Thursday, February 23, 2017

20 Things To Do At Avillion Port Dickson

Things To Do At Port Dickson

Many may have heard about this beautiful resort located in Negeri Sembilan, just next to Selangor but did you know that there are easily 20 things to do at the Avillion Port Dickson Spa Resort? Yes, in terms of activities for couples, kids, families or even business travelers, there is quite a lot of things that you can do at this multiple award winning spa resort in Malaysia. 

Having been around for over two decades, the Avillion Port Dickson Spa Resort consists of 300 rooms, suites and water chalets, ranging from the Water Suites, Water Chalets, Garden Chalets and Garden Seaview Chalets which are sea facing, offering superb views of the Straits of Malacca. This is also the pioneer luxury resort in Port Dickson having being the fist back then.
Avillion PD Resort Spa
Amazing views from the Avillion Port Dickson
For anyone heading to Port Dickson, you should not miss this opportunity to stay at one of the best resorts in PD, suitable for just about anyone and below is the list of things to do at the Avillion Port Dickson.

20 Things To Do At Avillion Port Dickson 

1. Avillion Pet Farm
For animal lovers and those with kids, the Avillion Pet Farm offers a large number of animals and birds such as rabbits, baby chickens, peacocks and peahens, tortoises and more.
PD Bird Watching
A peacock at the Avillion Aviary
2. Aviary at Avillion 
Housing an amazing collection of various species of birds from South African peacocks to resort-hatched hens, the Aviary at Avillion Port Dickson is a great place for kids and adults.

3. Beach Volleyball
Anyone who loves sports and beaches is definitely in for a treat as you can have fun participating in some beach volleyball while giving yourself a good workout.
Pantai Riau PD
Riau Beach at Avillion PD. Photo by www.mypeaceofheaven.com
4. Caklempong Music
On weekends, music lovers  can experience listening to the Caklempong which is a traditional Malay music gong instrument. This is part of the traditional and rich Negeri Sembilan culture which was brought to Negeri Sembilan in the 14th century by Minangkabau people from nearby West Sumatra.
5. Cochin Pool (Adults Only)
Specially made for adults who want  peace of mind is the exclusive Cochin Pool, which is a lap pool located at the Northern wing of the Avillion Resort. The pool is surrounded by day beds and sun lounges, it is really the perfect refuge for a tranquil afternoon for anyone seeking some self pampering.
Avillion Port Dickson Photography
View of the villas at Avillion Port Dickson
6. Fishing and Crabbing at Avillion Resort
When the tides are low, this is when the crabs come out and guests can experience crabbing along the beach here. When the tides are in, give fishing a try, from the luxury of your sea villa balcony. Alternatively, you can ask the resort to arrange a fishing trip for the serious anglers. 

7. Bird Watching at Avillion Port Dickson
Over 30 different species of birds are ready to be spotted around the resort for bird lovers. You have the opportunity to spot Kingfishers, Purple-backed Starling, Black-Naped Orioles and many other birds. At the resort, there is a bird feeding platform where you can watch some of the birds feeding. For bird watchers, you should bring your own equipment as the resort does not provide any.

8. Avillion Gymnasium 
Fitness travelers can utilize the Avillion Port Dickson's innovative gym, which is fitted with world class fitness equipment, including a range of cardiovascular machines, treadmills, recumbent bikes, weight machines and free weights.
Swimming Pool Avillion Port Dickson
One of the many swimming pools at Avillion Port Dickson. Photo by www.mypeaceofheaven.com
9. Village Pool at Avillion
A free-form 1.2 meter deep swimming pool which is open 24 hours a day is the place to be for any swimming pool lover. The Village Pool is also set in the midst of the resorts tropical greenery and is suitable for just about anyone. The pool has sections that offers whirlpools for kids. 

10. Kids Cabin at Avillion
For families travelling with kids, the Avillion Kids Cabin is not to be missed as it offers a large array of fun features which includes video game consoles, paint supplies, books, DVDs, and toys. A safely padded outdoor playground is also available for those energetic kids.
Avillion Kids Spa
Kids Spa at Avillion Port Dickson. Photo by www.mypeaceofheaven.com
11. Avillion Kids Pool
For the kids who love water and swimming, a special Kids Pool is located right beside the Village Pool which is surrounded by abundant greenery. The step-accessible pool features a variety of fittings to ensure that kids are safe while the pool is only 0.9m deep, suitable for toddlers.

12. Kids Spa at Avillion Resort
Even kids get to experience a spa experience like the adults, but in a very fun way. Choose from massages, hair grooming, make up, manicure, pedicure and some fun henna body artwork where they are supervised and conducted by the resort staff.
Lookout Point Avillion Port Dickson
The lookout point where you can catch the sunset
13. Lookout Point at Avillion
For the single or couple guest, the Avillion Lookout Point is the place to be at. Here, deck chairs are places on  the beach where guests can just sit and absorb the beautiful scenery in the Straits of Malacca. Order a cocktail to complete the experience during sunset. 

14. Avillion Nature's Walk
Nothing beats taking a nature walk and here at the Avillion, you can easily do this at the resorts walking path. Guests can follow the footsteps trail that starts from the bullock cart area and take a relaxing stroll while learning about traditional village life of before.

15. Avillion Orchid Hut
Flower lovers will be thrilled to learn that the Avillion Orchid Hut offers a wide variety of tropical Malaysian orchids. See different types of orchids that grow in the rainforest or even the famous Malaysian hybrid orchids that are cultivated here.
Beach Avilion Port Dickson
Beach at Avillion Port Dickson
16. Visit Riau Beach
A must visit is the Riau Beach which is the main area where you can do all your water sport activities. Apart from that, couples or even families can take off those shoes or slippers and walk the beach in the evening looking for shells and catching the beautiful Port Dickson sunset. 

17. Avillion Spice Farm
If you love cooking and flora, the Avillion Spice Farm is the place to be at. Here, you can see and learn about the many traditional herbs and spices used for cooking and healing purposes. Spices you can see here include the world famous Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah, Pandan Wangi, Setawar Halia and Kunyit Sutera.

18. Eat, Drink and Be Merry
With six F&B outlets, guests will be spoiled for choices at the Avillion Port Dickson. Choose from the aVi Lounge, Crow’s Nest, Jungle Fringe Karaoke, The Galley Lounge, The Verte and Village Court as all of these places have their own specialty from drinks to food. 

19. Water Sports at Avillion Port Dickson
Most resort guests love water sports and here at the Avillion Port Dickson, guests can try the non-motorized and environmental friendly water sports offered. Get those muscles working with activities like kayaking and windsurfing. Sorry, there are no motorized water sports like jet skis available.
Avillion Port Dickson Spa
aVi Spa at Avillion PD
20. aVi Spa Avillion
Nothing beats getting a spa treatment during your vacation or business trip, and at the aVi Spa Avillion Port Dickson, you will definitely be pampered all the way. This multiple award-winning spa offers an experience where stillness, simplicity and silence is fused to create an optimum balance of aura and peace.
Avillion Port Dickson Sea Villas
One of the sea villa units at Avillion Port Dickson
The above are the many things that you can do at the resort and I am pretty sure that if you look harder, there could be even more things to do at Avillion Port Dickson. However, these are just the main 20 things and just thinking of staying here for the weekend, it could be a pretty busy and productive weekend. 

In general, there are quite a number of new hotels and resorts in Port Dickson, but the Avillion Spa Resort has been the pioneer properties here since the nineties. With years of experience under the resort, it goes to say that they have been doing an amazing job with their guests, who have highly recommended this place to others.
Beach Wedding at Avillion Port Dickson
A beach wedding setting can be arranged by the resort
My travels take me all over Malaysia and also Southeast Asia but at times, I tend to refer to website that can give me a good deal in booking my hotel or resort stays. Previously, I booked my stays through Booking.com or Agoda, but of lately, I have found Traveloka to offer some of the best prices and package deals. Again, it is entirely up to the reader to choose, but nowadays with the stiff competition among the many booking sites, everyone just wants the best deal. 

The next time you plan to visit Port Dickson or PD, as it is locally called, I would highly recommend you explore what the many resorts or hotels have to offer. Most of them are just decent with less than ten activities to offer, but here, I found a total of 20 things to do at the Avillion Port Dickson Spa Resort. So far, no other property here has managed to top this list. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tokyo Travel Packages at Matta Fair 2017

Matta Fair 2017 Tokyo Packages

If you are looking for Tokyo travel packages at Matta Fair 2017, you are in luck as the Japan National Tourism Board or JNTO in Malaysia will be organizing a massive Japan travel booth at Malaysia's largest travel fair where Tokyo is one of the main highlights here among many other regions and prefectures of Japan. 

Most Malaysians and Southeast Asians have recently been attracted to Tokyo as one of the favorite travel destinations due to the wide variety of tourism products available all over Japan. Over the years, many Malaysian travel companies have been promoting many different Tokyo travel packages at Matta Fair, and this has increased more awareness about the Land of the Rising Sun. 

One of the main factors that contributed to this growth of tourism to Japan is how the JNTO has aggressively embarked on providing Halal cuisine in almost all major cities and prefectures of Japan. This includes creating prayer rooms and Halal food guides for Muslim travelers to Japan.
Matta Fair Japan Tokyo Booth
Visitors at the Tokyo Booth in Matta Fair
Tokyo Travel Packages at Matta Fair 

Depending on what you are looking for, there are various types of Tokyo travel packages available from many different travel agents. While the conventional all-in packages are promoted, a majority of the current day travelers prefer to go as Free Independent Traveler or FIT style. This means, they will just buy the attraction or transportation tickets and book their flights or accommodations online. 
Matta Fair Japan Travel Booth
At the Japan booth during Matta Fair
What consumers would do is to visit the Japan Travel Booth to get information and brouchers for various parts of Japan, depending on where they plan to go. At the Japan Travel Booth in Matta Fair 2017, many different prefectures from all over Japan will participate to showcase their tourism attractions. 

Apart from that, you will see other tourism related companies there like the Japanese Railway companies, JR East, JR West, Theme Parks like Universal Studios Japan and Tokyo Disneyland, Specialized Tour Service Companies and many hotels and resorts from around Japan. This will ensure that the would be visitor gets enough information before visiting Japan. 
Various booths from all over Japan during the Matta Fair
Tokyo Booth at Matta Fair 2017

One of the most popular places in Japan is no other than Tokyo, the capital of Japan and most first time visitors would head here to experience this vibrant city that offers so much. The main airports in Tokyo are also Haneda Airport for AirAsia X Flights and also Narita Airport where Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and other international airlines land at. 

Upon arrival at any of the Tokyo airports, you will then take a train to your hotel, guesthouse, AirBnB or Ryokan. Moving around Tokyo is also best done with the incredible subway system which connects almost every district.
Muslim Packages Japan 2017
Tokyo offers Muslim travel packages with information available at the Tokyo Booth
Tokyo Travel Packages Matta Fair 2017

If you are interested in visiting Tokyo in 2017, I would highly recommend you pay a visit to the Tokyo Booth at Matta Fair March 2017. Here, you can get most information about Tokyo and its surroundings by speaking to the officers in charge there. You should also know that this is purely an information booth and they do not sell any Tokyo Packages there. 

For any Tokyo travel packages at the Matta Fair 2017, you should look for those travel agents that sell Japan Packages and book through them. Most of the international travel agents are found in the main International Hall of the Matta Fair, which is Hall 1 and 2. 

Our tips and tricks on travelling to Tokyo is to research, find out what you want to see and do and then only plan your trip there. Most Malaysians visiting Japan would want to see the Sakura Flowers during the Sakura season from end March to early April, but the trick is to book your flights and accommodation at least six months in advance to get good prices. If you try to book one or two months before the Sakura flower Season, most hotels would be fully booked or whatever remaining rooms would be priced really high. It is always best to check out the various Tokyo Matta Fair promotion packages before deciding on what you want.
Matta Fair March 2017 Tokyo
Visitors getting information on Tokyo from the Matta Fair
How Long To Spend In Tokyo?

Another misconception is that many people think that you can see Tokyo in 4-5 days, and that is totally not true. Unless you are rushing your trip, even six days is not enough to see Tokyo. So, when tour companies sell Tokyo packages for 3-4 days, it is really a touch-and-go trip. They will most likely take you to a few popular places for a very short time and hop from city to city. Personally, I would not recommend going for this, but to experience Tokyo by yourself as it is a very safe city and the infrastructure is very good. 

A number of visitors would also choose to do dual cities like Tokyo and Osaka for their Japan trip, and usually this would be a 6-7 day trip, but it could also be quite a rush trip. A better solution would be to do them individually and during different times of the year, to experience the different seasons. However, at the end of the day, it is up to the consumer to choose and as mentioned, it is always best to source out the information for your Tokyo travel packages at Matta Fair 2017.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Best Shopping Malls to Visit in Kuala Lumpur KL

Best Shopping Malls to Visit in Kuala Lumpur

Not your regular Top 10 list but this is a list of the Best Shopping Malls to Visit in Kuala Lumpur or KL based purely on the popularity of the malls for tourism purposes. Many visitors come to Malaysia in search of some good places to go shopping in Kuala Lumpur or KL, but with so many top 10 list out there, most of them are just plucked from the internet and interlinked to some online hotel booking sites or just for the sake of getting people to click on their links. 

So, as I have been born and bred here in Kuala Lumpur, and occasionally moving around the city, I can vouch for these shopping malls to visit in Kuala Lumpur as I frequent most of them regularly. In no order, here is the list of the best shopping malls to visit in KL, in the Golden Triangle and also the outer rim of Kuala Lumpur. Again, thee places are purely tourism focused.
Berjaya Times Square Shopping Mall
Berjaya Times Square, one of the mot popular shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur. Photo from www.gowhere.my
Berjaya Times Square Shopping Mall

Having been around for a number of years, the Berjaya Times Square has moved to be one of the top shopping malls in KL to visit, simply because of the variety of shops available here. You will not find high end brands but more of the local brands and many boutique and speciality shops here. On some floors, you can find some real bargains for ladies clothes and accessories as the shops here remind me of a Bangkok style mall, with lots of retailers and cheap clothes, mostly imported from Thailand, China and Korea. 

Berjaya Times Square is also one of the multi-concept malls where you can find a huge indoor theme park, a Japanese and Taiwan Street, Hotel and Serviced Apartments which are all housed in one huge complex. Perfect for those wanting a city holiday and very suitable for couples, families or those on business trips. 

Berjaya Times Square Address;
Location: Opposite Melia Hotel and Amoda building. You can exit straight into the shopping mall from Imbi Monorail Station. 
Address: No. 1 Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: (603) 2117 3111
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 22:00
Suria KLCC Shopping Mall
Suria KLCC, a very popular shopping mall in KL. Photo by www.thousandwonders.net
Suria KLCC Shopping Mall

This is one of the most famous and popular shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, located underneath the Petronas Twin Towers, you get a two-in-one experience when you visit Suria KLCC Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur. Visitors to this mega mall will find local and international tenants and international department store chains here. The mall is also comparison to many other international mega malls in other countries. The crowds are not only on weekends, but just about everyday. One of the bonus points is that the Suria KLCC is connected to the main KLCC LRT train line. This station is linked to KLCC and also the mall opposite, called Avenue K.

Apart from browsing the many floors and the Petrosains Centre on the top floor, visitors can spend a full day here in the mall, or simply going outside to the KLCC Park and also Aquaria KLCC. The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and Mandarin Oriental Hotel is also located just outside Suria KLCC. From Bukit Bintang City Center, it is only a 10 minute walk here. 

Suria KLCC Address; 
Location: Under the Petronas Twin Towers
Address: Lot. No. 241, Level 2, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: (603) 2382 2828
Website: http://www.suriaklcc.com.my/index.html/
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 22:00
Shopping Malls Kuala Lumpur
Pavilion Shopping Mall in KL. Photo from www.pavilion-kl.com
Pavilion Shopping Mall Kuala Lumpur 

The mother of all shopping malls, the Pavilion Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur is a world-class mixed-use urban development and also a multiple award winning mall. The entire project comprises a seven storey premier shopping mall, two blocks of Pavilion Residences, Pavilion Tower office block and the 5-star Royale Pavilion Hotel. With all that mentioned, I can say that this is the place to find top international brands, chic cafes, restaurants and other high end boutique shops. 

Located in the core area of the Golden Triangle of KL or the BBKLCC, this place pulls in all walks of life, including the shopping tourist. Think Channel, Burberry or Fendi and you can find it here as these are the kind of tenants that occupy the main area of Pavilion. A must visit for any luxury shopping lover and is a five minute walk from the Bukit Bintang Monorail Station. 

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Address;
Location: Right next to Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur, across the street from JW Marriott and Starhill Gallery. 
Address: 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
Telephone: (603) 2118 8833
Pavilion KL Website: http://www.pavilion-kl.com/
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 22:00
Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, the best place to get gadgets and electronics. Photo from www.wikimapia.com
 Low Yat Plaza Shopping Mall

This is the place to go for cameras, smartphones, IT. electronics and gadgets in Malaysia. Plaza Low Yat has been serving local or foreigners over a decade and is well known as the IT and Gadget Center of Kuala Lumpur. People visit Low Yat Plaza in Bukit Bintang to get their IT items, repairs or upgrades. Whatever is new in the market, you are sure to find it here. Whatever smart phone or gadget launched worldwide, you can find it here first too. There are a total of five floors for shoppers to explore and the location is about five minutes walk from the Bukit Bintang Monorail Station.

Having been around for almost thirty years, this one-stop Camera, Smartphone, IT and gadget shop offers supermarkets, chain stores and private vendors and you can most likely get some of the best prices and deals here. Accessories for smart phone, tablets, laptop, desktop and cameras are also found here too. Definitely a must-visit place for any gadget lover. 

Plaza Low Yat Address;
Location: Behind Amoda Building, which is across the street from Berjaya Times Square, and right beside Bukit Bintang Plaza/Sungei Wang Plaza.
Address: No. 7, Jalan Bintang, Off Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang Central,
Low Yat Plaza Website
Tel: (603) 2148 3651
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 22:00
Nu Sentral Shopping Mall KL
Nu Sentral Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur
Nu Sentral Shopping Mall

One of the new players to enter the shopping mall scene in KL is no other than Nu Sentral, located in the KL Sentral core area. This interesting mall opened in 2014 and is connected directly to KL Sentral, which is also the main transportation hub of Kuala Lumpur. At Nu Sentral, you can find the standard retail shops, cafes, fast food joints and restaurants here but do not expect a lot of luxury brands here.

Most travelers or locals would use the mall as a gateway to Brickfields where the main KL Monorail station is located. All train services in Kuala Lumpur and the main Malaysia Railway is found here. For those travelers who are waiting for their trains or even arriving early to take the KLIA Express train to the airport, you can just go over to Nu Sentral to shop or even have some food at the many restaurants and cafes there.

Nu Sentral Address;
Location: Connected to KL Sentral
Address: No 201, Jalan Tun Sambanthan 50470, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 2859 7177
Website: http://www.nusentral.com/
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 22:00
Mid Valley Megamall Kuala Lumpur
Mid Valley Megamall, one of the successful shopping malls just out of KL City. Photo from www.panoramio.com
Mid Valley Megamall 

One of the largest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur is no other than Mid Valley Megamall, located just ten minutes drive outside of KL main city area. This gigantic mall which opened in 1999 has seen some of the best choices of brands, in terms of general retailers. In terms of shopping, you would most probably spend a lot of time here as the mall is so huge, it takes a lot of walking around.

Mid Valley Megamall also has its own convention hall called the Mid Valley Convention Centre and two hotels which are also connected to the mall. However, to get here, you need to take a taxi from the city and avoid coming during peak hours as the place can get really crowded. For tourist coming here, a tip would be to change your money in the city before coming here as the money changers here have really long lines. This mega mall in KL is one of the best overall malls for couples, businessmen and families.

Mid Valley Megamall Address;
Location: 15 minutes out of KL main city area and 5 minutes from KL Sentral.
Address: Mid Valley Megamall, 75, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, 58000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 2938 3333
Website: http://www.midvalley.com.my/
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 22:00
Suria KL Shopping Mall
Suria KLCC, located under the Petronas Twin Towers in KL
The shopping malls in KL mentioned above have been personally visited by me on numerous occasions, hence you are getting exact information. If you are heading out of KL to the suburb of PJ, you can check out my Shopping Malls in Petaling Jaya article which I did previously as this is in the outer region of Kuala Lumpur.

There are many other new shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, but I have not listed them as they are still considered new and many are still in the soft period while not all of them are completely occupied. So, to recommend these new malls would be useless, considering that when you go there, the place looks empty, lacking tenants, but I am keeping an eye out to see which are the ones who stand out after the first half of 2017 and update it here.

So in the mean time, this article is strongly focused on popular malls that are relatively important to tourist visiting KL and I hope that this list of best shopping malls to visit in Kuala Lumpur provide you with more than enough information. Do ask if you have any questions or feedback and leave them below.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bird Watching in Flores

Flores Bird Watching

If you are into birding, then this article on Bird Watching in Flores would be of great interest to you. I visited Flores twice in 2016 and both on a mission to explore this amazing destination which is relatively unknown to the general tourism world, perhaps many may know of Komodo Island as this is currently one of the top places to visit in Indonesia. 

Therefore, I wrote this article on bird watching in Flores for any serious birders who would like to increase their bird numbers. Before I continue, I would like to confess that I am only a beginner bird watcher as I have been doing this only for the last five to six years, mainly around Malaysia, especially at Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo Island. 

My birding activities have taken me to many national parks, forest reserves, conservation's, shorelines, islands and highlands. Even backyard birding is on my list at times. In general, I may have seen over 500-600 species of birds in the last five years or so and in Borneo, perhaps around 300 plus birds. As my job takes me to many places, I somehow manage to find the time to do some birding and in Flores, I was lucky to have time to explore some of the birding spots. 

Flores is located in the east most part of Indonesia, after Bali and Lombok Island and just before Papua Indonesia. To get here, the best possible way is by taking a flight. I would recommend using Skyscanner for flights to Flores as it would narrow down the cheapest and easiest ways to fly here from anywhere in the world. Let us get to the birding in Flores.
Green Pigeons Komodo Island Flores
A pair of pigeons seen at the Komodo National Park on Komodo Island
Bird Watching in Flores

There are at least 10 popular spots to do birding in Flores and the best place to start is no other than the town of Labuan Bajo in the west most part of Flores. Labuan Bajo also serves as the main gateway to Komodo Island, where birding is also recommended. There are specialized bird guides found in this town and you can book them by getting in touch with some of the tour companies here. 

Labuan Bajo also offers some really nice hotels and resorts for your accommodations and the facilities are up to general tourist standards, or birding standards. By saying this, I mean you will not find a Nikon Optics shop in Flores, so please bring all your equipment and spares if you have to. 

Bird Watching Spots in Flores

The entire island is literally bird-watchable as there is no major development whatsoever being done here. However, there are a few notable places around Flores for bird watching which are listed from Labuan Bajo and heading outwards. This means for those planning a short birding trip to Flores can just focus around Labuan Bajo areas.

Dolat Wetlands - Only 4 kilometers south of Labuan Bajo, you can come here twice a day. Spot the Wandering Whistling-duck, Malaysian Plover, Mees’s Nightjar, Sunda Teal, Black-faced Munia, Beach Thick-knee, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Javan Plover, Flame-throated Sunbird, Crakes and Rails among the many bird here.

Potawangka Road - East of Labuan Bajo and 10 kilometers from the town area. Spot Bonelli’s Eagle, Wallacean Cuckooshrike, White-rumped Kingfisher, Flame-breasted Sunbird, Zebra Finch, Flores Green Pigeon, Elegant Pitta, Yellow-spectacled White-eye, Black-fronted Flowerpecker, Wallace’s Hanging-Parrot, Black-naped Fruit-Dove, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Green Junglefowl and many others.

Komodo National Park - This will be everyone's must-go place when you are in Flores and apart from seeing the Komodo Dragons, you will be in for a good bird watching experience here. Some of the park guides know quite a bit about the Komodo Island birds.
5 colored Munia in Flores
The beautiful five colored Munia in Flores
Lake Sano Nggoang and Nunang Village - Southeast of Labuan Bajo along the Flores Highway to Ruteng. Spot Wallace’s and Moluccan Scops-Owls, Glittering Kingfisher, Flores Crow, Flores Green Pigeon, Pacific Black Duck, Flame-breasted Sunbird, Elegant Pitta, Flores Minivet, Flores Monarch, Golden-rumped Flowerpecker, Yellow-ringed White-eye, Black-fronted Flowerpecker and many more.

Puarlolo - East of Labuan Bajo and easy to do as a day trip. Spot  the famous Flores Monarch, Flores Crow, Rufous-backed Kingfisher, Short-toed Eagle, Green Junglefowl, Thick-billed Dark-eye, Flores Hawk-Eagle, Chestnut-capped Thrushes, Russet-capped Tesia, Wallace’s Hanging-Parrot, Rufous-chested Flycatcher and many others.

Golo Lusang and Danau Rana Mese Lake - South and East of Ruteng, on route to Bajawa. Spot the Flores Minivet, Golden-rumped Flowerpecker, Pacific Black Duck (lake area), Russet-capped Tesia, Wallace’s Scops-Owl, Black-backed Fruit Dove, White-rumped Kingfisher, Timor Leaf-warbler, Scaly-crowned Honeyeater, Helmeted Friarbird, Pale-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Brown-capped Fantail, Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker and many other birds.

Poco Ranaka - East Ruteng near to Lake Rana Mese, chances to spot Bonelli’s Eagle, Chestnut-backed Thrush, White-browed Shortwing, Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch and the Pygmy Wren-babbler.

Pagal - North of Ruteng and you can find Elegant Pitta, Wallace’s Hanging-Parrot, Yellow-spectacled White-eye, Flores Green-Pigeon, White-rumped Kingfisher, Ruddy Cuckoo Dove, Brown-capped Fantail and Russet-capped Tesia, which have been recorded around here.

Kisol Village - Southeast of Ruteng. Spot the rare Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Brown-capped Fantail, Yellow-spectacled White-eye, Flores Green Pigeon, Flores Crow, Thick-billed Dark-eye, Black-fronted Flowerpecker, Flame-breasted Sunbird, Flores Hawk-Eagle, Moluccan and Wallace’s Scops-Owl, Black-naped Fruit-Dove, Mees’s Nightjar, White-rumped Kingfisher, Elegant Pitta, Flores Crow, Russet-capped Tesia, Chestnut-capped Thrush.
Kelimutu National Park in Flores
One of the sign boards at Kelimutu National Park, Flores
Kelimutu National Park - Near Ende and Maumere, you can spot montane endemics like Bare-throated Whistler, Flores Green Pigeon, Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon, Crested Dark-eye, Ruddy Cuckoo Dove and Five-coloured Munia. The best is to trek using the general path all the way to the peak. It takes about 20-30 minutes trek up.

What Kind of Birds Are Found in Flores

Because Flores is an island and sitting between certain flyways, you can see lots of migrating birds here. But Flores is also home to many endemics like the Flores Crow and Flores Green Pigeon just to name a couple. Check the Flores Bird List below for endemics. Varieties include coastal birds, lowland birds, hill birds, sub-montane forest birds, montane birds, raptors and even unique birds.
Flores Birdwatching
A Rainbow Bee Eater spotted in Flores, near Labuan Bajo
Bird List of Flores

The bird list below is not complete but better than anything because there is no offical list out there. The birds of Flores list here is provided by Burung Nusantara (http://burung-nusantara.org/) and a bird watching trip report. Note the Flores birds in bold are endemic while from No.1 to No.50 are mostly the star birds to spot.
  1. Green Junglefowl
  2. Orange-footed Scrubfowl
  3. Flores Hawk-Eagle
  4. Wallace’s Hanging Parrot
  5. Leaf (Rainbow) Lorikeet
  6. Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon
  7. Black-backed Fruit Dove
  8. Barred Cuckoo Dove
  9. Parzudaki’s (Ruddy) Cuckoo Dove
  10. Black-naped Fruit Dove
  11. Flores Green Pigeon
  12. Flores Scops Owl
  13. Wallace’s Scops Owl
  14. Moluccan Scops Owl
  15. White-rumped Kingfisher
  16. Cerulean Kingfisher
  17. Stork-billed Kingfisher
  18. Collared Kingfisher
  19. Elegant Pitta
  20. Flores Minivet
  21. Flores Crow
  22. Flores Monarch
  23. Flores Warbling-flycatcher (Russet-backed Jungle-Flycatcher)
  24. Trumpeting (Brown-capped) Fantail
  25. Bare-throated Whistler
  26. Chestnut-capped Thrush
  27. Chestnut-backed Thrush
  28. Flores (White-browed) Shortwing
  29. Pygmy Cupwing (Wren Babbler)
  30. Russet-capped Tesia
  31. Flores Leaf-Warbler
  32. Scaly-crowned Honeyeater
  33. Wallace’s Heleia (Yellow-spectacled White-eye)
  34. Eyebrowed Heleia (Yellow-browed Dark-eye)
  35. Thick-billed Heleia (Dark-eye)
  36. Crested Heleia (Dark-eye)
  37. Golden-rumped Flowerpecker
  38. Black-fronted Flowerpecker
  39. Flores (Blood-breasted) Flowerpecker
  40. Flame-breasted Sunbird
  41. Flores Spangled (Wallacean) Drongo
  42. Pale-shouldered Cicadabird
  43. Wallacean Cuckooshrike
  44. Pale-headed Munia
  45. Five-coloured Munia
  46. Black-faced Munia
  47. Scaly-breasted Munia
  48. Timor Zebra Finch
  49. Bulwer's Petrel (Komodo)
  50. Streaked Shearwater
  51. Wedge-tailed Shearwater 
  52. Red-throated Little Grebe
  53. Red-tailed Tropicbird
  54. Great Frigatebird
  55. Lesser Frigatebird
  56. Little Pied Cormorant
  57. Red-footed Booby 
  58. Brown Booby
  59. Abbotts'Booby 
  60. Great-billed Heron
  61. Purple Heron
  62. White-faced Heron
  63. Intermediate Egret 
  64. Little Egret 
  65. Pacific Reef Egret 
  66. Cattle Egret 
  67. Javan Pond-Heron  
  68. Little Heron
  69. Rufous Night Heron
  70. Cinnamon Bittern
  71. Woolly-necked Stork
  72. Oriental Honey-buzzard
  73. Black-winged Kite 
  74. Brahminy Kite
  75. White-bellied Sea-Eagle 
  76. Chinese Goshawk 
  77. Variable Goshawk 
  78. Brown Goshawk
  79. Japanese Sparrowhawk 
  80. Bonelli's Eagle
  81. Rufous-bellied Eagle
  82. Changeable Hawk-eagle
  83. Spotted Kestrel
  84. Wandering Whistling Duck
  85. Lesser Whistling Duck
  86. Sunda Teal 
  87. Pacific Black Duck
  88. Buff-banded Rail
  89. White-browed Crake
  90. White-breasted Waterhen
  91. Common Moorhen
  92. Black-winged Stilt 
  93. Pacific Golden Plover
  94. Kentish (Javan) Plover
  95. Greater Sand-Plover
  96. Whimbrel
  97. Common Redshank
  98. Common Greenshank 
  99. Red-necked Stint
  100. Marsh Sandpiper
  101. Wood Sandpiper 
  102. Broad-billed Sandpiper 
  103. Red-necked Phalarope
  104. Pomarine Jaeger
  105. Whiskered Tern
  106. Black-naped Tern
  107. Sooty Tern 
  108. Greater Crested Tern
  109. Lesser Crested Tern
  110. Brown Noddy
  111. White-throated Pigeon 
  112. Island Collared Dove 
  113. Spotted Dove
  114. Ruddy Cuckoo-dove
  115. Barred Dove
  116. Green Imperial Pigeon
  117. Yellow-crested Cockatoo
  118. Great-billed Parrot
  119. Rusty-breasted Cuckoo
  120. Oriental Cuckoo
  121. Common Koel
  122. Lesser Coucal
  123. Large-tailed Nightjar 
  124. Edible-nest Swiftlet
  125. Glossy Swiftlet
  126. Fork-tailed Swift
  127. Blue-tailed Bee-eater
  128. Common Dollarbird 
  129. Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker
  130. Australasian Bushlark
  131. Barn Swallow
  132. Pacific Swallow
  133. Striated Swallow
  134. Grey Wagtail
  135. Richards Pipit 
  136. Pale-shouldered Cicadabird
  137. White-shouldered Triller
  138. Black-naped Oriole
  139. Large-billed Crow
  140. Great Tit
  141. Flyeater
  142. Mountain Tailorbird
  143. Arctic Warbler
  144. Yellow-breasted Warbler
  145. Golden-headed Cisticola
  146. Zitting Cisticola
  147. Little Pied Flycatcher 
  148. Black-naped Monarch 
  149. Asian Paradise Flycatcher
  150. Common Golden Whistler
  151. White-breasted Wood-swallow
  152. Hill Myna
  153. Helmeted Friarbird 
  154. Brown-throated Sunbird 
  155. Olive-backed Sunbird
  156. Oriental White-eye
  157. Mountain White-eye
  158. Lemon-bellied White-eye
  159. Tree Sparrow 
  160. Eurasian Coot 
  161. Little Grebes
  162. Spectacled Monarch
Orange-footed Scrubfowl Flores
An Orange-footed Scrubfowl spotted at Komodo Island, Flores
When is the Best Time for Bird Watching in Flores

Overall, the entire year is great for bird watching in Flores, but there is a rainy season from December to March and if you don't like the rain, avoid these months. Also, in February, the seas have high waves as it is the peak of the monsoon season, so avoid mid January to mid March. July to August is Komodo High Season, so Labuan Bajo will be pretty crowded and so will Komodo Island. If you do not like large crowds, avoid these couple of months. 

How Much is Bird Watching in Flores

Depending on the type of package you choose, the price of bird watching in Flores varies anywhere from US$1000 to US$2000 per person. A couple of tour companies provide bird watching tours in Flores and for a 7 Day Bird Watching Package, the price is around US$1625.00 per person with a minimum of 2 persons.

However, for those who are on a budget, you can also do bird watching in Flores for less than the prices mentioned above. Probably for under US$1000 per person, but it would be mostly around Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park.

If you are visiting this island in East Nusa Tenggara, do read my other article on things to do in Flores as it sheds some information about what else you can do around this beautiful island. You should also read my other article on things to do in Labuan Bajo, as that is the most popular area in Flores.
Flores Birds
One of the colorful birds spotted just outside of Labuan Bajo, Flores
For me, being a beginner birder, I use very basic equipment for this hobby. My birding equipment is a Nikon D5100 DSLR camera with a 300mm Nikkor Telephoto Lens, an Omicron Barbet RF 8x32 Binoculars, a Cabin Zero Bag and mid range tripod. To date, they have served me pretty well as I travel around quite a bit, therefore I need easy and light equipment.

The beauty about traveling from place to place on a short time is that you get to see multiple places, but for the serious birder, this would be frustrating. Well, for my work, I only have very little time to bird watch or photograph, therefore I make the best of what time I have. And this is also one of the main reasons that I travel light, due to my work schedules.
Omicron Binoculars, which I use for my bird watching. 
I have to admit that I do not know most of the birds spotted during my trip here as I did not have the Flores Bird Guide Book. I have ordered it and on my next birding trip to Flores, I will bring it along to identify all the birds. You can also visit my Facebook album on Flores birds, where I have posted more photos there. 

In general, Flores is one of the new places for bird watching as it is located far from the main commercial Southeast Asia region and closer towards Papua New Guinea. With minor development happening, flora and fauna is still considered to be rich all over the island. And for anyone wanting to do Bird Watching in Flores, I strongly recommend you engage a good bird guide who speaks the local language. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

OPPO R9s Smartphone Camera Review

OPPO R9s Camera Review Malaysia

This OPPO R9s Smartphone camera review is probably one of my rare articles as I hardly do any phone reviews for Malaysia. Anyway, over the years I have been using various smartphones, dating back to the first ever smartphone, the Apple Iphone which I had shipped in the next day after it was released in the USA on June 29, 2007. I had a very good friend send two units over from the US and the joke was on me when I started using it here in Malaysia. Friends laughed at me back then, but nowadays, it is the most important gadget that almost every human must have. 

Back to the OPPO R9s Smartphone photo review. I bought the R9s on the launch date in January 2017 here in Malaysia as previously, I was using a OPPO F1s and before that, I was a Samsung Note user. Why the change? You may have guessed it, due to the Samsung issues and also how the previous Samsung's heat up on heavy usage and also the high price factors nowadays for branded smartphones. Yeah, I know right, RM3,000+ for a smartphone is a bit too much. Buy hey, it's totally up to anyone. 
OPPO R9s Photography
A temple in the Chinatown area of Bangkok. Photo taken with OPPO R9s. All photos unedited. 
OPPO R9s Smartphone Camera Review

What made me decide to change from the F1s to the R9s? Well, since I started to pay more attention towards my smartphone photography, I wanted to explore this area and many friends and even reviews out there have been quite interesting. In the top of the list was the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus which has been getting top reviews for their camera and Leica lens. 

So with some free time one early January day, I paid a visit to my regular phone shop and Danny, a good old friend has informed me that OPPO was in fact launching a new model, the R9s which was superior to the F1s and on par with the Huawei P9. His staff had a test unit which they took out the Huawei P9, P9 plus and did a side by side comparison. 

In the end, the OPPO R9s photo quality was actually a little better than the P9, in terms of realistic colors. Plus the price difference was huge, RM1799 for the R9s versus RM2099 for the P9. So, they say the dual lens on the Huawei is supposed to be a step forward in technology, but again, after doing the general user comparison, I saw no difference. Perhaps for those professional users, there may be but again, a majority of buyers are just simple users like me. 

OPPO R9s Smartphone Photos 

Below are photos taken in various places around Bangkok, Thailand in early February 2017 as I paid a personal shot visit here for a quick escape. Instead of lugging my Nikon DSLR, I just brought the OPPO R9s as my main camera to see how it would capture photos. The photos you see below are all straight from the smartphone and not edited at all. I simply resized them for this article, that is all.
A Thai Temple Pagoda
Camera Review OPPO R9s
River life along one of the rivers in Bangkok 
Photos taken with OPPO R9s
Facade of a Thai Temple in Bangkok


Food Photos in Thailand 2017
Thai Dry Yellow Noodles

Smartphone Pictures of OPPO R9s
Thai Tom Yum with Master Noodles

OPPO R9s Phone Pictures
The Giant Ferris Wheel at Asiatique Waterfront in Bangkok

Street Food Photo Bangkok
Thai Duck Noodles

Thai Sweet Dessert
A type of Thai sweet dessert
OPPO R9s Specifications:
The Oppo R9s is powered by 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor and it comes with 4GB of RAM. Retail price is RM1799.00 in Malaysia. 

For anyone out there who is contemplating on what your next smartphone will be, please do your own fact finding and it is always best to find a phone that suites your lifestyle. If you are a simple person, then go for something simple and easy, instead of the highest end model where you only use 20% of the smartphone functions. 

If you cannot live without selfies, then find a smartphone that can cater to vanity, built in beauty mode and a good reverse camera with a huge storage. If your whole life revolves around social media, then get a powerful smartphone to cater to your needs. 

To me, after a decade of using smartphones, I have been a simple user, taking photos and videos. What matters to me is the battery life, good clear camera, the RAM, processor and storage. Other things do not really matter much but from what I have noticed in Southeast Asia is that most people want to be in trend and have the latest smartphones. Perhaps it is a lifestyle trend, society status or just having too much money to spend. 

You can also see my OPPO R9s Video Review as I did one in January for YouTube. Let me know what you think about my OPPO R9s Smartphone camera review as I would be interested to hear what people think.