Friday, November 24, 2017

Visit to Aceh Tsunami Museum

Aceh Tsunami Museum, built in 2009 (five years after the tsunami)  is located at Jalan Banda Aceh. Its existence is to  inform the public regarding the tsunami which hit Aceh in 2004. Its building is unique in its physical design and beautiful too. 

Once inside, you can get information on tsunami and its impact on Aceh via its physical model (pre and post tsunami), colorful displays, videos, writing on the walls,  names of the dead, name of contributors  from other countries who help and donate and many more. Those without geography or geology background can understand how tsunami occurs and why it occurs.

It is estimated more than 300,000 death resulted from this tsunami. Some were found and buried and thousands were missing. Mass burial sites scattered around the city. Thousands of properties were destroyed and some were not reconstructed due to the missing owner and now remained either as vacant land or agriculture land.

Many nations came and helped. Now, Aceh has 7 evacuation centres around the communities. The research centre was formed with the help of Japanese government and also functions as evacuation centre.

Those who are already in Aceh and wish to know more about tsunami and its impact to Aceh township and her people, you must visit this museum. It has lots of information. I enjoyed my visit to this museum. Next to the museum near the entrance, there is a gift shop where you can buy products and souvenirs of Aceh.

External of the Museum

Inside the museum, you can look at the computer terminals depicting information

Names of the dead

A circular column where names of the dead are portrayed and this chamber also has Quran recitation

Names of the known dead

One of rock balls (part of the overall design)

Visitors listening to the Presentation by the museum staff

Watching the video presentation in the  room

Visitors inside the Museum

Model of the Museum

Shipped that stranded

Visualisation of Tsunami waves and people were running

One of Tsunami's survivors, now become the speaker of the Museum
Helicopter used during tsunami geohazard

Visitors (my team)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Bangkok- the Baiyoke Sky Hotel

Having breakfast at the 78th floor at Baiyoke Sky Hotel, the tallest hotel in downtown Bangkok is something to look for. Rich in food variety brings more visitors to this floor and enjoy the view while having food and coffee. 

Viewing from the large glass window, I can see Bangkok city layout, its double layer highways,  traffic movement and traffic congestion. The cloud was hazy indicating the coming of rain very soon.

While enjoying my breakfast (as the food served has varieties: wide selections of fruits, drinks, breads, croissant, egg and omelette, salads, nuts, vegetarian diet, Japanese tofu and miso soup, cakes, puddings), I can see many foreigners coming into this hall, largely from Europe, India and Japan. Thanks to the food variety  and honestly I had to be careful in selecting them as it does not have halal certification.

I like the soy drink that is being served. The drink is so thick  and it is carefully put in the big thermos flask to make it warm and hot. It comes with side add-on like syrup, sesame seeds, sugar free jelly, and honey. You can add honey or syrup to satisfy your  taste bud.

Other lower floors, it has restaurants which caters many oriental and western dishes.

Not far from the hotel, down the alley in Pratunam, there is a large shopping mall, called Platinum Fashion Mall. The six-story commercial floor offers much sought after garment, clothes, jeans, leather, accessories, souvenirs, gift shops and of course food court. The price is reasonable, the principle is the more you buy, the more it will be the discount. Each floor is named after famous world city streets like Orchard, Nathan, Ginza, Soho, Oxford and Camden. 

Platinum Fashion Mall

For the convenience of Muslim visitors and shoppers, food court at level 6 serves halal food at some stalls, and small praying rooms are provided at level 5 for men and level 2 for women. You can spend hours and hours here to do shopping. Why not? The price is very competitive and it is a fully air-conditioned mall. 

A few kilometres away, there is another shopping mall called Terminal 21 which I consider as  a lifestyle mall. It consists of 9 floors: LG, G, and M and  floors up. With M floor, it is named after famous world city such as Rome, Paris, Tokyo, London, Istanbul, San Francisco and Hollywood. Each floor,  which has city names, you see the shops displays that city image. For example, London floor, you will see red telephone booth or London bus. For Istanbul, you will see lights and lamps like the ones in Istanbul Grand Bazaar.  There is a large food court in level 5- San Francisco. However, it has not cater for the Muslim visitors. However there is a small Muslim prayer room at level 2 next to the parking. 

London Floor at Terminal 21
Istanbul Floor at Terminal 21

I found it quite an interesting shopping complex. But the product price here is a bit on the higher side against the ones in Platinum Mall. Here the design and architecture of the building is unique in its own way. This building is located next to Asok BTS station. You can take taxi, tut-tut or skytrain to this shopping centre.

In the hotel vicinity, there are a few halal food restaurant offering north indian cuisine. But accidentally, I found one small restaurant serving Thai Muslim cuisine by the name of Sanneya. It is located at Soi Petchburi 17. Co-incidentally, it is the first day of its operation. The owner is very happy to welcome us to their new restaurant. Not only the food is tasty here, the restaurant has a small praying room for the Muslim patrons at the third floor.

Saneeya Thai Muslim Restaurat

Baiyoke Sky Hotel's large lobby at at level 18. You need to take an elevator to level 18. Its room is large and spacious, more than 32 sq meter. There is a gymnasium, a spa and swimming pool at level 20. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Visiting Madinah in the beginning of 2017

1-12 January 2017, I had the opportunity to visit Madinah in  Saudi Arabia for a few days. I joined a  group from Kuala Lumpur who are going to perform umrah. We took a flight direct from KL to Madinah.

Once we reached Madinah, it was a plain easy journey to our hotel. Madinah's new airport terminal was just opened. The passing of  immigration and custom was smooth and fast. The next time, if you are going to Mecca for umrah, entry and exit from Madinah is a good option.

As usual, during our short stay, we performed congregational prayer five times a day at Masjid Nabawi, visit historical places around Madinah, visit the Prophet's grave and sahabat's graves, and a bit of sight seeing and shopping.

Madinah is a cooling city, surrounded  by a chain of hills, where core activity start from the mosque. During the night journey from the airport to the city, I was surprised to see a good lighting (blue in color)  beaming around Mount Uhud making it so beautiful. This is naturally, to me,  a new spot suitable for night tour  in the distant future.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Places of Interests in West Sumatera, Indonesia

West Sumatera is one of the provinces in Sumatera (an elongated island in the western most of Indonesia). It is estimated that its population (in 2014) had  reached 5 million spreads in towns and rural hinterland. Major towns are Padang (its capital), Bukit Tinggi, Paya Kumbuh, Sawahlunto and Pariaman. Two notable cities are Padang and Bukit Tinggi.

Padang has an international airport and the province can be accessible by road and air. You may also go through Pekan Baru International Airport and take a car to Padang via a winding road especially around Kelok Sembilan.

Kelok Sembilan is now one of the touristic spots  due to its long and winding road. It has  many turns and curves  that it fits nicely in this wildlife habitat of West Sumatera's valley. The construction of this road took several years to complete. Once completed, it helps to facilitate movement of road traffic from Pekan Baru in Riau province to Bukit Tinggi and Padang in West Sumatera. Prior to this road improvement, the journey time from Riau to West Sumatera takes many hours.

Keluk Sembilan
Jam Gadang is located in a square right in the middle of Bukit Tinggi town. The square forms part of the recreational space for the locals. You may see many activities during the weekends around this place. Kids playing kites, food vendors on cart or ladies selling cakes and traditional delicacies.
Clock Tower in Bukit Tinggi
Nyarai Sianok is a place where you can appreciates the cliff and its formation.
Nyarai Sianok in Bukit Tinggi
Meanwhile, many building owners  here are proud of their traditional roof architecture. Banks, offices, hotel, schools, houses etc have this kind of roof. It is an identity of West Sumatera, as it belongs to the people of Minangkabau, one of the Malay ethnics in Indonesia.
Special Minangkabau roof
Puncak Lawang, 30 minute-drive from Bukit Tinggi is a good retreat place. Located on the top of the hill, overlooking the great lake, Danau Maninjau.
Puncak Lawang 
On the border side with Riau, there is a conservation forest called Harau Conservation Forest which has many waterfalls. You can have picnic here.
Harau Waterfall
Not to forget the history, Bukit Tinggi was once under the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. The Lubang Jepang is one of the tunnels left by the Japanese. It consists of underground tunnels used for prison and related activities.
Lubang Jepang

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bukit Tinggi, West Sumatera

Bukit Tinggi is located in the west of Sumatera island in Indonesia, to be exact, it is in the province of West Sumatera.  I had the opportunity to visit this small city in January 2016. I spent two days here and visited places of interest to many people.

Bukit Tinggi enjoys cool weather. Most hotels here do not provide air conditioner (perhaps ceiling fans  are enough). One of the landmarks in Bukit Tinggi is Jam Gadang (the clock tower at the square that exist over hundred years).

Within the vicinity of Bukit Tinggi, there is a large lake called Danau Maninjau. It took 45 minutes by road to reach there from Bukit Tinggi. I took a rented car to the peak of Puncak Lawang and from there you can see the lake.

Within the city, you can visit Lubang Jepang, an underground tunnels used during the Japanese occupation, Nyarai Sianok (canyon), the clock square, Bung Hatta library, Jenjang 1000 and many more.

Buildings in Bukit Tinggi are unique in their own way. I mean the roof. It has an arch like a horn. It is called Minangkabau roof. West Sumatera is the land of the Minangs people and they spoke their Minang dialects.

The nearest airport to Bukit Tinggi is Padang International Airport. However, you can go via Pekanbaru in Riau. From Pekanbaru, it takes more than 5 hours to reach Bukit Tinggi, passing the highland and valley through narrow and winding road.

Masjid Jamek Pattani, South Thailand

I had the opportunity to visit Masjid Jamek, Pattani in South Thailand on my way home to Malaysia from Hat Yai. With its dome green roofs and a big water body in front,  it does not only display serenity but also portrays a  majestic look. It is considered one of the beautiful mosques in Thailand and its neighbouring regions. Its green roofs gives extra shine when the sun beams its light.

Being located in the majority Muslim Malay population of Pattani province, this mosque becomes the main focus of the religious activities in South Thailand such as daily prayers, friday prayers, sermons, religious classes etc. This mosque activity  is able to unite the populace to perform social and societal duties accordingly.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Klonghae Floating Market, Hat Yai, Thailand

When one's talk  about floating market, you will remember the famous floating market in Bangkok (along Menam Chao Phraya), Damnoen Saduak in outskirt of Bangkok, floating market in Lake Ton Le Sap in  Cambodia, and floating market in Cai Be Saigon and Mekong delta, It seems selling from the sampan or boat is traditionally age long practice in Indo-China.

What I am going to tell you, is about another recently created floating market in Hat Yai, Thailand where people flocked together on nice boats along river bank selling traditional Thai food and drinks to the visitors.

This place is called Klonghae Floating Market, Hat Yai, Thailand. It opens from 3.00pm to 9.00 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. It is only a few kilometres from the Hat Yai city centre.

They sell many traditional food and drinks such as cooked rice, fried mee or noodle, steam corn cob, thai dessert, longan drink, coconut drink, ice cream,  Most food are Halal.

The buyers stand on the wooden  board walk nicely constructed by the authority. Beside the board walk there are a few sitting and eating areas for the patrons to eat and enjoy the food and scenery.

Above the river banks, there are many stalls selling souvenirs like t-shirt, embroidery, thai desserts, and other touristic sough after souvenirs.

Below are a few pictures.