan from Sweden who donated handmade bracelets for sale, and Dstaffwho partially sponsored the sound system.

For more details or information on Eclectic Ecstatic, please visit their official Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/ContagiousCreativeAgency or www.facebook.com/LetsTACKit.

Till the next one! 
 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Quick Overview - Paris, Amsterdam and Istanbul

Before I really start dissecting on my Paris - Amsterdam - Istanbul trip, I've decided to write an overview of each city that I could identify with. To start, I need to tell you that traveling in / to Europe is not cheap but NOT IMPOSSIBLE. I spent a total of MYR 8k inclusive of return flight, in between flights and trains, as well as accommodation and truckload of souvenirs which in my opinion is really-really cheap.

Give me a few weeks to update on my trip but for now, here's a quick run through.

Paris

While we were finalising our trip, Paris came last to mind and we were deciding between Brussels (simply because we heard really nice things about the city, it was a cross over between Netherlands and France) and London (because it's London) as well as Paris (because it's the most famous city in the world). After much consideration, we finally imagined ourselves more strolling around Champs Elysees towards the Arch de Triomphe. Eventhough we were heading to Europe (for the first time for me), this was still going to be a holiday. And it still needs to be relaxing.

We reached Paris really early in the morning, and immediately had a truly Parisien breakfast of croissant and coffees. Our first impression wasn't the brightest (I really don't want to say this) but the reception was a bit of a snob. We have had heard about French being French, but nothing like reality. I don't know whether it's completely off-track to compare Asian hospitality with European - but I couldn't help to do just that. The man behind the desk just stood there when we tried to move our bags... so I started working on my theory, that people will be nice to you... if you are nice to them first. And surprisingly, it worked by an inch. He loosen up a little bit after a few stumbles but still refused even a good morning.

After visiting Paris, and what people seem to describe it as the city of romance, I must say instead, I find it the city of history. I couldn't get my eyes off these amazing French gothic architecture that the Kings of Europe built and in fact, they are still strong and part of French's huge identity. I had no idea why anyone would want to visit Paris prior to coming to Paris, but now I know why I would. The building, the cafes, at the end of the day, Paris is Paris. The atmosphere that people pay to come to visit, it's artistic, luxurious and beautiful in short.


Amsterdam 

I never thought of visiting Amsterdam prior to this trip either. But mum was so certain that Tulips came from Holland that she told me "we must visit Amsterdam". Guys, Amsterdam is the more romantic one. Canal cruises, biking trips, stretches of tulips, sex (you'll get it), intricate cafes, smaller lanes, parks, stretches of greens, windmills, markets, I have this idea in my head that Amsterdam is a lot more tame to explore with your partner. Not only are the straats (streets) so beautiful during Spring, they're so simple and so much more relaxing.

The people could speak perfect English (a little American too) so that helped a little bit.

Maybe I preferred Amsterdam as a honeymoon / romantic spot more because of its humility. It's a huge city, with half a million bicycles around - you can just imagine strolling and biking around.

You should consider Amsterdam as a honeymoon destination.


Istanbul

Istanbul is like a shot of tequila after you had some long island teas. You enjoy your long islands smooth and easy, that when you come to Istanbul - bam! You get a whole dose of discovery, excitement and crazy all at once. It's so colourful, jovial and full of vibrant that you will love it by the minute.

It was such a great build up from Paris, to Amsterdam to Istanbul that I couldn't think of a more genius way to maneuver these three cities than that. The main reason we did this trip was to catch on Istanbul's tulip festival with carpets of tulips, and basically, realize mum's all time dream come true. She told us, growing up she reads a lot of English literature books and they always described Spring so lovely with the tulips around. All she ever wanted to do was to see and feel it for herself.

But little did we know this Tripadvisor 2014's city of the year Istanbul is A WHOLE LOAD MORE than just tulips. Because of it's very special location right in between the Asian and European continent, Istanbul is a melting pot of culture and history. It is also, one of the more famous trades in the world dating back as early as 330AD so they were among the oldest discovery in the world.

Istanbul is so easy to be loved.


Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Quick Updates

It's that round of updates again.

I'll start off with FMFA. I was meant to go to FMFA for the weekend, but the event got cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. So we skidded to an ice cream parlour to catch up over the remaining time I had left over there.

And then there's Chris' farewell.

I rarely talk about this dude because he just seems like a permanent parcel in my life like.. the box of stationeries on my table desk, or like my mum (cripes), it always seems like he's always there (in my case literally) because we hang out ALL the time so when he finally he decided to embark on the next journey back home -- it seems surreal that he's finally leaving all of us.

I think it's been 3 years since we've met, and we always seem to have great discussion discussing about earth, the heaven and everything in between. And also 3 years since #yolo. Dude, we will always be here. I don't know about the rest, but I'm practically planted here in KK. Pic courtesy of Angel.




And then there's the short trip that my friends and I took over the last week of March to Labuan (we love to go Labuan because that place is duty free - so we go crazy on the alcohol there). It was so good to spend some quality time with the best friends. I couldn't have asked for a better way to catch up with them. Meeting up with Ingrid is always golden because she's not around often :)))

And that meant I stocked up on my wines. Nyehehehehe.


The erratic lovely couple.



Where I became the driver who often got lost.


I had to post this photo because everyone is here! We had a gala dinner for all the hotels in Sabah (we've got such great ties with each other it's crazy) and everyone looked perfect! Pic courtesty of David Aramaitii 


When the guys at Glory Studio told us that we could take so much more because there were plenty more available, Nevi and I went crazy.


Totally had no clue that they were going to put up the photos on their Facebook Page -________-" That was a bit embarrassing. But oh well. 


Okay that was a quick wrap up.

I've been very busy with my apartment recently. The place is booked up almost everyday, and since I had no one to help me in my bookings, checking in and even cleaning the place - I had to do everything MYSELF.

There are times when I'm completely exhausted by all the odd jobs that I'm doing but everytime I meet my guests and talk to them about Malaysia/ Sabah / Kota Kinabalu - everything is compensated.

Everytime I attend the events that I'm suppose to cover I get super tired BEFORE attending it (is that even possible) but everytime I do and meet up with these great people - everything is compensated.

Life is good. I'm packing for a two weeks trip. I will keep you posted :)

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.