August 30, 2005 
(STAR) By Joey Mendoza - The itinerary reads like a schedule on The Amazing Race. Our familiarization tour – organized by AirAsia, Borneo Tours and Wintrex Travel – included stops at Bukit Tinggi, Langkawi, Bali and A Famosa. We traveled to two countries, and spent seven days and six nights on the road.

From Clark International Airport, we took an AirAsia flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, had dinner at a local restaurant, proceeded to Bukit Tinggi (which means "high hill"), and checked in at Colmar Tropicale.

The following day, we headed for Langkawi and stayed at Awana Porto Malai. According to a travel book, the island is blessed with "an intriguing heritage of fabulous myths and legends of ogres and gigantic birds, warriors and fairy princesses, battles and romance."

The next morning, we went island hopping and even took out fishing rods and tried our hand at catching fish. This is such a relaxing experience – besides, we had sumptuous grilled fish for lunch.

The group also embarked on a city tour. Included in the package are visits to the Tomb of Mahsuri, Eagle Square, Batik Village and Kuah Town for some shopping. One remarkable attraction is Underwater World at Pantai Cenang, a popular beach on the island. The aquarium features more than 5,000 types of marine life, exhibited in more than 100 tanks of different sizes. One of the main attractions is a giant tank housing large marine species such as stingrays, sharks, groupers and green turtles, with a 15-meter tunnel for visitors to walk through.

You could see animals that appear from time to time on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic: Lion Fish, Leafy Sea-dragon, Mata-mata Turtle, Albino Bullfrog, and all those cute penguins.

We also went on a hotel inspection tour – Grand Continental, Aseania, Sheraton Langkawi and Pelangi – before going to Denpasar, Indonesia.

In Denpasar (formerly known as Badung), we engaged in hotel inspections of Oasis Kuta and Mercure Kuta. The group also visited Ubud and the Braja Sandhi monument. According to a travel book, "The people of Ubud and adjacent villages really do still paint, carve, dance and make music – and hardly a day goes by without there being some kind of festival in the area." Even the kids showed their expertise out of carving figures out of wood.

Braja Sandhi is Bali’s largest monument, which took 15 years to build. The monument-temple depicts aspects of Balinese history from the time the island was first inhabited by early man.

From Denpasar, we went to Kuala Lumpur and then to A Famosa Resort in Melaka, Malaysia. We visited a number of tourist spots at A Famosa, which was truly a great way to cap an enjoyable tour. One place to check out is Animal World Safari, which offers anything from elephant shows to bird shows to a dose of the Wild, Wild West.

A piece of advice to people who are planning to take the Bukit Tinggi-Langkawi-Bali-A Famosa familiarization tour: Bring a hat, sun block, slippers and a heart ready for adventure.

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For information on the Malaysia-Indonesia familiarization tour, call Wintrex Travel Corporation at 927-7092, 426-4492 to 93 or, 454-8528 to 62, fax 456-6145, e-mail, or visit Wintrex at the second floor of DM Bldg., Visayas Ave. corner Congressional Ave., Quezon City. Special thanks to AirAsia, Borneo Tours, Dayang Travel, Paradise Bali Holidays, and Bali Operator.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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