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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Fin Burger Halal Fast Food Chain in Bangkok, Thailand

Who doesn't like Burgers? :) we too are fond of this crazy fast food snack and if they are made to perfection with quality, balanced spices, fresh ingredients and cooked on order, they'll make your meal all the more enjoyable and memorable. So, we are always on hunt for good fast food joints that offer delicious burgers, and to our good luck, we found a new one, for us at-least because these guys are operating since 2015; Fin Burger... tada!

The only thing that would've gone wrong for us was that we reach the spot at the time, when they were about to close their operations for the day, so we requested them to take our order and thankfully they obliged! we took some time, to finalize what to order, as they have a big line up of burgers, from chicken to beef to lamb, and then single patty to multiple patties. With, a number toppings to choose from. Various options for fries as well, plain, spiral, waffle & pom poms. Apart from a huge variety of burgers, they also serve limited options of fried chicken, rice and noodles. Standard beverages plus the new ones we tried there were Sparkling Apple Juices goes by the names of Adam and Eve, creatively designed bottles and good soft drink to accompany your meal.

Now because we wanted to try all the varieties, we decided to order single patty burgers, otherwise we wouldn't be able to finish all of them. So, we went for Lamb Bacon Cheese burger, Beef Bacon Cheese burger and Chicken Bacon Cheese burger. Along with a bucket of plain fries and Sparking Apple Juices (Adam and Eve).

The order we placed was prepared fresh and was cooked to perfection. Quality, fresh ingredients, juicy burger patties, balanced spices and a lot of filling, makes these burgers best in class and made a lovely dinner meal for us. Definitely recommended :)

Watch the video for full menu options, prices and detailed review and please do not forget to subscribe, click the bell icon, share this episode and provide your valuable feedback and comments or questions.

9 Days Road Trip to Malaysia by Car from Bangkok, Thailand - 19 Episodes

Road trips have always been close to my heart and I strongly believe that road trips on one's private conveyance is the best form among others (air, bus, train, etc.). And, if a road trip includes crossing into the border of neighboring countries and exploring the new landscapes for the first time, then the excitement level reaches to new heights :)

So, me and my wife, were planning to do such a trip for quite sometime. We do had experience of doing road trips within Thailand and we had been to Phuket, Krabi and Koh Chang, Trat, all by road from Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. However this trip was one of a kind for us because we never did a road trip all the way to another country, which also means that we had to do a lot of legal preparations as well like visas, vehicle permits, license, insurance, etc.

The whole tour was a great learning experience for us and we believe its worth sharing for others as well, who can benefit from our learning, the unique facts and figures of the places we visit, some wonderful traveling tips and tricks that will help you in planning yours.

Although first 6 episodes/videos are in Urdu language but it has sufficient English captions of all important information and tips. All other episodes/videos are in English language. Please do not forget to provide your feedback and comments. If you have any questions please feel free to ask and we will be glad to provide answers. Also please subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel and click Bell Icon as well to get latest updates.
  1. Day 01 & 02 - Ep 01 - Traveling by Car from Bangkok, Thailand to Malaysia via Padang Besar Border
  2. Day 02 - Ep 02 - Ferry to Kuah, Langkawi from Kuala, Perlis jetty
  3. Day 02 - Ep 03 - Padang Matsirat Sunday Night Market in Langkawi
  4. Day 03 - Ep 04 - Dataran Lang, Geo Park and Jetty Point, Kuah in Langkawi
  5. Day 03 - Ep 05 - Tanjung Rhu Beach - The Best Beach of Langkawi
  6. Day 03 - Ep 06 - Oriental Village in Langkawi
  7. Day 03 - Ep 07 - SkyCab, SkyBridge, SkyGlide and SkyBistro in Langkawi
  8. Day 04 - Ep 08 - Penang Bridge and Upside Down Museum in Penang
  9. Day 04 - Ep 09 - World's Largest Toy Museum in Penang
  10. Day 04 - Ep 10 - Penang Hill or Bukit Bendera and Char Koey Teow
  11. Day 05 - Ep 11 - Exploring Cameron Highlands in Pahang
  12. Day 06 - Ep 12 - Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur
  13. Day 06 - Ep 13 - Trying Malaysian Cuisine at Signatures Food Court of Suri KLCC in Kuala Lumpur
  14. Day 06 - Ep 14 - Dataran Mardeka, Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Masjid Negara in Kuala Lumpur
  15. Day 06 - Ep 15 - China Town or Petaling Street Market in Kuala Lumpur
  16. Day 07 - Ep 16 - Trying Malaysian Cuisine Breakfast - Roti Cenai, Tosai and Teh Tarik at Kuala Lumpur
  17. Day 07 - Ep 17 - The Mesmerizing Genting Highlands
  18. Day 07 - Ep 18 - Skytropolis - Indoor Theme Park in Genting Highlands
  19. Day 07 - Ep 19 - Metro City, Star Lake, Food Trucks and Winter Wonderland in Genting Highlands
  20. Day 08 - From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Padang Besar, Perlis, Malaysia
  21. Day 09 - From Padang Besar, Perlis, Malaysia to Bangkok, Thailand. End of Tour.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Trying Malaysian Cuisine at Signatures Food Court of Suria KLCC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Day 06 - Ep 13

Day 06 - Ep 13 - After visiting the Petronas Twin Towers (see previous episode for details), it was almost lunch time and we head towards the famous Signatures Food Court of Suria KLCC. Suria KLCC is an upmarket retail center at the feet of the Petronas Towers. It features mostly foreign luxury goods and high-street labels. Its attractions include an art gallery, an underwater aquarium and also a Science center.

The Signatures Food Court has a lot of different options which offers both local/Malaysian as well famous international cuisines. We were obviously looking for a local Malaysian cuisine experience and we finally selected a restaurant called Ahh-Yum by Kampong Kravers and ordered following:

  1. Nasi Lemak Berempah - RM 15.90 - Very tasty :) & recommended! - Fried chicken, white boiled sticky coconut rice, Sambal sause, hard bioled egg, peanutes, anchovies, crackers and cucumber
  2. Soto Nasi Imput/Mihun - RM 15.90 - Average taste, won't try again :( - Rice noodles in soupy broth, chopped green onions, chopped red peppers, bean sprouts, hard boiled egg, peanuts, crispy crackery rice noodles as topping and a locally made some traditional black sauce. (there was also two fritter-kind-of thing in orangish-color on the top, wasn't really able to figure out what that was)
  3. We tried one more dish from a different restaurant called Chicken Rice & Wantan Mee, and the dish is called BBQ Chicken - RM 11 - Good taste :) - Grilled chicken breast chunks served on top of white boiled rice with sambal sauce and some greens on top. Accompanied with a very light plain soup.

Exploring Cameron Highlands in Pahang, Malaysia - Day 05 - Ep 11

Day 05 - Ep 11 - Exceptional scenic views of natural forest, tea plantations, hills, farms (strawberries, roses/flowers, cactus, honey bee, butterflies) and mountains. Delightful weather to go outdoors with ease in cool and calm breeze and enjoy the nature at its best :). We loved Cameron Highlands, and we made wonderful memories there that will live forever with us, and hopefully when we come visit Malaysia next time, we'll definitely go there again and spend more quality time.

Cameron Highlands is among the most popular highland retreats in Malaysia. It's very vast and much much bigger then Genting Highlands, more like a city in itself and for this reason it has plenty of open, natural spaces, valleys, farms, hills, and wonderful scenic spots to enjoy the mother nature in its raw form.

Cameron Highlands is best known for its scenic tea plantations and visitors are not only allowed to visit these plantations, but they also have beautiful viewpoints and cafe/restaurants where they can enjoy the tea, snacks and other beverages. The famous tea plantation viewpoints include:
  1. Boh Tea Plantation (Boh Estate, Factory, Plantation & Viewpoint)
  2. Tea House 1
  3. Tea House 2
  4. Tea House 3
The best natural experience and viewpoint is at Boh Tea Plantation, but to reach the viewpoint, you have to climb up some 70+ stair steps up the hill. The stair steps are carved out of un-even rocks and can be dangerous for elderly and small children. Once you reach up the hill, you'll be able to witness the whole valley around, a 360 degree view of plantations on all the hills around and in between beautifully looking wooden huts and cattle ranches. The entrance to Boh Tea Plantation Viewpoint is free. However, if you want to take a tour of Boh Factory and witness the tea making process then there's a fee for that.

If you are accompanying elderly or small children, then we recommend visiting Tea House 2, which has the second best experience after Boh. 

There are a lot of outdoor activities that you can enjoy in Cameron Highlands, such as:

Honey Bee Farms Tour
Strawberry Farms Tour (with option to pick strawberries on your own ~ RM 30 / 500 gms)
Rose/Lavender/Flower Gardens Tour
Cactus Point Tour
Butterfly Garden Tour
Mossy Forest and Natural Trail
Jungle Trekking
Robinson Falls
Orang Asli Village Tour
MARDI Agro Farm
Night Markets
Rafflesia - world's largest flower

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Penang Hill or Bukit Bendera and Char Koey Teow in Malaysia - Day 04 - Ep 10

Day 04 - Ep 10 - We recommend you to reserve one full day for this "Pearl of the Orient", because it has a lot to offer and a lot for you to explore and enjoy. Penang Hill is actually a collection of peaks/hills, and the one that usually referred to as Penang Hill or Bukit Bendera (in Malay) is the most developed peak among them. It was used as a retreat during the British colonial period, and is now a popular tourist destination in Penang.

The top of the hill is accessible via the Penang Hill Railway from its base station at Hill Railway Station Road. To date, this funicular railway system is the only one of its kind in Malaysia and the operating hours of funicular is as follows:

Daily train operating hour - 6.30am - 11.00pm (Last train from top station)
Daily ticketing counter operating hour - 6.30am - 9.45pm

Moreover the operation during the day are based on following schedule:
6:30am to 8:00am - every 30 minutes
8:00am to 8:00pm - every 15 minutes
8:00pm to 11:00pm - every 30 minutes

Ticket Fees (for foreigners):
Adult (2-way): Standard RM 30 - Fast Lane RM 80
Adult (1-way): Standard RM 15 - Fast Lane RM 45
Children (4 - 12 years) (2-way): Standard RM 15 - Fast Lane RM 40
Children (4 - 12 years) (1-way): Standard RM 8 - Fast Lane RM 20
Senior Citizen (60 & + years): Standard RM 30 - Fast Lane RM 60

There's ample amount of parking space (paid) in a parking plaza adjacent to Penang Hill Lower Station. This is automated parking, you'll get the card on entrance and you will have to pay the amount on card before you leave, via several parking payment kiosks on each floor of the parking plaza and are installed close to the stairs and elevators.

After parking head straight to the Penang Hill Lower Station and get your Funicular tickets from the ticket counter. You will see the batch# mentioned on the tickets and which will be referred in boarding announcements made from time to time over the speakers and also on the information kiosks and display screens installed at various locations to keep passengers informed about the status of Funicular.

Enter the boarding area of Funicular, by tapping the tickets on to the automatic entry gates, allowing you to pass through the gates. Proceed to the waiting area, if your batch is not the upcoming one, else proceed to the boarding station queue and wait until the Funicular comes to a stand still and automatic sliding gates of the Funicular are open.

Penang Hill is a wonderful hill resort and offers:
  1. Mother Nature
    1. Rich flora and fauna
    2. The Habitat
    3. Nature Walks
    4. Monkey Cup Garden
  2. Breathtaking Views
    1. Beautiful Sun Rise
    2. Spectacular Day Views
    3. Mesmerizing Sunset & Evening Views
  3. Cultural Diversity (Mosque & Temple)
  4. Heritage Attractions
  5. Little Village
  6. Earthquake & Typhoon
  7. Love Lock
  8. Henna & Spa
  9. Dinosaur & Aviary Garden
  10. Owl Museum
There are plenty of options available when it comes to food and beverages and you'll see restaurants/cafes, food court and other stalls offering snacks, juices, ice creams, etc.

This was the first time when we tried local Malaysian dish called Char Koey Teow and it was quite tasty, for full review please refer to the last section of this video.

World's Largest Toy Museum in Penang in Malaysia - Day 04 - Ep 09

Day 04 - Ep 09 - Honestly it was a news for us! that Penang actually has the world's largest toy museum and we were very excited to visit this museum. However, it doesn't turned out to be a quality experience for us :(. May be we became too old to enjoy that :D, but nevertheless, we quickly wrap up our tour of the museum and then proceed to our next destination i.e. Penang Hill.

Daily 9am to 6pm

Fees (for foreigners):
Adult: RM 39
Children (below 4 feet and 6 inches): RM 29

Free on open plot at owner's risk

Penang Bridge and Upside Down Museum in Penang, Malaysia - Day 04 - Ep 08

Day 04 - Ep 08 - After Langkawi, Penang Island is the next most visited Island of Malaysia with a number of tourist attractions that are top rated both in terms of entertainment and sight seeing. Penang Island is connected to mainland Malaysia via two of the Malaysia's longest bridges, Penang Bridge and Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge. While traveling over these bridges, they offer wonderful views and experience of the Penang Straight.

We have our eyes set on Upside Down Museum as the first attraction to visit in Penang. This was a unique experience for us, because we never had been to museums like these before and without any doubt it turned out to be an extremely fun filling, joyous and entertaining experience for us. So, much that we spent a lot more time then we first planned to and I possibly can not express it in mere words, so I would recommend to checkout this video.

Monday - Friday: 8:45am - 6:30pm (last admission at 5:45pm)
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays: 8:45am - 7:30pm (last admission at 6:45pm)

Entrance Fees (for foreigners):
Adult: RM 29
Child (5 - 12 years): RM 19

SkyCab, SkyBridge, SkyGlide and SkyBistro in Langkawi, Malaysia - Day 03 - Ep 07

Day 03 - Ep 07 - SkyBridge is a must-visit attraction of Langkawi - it attracts tourists from all around the world, throughout the year and is the busiest tourist attraction of Langkawi. So, you better plan to go early in the morning. SkyCab opens at 9:30pm during normal operation days. Do not forget to checkout their up to date timing calendar on the day of your visit here.

As mentioned in previous episode the entrance to SkyBridge and all other Sky* attractions are through the Oriental Village and you might get distracted with other attractions :), so even if you want to spend some time exploring other attractions and Oriental Village itself, we recommend to go straight to SkyCab first because the queue at SkyCab grows very quickly. You will have all the time to come back and visit rest of the attractions, the same day.

Please note that you are not allowed to carry along any food & beverages with you. You will have to submit these at the entrance and can collect them back on your way out.

Ticket prices for foreigners are as follows:

Adult: - Normal Lane - RM 85 & Express Lane - RM 135
Child (2-12 years): Normal Lane - RM 65 & Express Lane - RM 115

(Shared) Glass Bottom Cable Car or Gandola - Per Person - RM 105 - Shared mode with Express Lane (inclusive) and complimentary entry to SkyDome, SkyRex and 3D Art Langkawi

Private Glass Bottom Cable Car or Gandola - RM 550 - Private with Express Lane (inclusive) and complimentary entry to SkyDome, SkyRex and 3D Art Langkawi

(Private) VIP Cable Car or Gandola - RM 550 - 3 Sofa-type extra comfy seats. Inclusive of Meals, Express Lane, and complimentary entry to SkyDome, SkyRex and 3D Art Langkawi.

The SkyCab Cable Car or Gandola boarding happens periodically after every 15 minutes and throughout the day, back and forth.

The SkyCab station at Oriental Village, from where you'll start your journey, is called Lower Station. Once you reach almost 90% of the height, you will see the Middle Station, and if you like you can stop by and explore the viewpoints at Middle Station and then from the same point hop on to incoming Cable Car or Gandola to reach to the Top Station. It would take less than 10 minutes for you to reach to top station, non-stop from lower station and for the record, this is the world's steepest cable car with highest slope angle of 42 degrees!

At the top station, you can do sight seeing from wonderfully designed view points. You can also get some healthy snacks, juices, confectionaries, etc from the SkyMart. There's also a restaurant/cafe called SkyBistro where you can enjoy your lunch or supper, offering both local and continental meals.

From the top station, you will have two options to reach SkyBridge (1). Use SkyGlide, which is like a tram and will take you down to the SkyBridge entry point. The ticket price (two-way back n forth) of SkyGlide (which includes SkyBridge fee as well) is RM 16 per person (2). Trek through the Nature Trail called Sky Walk - free of cost and then pay fee for SkyBridge at entrance - RM 6 for adults and RM 4 for children.

Skybridge is known to be the longest free span and curved bridge in the world. The bridge is suspended from a 82m high single pylon, hangs at about 100m above ground and it can accommodate up to 250 people at the same time. It swings out over the landscape to give visitors a unique spatial experience, and to bring them into otherwise unattainable locations, above virgin jungle with spectacular views.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Oriental Village in Langkawi, Malaysia - Day 03 - Ep 06

Day 03 - Ep 06 - Serving as a base station or a gateway for the top most attraction of Langkawi, Oriental Village is a beautifully designed open-air themed complex with strong architectural influences from China, Japan and West. Bright colors, aesthetically paved pathways and arc bridges over streams connected to central lake, all making it an amusing place for an enjoyable stroll. A vibrant marketplace that includes several shops, stalls and outlets all offering food and beverages, souvenir items, gadgets, exhibits, tours and rides.

Entry to Oriental Village is free for everyone. There's plenty of (automated) charged parking spaces in Oriental Village as it attracts a huge crowd throughout the year because of following attractions:

3D Art Langkawi
Eco Ride (Twizy Electric Car & Revgo Electric Bike)

Tanjung Rhu Beach - The Best Beach of Langkawi, Malaysia - Day 03 - Ep 05

Day 03 - Ep 05 - Emerald blue, crystal clear water, white powder-fine sand, dense jungle on one side and islands at a distance - Tanjung Rhu Beach is without any doubt the best among the beaches of Langkawi. And, a cherry on top, it's not crowded! the area is absolutely secluded and the atmosphere is silent and peaceful.

At around 11 am in the morning, we went to visit the beach and it was too hot at that time. Generally, the weather in Langkawi is hot throughout the year, and on such a sunny day with scorching heat from top, it became too difficult for us to even attempt a maiden stroll at the shoreline :(

So, recommendation for all of you, who can not bear the heat and hot temperature, please do visit this amazing beach at early hours of the day i.e. early morning or just before sunset. And, OMG! can you imagine how it would be like to witness sun-set on a scenic beach view like this :)

We wish, we had that in mind and scheduled our visit accordingly :( but nevertheless, more reasons to comeback to Langkawi again :)

Tanjung Rhu Beach is a public beach, open 24 hours and entry is free for everyone. Part of the beach is private and separated by a fence, belonging to Tanjung Rhu Resorts. There are few shops, cafe's and restaurants on the beach and you can find small huts, umbrellas, bean bags and benches there with all sort of hot and cold beverages, smoothies and shakes, snacks and local Malaysian cuisine.

We recommend you to try the delicious Coconut Ice Cream Shake at this beach, because that was one of the best shakes we had in Malaysia.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Dataran Lang or Eagle Square, Geo Park and Jetty Point, Kuah in Langkawi, Malaysia - Day 03 - Ep 04

Day 03 - Ep 04 - It was around 7 in the morning and a wonderful overcast weather with smooth soothing breeze and we were at the jewel of Malaysia, called Langkawi :)

This morning we went straight to Jetty Point, Kuah to start our sight seeing and exploration of this beautiful island, and the first attraction that we started from was, Dataran Lang, which is right beside the Jetty Point and is also called Eagle Square. It is actually built in the form of tiled corniche at one end of the jetty in the shape of a big pentagram (or five pointed star).  Right at the middle of this star is the main attraction of this square, a big sculpture of a brown eagle on top of a carved stone, poised to take off. Brown eagle became a symbol for Langkawi over the period of time and they say that the work Langkawi is actually a combination of two words "Lang", meaning eagle and "Kawi", meaning "Redish brown" - literally meaning Redish Brown Eagle. These eagles can be seen all around the island signifying the association of this bird with this beautiful island.

Dataran Lang also has two covered halls with different stalls and benches for visitors, from where they can get snacks, ice creams, hot/cold beverages, juices, souvenir items, caps, bags, etc..

The entrance of Dataran Lang is through the Geo Park, a small park right at the edge of Kuah jetty, which is also part of the Langkawi UNESCO Global Geo Park (

While we were strolling around enjoying and taking pictures, drizzle started and made our experience more exciting :)

Padang Matsirat Sunday Night Market in Langkawi, Malaysia - Day 02 - Ep 03

Day 02 - Ep 03 - It was quite interesting to know that Night Markets in Langkawi are setup throughout the week i.e. all seven days, however, each night of the week they are setup in different locations:

(Click on the links top open Google Maps in a new window)

Sunday @ Padang Matsirat Night Market
Address: Kampung Padang Mat Sirat, 07100 Langkawi, Kedah
Address: 2, Taman Wawasan Indah, Kampung Padang Gaong, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Address: Kampung Chenek Kura, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia

Address: Lencongan Putra 3 Kuah, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Address: Kampung Lubok Buaya, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Address: Jalan Padang Gaong, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Address: Lencongan Putra 3 Kuah, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia

The timings of these night markets are from 6pm in the evening till 10pm in the night. 

Because we were happen to be in Langkawi on Sunday, we got the chance to explore Padang Matsirat Night Market. The market is comprised of several stalls setup alongside the street and in the open lot. We saw both locals and tourists in great numbers sprawling over stalls/booth selling all kinds of pickles, biscuits & confectionaries, snacks, local food and juices, clothes & drapery, souvenir items, watches & sunglasses, wallets & handbags, artworks, DVDs, small gadgets, etc..

If you haven't tried the King of Fruits i.e. Durian, you can try these here :) and also the huge Jack Fruits (checkout the video) weighing, I think around ~ 10-15kg.

We tried a number of food items from these stalls (checkout the video), including:
  1. Mee Goreng (RM 3) :- made with (spaghetti) noodles, (scrambled) eggs & (stir fried) vegetables, topped with green chillies in some black sauce (soya?) - didn't like the sweetness in it :(
  2. Biji (RM 1 for 2 pcs) :- Deep fried crispy rolls & triangles with mashed potato filling - again sweetness killed it :(
  3. Ayam Goreng (RM 2) :- Deep fried (lightly battered) chicken pieces - batter used for coating lacks taste. Won't recommend :(
  4. Murtabak Ayam (RM 4) :- Fried flat bread with filling of mince chicken, scrambled eggs, chopped onion, chopped green chillies and some light spices - tastes good :) but lacks wow factor
  5. Nasi Kukus (RM 5) :- Sticky coconut white rice, deep fried chicken piece, sambal sauce, spicy curry (made from chicken/beef stock), sliced cucumbers - Didn't like it at all :( specially the curry, although it looked quite similar to the curries made in Pakistan/India, but it tastes very differently in a negative way. May be it's because our taste bugs are not accustomed to such taste.
  6. Cucur Bilis (RM 1 for 3 pcs) :- Spinach and bean sprouts fritters - Oil alert! 
  7. Doughnuts (RM 1.5) :- Best snack/desert among the ones we tried in this market. Different flavorful fillings of chocolate, blueberry, lemon cream, durian, date, strawberry, etc. Other doughnuts include plain ones and sugar coated, chicken floss coated and chocolate glazed. Very fresh and very tasty. Highly recommended :D
  8. Dorayaki (RM 1 for 3 pcs) :- Small pan cakes with different varieties - Sri Kaya (coconut milk) and Nenas (pineapple) - Lacks taste and spongy :(
We weren't disappointed because in our experience you won't necessarily find all quality items in food streets, there are good and bad, and expect both. However, one recommendation is to always try fried, snacks, hot food items then and there; don't parcel them and carry along to eat them afterwards, because they will loose the warmth, freshness and become soggy.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Traveling by Ferry to Kuah, Langkawi from Kuala, Perlis Jetty in Malaysia - Day 02 - Ep 02

Day 02 - Ep 02 - Langkawi was among the top places which we planned to visit during our trip to Malaysia and although we initially planned to reach Kuala, Perlis as early as 6am in the morning, to get onboard to the very first ferry that leaves at 7am for Kuah, Langkawi; we were late because of border crossing delays mention in previous episode.

So, we reached Kuala, Perlis at around 2:00 pm and I read online that there's an option to take your car to Langkawi as well via the Auto Ferry, but they mentioned online that it would require you to bring your car at least 2 hours before departure. Now, because we were already too late and I don't want to wait further, we decided to leave the car at Kuala, Perlis and go via Passenger Ferry to Langkawi and then get a car rental there. But even then, I went to offices of 2 different Auto Ferry operators to check the booking status and both were fully booked and were only offering booking for next day. There was at least one more Auto Ferry operator, whose office (cabin) I can see right after these two. So, if you are planning to take your car along, make sure you book your slot with one of these Auto Ferry operators early on and yes they provide option to do booking online as well. Do note that these Auto Ferry operator offices/cabins are right beside the beautiful Mosque Al Hussain.

The Passenger Ferry Terminal and operators are a little further, few minutes walk from the Mosque Al Hussain. I went further to the newly constructed building right opposite to Kuala Perlis Ferry Terminal. This new building hosts a number of different passenger ferries operators, and you can get your passenger ferry tickets from here. This building also hosts a number of other stalls selling food, snacks, beverages, souvenir items, etc.. 

The Passenger Ferry operates from 7am to 7pm with departures to Kuah, Langkawi after every 30 minutes and the price for single ticket for one person one-way is RM 18. So, I bought two tickets for me and wife and then I went a little further ahead to make arrangements for my car parking in one of the several Charged Car Parking Sheds/Areas. There are options for both covered and open parking spaces and they charged me RM 15 per day for covered car parking. Do note that, the day ends at 12 midnight, so although I parked my car at around 3pm and if even if I took it out before 3pm next day, they would charge me for 2 days. The parking operator gave me a parking ticket with a contact number of person to contact once we return back to Kuala, Perlis from Kuah, Langkawi.

Because, we haven't purchased the Malaysian SIM cards yet, and I saw Celcom counter in the building from where we purchased the ferry tickets, so I head straight back to that counter. Our total trip of Malaysia was of 10 days and we need good voice and data coverage for that period of time and we end up purchasing two similar Celcom packages for me and wife, with following configurations:

Celcom SIM Card = RM 10
Pre-loaded credit on new SIM = RM -6
1 x week package with 5GB data = RM +19
2 x day package with 2 GB data = RM +6
Topup for additional voice calls = RM +1

Total Cost per package = RM 30 and you will get total 9 GB of data and voice coverage for 9 days. Do note that, throughout the next 9 days, the data was ON on our smartphones 24/7, though we used only Google (Maps, Navigation, Search, Translation), WhatsApp (with on-demand media settings) and sometimes Facebook only for check-ins. No uploads on WhatsApp or Facebook. And, the total data we consumed in these days was less than 2 GB.

Next, we headed towards the passenger ferry terminal of Kuala, Perlis. It was good, centrally air conditioned with entry and exit gates for departure/arrivals. There was too much rush and we were unable to find seats to sit back and relax for sometime while waiting for our 4pm ferry. During that time, we enjoyed very delicious home-made ice-cream (checkout video for details).

Few minutes after 4pm, they announced the boarding on our ferry and we lined up carrying our luggages. It took another 10 minutes to finally settle down on our seats inside the ferry. The ferries were quite big, air-conditioned and have too many seats covering two floors. The total ferry time starting from departure from Kuala, Perlis to arrival at Kuah, Langkawi was an hour and fifteen minutes.

We arrived at Kuah, Langkawi, around 5:15pm and the first thing we noticed that the jetty at Kuah, Langkawi was much better than Kuala, Perlis (though Kuala, Perlis one was not bad either) and looked more like an airport.

As we were walking out of Kuah, Jetty ferry terminal (called Jetty Point), we saw different car rental operators handing over their cards to incoming passengers and because we were trying to safe as much time as possible, we picked an automatic hatchback which was one of the recent year models of Perodua Myvi. It turns out to be quite good one throughout our stay in Langkawi and was smooth to drive all along and costs us RM 90 for a day.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Traveling by Car from Bangkok, Thailand to Malaysia via Padang Besar Border - Day 01 & 02 - Ep 01

Day 01 & 02 - Ep 01 - We left from Bangkok at round 4:00 am because we knew that we had to cover a distance of almost 980 kilometers to reach the border town of Padang Besar in Perlis, Malaysia. The total travel time alone (without any stopovers) is around 14 hours and if you add a minimum of 4 stopovers of around 30 to 45 minutes each then it would become a total of 16 to 17 hours road trip, quite an exhaustive one :)

If you like long drives and are a fan of doing road trips then you'll enjoy that, like I did. But, if it is too exhaustive, you can break it down into two and stop for a night stay in between, sleepover and then continue your journey next day. My goal was to keep as much time as possible for rest of the trip itinerary and cover the distance as quickly as possible and within a day.

Road conditions throughout the way was very good, except for a very few places where either road maintenance or extension work was going on. However, there were quite a few patches where there was no street lights at all and it might become dangerous to drive at night if you are not a seasoned driver.

Gas or Petrol stations are available throughout the route and the gasoline or petrol prices varies from station to station as well as from location to location. In our experience, the best prices are of PTT Station. Moreover, PTT Stations have the most facilities that you might look for a stopover, like, spacious and clean toilets (men, women, disabled/senior, baby/infants), ATM machines, 7-Eleven, Amazon Cafe and many other shops including fast food, fresh fruits and juices, etc.

Law and order situation in general all-over Thailand and Malaysia is quite good and are considered to be safe travel destinations for both local and foreigners. So, no safety concerns or issues throughout the route.

Halal options are quite limited along the route as you will see very few halal food stalls or restaurants. All popular fast food chains are not Halal in Thailand, like KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Burger King, Mc Donalds, Subway, etc.. However, you can get some ready-to-eat snacks like sandwiches, burgers, noodles, hot dogs etc., from 7-Eleven. They have microwave(s) as well. Besides that you can grab some fresh bakery items, chips, biscuits, hot and cold beverages as well. If you still feel like that it's not enough, then we recommend pack some thing home-made and carry along. We did the same and it helped a lot.

The border crossing at Padang Besar opens daily at 5am and closes at 9pm according to Thailand time zone (Malaysia time zone is one hour ahead +1). And, we missed this bit of information. It took us 17 hours to reach the border and the border gates were closed right in front of us and we had to layover for a night on this side of the border although we had a booking for a rest-house on the Malaysian side, which we booked via Agoda. So, just because we didn't knew that border crossing have timings as well, we thought they are opened 24/7 :), we end up wasting one night's rent and a bit of a disappointment of not making it to Malaysia the same day :(

Following are the necessary documents that are legally required to cross Thailand-Malaysia border by road on your private vehicle:
  1. Original valid passport - should have more than 6 months of expiry
  2. Malaysian tourist e-visas - printed copy
  3. Thailand original driving license (accepted in Malaysia for driving)
  4. International Transport Permit - or purple book
  5. Vehicle Inspection Certificate
  6. Malaysian Car Insurance Policy
  7. Car Registration or Number Plate Stickers as per Malaysian standards
  8. Malaysian currency i.e. Ringgit (RM or MYR)
Next morning, we woke up early and were able to reach the border immigration at around 5:30am. We (me and wife) parked our car at the designated parking area, locked our car, didn't carry along any of our luggage items and walk across to the immigration building. We joined the queue of people who were lined up for the immigration process. When our turn came, we stepped towards immigration counter and handed over following to the immigration officer:
  1. Our original passports (along with TM6 cards)
  2. Malaysian e-visas
  3. Blue Book or Car Registration Book
  4. Fees
    1. One Vehicle Driver = THB 25
    2. One Vehicle Passenger = THB 5
    3. Total THB 30
Immigration officer asks where we are coming from and where we are heading to. Company where I'm working in Bangkok (showed him my Work Permit as well). Then he stamped our passports with exit stamps, and handed over back our passports and e-visa printed copies back but kept the TM6 card. We will have to fill a new TM6 form/card when we will re-enter Thailand from Malaysia on our way back from our tour.

After crossing the immigration counter, there were luggage scanning machine and because we had not carry along any of our luggage items, I asked the office that our luggage is on our car and she said no need to bring that and you are good to go. So, we exit the immigration building, get back to our car and drove straight through the border gates, exiting from Thailand and entering into Malaysia :)

The road leads us to the drive-through Malaysian immigration booths and we stopped at one of the booths and handed over following documents to the immigration officer:
  1. Our original passports
  2. Malaysian e-visas
The immigration office did the fingerprints scanning of both of us and then referred us to another booth, for which I had to park my car and we walk towards that second booth around 20-30 steps away from drive-through booths. They told us that they are trying to verify the e-visa and ask from where we are coming from and where we are going to, where we will stay and which places we are planning to visit and when we will return. We showed them our complete itinerary (a printed paper of places to visit and stay). After getting confirmation over the phone, they made entries on their registers and stamp our passports with entry stamps and stamp our e-visas (printed copies) with "used" stamps and return them back to us.

We get back to our car, and drove it to the JPS or Malaysian Motor Transport office, right next to the immigration checkpoint, to get ICP. We again parked our car and this time my wife stayed in the car and I go to the JPS office and handover following documents to the officer there:
  1. Original passport
  2. Malaysian e-visa
  3. Car Blue Book or Registration Book
  4. International Transport Permit or purple book
  5. Vehicle Inspection Certificate
The officer asked for car inspection and we walk towards the car park and he inspected the car, checked chassis number, etc.. He said that the car should have registration or number plate stickers at the front and back. He also inquired whether I have the car insurance policy or not. I didn't had it at that time and because I read it online that you can get the stickers and insurance policy from same shop once at the border. But unfortunately, we reach the border at night around 8pm and by that time all shops are closed because in these border towns, shops are closed early. So, make sure you get your car stickers and Malaysian car insurance policy during normal business hours i.e. from 9am to 5pm from cities/towns that are close to border. 

The JPJ officer told us that in order to get ICP, we should have number plate stickers affixed at the front and back side of the car in required Malaysian format/pattern (white letters/digits over black background). Also, we have to get the Malaysian car insurance policy before applying for ICP. Now, the bad luck for us was that, first when we reached the border last night, it was too late and all shops were closed, secondly the next day was Sunday, so all shops on Malaysian border dealing with car stickers and Malaysian car insurance policy were closed, except for one:

Wakil Insurans - Padang CT SDN BHD
Address: No. 83, Jalan Besar, Perlis, 02100 Padang Besar, Malaysia

We purchased the Malaysian car insurance policy from above at a price of RM 63 and it took almost half an hour. We then went to JPJ again and told them that we got the insurance policy but no stickers shop is open today because of Sunday, is it possible if you allow us to go and we will get the stickers tomorrow when market opens on Monday, but officers, said that ICP is necessary and without that you are not allowed to take your car inside Malaysia. They suggested to request the Malaysian Immigration Officer that we want to go back to Thailand to purchase the stickers and will come back again. So, we did the same and requested the office, she nods in approval and (without exit stamp, because we have to come back again) we went straight back to border gates and entered into Thailand. The closest sticker shop we found on Google Maps was:

MK. Sticker Car
Address: Phetkasem Soi 20, Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110

We reached above shop in about an hour and 10 minutes and it took additional one hour to get the stickers printed and affixed on car front and back. It costs us THB 200 for these stickers.

The requirements for Malaysian JPJ is that the your Thailand car should have stickers on front and back with white font on black background and should contain the official english translation of Thailand car registration number (which contains Thai characters) from Department of Land Transport of Thailand. You will have the translated english version mentioned in International Transport Permit or purple book and also on the Vehicle Inspection Certificate mentioned above.

We head back to Padang Besar, border crossing of Thailand, crossed the border again without going through the immigration process, head straight to Malaysian Immigration booths, go to the same booth and the immigration officer recognizes us and let us pass through. I parked the car besides JPJ parking area and went inside JPJ office, fill out and submit the form, provide all the documents mentioned above and waited for few minutes and they handed over the ICP to me finally!

The JPJ officer told me that if I will enter Malaysia again next time on the same vehicle than this ICP will be used again, therefore keep it safe somewhere and bring along next time as well.

Finally, we fulfilled all the legal requirements and now we can move freely inside Malaysia on our own vehicle :)

Metro City, Star Lake, Food Trucks and Winter Wonderland in Genting Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia - Day 07 - Ep 19 (Last)

Day 07 - Ep 19 (Last) - Genting Highlands has a lot to offer when it comes to outdoor activities. In our last episode we explored the indoor activities and today we will going to visit the outdoors of Genting Highlands.

Metro City is free for all visitors and hosts a number of popular activities like:

Star Lake - an artificial lake with fountains and laser lights to perform the synchronized fountain show. It also has a large movie screen, where screenings are scheduled throughout the day.

Food Trucks - a variety of colorful food trucks with popular local and international cuisine offerings

Winter Wonderland - has very well crafted stalls and surroundings, giving a wonderful feeling of winterland snow all around. It also has an Ice Skating Rink and scheduled performances and shows.

GohTang Walk - Follow the footsteps of the founder Lim Goh Tong in a 12-stop story trail around the resort. Recall the days before Genting's inception to its rise in becoming Malaysia's top holiday destination today.

Apart from these, there are a number of other stalls all around metro city offering interesting activities, food and beverages.