Seeing Cebu

Philipines Cebu Travel
Cebu is a truly paradisaical and untamed island that hasn’t been fully desecrated by droves of tourists…yet.

With beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters, it’s got all the cliched conditions to be classified as a traveller’s paradise.

Philipines Cebu Travel
Philipines Cebu Travel

Cebu Whip Spider
Your friendly neighbourhood whip spider

Well, apart from some of the local wildlife, which is actually relatively harmless for the most part.

Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel

The wiring is very faithful to the South-East Asian style, as you would see in Vietnam or Thailand.

Philipines Cebu Seafood

And I’m surprised the locals eat raw fish here!

Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel

Philipines Cebu Travel
Cheesy staple
Philipines Cebu Travel
Stumbled upon a large prehistoric aquatic bug

Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel

Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel

Philipines Cebu Travel
Sad good boi
Philipines Cebu Travel
Guess what this is!

Philipines Cebu Travel

Not sure if this would help.

It’s the cacao fruit – relatively tasteless and not that fun to eat, really. Or maybe I was doing it wrong.


Philipines Cebu Travel
Philipines Cebu Travel

Philipines Cebu Travel
This is what Pinoy currency looks like – get you some!

Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel Philipines Cebu Travel

A trip into the main town of Cebu reveals a side that isn’t so glamorous – the apparent poverty is heart wrenching, but the locals are pretty chill about it.

Philipines Cebu Travel

Cebu is famous for its diving and water sports, so tourists of the general type aren’t as attracted to the area, compared to the other Pinoy hotspots such as Boracay, El Nido or Manila (the capital).

That said, it’s still one of the popular islands in the Philippines that lives on the fringe of the ridiculously deep Mariana Trench, which is what makes it so delicious for diving.

Perhaps next time I’ll get some sweet underwater shots.

Instead you’re stuck with the carcasses of candles, a graveyard of the fire lights.

Philipines Cebu Travel

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Journey To The Isle of Mice (Pulau Tikus)

There exists a rocky island off the coast of Penang (which itself is also an island) that legend claims used to be infested with mice.

Early settlers from Thailand used it as a base, and the little furry rodents kept them company on lonely nights (no, not like that). And that is where the name Pulau Tikus came from – literally translating in the local language to the Isle of Mice.

It’s not hard to get there – you just need to think unconventionally.

First you start at the Water Sports Complex just north of the Floating Mosque of Penang in Tanjung Bungah.


Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

Penang Tikus Island Open Water SwimPenang Tikus Island Open Water SwimPenang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

Some people choose to swim, while others kayak or catch a little fishing dingy. Whatever floats your boat.

Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

The island itself is actually relatively devoid of rodents, but lots of other little critters now inhabit it. There are lots of little crabs and crustaceans that line the large crusty boulders that protect the island. Oysters and shellfish find shelter between the rocks and just under the surface.

In turn, seabirds and crows flock here to feast on the abundant seafood. As do the fishermen and random passersby.

Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

And believe it or not – the Isle of Mice comes with some man-made facilities!

There is still a working jetty, although I’ve yet to see an actual boat dock there.

Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

There is also a concrete structure that houses a shrine of sorts, accompanied by a tall steel watchtower that is sturdy enough to fit a football team!

Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

During low tide, there is also a nice stretch of beach on Tikus Island.

It has relatively little shade though, and no cooling coconut trees, so I’d recommend coming early in the morning or later in the evening.


Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

And here is footage from above:

This is quite possible the first time Tikus Island has been documented and photographed from above in such detail (no, satellites don’t count)!

Perhaps a small part of Penang history was made today.

I can tell this guy is excited.

Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

Now if you ever want to take a trip out to this island, your best bet is from one of the beaches along Penang Island’s northern coast.

The Water Sports Complex in Tanjung Bungah has a little beach from which you can launch out to reach the Isle of Mice (Pulau Tikus).

Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim Penang Tikus Island Open Water Swim

So feel free to visit the Isle of Mice and experience the real Pulau Tikus (there’s a suburb named after it on Penang Island itself)!

The Water Sports Complex rents kayaks of all sizes, or if you’re a member of the lofty Penang Swimming Club, then you can easily take off from there.

And since you made it this far, you get the exclusive privilege of watching this not-too-corny video!

Go check out Tikus Island!

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Thai-tly Riding, Hatyai Exploring

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee

The Prince of Songkla University was having a little cycling shindig, so we thought we’d crash.

Because why not?

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee

Well, it turns out these Thai riders are utterly hardcore in a most speed intensive manner that makes it a little tough to keep up at times.

Seems we joined a rather serious event, and the route was rather testy at times.

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee

However, we soldiered through, and were rewarded with the satisfaction of having conquered some of Hatyai’s tougher climbs. The views weren’t too bad either.

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee

With lots of little rolling hills and dense commercial vegetation, the Thai roads are very reminiscent of Malaysia. Apart from the language barrier, it really is pretty close to home.

We finished the ride on a high (literally on the top of a steep hill) and dragged ourselves back into town to the hotel to get a massage and go shopping.

Little orange zebra approves.

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee

Hatyai is popular for their retail options – ranging from fresh produce to clothing to kitchenware (Zebra is a famous stainless steel kitchenware manufacturer in Thailand).

Back in the day it was all too cheap, but thanks to inflation and exchange rates it’s now just mildly more affordable. Also, I’m not much of a shopper, so instead I went in search of some good sights in the moonlight.

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee Thailand Hatyai Nightscape Scenery

Thailand Hatyai Crab Sam Shee

Thailand Hatyai Nightscape Scenery
Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee

In the meantime, we did some sightseeing. There were plenty of food, flora and fauna to experience.

Not all of it was real, but we weren’t too bothered.

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee Thailand Hatyai Lake View Sam Shee

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee

Can you spot the skittish little things?

Thailand Hatyai Ride Cycling Sam Shee

There is a scenic little lake very close to Sadao and the Malaysian-Thai border that is relatively unknown, especially since the passage there has come under development.

However, the lake at Water View Restaurant is definitely worth the trip.
Thailand Hatyai Lake View Sam Shee Thailand Hatyai Lake View Sam Shee Thailand Hatyai Lake View Sam Shee

The food is delivered from the kitchen across the waters by boat, and it is delicious! In a scintillating, spicy way that is truly Thai.

If you want them to hold the spice, try telling them “mai pet“.

Thailand Hatyai Lake View Sam Shee Thailand Hatyai Lake View Sam Shee Thailand Hatyai Lake View Sam Shee

5/7 would recommend, with rice.

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Island Sanctuary of the Apes

Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee

Welcome to the only bastion of safety for the orangutans in West Malaysia – the protected island sanctuary of Bukit Merah!

To get to the Orang Utan Island Foundation, you’ll have to catch a ferry from the main Bukit Merah Laketown Resort. The ferry departs every 45 minutes, and the ferry ride and tour of the sanctuary costs around thirty ringgit (varies between locals and international visitors, as usual).

Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee

The place is sturdily built and well structured, and you do get a chance to see orangutans up close. Orangutans are clever and curious creatures, and although the larger ones are pretty sloth-like, most of them are agile and lively.

Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee

This is BJ, the current alpha male on the island. Formidable and deliberate, this giant’s bellow can be heard for kilometres!

Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee

The trio above are the resident jokers – teenage males that like to chill and play with things.

It’s a shame they have to be kept behind fences most of the time, as I’m sure some human-orangutan interaction wouldn’t be detrimental to either side. Apart from the rougher males, most of these creatures don’t mean anyone any harm.

Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee

The youngest ones get to chill by the water and are fed through a pipe that runs to a platform in the middle of the water.

The way they easily swing their way around makes you wonder – why are they so darn hairy? 

And it’s not even a good hue for camouflage!

Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee

Although they claim to be preparing the orangutans for rehousing, I’ve met the exact same orangutans in my numerous visits to this sanctuary.

The tour guides are passionate and very professional, but I have a strong feeling there’s things in between the rehearsed lines that they feed us.

Who knows if these orangutans ever make it off the island?

Orangutan-Sanctuary-West-Malaysia-Sam-Shee

There’s nothing particularly sinister about the place. It’s just that as much as the tour guides joke that the orangutans are the ones that get to roam free and gaze at us humans in the confined caged walkways, this particular sanctuary doesn’t seem all that big.

And I’ve never once seen the neonatal orangutan care centre occupied; that’s where they’re supposed to house the baby orangutans. I hope it’s because all the newborns are happy and healthy.

To me, this is more of an orangutan zoo.

Perhaps it’s the only way to “save” this endangered animal – by keeping the remaining ones alive behind electric fences. A sad reality of our strange human concept of conservation.

Welcome to the island sanctuary of the apes.

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Penang Hill Hike

Someone clearly wanted to reach the top of Penang Hill in a hurry.

Love Penang Hike

And no, this was not taken with some fish-eye tilt-shifted distortion-inducing wacky lens.

The Jeep Road is one steep climb; it pretty much cuts to the chase, one endless incline after another with hardly any room for rest.

Might even make one suicidal.

Holy cow, the bees are big on Penang Hill!

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Google Sydney

Sydney Google Office HQ

Did you know that there is a nice big Google office in Sydney? Well, three of them, to be precise.

And they have a fancy Google Mapping bike!

Well, it’s more of a relic now. But still. Bikes!

Sydney Google Office HQ

Well, this is Ms. Bugdroid, Android’s iconic robot friend with the sex appeal turned waaay up.

I mean, just look at those antennae! Slut.

Sydney Google Office HQ

Please don’t try to cram this many people in there.

Sydney Google Office HQ Sydney Google Office HQ Sydney Google Office HQ

And of course they have a VR room.

Sydney Google Office HQ Sydney Google Office HQ Sydney Google Office HQ Sydney Google Office HQ Sydney Google Office HQ Sydney Google Office HQ Sydney Google Office HQ

Wise parting words.

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Beachy Bega

Bega Sydney Beautiful Food

Welcome to Merimbula in Bega, NSW!

In Merimbula it’s sunny and windy and full of clear water and clean beaches.


Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters
Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters

With water so clear you can see all those little fishies!

Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters

Where both real and fake birds abound.

Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters

Just endless turquoise and serene waters all round!

Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters

And of course there are some people there.

Not many, mind you. But there are some.


Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters
Bega Sydney Beautiful Beach Blue Waters

Perhaps I spoke too soon. That density suddenly shot way up, if three photos are a good enough sample size for you.

You can find all this coastal beauty and more – in the tranquil town with the cheesy name.

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Follow The Blue Bicycle Lane

Word on the streets is that KL has gotten some brand new blue (di da dum da) bicycle lanes, so I figured I’d check it out. And what better way than by bike!

Just so happens KL was hosting the World Urban Forum, where people gather to discuss things like city planning, global warming and how to grow veggies on your rooftop.

Below you will find lengthy sequences of our journey along the blue bike lanes of central KL. We began in a beautified back alley of Chinatown, not far from the Central Market, and after travelling about 7.5 klicks we ended up back where we started.

UN World Urban Forum Blue Bike Lane Map

Certainly takes you past some of KL’s nicer landmarks, although it’s a shame the paths don’t extend into Bukit Bintang. Cyclists love to shop, too!

Now onto the pictures in strange reverse chronological order!



A unique photographer pose right there.

And then it suddenly started raining…

Grand Millennium Hotel Chandelier

Hey, it’s Petaling Street!

Took a quick jaunt through Central Market!

KL World Urban Forum Blue Bike Lane

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Crafts of Penang

A typical day in Penang, where the arts and crafts happen.

Woodwork classes take place every week within the tall walls of the Penang Science Cluster.

Sam Penang Cycling Blog Wood Work Sam Penang Cycling Blog Woodwork Sam Penang Cycling Blog Sam Penang Cycling Blog

As Chinese New Year looms ever closer, the Chinese districts become alive with luminous red and engorged lanterns.

Sam Penang Cycling Blog Sam Penang Cycling Blog

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Independent Beaches of Kedah

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

A popular cycling route in the northern Malaysian region is the trip to the beach of independence – Pantai Merdeka. This independent stretch of beach is a prominent spot along the Kedah coastline, right at the delta of the Muda River where it meets the sea.

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

Typically we begin from the R&R just past the toll gates of the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR, as the local cyclists call it). It’s a straight ride up from the Butterworth Ferry Terminal.

Straight roads and paddy fields greet you most of the way. Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

As expected of a sleepy coastal town, fishing is the go-to activity and thus the seafood is abundant. Mee Udang is a readily available dish, although I’m told the place we went to (a hill away from Pantai Merdeka) is the best.

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

And the best Mee Udang is actually at Pasir Salak, not Pantai Merdeka, although there is a stall at the food court there.

Pasir Salak is over a kilometre away from Pantai Merdeka, and is a little industrial zone with a little island (bemusingly named Leftover Island – Pulau Baki in Malay) just off the beach.

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

Not letting sleeping cats lie.

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

The road to Pantai Merdeka is fairly well marked out. However, there are a few alternate routes to reach the final stretch of beach, so definitely have a check beforehand.

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

Along the way to Pantai Merdeka, there is a prominent monument to the victims of the tsunami that hit the northern region back in 2004.

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

You can kind of make out the big stack of dinghies on the right.

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

And there’s that sign pointing the right way.

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

And now for lots of rider photos!

Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah Sam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka KedahSam Cycling Blog Pantai Merdeka Kedah

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