Author: admin

ADV: Apple iPhone 4S On Maxis

The iPhone 4S was the final Apple product touched by Steve Jobs before he passed.

Let’s face it, when Apple announced the iPhone 4S two months ago, some people were disappointed.

Fair enough. People were expecting the announcement of the "iPhone 5", not a update to the existing iPhone 4. But the untimely passing of the Apple supremo was enough to propel the 4S to legendary status.

Enough was written about the new features of the iPhone 4S, so I won’t delve into detail about how the improved processor is twice as fast, how smart the software has become and how much the new 8MP camera kicks ass.

I will, however, write about the glitz, the glamour, the queue and craziness surrounding the midnight launch of the iPhone 4S at KLCC last Friday by Maxis.

Me wearing black long-sleeve top and jeans as tribute to Steve.


Queues that stretched from one end of the KL Convention Centre to another. This, despite the fact that competing telcos are also launching the Apple iPhone 4S on the same night, though without the similar amount of fanfare as Maxis.


The first 40 early-bird subscribers. Some people took the day off on Thursday just to be the among the firsts to queue up.


Natalie from hitz.FM entertaining guests all night long.

Wait, that sounded wrong.


On standby since 3pm.

Despite it being a long night for Maxis employees, they are still looking so upbeat.


Maxis employee handouts, telling them their shifts end at 5am.


At the press conference, the CEO of Maxis re-iterated that he is unfazed by competition.

Other telcos may be launching the same product on the same night, but he was convinced that only Maxis is capable of bringing out the best of the iPhone 4S.

Since the iPhone 4S uses a lot of internet data to power things like iMessage and SIRI, Maxis built their data network to become the largest and fastest in the whole of Malaysia.



Click to see Maxis iValue plans.

I use less than 1GB data on my iPhone 4 every month, so I’m happy with iValue 1. By signing up for a 24 month contract, an iPhone 4S 16GB costs just RM1,450.

That’s RM1,000 off the price quoted by the parallel importers at Low Yat. Not bad.

No wonder the queue outside was so long.


As the stroke of midnight drew closer, the camera army began gathering outside the payment area, waiting to capture the moment the first Maxis customers purchasing their brand new iPhone 4S.


Seriously. The only other time you would see these much photographers gathering is when there are lingerie models at a car show.


At midnight, the first iPhone 4S customer walked in to loud cheers and high-fives by the CEO of Maxis and his entire team. The expression on his face is like "WTF?"

Maxis, making every iPhone launch a party since 2009.


An 8-month pregnant lady was among the first 40 people to get the iPhone 4S.

Talk about priorities, man!



60 payment booths are open to accommodate half a kilometre long of people queuing up to buy the iPhone 4S.

The VIPs, corporate guests and Media have their own separate area with free-flowing drinks, alcohol, food and an over-enthusiastic DJ to make the waiting much less painful than those queuing outside.


Henry Golding and Elaine Daly hosting the VIP Party.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a TV host, radio announcer or blogger, every has to wait for their turn to lay their hands on the Apple iPhone 4S. There ain’t no special treatment.


The vivacious model/actress/TV host Julie Woon.


Radio announcer JJ from hitz.FM also came dressed as a tribute to Steve Jobs. (Or maybe that’s what he wears everyday.)

JJ was there to upgrade his 2-year-old iPhone 3GS to the new iPhone 4S. I can tell even he was surprised at such a grand reception at the launch.

"Mannnn…. all these for a PHONE?!" he exclaimed.


A wait is still a wait. Although I was in the VIP waiting area, I never got my hands on the iPhone 4S that night.

According to my ticket, there was still 50+ people ahead of me at 2am and I was just too knackered to continue waiting. I left without the iPhone 4S, but at least I had yummy free-flowing beer.


The much-anticipated SIRI personal assistant was downplayed by Maxis at the launch. SIRI is great, but it is not 100% perfect. In the US, Apple jumped the gun when they launched it, leading to a series of silly SIRI responses well-documented in a hilarious blog called

Maxis learnt from that lesson and explained that they didn’t want to over-hype SIRI when it is still technically in beta stage.

My guess is that Apple knew SIRI is not perfect. But they launched it anyway.

At this very moment, Apple gotta be collecting billions of voice samples and their crazy requests from people all over the world through SIRI, analysing them and creating a bigger, better voice recognition system to rule them all. What the Apple iPhone 4S has right now is an appetizer for bigger, more awesome things to come.

Yes, iPhone 4S has SIRI. It is there and it works. But it is in beta. Just don’t expect a "personal assistant" when it is more a "voice-controlled toy".

With or without SIRI, the iPhone 4S is still an awesome phone: Faster processor, better camera, longer battery life.

And with Maxis and iPhone 4S both supporting high speed 14.4Mbps HSDPA, the fastest iPhone ever is in your hands.

ADV: The Best Name For A Car

It’s not Benz. It’s not Porsche. It’s not Lamborghini.

The best name for a car is Kia – the name of a Korean car manufacturer.

Why leh?

Because in Hokkien, Kia means "GO!"

When you think about it, that’s the most basic thing a car should do isn’t it?

Stick your key in, start the engine, and just… run. We don’t want any engine choking  or power window sticking. When we buy a car, we just want it to take us to A to B whenever we want.

In other words, as my mother so eloquently point out, "chia eh kia to ho liaw lah, mai aneh macam-macam" (car can run good enough already, don’t need so fancy).

That must be the philosophy the Koreans practise when they built their first cars back in the 1970s.

So much so that for the longest time, Korean cars almost all look the same.

Every car is just a copy-and-paste version of another. If you don’t see the logo, you also cannot tell the difference between a Kia to a Daewoo or a Hyundai.

Sure, the cars can Kia (go), but their designs are so neutral that it made many buyers Kia (scared).

Finally, someone in Kia (the manufacturer) had a long hard look at themselves in the Kia (the mirror), and hired one of the leading car designers – Peter Schreyer – as Chief Design Officer.

With an impressive resume that included a stint at Audi designing the iconic Audi TT, Peter Schreyer completely overhauled Kia car designs to make them immediately stand out and recognizable.

The result is quite remarkable.

For example, he transformed the 2005 version Kia Optima from Kia (scared)…

kenny optima

… to KIAAAAA!!!! Let’s go!

That’s like a complete 180 degree transformation!

If the hype in those car websites are true, it appears as if the update to the Kia Optima K5 is not just limited to cosmetics. Paul Tan reported that this version of Optima K5 will come with xenon headlamps, leather interior, panoramic sunroof and those slick-looking alloy wheels you’re looking at right now as standard.

Not bad for Korean cars, eh? And no reason to be ‘kia’ (scared) that it’ll just look like any other Korean cars on the road.

Sadly, I cannot find any price details yet.

If the pricing of Korean cars in general is anything to go by – it should be sweeter than the Hondas and Toyotas any day.

Interviewed By The Star

Every now and again, I get interviewed by newspapers or magazines.

Interviews come and go, but very few of them I put aside for keepsake.

Having said that, I must say I particularly like the feature that the Sarawak edition of The Star did on me last Monday. I thought I can describe myself pretty well, but my interviewer Yu Ji articulated my thoughts in a much more eloquent way than I could ever do myself.

This is also the first time my face appeared on the front cover of a newspaper. Having just celebrated my 29th birthday, that came as a very timely gift. 🙂

Much-travelled man in transition


At 29, Kenny Sia certainly has gone through a lot, having been a blogger, a television personality and now in the midst of trying to make a name for himself in the business world.

YOU might think Kenny Sia, 29, needs little introduction, but you’d be wrong.

He was Malaysia’s best known blogger, who is now trying to re-establish himself as a businessman. He was a television personality on shows with the country’s top models, but Sia secretly believed he was overweight.

Kenny Sia: Blogger turned fitness nut and entrepreneur, speaking to The Star recently.

(KS: Check out my ‘Movember’ mo)

Sia is more famous in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, but calls Kuching his home. He believes in remaining non-controversial, but has in the past used his blog to put forth his political views.

He is in transition now. “I’ve grown out of the blog in a way. Everything happened because I was at the right place at the right time. I do not think of myself as creative. I used to put any silly photo of myself on the blog, and perhaps that was what attracted people in the first place. Now though, when I write, I think several steps ahead. I like to think I’ve matured a little.”

A little over two years ago, Sia embarked on a new phase in his life. He stopped blogging as his main source of income. He launched Level Up, a fitness centre. Sia has never taken the easy way out in life. When he could have worked in Australia, he came back to Malaysia.

When he could have worked at his family business — he made something as new as blogging a revenue earner.

Here, Sia talks frankly to The Star about ending his 20s with a new chapter.

Question: You speak of yourself as a businessman these days but most people would still probably think of you as a blogger first. Is that a label you are keen to change?

I’m spending more time on business. People knew me as a blogger first, but now I take blogging as a hobby, kind of like how I enjoy cycling. Hobbies have taken up a lot of my time. I’m not saying there’s no future in blogging, but I’ve grown out of it. Saying that, I am glad that I made my name there. It’s made business easier. Blogging is not going to be a full time thing for the rest of my life. I don’t write because I have to any more.

The blog has grown in phases. At first, it was rather childish, then to content about my travels around the world and now it’s more “settled”, just like how I’ve become.

The first time I noticed that your blog was getting serious was during the 2008 general election. You interviewed DAP strongman Chong Chien Jen, who was then seeking re-election as Bandar Kuching MP. Would you consider that a natural evolution of your views? You were always interested in politics but just never made it clear on your blog?

I’ve always been politically aware since my university days in Australia. In 2008, I wanted to get young people to vote. Young people were not and are still not paying attention to these things. I don’t blame us youths for being like that though; most of us are disillusioned with the state of affairs.

I was surprised by that interview, given that you were better known as an “entertainer”. To take up something that serious, were you concerned about backlash?

I studied here until Form Three at a Chung Hua school, then I left for Australia. I was exposed to politics that was very much based on ideologies — rather than race based. History is history. How the country came together, I get it. But being a member of this generation, racial matters are not the way of the future.

All these racial groupings are so superficial. The way I run my business is absolutely based on merits.

Which part of Australia were you at?

Perth, Western Australia. I was there for eight years; two years at high school, five years at university and I worked there for one year.

So why did you come back to Malaysia? And why choose Sarawak and not Kuala Lumpur?

There’s a misconception Sarawakians have. Sarawakians love branded stuff. They love franchises from Peninsular Malaysia and beyond. Taken from that perspective, people assumed that given my blogging activities, I had to be in KL.

I was always in Kuching. What happened was that after the 2008 general election when the Opposition won by a large margin, there was a sudden boom of interests in blogging.

They were looking for a non-controversial blogger. I think people at that time really didn’t want another Jeff Ooi or Rocky Bru. Certainly, the companies I did work for wanted a “lifestyle” blogger. I just happen to fit the profile.

But you did take sides. I remember you were very much on AirAsia’s side when the company wanted to build its own airport called Terminal Rakyat, much to the unhappiness of the Government.

I was very supportive on the basis that, had I been in the position AirAsia was in, I would have lobbied to have my own airport as well. In the private sector, you’re always finding ways past obstacles.

If the best solution past an obstacle was to build your own airport, then I’ll support that. But I should say that I don’t blindly support everything AirAsia does.

Put it this way, at the time AirAsia came up with the proposal, I thought it was a smart move. It was a “screw you” to the bigger players. I thought that was great. I definitely take sides in that kind of situation.

It’s “too easy” to get controversial in Malaysia. Did you ever feel you had to limit the extent of your opinions?

It’s true. It’s like this: If I feel I can’t handle the consequences, I don’t write about it. I like to think that’s a process of maturity.

Obviously you know how to grow your own brand. You were doing so well in KL, I’m sure people ask you all the time: Why come back?

On the media side of things, yes, I would have done better in KL. But you know what? Kuching is not such a bad place. There’s an abundance of opportunities in Sarawak. You just have to find them and be patient.

As for setting up Level Up Fitness, if I were in KL or Singapore, I would be facing a lot of competition. I might even go out of business before I break even. Having the business in Kuching means that I’m
offering something relatively new and different. I don’t think there are other gyms similar to mine right now here.

That goes two ways though. There are challenges in under-developed societies. No?

For sure, even hiring people, for example, it’s hard. Look at the people at Starbucks, they greet everyone with a smile. That’s something, really! I mean that’s great for any working environment. People need to be more exposed.

It’s also true that people don’t end up in the area of expertise they studied for in university. I’m hiring engineers as gym trainers! Unfortunately, say you are good in maths, society will expect you to study something like engineering. People in the arts sector are somehow considered “not as good”.

Throughout the whole 1980s and 1990s period, there was an overemphasis on academic education. I went through that. I got very fat.

Hence your business, right?

[Laughs] Ya! I came back from Australia and realised people here just don’t seem to have the right idea about fitness. When I started Level Up, people weren’t coming in. The awareness of fitness was just not there, and it’s not really a cost thing. People here spend a lot on cars and drinks.

The Health Ministry now says Malaysia is the fattest nation in South East Asia. Singapore is more developed, but its people are fitter than Malaysians; Indonesia is poorer than Malaysia, but its people are fitter than Malaysians: So where did we go wrong?

You look at our policies: We are subsidising sugar, flour and oil. The Government is subsidising the wrong things. A salad is about RM10; sugar is RM2 for a big pack. So there is a greater role for the fitness industry to play within Malaysian society.

Are there any government incentives for the fitness industry?

No, no. There’s absolutely no incentives for those in the fitness industry. It is incredibly expensive to start a fitness centre, the equipment cost so much. It’s very expensive to educate trainers. For those reasons, Malaysians are where we are today. By the way, don’t forget that Physical Education (PE) isn’t emphasised enough in Malaysian schools. You have PE teachers who are trained in Maths.

Do you feel Malaysian youths have enough say on things like how we move forward?

Not at all. You attend official events and you also end up listening to endless salutations — “Tan Sri, Puan Sri, Datuk Seri, Datin Seri, Datuk, Datin…” blah blah blah — and then the speakers are like in the 60s. At the risk of sounding selfish, you have older people making decisions, talking about things, planning things that will determine how things are for the next 20 years.

Youths need to play a greater role. We need people who are more aware of what youths of today want for the next 20 years.

That’s a healthy democratic system, isn’t it?


In Sarawak, we have a politician by the name of Wong Soon Koh.

I don’t know much about him, except he is always cutting ribbons at functions and that he is one of the two candidates vying for presidency for SUPP, aka Sarawak BN’s equivalent of the MCA.

Ever since I started reading 9gag, every time I see Wong Soon Koh’s smiling face on the newspaper, I can’t help but to think how similar he is to the "Problem?" guy.



See? Can’t even tell the difference.




28 things I did when I was 28 years old:

1. Celebrated my 28th birthday alone in Auckland Airport.

I was meant to fly from Auckland to Singapore on the eve of my birthday, but my flight never arrived because the entire runway lights in Auckland Airport blew up, leaving some 10,000 passengers grounded.

While I was sleeping on the airport floor, my friends in Singapore were at a restaurant waiting for my arrival to celebrate my birthday.

In the end, they didn’t wait. They ate my birthday cake. 🙁


2. Had my first Club Med experience.

Club Med is an all-inclusive resort, meaning all the food and fun are included in the room rate. Thanks to Club Med Bali, I was fully fed after 3 days. And I swear I gained an extra 3kg by the end of the trip.


3. Became a judge in the Malaysia Spa & Wellness Awards.

It was the best job ever. All I had to do was visit the best spas in Malaysia, receive their best treatment, and rate their performance.

My favourite was the Borneo Spa at Nexus Karambunai Resort in Kota Kinabalu. I visited the place in March. A few months later, a fire broke out from the men’s sauna.

Maybe it’s because I’m too hot.


4. Ran a full 42km marathon in less than 6 hours.

I started running marathons 5 years ago after accepting a challenge from a friend of mine.

Since then, I have ran in five different marathons, one each in KL, Penang, Singapore, Kota Kinabalu and Los Angeles. Although I finished slightly better each time, I have never ran within my targeted time of 6 hours.

At the 2011 Seoul International Marathon, I finally reached that target.

The race started under the worst weather conditions possible. It was raining throughout the first half and the temperature was close to zero. I was soaking wet and absolutely freezing my nuts off.

Unexpectedly, I managed to overcome all that and finished the 42km in 5 hr 37 mins – my best time ever.


5. Flew inside a helicopter for the first time.

Before that, the last time I flew in a helicopter was in a computer game called Battlefield.


6. Visited the Grand Canyon Skywalk

Despite how commercialised the Grand Canyon has become, it is still an absolutely awe-inspiring sight. The Skywalk, however, is ridiculously over-rated.


7. Drove a Ferrari on a Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Wished I could say I "raced" the Ferrari F430, but that machine goes so fast and is so expensive that I was afraid of crashing it.

In the end, all I did was 4 laps around the Speedway doing 140 km/h – well below the Ferrari’s true potential.


8. Went on long-distance road trips every country I travelled to.

In the past, my travel plans mostly involved exploring the city where the international airport is located. With globalization taking place, it’s unfortunate that more and more capital cities are beginning to look the same: there’s always a Starbucks and a McDonald’s every corner of the street.

To have a real taste of a destination, I felt the need to venture out of the capital city.

When I was in California,  hired a Ford Mustang and went on an impromptu road trip, driving 300km from Los Angeles all the way up to Monterrey with the top-down on my convertible.


9. Visited the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.


10. Became a certified RPM Instructor.


11. Dropped 12kg and got in the best shape of my life.


12. Visited Penghu Island, an unexpected romantic little volcanic island located between China mainland and Taiwan.

Penghu is to Taiwan what Bali is to Indonesia, what Hawaii is to USA. For now, it’s still very much a hidden gem, attracting mainly only Chinese-speaking visitors. Let’s hope it remains that way.

I hereby declare my top 3 favourite destinations in the world as: Bali, USA and Taiwan – in that order.


13. Went on a solo bicycle-riding trip along the east coast of Taiwan.

14. Bought a racing bike first thing after I returned from Taiwan.


15. Flew in a private plane for the first time.


Thanks to Johan Farid Khairuddin, who runs the best-value flight tour in KL.


16. Received the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Hotel experience.

Woke up like a prince every morning.


17. Re-visited Stephen Shum, the fortune teller at Temple St in Hong Kong.

When I first visited him when I was 24, he said I will get married at age 28 or 32.

I didn’t get married at 28.

This time I visited him, he said I will have minor surgery in the future. WTF. Maybe it’s because I bargained and paid him less money.


18. Trained a friend to run her first 21km half-marathon

When I run, I run for fun. Although I knew I am not an elite runner, I never expected one day I would be helping others to achieve the same goals I did.

Vix is a radio announcer for hitz.FM in Kuching who asked me to help get her started running for fitness. Problem: the last run she did, she was still in high school.

So I took up the challenge to get her ready for the KL International Marathon. With only 8 weeks of training, Vix went from zero to hero, beating 21km with a better-than-average record of 2 hours 50 minutes.

Kenny Sia, Personal Trainer. Who would’ve thought? 🙂


19. Kena GOTCHA! on hitz.FM

A direct consequence becoming friends the crazy people at the radio station!


20. Personally trained a bunch of fitness instructors to become certified.

Since starting my fitness business, I have met and interviewed heaps of young graduates who have lots of passion in the fitness industry, but not necessarily have the right qualifications. It’s not their fault, ‘cos there aren’t any educational pathways for them to become fitness professionals in Kuching – because all the emphasis here seems to be for accounting and engineering and so on.

In the end, I have to learn and research every thing myself, before teaching and grooming them into qualified fitness instructors themselves.

I am so proud to have achieved this year alone, 11 instructors at my gym successfully passed their certification requirements.


21. Began my Invisalign treatment at

So, I thought my crooked teeth was already beyond renovation, but Dr Foo at was determined to prove me wrong.

I believe Invisalign is gonna do to my teeth what LASIK did to my eyes. Everyone who went on it swore to me it changed their lives.


I’m gonna write a more detailed experience of myself and the Invaslign treatment once I got some results to show.


22. Attempted cliff-jumping for the first time.

The adrenaline junkie in me didn’t do any bungee jumps this year. Instead, I attempted cliff jumping for the first time!

This was at Nusa Lembongan in Bali. The cliff was 20 metres high and the cost was a mere 50,000 Rupiahs (or RM18) – a bargain compared to some RM900 I spent bungee-jumping off Macau Tower!

The adrenaline rush was the same. The only difference was… my ass hurts and I’m probably gonna drown if I didn’t swim back to the ladder fast enough.


23. Scored a contract to operate and manage a private gym for a GLC.

At least that’s gonna put food on my table for the next couple of years.


24. Rescued some stray puppies.

Felt bad separating them from their mother, but in the end they found comfort at the homes of their new owners.


25. Organized dozens of fitness events all around Kuching.

Doing my best to get people excited about exercising, instead of contributing to Malaysia becoming the fattest nation in South-East Asia.


26. Became a certified Balinese masseuse!

While we were in Bali, Ming thought it would be a great idea to learn how to give, rather than receive massages. We took up a one-day Balinese massage course, and got a certificate in the end.

Since then, I have "attempted" to give massages, but I always give up ‘cos after 10 minutes my hands were damn sore! In the end, the masseuse have to be on the receiving end of the massage!


No wonder spas are so expensive. Being a masseuse is damn hard work, ok!


27. Bought my own apartment unit

This is without a doubt, the biggest purchase I have ever made in my life, and one that’s gonna put me in a big debt over  the next 10 years. The choice of real estate available in Kuching isn’t fantastic, but with prices rising so rapidly what choices do I have?

Besides, I’m probably too old to still be living under my mother.


28. Fell head over heels in love.


Today, I turned 29 years old.


Life should never revolve around the blog.

The blog should always revolve around your life.

Otherwise, how else would I be able to travel and explore the world on a bicycle, blog about my adventure and be nominated as a finalist for Best Travel Blog and Best Micro Blog in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards?

Thank you to whoever nominated me loh. I know I am not worthy, ‘cos like… I don’t update as frequently as I used to. ‘cos if I do, then I think I don’t have to sleep anymore liaw. May as well quit my business and apply for job as Zombies2U Sdn Bhd.

I’m not sure who the other finalists are, but please be sure to check them out and vote for the most deserving winner at

If you think I deserve it, then vote me lah. If not, then vote others lah!

Voting closes 27 November 2011, which coincidentally… is my 29th Birthday.

So… you know lah, HINT HINT.

Nuffnang Blog Awards, Here I Come

Apparently, Nuffnang just announced their 2nd Bi-Annual Asia-Pacific Blog Awards.

If you’re not in the blogging scene, you probably won’t care about this as much.

For the rest of us active in the blogging or Twittering scene, like myself, it is the only time of the year we get recognized for the time and effort we put into our hobby.


This was taken from 2 years ago, when my double chin still have a permanent residency on my face.

Singers get recognized at the Grammy Awards, actors get recognized at the Academy awards. Bloggers get recognized at the Nuffnang Blog Awards.

On the 16 December, it is expected that close to 500 bloggers from all across the Asia Pacific region will be flying into to KL for the Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards at the Putrajaya Marriott Hotel.

Sponsored by Volkswagen Malaysia and Putrajaya Marriott, not only does the Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards honour the region’s best bloggers, but also bring together blogger communities from across Asia Pacific.

We’re talking Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Australia, China, Japan – the whole gamut. All the who’s who of blogging and all the up-and-coming stars will be there.

Of course, I wanna be there not just for the glitz and glamour, and not just for the fact that I haven’t attended a single social event from the blogging fraternity since many years ago, but also for the fact that 2 years ago at the inaugural Awards in Singapore, I was nominated in like 3 categories, but then all the trophies kena sapu-ed by Xiaxue.

I’m pretty sure this time round there’s a ruling saying you cannot win the same award twice in a row, so I’m glad at least I don’t have to go against such a stiff competition! 🙂

If you are a blogger on Twitter-er, this is an event you do not want to miss. In fact, invites to the Nuffnang Blog Awards is so exclusive that they are not even available for sale. The only way to get them, is by clicking on this link right here.

If you are not active on the blogging scene, well – I guess you can always nominated me for one of the following categories.

I’m not sure which one of the above categories fits. There does not seem to be a Best Last-Time-Used-To-Update-A-Lot-But-Now-It’s-Updated-Once-In-A-While Blog. Based on my past few entries, I suppose I can qualify for Travel Blog?

Let’s see how I go this time round. 🙂 I know I can’t wait for 16 December.

Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

Taroko Gorge ??? is the number one must-go destination for any visitor to Taiwan.

The name "Taroko" means "magnificent and beautiful" in the local Aboriginal language. According to an article I read, a long time ago, an Aborigine climbed into this canyon and upon seeing the beauty, he cried "Taroko!" – and so this became the name of the place.

Funny. That’s the same story I heard about how Singapore got it’s name.

After 2 days and 220km of cycling, I contemplated giving my legs a rest and rent a scooter instead.

Unfortunately, all the rentals here only rent to local Taiwanese. I had no choice but to do the uphill climb on my trusty bike once more.

But before that…

… an obligatory Taiwanese bubble tea stop! 😀

Taroko is located 20km north of Hualien. It is a distance I can comfortably cover within an hour. On a flat road.

Due to the uphill nature of the terrain, it took me three gruelling hours just to get to the entrance gate of Taroko. It was nothing of course, compared to the rain and cold and darkness I had to battle the night before. The human body adapts, and I see the uphill climb more as an exercise than anything else.

Once I’m inside the Taroko Gorge, it was like entering a completely different world.

The Shrine of Eternal Spring ???.

Bridge of the Kind Mother ???.

Marble white rocks on the dried-up riverbed, washed and cut by the erosive power of the Liwu river they turn clean and white. Rising above them are granite covered by subtropical rainforests.


And this is the type of landscape that continue to hug the road for the next 16km uphill. With little traffic, cool temperature and a stunningly majestic scenery to enjoy, Taroko Gorge was my slice of heaven.

As giant tour buses swerve past me, I have the luxury of taking in every detail of the stunning scenery by cycling slowly uphill.

On occasions when I found water in the river, the colour was clear and turquoise. Almost good enough to make me wanna jump in it in my cycling gear.

On other occasions when I have to cycle through kilometre-long tunnels alone with my bike, I use the loud music in my earphones to motivate me to spin my wheel as fast as I can see the sunlight.

Rockfalls are common in this area, and the authorities regularly close off walking and cycling trails for safety reasons.

People have gone missing before. With Taroko Gorge being such a large area, it would be almost impossible to get help if anyone were to get lost.

Even being in the area without a helmet can be dangerous. At one point, I was prevented from proceeding any further unless I wear their hard hats.

My plan was to visit The Tunnel of Nine Turns ???, the most spectacular of several walking trails. Also the furthers away uphill.

Yet, the further I cycle inland, the more apparent it became that I was never gonna see the top draw of the Taroko Gorge.

Many of the walking trails surrounding the area were closed due to danger of rockfall.

When I finally did arrive at Tunnel of Nine Turns, I was the only person there – a rare sight for such a top tourist draw.


The floor was littered with stones of various sizes. Obviously, nobody is risking their lives to clean up the debris here.

The only glimpse I had of the Tunnel of Nine Turns was this.


It was quiet. I could shout and the echoes would go on for several seconds.

As expected, the walking trail is closed. And the warnings are severe for those who go against the advice of the authorities.

Part of me felt, "Dammit! I did not cycle 220km across the entire East Coast of Taiwan to be stopped by some stupid warning sign."

Honestly, I toyed with the idea of just going down the hiking trail to have a look.

But common sense got the better of me.

Although I was disappointed, it ain’t worth it to risk my life just to look at some scenery. I gotta be accountable for my loved ones back home.

So I did the sensible thing to do – I turned my bike around and proceed to ride downhill all the way back towards Hualien.

The uphill ride took me 3 hours. The downhill ride took me just 55 minutes.

Very quickly, my first every long-distance cycling journey have come to an end.

I arrived back at the Giant bike store at Hualien Train Station, ready to return my rental bicycle – which has been my sole companion for the past 60 hours. After cycling so much, somehow it felt weird to walk with my two feet again.

This is gonna sound awfully stupid, but a wave of emotion suddenly washed over me. For a moment, I actually very quite sad that I have to let go of my bike and go back to my old travelling routine of taxis, trains, buses and flights.

It was almost like breaking up with an ex-girlfriend. Very sad.

One thing I was sure of is that I had a brilliant, enjoyable and very "different" type of travel experience. Seeing Taiwan on two wheels gave me the freedom to explore. It also forces me to slow down and appreciate the finer details of this amazing country better than any other vehicle can.

I missed my bicycle as soon as I left Hualien on the train back to stuffy, overcrowded and over-commercialised Taipei.

First thing I did when I returned to Kuching…

… I went and bought myself a bike.

Journey To Hualien

The whole of yesterday was disastrous.

With the last 24 hours being fraught with rain, flat tyres and various mishaps, I was yearning for a better journey ahead.

Its a sign of good things to come when I see the sun shining at 7:30am.

After a morning soak in the outdoor hot spring bath, I was ready to set off!

I bade goodbye to the hot spring hotel owner, who was nice enough to send me off with a free cup of hot coffee.

The owner said he don’t receive have much visitors since other major resorts opened up around the area. He was surprised that I was doing this bicycle trip alone.

I was glad I made his day.

As it turned out, that hotel owner was just one of the many interesting characters I would meet on my journey to Hualien.


From YuLi to Hualien is 95km and there are two paths I could take.

Highway 9 is what my guidebook and what the Giant bike shop lady suggested. Highway 9 hugs the train line, has a dedicated bike path, is straightforward, appears a lot quicker but being a highway, it has loads of trucks and various traffic passing through it.

On the other hand, Route 193 is a single-lane road running more or less roughly parallel to Highway 9. It wasn’t recommended in the guidebooks I have read, but just by looking at the maps, I knew it would take me to my destination with a lot less road traffic compared to Highway 9.

Which path did I choose?

To me, it’s a no brainer – I ain’t coming all the way to Taiwan to ride on a freakin’ highway!

So I took a risk, and off to Route 193 I went!

Guess what? I didn’t regret it. Route 193 wasn’t recommended by many, but it was easily one of the most beautiful stretch of road I have ever witnessed thoughout my journey in Taiwan.

The scenery is green, the traffic is minimal, the path is easy to ride and did I mention the scenery is greener than the Incredible Hulk?

Ahhhhhh… so green and peaceful.

The best thing about Route 193 is that the greenery goes on for miles and miles. It was such a welcoming contrast compared to the road and weather I experienced on Highway 11 the day before.

This is the bicycle trip I was looking forward to!

Route 193 must be a hidden treasure only local Taiwanese cyclists seem to know.

There were no other foreigners in sight. The more I pedal, the more cyclists I encounter. Some were riding just a stretch of the road, others were doing a 14-day round-the-island bicycle trips.

All of them have one thing to say when they see me: ???(keep it up!)



Somewhere along the journey I passed by a Cyclist Rest Stop in the town of ??GuanYin, named after the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.

(Ironically, there are more churches than temples in the town of GuanYin.)

The "Cyclist Rest Stop" is actually just the local police station. There are dozens of these along the way.

The local policemen can help with filling up your bicycle tyre pressure, provide drinking water and so on – all free of charge.

When I entered the Cyclist Rest Stop / Police Station, the only policeman there very warmly invited me to take a seat inside while he made me a cup of tea!

It was like, he was more happy to see me than I was to see him.

Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic to be drinking tea with the local policeman in a police station! Back in Malaysia, the only times I have ever visited a police station were to pay a traffic summon or report a crime. This is the first time I have such a casual and friendly encounter with a policemen anywhere in the world.

To have the local policemen treating me so warmly is such a refreshing experience.

I left the police station fully recharged as I continue on from GuanYin, cycling past the Tropic of Cancer, right into another hot spring town called ?? RueiSuei.

I couldn’t miss the sight of a billboard and a giant cow sitting at the entrance to RueiSuei. Curious, I steered towards the sign to further explore.

Apparently, RueiSuei is famous for three things: hot springs, kayaking and the freshest milk in the whole of Taiwan.

?? JiZheng Paddock is the producer of the freshest organic milk I have ever tasted.

There’s a gift shop and restaurant in there where they sell everything cow and milk.

We’re talking milk candies.

Milk pudding and the fluffiest milk steamed buns you’ll ever sink your teeth in. Just thinking about makes my saliva drip. It is THAT good.

I’ve heard of fresh seafood noodles, but have you ever head of fresh MILK seafood noodles? Unique yes, and quite tasty too.

If only I weren’t so full from stuffing my face with their yummy steamed buns.

Cycling on the road means sometimes sharing the path with the most unexpected of road users – like this old uncle driving a golf buggy in the middle of the road.

A water buffalo taking a bath in RueiSuei River.


More greenery.


69km left to HuaLien!

Like life, the road to Hualien is not always smooth sailing.

At times, I have a nice flat road all to myself.

Other times I have to carry my bike, luggage and all across a dried up riverbed to continue on my journey on the other side.

Without realising, I have entered the village of ?? FuXing.

FuXing has a quite a sizable population of Taiwanese Aboriginals. It is said that the ancestors of the Malays in Malaysia and Javanese from Indonesia came from Taiwan hundreds of years ago.

I do see the resemblance. Taiwanese Aboriginals have very similar facial features as the Malays. The only difference is that they speak fluent Chinese.

Apart from being an aboriginal village, FuXing also have a very eye-catching bicycle path. Recently there was a campaign by the Taiwanese government to upgrade these little villages to make it more attractive for tourists, and well-paved bicycle path and the red bridge is the result of it.

How did I know all these?


From the village chief himself.

The chief was so excited to see a foreigner visiting his village because normally they only receive domestic tourists.

I must be the fir
st Malaysian he saw. At first, he was surprised that I was travelling alone. Later, he was kind enough to give me his name card and kept telling me to stay in FuXing on my next trip here.

Before I left, the village chief gave me a tip.

I told the village chief that I wanna avoid cycling on the highway, so he pointed to the gravel road to the north of the village.

He said that if I continue down the gravel road, I would reach a brand new stretch of road. As a matter of fact, this road was so new, they were still constructing it.

I would have to ignore the construction, and press on.

He promised me that there will be greenery on both sides and not a car in sight. As a bonus, an interesting sight awaits me on the other end of the road.

He would not even tell me what the surprise is.

Neither my guidebook nor Google Maps have this stretch of road mentioned. But hey, what do they know?

Once again, I took a chance and never looked back.

The village chief was right.

I had a good 5km road all to myself without a car in sight. With my bike being the only vehicle on the road, I had music in my ears at full volume, without a single worry in the world!

It was the most liberating feeling ever. I felt like I am king!


At the end of this new road, a very well-hidden but manicured park awaits me.

It is called the Flatland Forest Park – a colourful and interesting park hidden in the middle of MaFou Aboriginal Village, near the township of GuangFu.

The Flatland Forest Park have fields painted with flowers into art, weird-looking art installations and plenty of flat bicycle paths to ride on.

Despite being such a pretty park, I was the only person there apart from the gardeners.

I felt compelled to take a moment off my bicycle to take in the views in solitude.

Flatland Forest Park is filled with Taiwanese aboriginal flair. Even their scarecrows were dressed in traditional aboriginal outfits.

I love it, I really do.





Really really do.

MaFou Aboriginal village lies not far from Flatland Forest Park. This picturesque little village is punctuated by mountains, rivers, tall coconut trees and wooden houses set amongst large expanses of greenery.

I had this picture as my desktop wallpaper for an entire month.

Posing for a compulsory "looking at the map" photo of a wannabe adventurer.

An overgrown Banyan tree devouring an abandoned house.


Compared to MaFou, the Mataian Wetlands is a better-known tourist attraction. It is located just off Highway 9.

Janet Hsieh from Fun Taiwan had recommended a unique restaurant in this area before and I was keen to try out.

Cifadahan Cafe is run by a talented Ami artist who carved all the sculptures in and around his very pretty restaurant.

One of their most famous specialties is called ???? – literally, hot stone steamboat.

What they do, is take a large betel-nut leaf and fold it into a bowl. Inside are raw fish, prawns and some local veg I couldn’t recognize.

Next, the chef took out some hot stones that were pre-heated to 1000 Celsius and dropped them right into the betel-nut leaf bowl.

As you can expect, the water began to sizzle and produced quite a lot of steam. It was almost like a flambé – Taiwanese aboriginal style. Meanwhile, the food inside the betel-nut leaf bowl was cooked almost immediately.

The stones were used only once because the minerals are no longer present after they were released into the soup. The chef said cooking this way keep the natural flavours of the prawn and fish locked in.

I met two Taipei girls in cycling gear while I was at the restaurant. Since we were the only patrons of the restaurant, we naturally struck up a conversation.

Turns out they were also doing the Taitung-to-Hualien cycling trip, except they took Highway 9 whilst I took the scenic route.

We shared our cycling stories and once again, the two of them expressed shock that I was cycling all alone. By this time, I’m beginning to wonder if Taiwanese have heard of the term "solo travelling" or not.


Dusk fell when we left the restaurant. By this time, my good friend – the rain – returned to visit me once again.

It was great to have some company for a short stretch of road, but the two girls stopped at ShouFong Township to spend the night.

As darkness, temperature and rain all descended upon me, I put my earphones on. For the next 30km, I wanna cycle without distraction.

It was cold. It was rainy. At times, I even wondered why the hell am I doing this.

But at 10:30pm, I finally made it.

This is ?? HuaLien – gateway city to Taroko Gorge and birthplace of the veritable Tzu-Chi Buddhist Foundation.

Stayed in a quirky hotel called "Your Majesty B&B". Costs me RM150 and is hands-down the most gawdy and over-the-top accommodation I have stayed at throughout my entire Taiwan trip.

Some more got zebra-print carpet. Don’t play play.

I was glad I found a place to sleep in time. Most hotels here closed at 11pm. I needed a place to rest before cycling up the Taroko Gorge the next day.

Gotta appreciate the deep bath-tubs in my room the soothe the sore muscles.

After riding 100km in one day, I think my butt can make do with some pampering. 🙂

Cycling Along The East Coast Of Taiwan

I am an indoor cycling instructor.

I am also an avid adventurer. When I travel, I hate just going to whatever city the international airport is located. I wanna go out of my way, see things at my own pace, preferably in my own vehicle.

On the 1 June, I decide to combine two of my biggest past-times – cycling and travelling – on my trip to Taiwan.

I have long heard about the beauty of Taiwan from many of my friends. The 220km eastern coast of Taiwan is particularly renowned for being the most scenic in the entire island. Add a relatively flat surface, an abundance of bike service stops and a well-accepted cycling culture in Taiwan – I’m looking at a perfect holiday adventure right there. 🙂

There is only one problem.

I may be an indoor cycling instructor, but I have never cycled long distance outdoors before in my life. This was the first time I’ll be making such a long journey on a bicycle, and although I was a little bit afraid, I was also quite excited.

The plan was to cycle from Taitung in the south-east of Taiwan to UNESCO World Heritage listed Taroko Gorge in the north-east. Taking into account rest stops and side-trips, I estimate the journey to take 3 full days.

GIANT is Taiwan’s largest bicycle manufacturer, and they are amazing. I had booked my touring bike with GIANT beforehand. When arrived to pick up my bike from Taitung train station, the shopkeeper had already fully equipped it with tools, bags and all.

The rental comes up to around RM150 for 3 days – a bargain for such a good bike.

This bicycle is gonna be my best friend for the next 3 days.

The great thing about long-distance cycling in Taiwan is that you can hire a high-quality touring bicycle from a GIANT shop located at most major train stations like in Taitung, then drop it off at the GIANT shop at your destination. This saves a whole lotta hassle of carrying the bicycle back to Taitung when I reached Hualien.

And so, I was ready to start my virgin long-distance bicycle journey, when sudddenly…


But what to do? I have already made my plans. Suck it up and continue pedalling, Kenny.

With a helmet over my head, and a yellow poncho underneath that, I began kilometre 1 of my 220km journey.

There are two main highways connecting Taitung to Hualien. Highway 9 is atop the mountains, where the air is cool and the road passes through green paddy fields and interesting aboriginal villages.

Highway 11 hugs the coast and the basaltic rock formations by the sea. Both are interesting, but Highway 11 was the road I took.

"Siaoyeliu" ??? was an interesting stop about 20km in from Taitung.

Here, the rocks look like tofu.

And crabs look like rocks.

A local cyclist saw my bicycle with luggage, and approached me asking if I’m doing the "round-the-island" bike trip. I politely replied that I am a noob (what’s "noob" in Chinese?) cycling the east coast only.

It would love to continue chatting, but it was raining and I have quite a distance to cover, so I continued pedalling.

Further down from Siaoyeliu, a signboard popped up in the middle of the road pointing to a visual oddity called "Water Running Up" (????).

When looked from the bridge, it really did seem like the water is running up.

See if you can figure out why.


The rain was beginning to subside a little bit by the time I crossed the next town on Highway 11. It was a town with an interesting name.



Everything in Dulan is Dulan.

They have Dulan people.

Dulan schools.

Dulan cows.

Dulan Hand Made Bread. For real.

I didn’t wanna stay too long in Dulan because everyone was really dulan. But then barely 3km past the town of Dulan, a really dulan thing happened to me.

I don’t know if my bike hit a rock or what, but my ride suddenly becomes less smooth as I continued pedalling. Before I knew it, the back wheel started bouncing erratically.

It was so bad I couldn’t continue my journey.

And that’s when I realised the most dulan thing of my entire trip had happened.



So there I was in the middle of nowhere, still soaking wet from top to toe because of the rain earlier, as I wheeled my bike into a wooden shack on the side of the road.

Frustrated, I took up a handheld pump in an attempt to inflate the wheel.


I ran my finger through the tyre searching for holes.


An old man wearing a face mask sauntered out of the wooden shack where I was seeking shelter. Speaking in Taiwanese Hokkien, he asked me what’s wrong. I explained to him my predicament. But there was nothing he could do.

A phone call to the Giant bike shop I rented my bike from didn’t help either. I was accosted for taking the road less travelled. Giant have plenty of bike service stations along Highway 9, but they couldn’t help me since I took Highway 11.

I had no choice but to act quick as the sun was setting. So I did something that no respected adventurer would do.

I hailed down a cab.

The cab wasn’t even available when I hailed it down from the roadside. A passenger was already sitting inside the cab, but she saw I was in trouble and therefore let me share the ride with her. She even said because I’m a visitor from outside Taiwan, and it’s her duty to take care of me. I was so touched!

Feeling relieved but shameful at the same time, I got inside the big yellow taxi.

So, from Dulan, I hitched a free ride all the way to ChengGong, the next town 37km along Highway 11.

The cab driver dropped me right off at a dingy little bicycle repair shop. It wasn’t an authorised Giant bike shop, but what choice do I have?

I was quoted NT150 (RM15) to replace the bicycle tyre.

Barely 5 minutes after I set off from the bike shop, the tyre punctured AGAIN! So I returned to the bike shop once more, paid him NT150 once more before I set off on my journey once more.

The tyre seemed to hold up better the second time round and I was confident enough to pedal my way out of Chenggong and onto the highway. This time I prayed hard that my bike tyre will last me the rest of the 220km journey.

No such luck.

2km out of Chenggong, the tyre went completely flat again as I free wheeled along Highway 11. With no roof over my head, I contemplated staying a night in a tunnel before the fear of being raped by a gang of bored Taiwanese truck drivers quickly put me out of that thought.

I decided not to take any risks any more.

The time was 8pm as I freewheeled down to the nearest shelter to phone a cab. The adventurer in me died a little as a I hopped into the taxi again, but this time to the nearest Giant authorised bike repair shop, 40km across the mountains in a town called YuLi on Highway 9.

Perhaps, being forced to switch to Highway 9 is a blessing in disguise.

YuLi is located in an area best known for its hot springs. After an entire day cycling in the rain, a hot bath and a good bed are two things I desperately need.

s is the cheapo hot spring hotel I checked in. Only NT900 (RM90 a night).

It was obvious the hotel was terribly under-utilised. I didn’t have reservation, but that’s not a problem because there wasn’t even anyone staying at the hotel. I walked right in, paid cash to the owner who promptly showed me my bedroom.

There were lizard poo all over the bed, but that’s okay. The owner swept them all onto his hand and threw them outside.

No big deal to do so in front of the customer, obviously.

The hot spring water was piped right into the bathtub. I made sure there were no lizard poo in the tub before I sat in.

It was so warm and soothing. They say the spring water here is so refreshing they could use it to make coffee.

I never tried. I don’t wanna accidentally swallow lizard poo.

Using the hair dryer creatively to dry my shoes, gloves and towel.

Eventhough the hotel was basic, dirty and somewhat crappy, I was thankful that at least my bike was fixed and that I have a place to sleep.

Sometimes, all it takes is the thought of being cold and alone to make you appreciate the simplest things in life.