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Welcome to the web page of study tour 2015 Singapore & Malaysia. This study tour is organised by the study tour committee 2015 from the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Technology Eindhoven. The website contains information associated with the study tour and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. You can find the latest blog posts below. It contains the updates of past events and work in progress. On behalf of the study tour 2015 committee, we wish you a pleasant stay on our website.

After movie study tour 2015 Singapore and Malaysia

Many weeks has passed since we landed on Schiphol. Fortunately we have created an after movie for you to (re-)experience the fantastic trip!

Day 19 and 20 – Our final days of the study tour

Day 20 – Flying back home

Unfortunately, today was the last day of the study tour. We had to get up really early to go to the airport. At 6.45 hour, the bus arrived to bring us to the airport, and guess what, the bus driver who brought us almost everywhere during the tour was standing outside!

We drove for a small hour to the airport where we unloaded our bags and prepared to check in. But first, we gave the bus driver a small present for bringing us to all places safely.

After checking in, Karlijn and Marco went to the first aid because Marco had an earache. Luckily, he was allowed to travel. After we arrived at the gate, everyone got 20 minutes to do wat they want. Some of us went for coffee, while others bought some souvenirs. At the gate we only had to wait for a few minutes before we could enter the airplane. During this flight we didn’t fly with an Airbus a380, but an almost as luxurious Boeing 777.  This airplane was also equipped with TV screens and game controllers, so plenty of entertainment to get through the trip!

However, everyone was exhausted. It didn’t take long until almost everyone was asleep. Some slept with their heads on the table while others were wrapped as a mummy!

During the flight we got some nice meals and drinks to kill time. The six hour flight was over quickly, but we had to get ready for the short changeover. In contrast to the outbound flight, we only had 45 minutes to get to the departure gate. Before leaving the plane, some arrangements were taken so everyone would arrive on time at the gate. We all managed to arrive on time at the gate. We even had to wait a few minutes before we could get on the last plane. The last plane was also a Boeing 777, an even more luxurious version than the first one. During this flight less people were asleep, so they could get used to the Dutch time rhythm. Some people played poker together on the game console while others watched a movie, this was all really time-consuming. So also the second flight was over quickly! At 20.00 hours the pilot started the landing, not much later the airplane was landed safely.

After leaving the plane we had to go to the passport checkpoint. It was clear that everyone was happy to go home, because I almost had to run to keep up with the walking speed! The people who were at the luggage carousel first took all our luggage off the carousel, therefore it didn’t take long to collect our bags and go home. Some of us went with the train to Eindhoven, while others were picked up by car.  Altogether the trip from Kuala Lumpur to home went very well.

I would like to thank all commission members for arranging this nice and well-organized study tour! Also, I would like to thank everyone for this wonderful and unforgettable journey.

Cheers,

Loek Vroomen

 

Day 19 – Monkeying around

Today was our last day in Malaysia and we explored the Batu caves. After a short night we needed to get up very early and people started to feel very tired after three awesome weeks of travelling. We went to the Batu caves with high expectations after hearing stories about the huge golden statue and the large caves. On the train station and in the train most of the participants decided to take a short power nap to gain some energy to climb the stairs to the cave.

When we arrived at our destination we could already see a glimpse of the enormous golden Murugan that is in front of the cave. With great enthusiasm we walked to the statue in the burning sun and already passed some cute Indian temples and salesman that sold ‘monkey food’. This should have been a warning for what was coming. Coming closer to the caves we started to see a lot of monkeys and pigeons. It turned out that the monkeys associated plastic bags with food and while we were climbing the stairs to the caves you could occasionally hear people scream when a monkey grabbed a plastic bag (some filled with food, some unfortunately filled with newly bought souvenirs) out of their hands. Side note: it turns out that you provoke the alpha male when splashing water over one of his monkey buddies.

After climbing a lot of stairs we realized that the golden Murugan was the most impressive thing we were going to see at the Batu caves. Except for some nice temples build into the cave it turned out that the cave was unswept and untidy due to the many visitors. This was why everyone left the cave after a short time to go for lunch.

The afternoon was reserved for a walk through Lake Gardens located in Kuala Lumpur. This turned out to be a beautiful park with flowers and fountains and a great place to relax and prepare ourselves mentally for packing our bags and going home. The evening, and also our study tour, was ended with a very tasteful diner at an authentic Chinese restaurant.

Michelle Spanjaards

Day 17 and 18 – Engineering masterpiece

Day 18: Sunny side up eggs

Today the alarm went off at 7:00 to start the day with breakfast: brown beans, toast and sunny side up eggs. After breakfast we had to wait for the bus which would arrive at 7:45, however due to an accident the bus finally arrived at 8:50. The bus ride took us to the NXP Semiconductor plant located in Seremban, Malaysia, which approximately lasted an hour, for most of us an opportunity to get some extra sleep.
Having arrived at the NXP Semiconductor plant we received a warm welcome. The host took us to the conference room where we received a presentation about the various processes we were about to see inside the cleanrooms, some of these processes were about wire bonding and molding encapsulations. The presentation lasted approximately an hour. After the presentation we all received a bag with our name on it, it contained cleanroom clothing. After we’ve put on the clothes we went into one of the cleanrooms.
Inside the cleanroom we first visited the wire bonding machines. There were two different kinds of wire bonding machines, one used copper wire and the other one used gold wire. There was a small difference between the machines, the machine which used copper wire sprayed gas around the copper while welding to prevent oxidation. Since gold is an inert metal this is of course not necessary. We were shown the result of the wire bonding process by looking into a microscope. After the wire bonding process we were shown the molding process. The molding process creates an encapsulation of a polymer around the die which protects the die from dirt and moisture.
After our tour in the various cleanrooms we were taken to lunch. During lunch some of us were able to ask questions to the general manager of the plant about how the plant operates and how the challenge of machine maintenance is solved. After lunch we went back to the conference room where we received a presentation about Itec, an engineering company who works solely for NXP. Most of the machines we saw inside the cleanroom were designed by Itec. After the presentation about Itec we had a final presentation of an intern and a graduate student (both from Eindhoven University of Technology) who were developing scheduling software to optimize the machine and operator usage inside the plant.
At around 18:00 we arrived back at the hotel where we decided to first go grab a cocktail before dinner since we had snacked a lot at NXP. During our walk to the cocktail bar we had to hide for a heavy thunderstorm which lasted approximately half an hour. After the thunderstorm I had a Mojito and a Tequila Sunrise for drinks and a pasta Primavera at the 51 Restaurant and Bar. After the cocktails and dinner some of us went to the Havana club where we had some additional Tiger and Heineken beers. At 3:30 AM the taxi brought us back to the hotel.

Jan Romme

 

Day 17 – SPIE

Another early wakeup call today at 6.45 in the smoggy city of KL. For some of us the start of a tough morning. One of us met an old friend in town yesterday evening which resulted in a nice party and ended in sleeping without undressing in an unmade bed. For Ruben however it was the start of a special day. It was his 23 birthday and how awesome is it to celebrate that on the other side of the world. He got several presents like a crown to wear the whole day and a selfie-stick to give Ruben the opportunity to make even more and better selfies. After breakfast, we took the monorail to SPIE. The monorail was overcrowded and people really fought their way into the train.

After we survived the ride we walked to the office of SPIE, which was situated on the 22th floor. We were received with a warm welcome and a short safety briefing. Thereafter we got an introduction about the French company SPIE in general and about SPIE Oil and Gas and mainly about the Asia pacific. SPIE Oil and Gas is a company which delivers service to companies that drill for oil and gas. They deliver maintenance, inspection integrity and Engineering of the drilling plants and FPSO’s. FPSO’s are floating factories. They pump up the oil and gas out of the field in the open seas and process this to a product on board. SPIE delivers the whole trajectory for a plant from engineering to the end of such plant.

After a short break, which was well used to plunder the coffee machine, a presentation was given about some projects where the maintenance of a plant was involved. Two guys told us, while continuously replenishing each other, about how a maintenance plan was designed and what the different approaches are.

Thereafter the idea was to do a workshop/case where we interactively would think about a maintenance plan. However it turnout more like a demonstration and a walk through of the seven steps of designing a maintenance plan. We ended with a nice group picture, which is always challenging with a large group in a small space.

In the lobby of the tower the committee did a short briefing about the rest of the day, which was spare time, and the plans of tomorrow. For the lunch the group got separated, some of us decided to get a nice sandwich at the subway, some of us went eating nachos and tacos at the Mexican and some of us, including me, went on with Asian food in a Thai restaurant where to food got spicy for some of us.

Many of us had the idea to go for a walk this afternoon, so we decided to change some clothing. We made a nice walk through town with our tour guide Caroline. Due the big size of the group we got separated two times.

Some of us decided after Caroline ended the tour to go shopping for souvenirs, other went to a shopping mall with a small amusement park on the 5th floor and others went back to the hotel to chill there and change for the party of tonight.

Before the party started at the skybar we went dining. Some of us went to an all you can eat place while I chose to go to a grill house and eat some well-prepared ribs and chicken.

Just before 9 o’clock we went to the skybar where we reserved a corner to socialize and do some networking with one of the guys of SPIE. Because we are students we ordered 22 pints of beer just on time to get them for happy hour prices, which resulted in a nice table full of beer. Due to Ruben’s birthday and his charms he arranged some food and beer by some people which all were the ingredients for a nice evening.

We finally left in small groups back for the hotel. For some of us the way back wasn’t as smooth as planned due to detours and small gently crashes but finally we all got back safe.

Koen Roelofs

Day 15 and 16 – Good morning KL!

Day 16 – Visiting Dutch ground

Today was the day that we arrived at Kuala Lumpur! KL, as it is called by the locals. Is the capital and largest city of Malaysia with about two million people living in the city, and over seven million people living in the surrounding area?

Our first day in Kuala Lumpur started earlier than expected. It was scheduled that we arrived at the Grid 9 hostel at 07:00am, but the bus driver got us there at around 04:00am. Those of us who were awake at that time, were quite surprised! The bus driver turned on all lights and wanted to get us out. However, there weren’t enough beds available for us all to sleep. Therefore, the bus was parked elsewhere and we continued sleeping in the bus until 07:00am. After we were assigned our really nice looking rooms, just like the rest of the hostel, we had sbreakfast consisting of either eggs or cereal with toast.

Today’s schedule started with a visit to the residence of the Dutch ambassador, located close to Kuala Lumpur’s city center. Because of the large size of our group, we couldn’t be accommodated in the Dutch embassy itself, which apparently wasn’t that big. That wasn’t much of a shame, since the residence was a large villa with a nice view at a large golf course. We even saw a few monkeys passing the garden! Here we were received by Marco Winter and Maayke Mannaert.

The visit started with a presentation by Marco Winter from the Malaysian Dutch Business Council (MDBC). We started with a global introduction about Malaysia, its inhabitants, its culture and its history. After that, the MDBC became the main topic. The MDBC is a non-profit organization that wants to stimulate bilateral trade and investments between the Netherlands and Malaysia. Since its founding in 1996, over 200 countries have joined the council that organizes activities such as seminars, company visits and social events.

After a short break we continued with a presentation by Maayke Mannaert from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Malaysia. She gave us a good insight in what is done by the Dutch embassy in Malaysia. The embassy focusses on economic diplomacy mostly, but also does the typical consular work. For example, the embassy helped the Dutch ‘stripper’ that was arrested a few weeks ago because he was posing naked on a mountain.

The program at the ambassador’s residence ended with a social gathering with local treats, which were tasty! After a quick photo session we got to our bus and went to the second destination of the day: Sensata technologies.

Sensata technologies is a company that specializes in sensor technology. The company was founded in 1916 as the General Plate Company and nowadays it sells over one billion (!) products every year worldwide. We visited their Malaysian facility where over 1000 people work. The program started with a presentation about their sensor technologies and the manufacturing process of the sensors. Since production lines were operational in the facility, we visited those. The group was divided and we visited places like the warehouse, several assembly lines and a clean room. However, to be able to walk there, we had to put on special ESD (electrostatic discharge) protection. This meant we had to put on a dentist-like suit with a face mask that could’ve been a carnival outfit. After a nice tour along all places, the program ended with a short closing presentation, a group photo and yet again some local treats. Then we got on the bus again to our next destination: the Petronas Towers.

The Petronas Towers are probably the best known landmarks of Kuala Lumpur. Being 452 meters tall, it once was the highest building in the world. After paying about 80 ringgit and a strict security check, we got ourselves taken a green screen photo and went up in the elevator. We got out at a height of 170 meter to walk at the sky bridge that connects both towers. The view was nice, although there was a lot of smog that came from Indonesian farmers that were burning their lands (a local cab driver actually called this the haze season). After 10 minutes of photos and enjoying the beginning of the sunset, we had to go up further. We went up to a height of 375 meters and that was the highest I had ever been in a building. The view was even nicer than just before. However, as we got closer to the edge it was a bit of an anti-climax. The smog was quite thick. Not only that, but the windows were very dirty and there were a lot of strong lights on the towers that made it hard to take nice photos.

After 15 minutes it was time to go down with the elevators. We were just in time to watch the KLCC music and light show just located behind the towers. This was a nice show with fountains, lights and music. Since it was getting late and because some people were tired after the long day, the group split up. Those who had enough energy left decided to take a walk through the park near the towers, including me. Following, we went to the Trader’s Hotel across the park and went to the skybar over there with a fantastic view of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline and the Petronas Towers. After a short stay there, we went to our hotel by monorail, which was quite an adventure. I had never seen that many people in such a small place. We literally had to squeeze ourselves inside! After three stops and paying just 1.60 ringgit, we arrived at the hotel again. Some of us thesn relaxed in a space with large bean bags and a pool table, although the last one wasn’t working.. Too bad.

Since it was getting late and we had to get up early yet again, I got to bed. The first day in Kuala Lumpur was great and I’m looking forward to the rest of our days! I can’t wait to see what Kuala Lumpur has to offer!

Noël van Peijnenburg

Day 15 – Expensive toys

This morning we had to get up at 6 o’clock, because we had to get to the USM, the third university to visit this study tour. The bus however did not show up on time, because the bus driver parked in front of the Red Garden, which is the local food court that kept us alive the last couple of days, instead of the Red Inn hostel… This is the same bus driver that drove us to Jerantut. Many people start to fall asleep again in the bus immediately after we take off. As we cross the bridge back to the mainland it’s pretty hazy, as we can not see the other side yet. Apparently this a usual thing here this time of year. As we arrive at the USM we notice the strong smell of fertilizer as they are planting several trees in the gardens in the courtyard. A group photo is requested soon after everyone got out of the bus, sometimes still half asleep. We get a presentation about the university and the different campuses around Malaysia and a collaborative one in India. To our surprise the computer still ran on windows XP and had a floppy drive in it. USM started as a research university only 7 years ago and gets it’s grands from the government by collaborating with the industry. The next speaker was Dr. Ing. Razi who gave a small talk about how he was surprised to get a visit of 30 students from Eindhoven, as this could be either very good or bad. Michel then gave a small presentation about what we wanted to do here in Malaysia and Singapore. A lab tour followed through the aerospace and mechanical labs, which we did in two groups. Two students showed us the projects they were working on: a detection system of tremors due to Parkinson’s disease and a fairly strong but accurate actuator similar to a speaker. After that we headed to the micro fabrication lab, which was when the discussions among the students started. Then followed a tour through all the labs containing increasingly more complicated machines and detectors. We however would like to hear more about the usage of these expensive chromatographs, mass spectrometers, scanning electron microscopes and laser confocal microscopes instead of the specifications of them… After the tour we had a very nice lunch provided for us, with many tasty foods and fruits in abundance. All well fed we headed back to the bus to continue to Teleplan. They are a third party integrated supply chain and service provider. When your cell phone of hard drive breaks within the warranty, chances are good that one of their employees fixed it for you, as the manufacturers of these electronic devices are among Teleplan customers. A non disclosure form had to be signed and several precautions against ESD, electronic static discharge, were taken. We had to wear a special lab coat and but did no special shoes and or wristbands. Touching any products however was not allowed, which sounds reasonable. We got a tour through the processing line of one of the products and headed to the e-waste management after that. One could not imagine the amount of broken and disassembled hard drives we encountered! A treat of local dishes and a mini donut awaited us after the tour. Again quite full we headed back to Georgetown by bus to get some leisure time. Most people in the end headed back to the same place where we started our day, the Red Garden food court, to top off our stomachs to get ready for the long night in the bus to Kuala Lumpur.

Maurits van Mook

Day 13 and 14 – Adventures in Penang

Day 14 – Exploring culture

Lost voices, hangovers, yelling children and a lost room key; the perfect start of a new day. Today, the 31st of August, is Malaysian Independence day and our third day without mandatory activities. To make life easier, some activities were planned: touring with a scooter and exploring the city’s history. However it was unclear who wanted to participate in the exploration planned at 10:00, resulting in an alarm set at 9:30 and multiple frowned faces.

After waking up, most participants decided prepare themselves to explore the city. The remainders rented some scooters or continued sleeping. The city exploration lead us to the St. George Church, where a bible reading marathon was held. And we saw some old English buildings and an exhibition of two Transformers statues (Bumblebee and Optimus Prime). After posing in front of the statues, our inner child was challenged again. This time a small group decided to occupy all available swings.

The next notable stop was Fort Cornwallis. Since a high entrance fee was required, we just looked past the gates and left like real greedy Dutchmen. Instead, a part of the group tried to impress a local kid with their basketball skills while the remainder watched. During this time Willem tried a new sliding tactic, but failed tremendously and fell in a water puddle.

After the show‐off, we continued walking and encountered cheap vending machines, a big bus station, a pier with houses (Clan Jetties) and finally a pier with souvenir shops and catering facilities. Before we left for Georgetown’s famous street art, over 15 fresh fruit smoothies were purchased and consumed. With satisfied faces, everyone headed towards the hostel. On our way we, however, spent some time buying souvenirs, watching a mosque and exploring the Khoo Kongsi Temple. Following the tour, the participants refreshed themselves at the hostel, dinned at a nearby restaurant and played some card games.

Later that afternoon, a third of the group decided that they still want to make a scooter trip. After some discussion, an additional scooter was rented and the nine people were divided over five scooters. The people left behind either took a rest or played card games and drank beer.

The scooters first left the city, to drive alongside the sea shores. Because of the amazing view, we decided to stop and walk on the beach. After twenty minutes, the tour continued towards the mountains, but was canceled due to a lack of gasoline. The tank station, however, was close and we decided to re-enter the mountains and continue our tour because of the stunning experiences we encountered the time we had to turn back. During nightfall we agreed to go back to Georgetown, via the forest and some other cities. Due to road constructions, we however had to search quite a bit. Even though we used the highway due to a navigation failure, in the end all turned out well and we safely arrived back at the hostel. Dining at the food court, taking a shower and packing our bag were the only obstacles left before we finally could go to sleep. The next day is said to be a long and early one.

Nico de Mooij

Day 13 – Going Dutch in Penang

Today was the first day in Georgetown. We woke up in bunk beds in small but cozy rooms. We had breakfast that consisted of toast with jam and butter, and a piece of watermelon. After breakfast we went out to rent bikes. The weather forecast wasn’t too bright but we went out anyway. Around 10:00 we lost our way to the bike rental shop and this wouldn’t be the last time that we were lost this day… When we arrived at the rental shop we all got different kinds of bikes: mountain bikes, racing bikes and even a tandem bicycle. It seemed that here in Malaysia the traffic rules do not apply, the scooters overtake car drivers at either side, the trishaws ignore the red lights and the cars are constantly honking. We as a group of 30 bicycles went on the road, with speed limits up to 70 km/h. There were a sort of bicycle lanes: the side of the road. After a few minutes, at 10:20, we had taken a wrong turn and the whole group had to make a u-turn crossing a busy 3 lane road. We were lost at 10:28, 11:11 and a few times more, but I’ll save you the details. It was getting cloudy and the temperature dropped. Smell of fish and other food filled the air when we rode past the stalls of a local market. We arrived at the temple and couldn’t find the main entrance so Willem asked a local guy for directions. The guy pulled a gun out and said something. In a hurry the whole group went on its way again. We entered the temple through a souvenir shop, at this time it started to rain heavily. The temple was built on a hill and we went up in a cable lift. As we stepped outside the odor of incense filled up the air. A giant statue of Kuanyn, goddess of mercy was resting on a large platform. There were big wooden and golden statues of Buddha in big decorated halls. Later on we went to the pagoda, the tallest part of the temple, 30 meters high and built in 1930. Because of the rain we decided to cancel the rest of the bicycle tour. We went to a vegetarian restaurant located at the bottom of the temple. It was nice food for a vegetarian restaurant, we had no idea what the food consisted off but it tasted nice. We had to wear the special study tour shirts, so like real Dutch students we changed clothes in the middle of the restaurant and on top of that Tom opened his backpack and took out a bottle of rum. He said: “I need to drink some courage before I go on that road again”. The initial idea was to visit a mosque, but as mentioned earlier, this was cancelled because of the rain and at this time, 14:30, it was too late to ride 24 kilometers and back. When we left the temple the rain stopped. After a few kilometers of biking we stopped, I rode a few hundred meters ahead and talked to a local guy sweeping the court yard in front of a Hindu temple. The gate was closed, after a while he offered to open the gate for us. He explained what the statues resembled. We took a group picture and went on our way again. Cars were honking and waving at us. We circled along the shore where large hotels rose from the ground. Clearly this was the rich part of Georgetown. At this time it was rush hour, the crazy traffic of before was even worse, cross sections were jammed and traffic lights only seemed to serve as decoration along the road. We returned the bikes at 16:45. We went to Peranakan Mansion, an old Chinese colonial mansion, turned into a jewelry museum. The museum was guarded by an armed guard. The tour guide showed us all kind of interesting stuff and told about the culture. There was an opium bed where women and men went to smoke opium. There were golden toothpicks and a lot of shiny golden artifacts. Three colors of dresses were hanging on the wall. If someone passed away, it was tradition to mourn for three years. The first year they wore black, the second year blue and the third year green. During this period no one could marry. If a girl wasn’t married she had to stay inside 364 days a year to learn skills for her future husband. Only the day of Chinese New Year she could come outside. Also if there were bats in the house it meant good fortune. There were a lot of rooms: the dining room, the kitchen, the ancestor temple, the bedrooms and a lot of other rooms filled with art. If a man married to a girl who wasn’t a virgin anymore she could be returned to her family. It was an exhausting day, but overall it was a day with a lot of new experiences and a taste of a foreign culture.

Ruben Marteijn

Day 11 and 12 – City of flavors

Day 12 – Penang

Today took us from one island to the other, straight across Malaysia from east to west along the Thailand border. Off to the food capital of the South Pacific: Penang. After another night of partying on Long Beach, a lot of hangovers could be spotted at the breakfast table and on the pier, waiting for our ferry to the mainland. The ferry turned up fashionably late.  At least ten of us used the ferry for a quick nap, although it wasn’t enough for most of them.

The bus was the most luxurious one so far, with nice seats and some fantastic partycore music. By now, everyone knew to take a sweater into the bus, so the fact that the air conditioner was set to arctic mode again wasn’t that much of a problem. The highway wizardry of our bus driver was another story though, and Nico needed a plastic bag. We survived without any accidents though.

Halfway through we stopped for a full on Malay lunch, with huge amounts of food waiting to be chosen by all of us. Big spicy chicken was the favourite among most of us, but the even bigger spicy vegetables where an unpleasant surprise for others, although some opted to buy two cans of the local Pringles instead…

After the long journey we finally arrived in the love lane of Penang, No really, the Red Inn on the Love lane of Penang. A very hyperactive scooter renter was awaiting us outside of the hostel, helping the busdriver navigate the road as we gathered our bags. The receptionist was almost equally happy and we continued into the Hostel with nice dark wood floors and a “no shoe” policy for the upper floor and recreational area. A quick refresh and it was off to get some food.

Dinner was at the Gala House restaurant, which meant that our western food lovers were finally able to pick something more to their taste. Fish and chips, martini chicken and chicken pesto were often heard choices, along with a well-deserved beer after the long trip. Some of us were practically drooling all over the table when there turned out to be an option for desert. Unfortunately the restaurant could only give us 14 deserts, which ended up with some of us having to settle for a milkshake or a second beer.

After dinner a few people went off in search of beer and ended up in a local food court. Damn, we should have gone here right away. Dozens of different booths with all sorts of food. Malay, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, fish, meat, vegetarian, deep fried, all prepared right on the spot and even brought straight to your table if you wanted to. Quickly we found a seat close to the stage to admire the local artists and order a tower of beer. Eventually enough beer had flown (exactly 29, as predicted by Jelle. Congratulations with your eternal fame for one day!) for Tom, Marco and Rik to take selfies with the female singers and for everyone to sing along with the songs. A few midnight snacks convinced us completely: we will definitely be back here tomorrow!

Tom van Lochem

Day 11 – The Perhentians

Perhentian Islands are not only known for their white beaches and beautiful coral, but are also party islands. In this province of Malaysia, alcohol is prohibited, except for the Perhentian Islands. Last night almost all of us had a great time at the bars of long beach.

Because of the great party, our second day at the islands started for most people with a (little) hangover. For those who managed to wake up before 10 o’clock, an extraordinary breakfast buffet was waiting. At the breakfast all nighttime stories were exchanged, leading to a lot of fun and moments of (un)recognition.

Luckily for us, today was a day off. No activities were planned and all options were open. Some booked a discovery scuba diva and saw even more beautiful corals and exotic fish. For most others, the spare day was used to chill on the beach and swim in the clear blue sea. Even the biggest headaches disappeared after laying down on the beach and going for a refreshing swim in the warm sea.

At the end of the afternoon, together with Marco and Tom, I went on a hike through the islands jungle. On top of the island’s central hill, there are two windmills and some solar panels. After that we followed the path up the hill to see the view on top.

On the beach, we found some trees with a tropical red fruit. We recognized this fruit from the TV show Expedition Robinson and decided to climb into the trees to grab it. Just after leaving the beach, the next wow moment came up, as we saw two large water monitors at just a few meters distance.

During the hike, we experienced our lack of preparation. We walked on flip flops and those slipped away on the steep path with fine grind. Also we eventually had just one working phone, but that ran out of power as we reached the energy plant at the top. The view up there was great and because we thought to have heard that a round trip over the island was possible, we continued the track at the other side. Walking downhill went even worse with our flip flops, but after 20 minutes we reached another white beach. In one hour dinner would be served and thus we had little time to enjoy the view.

The happy feeling of reaching the coast soon made place to little panic, as we could not find any path leading into the direction of our resort. As most people would call it, we were lost. On the way down we passed a path to the blue lagoon restaurant and we quickly decided to take a water taxi to return the resort from the restaurant. Not only was dinner served in an hour, it would also be dark at the same time. We reached the beach just in time as the darkness fell while hiking the last meters through the forest.

Contradictory to the other beaches, this one contained very little facilities. The only thing here, was the blue lagoon resort and we went to the reception to ask for a taxi to our resort, the Shari-la Resort. Luckily the owner was willing to start his boat for 80 Ringgit. In the waiting time before departure we saw an otter jumping around on the shore.

With only the boat trip ahead, we were wondering how stressed and angry the committee would be. At this time we were already fifteen minutes late and we were unreachable for everyone. At 19:58 the boat arrived at the pier and we could not be more relieved to finally set foot to our “home beach”.

We expected to meet some angry committee members, but because the BBQ was delayed as well, no-one missed us yet. We even had to wait another half hour before the food was served. This evening we were told to get a delicious barbecue.

The committee had chosen a selection of fish and ordered extra chicken for everyone. We all could pick one piece of fish and one piece of  nchicken, which was cooked right away in front of the group. The food tasted great, but the restaurant chef needs to take some lessons in communication. After dinner, most people went to long beach again to have another night of partying.

Thanks for reading

Peter Lathouwers

Day 9 and 10 – Study tour pit stop

Day 10 – “Blub, blub blub….”

Today we woke up at 7:15 in Kota Bharu. After we had some breakfast, where we were being photographed as a tourist attraction by the owner of the hostel, we prepared our suitcases to go to the Perhentian Islands. This time we did not travel with a large bus, but with 3 small minivans, this resulted in people having their suitcases on their lap for the one hour drive.

After this we arrived at the boat. Some people were unable to keep their eyes open and even some saliva was spotted out of Anton’s mouth.

When we arrived at the island we couldn’t check-in right away, so we dropped our suitcases at the lobby and got ready for the snorkeling trip. Some people also took the opportunity to use the laundry service at the island. The laundry service charged 10 RM/kg, we managed to bargain this down to 8 RM/kg. We were very proud of this. Later we found out that this wasn’t such a big accomplishment as at the other laundry services at the island the starting price was already 8 RM/kg.

We then had lunch at Amelia café (rice and chicken) and after this we had to rent flippers for the snorkeling trip. Once again we tried to bargain for the price but we failed badly.

We then went on the snorkeling trip. We were brought to four different spots on two simple boats but both equipped with a very strong motor. At the first spot we saw a lot of coral and small fish. We had bread to feed the fish, this made the fish swim around us in very big numbers. At the second stop we saw some coral and fish. The third stop was very special as we saw a very large sea turtle here. It was at least one meter in size. At the fourth and final stop we also swam with some small sharks. The boats then speeded back to our hostel, where our rooms were finally ready. We slept in luxurious cabins.

Some people went for the real tropical island experience and drank a coconut on the beach. After this we had dinner at the Amelia café and this time we did not eat rice for once, but we got hamburgers with fries. This was a positive surprise for most of us.

After we had dinner we went to Longbeach. This beach was on the other side of the island and to get there we had to cross the jungle in the dark. At this beach there were a lot of small bars and there was also one with fire dancers and fireworks. We managed to get the shop with the cheapest beer (7 RM) on the beach sold out. Also strong liquor was sold on this beach for 30 RM. This resulted in a very fun evening and almost everyone being drunk.

The evening started with some breakdancing on the beach, here people were really impressed by Has his dance move. After some more dancing at the beach club people started to go home. Mirte entered the beach with her shoes and at the end of the evening she left with some new flip flops, someone else was found sleeping at the beach and needed some help getting back through the jungle, some others went swimming at 05:00 in the morning (someone also thought it was smart to do this with still his shoes and pants on), 3 people lost their passport and found them a while later in someone’s bag. After this everyone went to bed and this ended the very long and fun day.

Emile Halsema

 

Day 9 – Kota Bharu

On day 9 of the study tour, a bus trip to Kota Bharu was planned, where we stayed for one night.

At 7:15, one hour before the bus starts its engines for the transfer to Kota Bharu, the alarm went off so everyone was able to have breakfast and pack their suitcases. The bus trip took around eight hours with two planned stops.

At the beginning of our trip, we saw the tropical rain woods which we had visited the two days before. After leaving this area, we saw again a lot of nature. Especially the huge palm fields, which were probably used as a plantation for the production of palm oil. During these kilometers-long fields some small mountains with tropical rainforests were located. These are very beautiful, but not as impressive as we have seen the day before. However, it is uncertain if everyone saw these scenery, because some participants were tired from the late night before and the jungle tour.

After the first stop where we were able to withdraw Malaysian Ringgits (€1=4.7 RM), we saw a lot of nature, little mountains and palm fields. However, it was not as much as before the stop. Instead of that, we saw more villages.

The second stop was a lunch stop. There was a restaurant and a food court present where there was a choice between some local food such as wraps or nasi. At 13:00 we started the last part of our trip. Again, we saw palm fields, nature and mostly villages.

At 17:15, we arrived at the Mizwar Inn hotel in Kota Bharu. We checked in for the 2-persons rooms, where we rested for one hour. Then we made a little walking trip to explore the town. We walked against a palace, which later on seems to be the guest house, a park with golden top fences and a big gate, which was especially beautiful in the night when the lights are shining on it. Furthermore, there was a monument for the Second World War and a very dirty river. After that, we visited a shopping center. Here it was remarkable that we look special to the local people, because they are waving and laughing when we passed by.

After touching and (not) buying anything, we walked on very dirty and not maintained streets to the ‘Four Seasons’ restaurant. Here we could choose seven meals from a list of different kind of foods. As already seen before, there was a rotating table so everyone, groups of ten, was able to pick some food from one of the seven ordered meals. At my table, we had some rice, very spicy vegetables, sweet and sour chicken, sizzling beef, vegetable soup, a complete fish, an omelet and some melons. Also some lemonade was served for the spicy meals. After dinner we walked to the McDonalds where we bought some ice-cream. Here, everything seems to be much cheaper as in the Netherlands. For example, a sundae cone is only twenty euro cents.

At the end of the day, the hotel owner led us to a shisha bar where we tasted the flavor of kiwi, apple and red bull with the water pipes. The local teenage boys at the bar were very happy to meet and see us. They came to talk and made a lot of selfies with some of us. Furthermore, we tried some smoke-blowing tricks. Surprisingly, there was no alcohol present, which is probably caused by the strong Islamic culture within Kota Bharu.

After that, we returned to the inn where we went to our beds or used the Wi-Fi to socialize with the home front. At 1:30, I returned to my bed and set my alarm clock at 7:15. Tomorrow, we will travel to the Perhentian Islands for some relaxing-time.

Rick Fransen

 

Day 7 and 8 – Welcome to the jungle!

Day 8 – Surviving the second day

The second day in the jungle started in the cave, where we stayed for the night. When everybody woke up the guides were already preparing the breakfast. Because of the thin sleeping sheets not everybody got up freshly, especially Rik, who woke up with the comment: “Augh, everything is stiff!” The breakfast consisted of roasted toast with fruit jam and a local spread called Kaya that consisted of coconut and rice.

After the breakfast the jungle tour started with the visit to some other caves. An immense amount of bats were in the cave, resulting in a whirlwind of bats after waking them up. Furthermore, a long white snake was spotted in the cave, staying there for his whole life, because he only eats bats. When everybody came out of the caves again, the jungle tour continued. The path was uneven, with big inclines, and parts of the track could only overcome by walking over fallen trees. Besides, small rivers could be crossed by using vines.

During the jungle tour the guides picked up several nuts which were eatable, the one nicer than the other. They also told that the jungle grows a special kind of mushrooms, making you hallucinating after eating then. Moreover, the leaves of one special kind of tree also have a hallucinating effect: “Gather ten leaves of this tree and put in your tea and you’ll feel very nice”. To the question of the guides also were able to smoke weed the answer was that many of them did it. Smuggled from Thailand the weed is transported by different persons through the jungle. However, in Malaysia weed is strictly prohibited. If you are tested positive on using weed you’ll go to jail and if you are possessing 400 grams of weed you’ll be executed. One of the guides told that he went to jail for smoking weed: “You’ll go to jail for two weeks, but those two weeks feels like two years, it’s terrible. You are locked up with 20 other persons in a small room without a toilet or faucet and without the possibility to go out of the room for any reason. After your time in the jail you have to pay as much as you can and hope that you’re not sent back.” During the jungle tour the guides saw some very recent foot stamps of elephants, probably came by the day before.

After a 6.5 km walk we stopped for lunch. Here, you were able to take a refreshment by jumping in the river, it was even possible to go tarzan with a vine. The lunch consisted of noodles and a tea with freshly picked lemon grass.

The second part of the jungle tour was another 2.5 km and came by a native village. The village consisted about 50 persons. The houses were made with big leaves and around the house canals were dug. The native people showed us how to make fire with a wooden string. The small timber of another piece of wood was warmed up and put in a basket filled with lightly flammable leaves, eventually resulting in a fire. Besides, they also showed us their hunting tool: the blow pipe. First, they showed how to make an arrow: cutting a small stick of wood, dipping the point in resin and putting a piece of foam likely wood on the end. After the demonstration everybody could try out the blow pipe by aiming at a Mickey Mouse. It pointed out that it was not as easy as it seems: only Tom B, Kelsey and Bart were able to hit it! Michelle refused to blow the pipe: “I don’t want to use the blow pipe, I don’t want people to see my blowjob face.” And about Karlijn one of the guides said: “You blow really slow, you blow no good!”

When everybody tried the blow pipe we continued the jungle tour back to the boats. This time the boats went downstream, so the boats reached even 40 km/h splashing everybody in the boat with the river water! It felt like mandatory cleaning after our stay in the jungle. After the boat trip Michel invited the guides to do a drink with us after the diner. They even brought their own rice wine, not four as promised, but only three. The next morning it turned out that this was not such a bad idea. Nobody knew how much alcohol was in the wine, but when the evening got into the late hours, everybody was getting pretty tipsy. During the evening the guides joined us with some Dutch drinking games and found it amazing. To Rik one of the guides, namely Emi, said: “You look like John Lenon.” We also learned that the other guide, namely Ayie, was his cousin and that Emi also had 17 siblings! We also asked the guides what the liked about our group, on which Emi answered: “You are a lovely group. Visitors have never treated us so much as a human being, sharing cookies with us, helping us with felling trees and the most we liked the continues questions if we needed help.”

Marco van Erp

Day 7 – Welcome to the jungle

During the night the bus drove to the jungle resort, because our driver insisted on trying to be there early. Over hazardous jungle roads, which were surprisingly well paved, the bus drove till deep in the night. The headlights of oncoming traffic warning the driver that just around the corner another brave soul attempted to drive this road. Aside from a lack of streetlights and some mayor holes in the road, which were caused by landslides, the road was very nice.

Around four AM the bus with sleeping passengers arrived in Taman Negara, but the driver was unsure where the resort was, so he parked the bus somewhere else and we slept until 7 AM. After that the bus dropped us of at the destination. With the sun up the view was amazing, trees were visible everywhere against the hill side, with the mist still lingering over the canopy.

The spirit was high, everyone was in a good mood and ready to take on the jungle, or at least so we thought. A nice breakfast awaited us; scrambled eggs, noodles, small hotdogs, bread and some watermelon. People were quick to repack their bag for the jungle because of some hesitation in what to bring. During the waiting everybody was applying bug repellant, because after the absence of the bugs in Singapore, they were everywhere around here.

At half past nine the guide arrived, wearing as little as shorts, a T-shirt and flip flops. Soon, many people started to think that maybe we were a little over prepared. After a lot of information about what to bring and what not to bring, we started to realize that everybody had to carry an additional five kilograms of food and water. This extra load consisted of 4.5 liters and diner, breakfast and lunch, so we packed our bags again, leaving stuff out that wouldn’t fit otherwise.

With a small pick-up truck we were transported to the river where small boats awaited us and the rest of the guides. First we had to cross the river to get ourselves registered for a camera license and to report what we were carrying with us into the jungle, because everything that we took with us, must be brought back out as well.

Finally after registration, we boarded a different boat that brought us to the area of the canopy walk. Every inch of the path was elevated by a wood-metal construction to keep us at least 20 centimeter of the jungle floor. The first jungle creeps were spotted; very big ants. The first persons already had a minor scare after some strange things fell down from the trees, which turned out to be leaves. After a short wait it was time to go into the top of the trees. With a maximum altitude of 45 meters, bridges were spanned in between the trees, on which only a maximum of 5 people were allowed. Let’s hope they counted on European people, because the lifts in Singapore counted the weight of 13 people very generously.

The bridges between the trees were a lot less stable then they looked, but in the end after a nice walk with an amazing view, everybody got back down with their skin intact. It was back to the boats for a 1.5 hour journey up river.

With amazing skill the boats were maneuvered through the rapids, the only thing we had to do being to enjoy the view and eat our lunch. Even in this part of the world there were people living left and right of the river in tents or simple houses. At the drop off point a small set of houses stood amidst paths of concrete and patches of grass, not your typical European grass, but fatty grass. The rule of “nature is toilet” was utilized only moments after getting our feet on dry land.

The guide was quick to climb in the trees to get some strange fruit and already life was found everywhere you looked, sometimes you just had to look more closely. A big line of ants, there must have been by the hundreds, was doing nature’s clean up. Luckily these were small ants, like we have in Europe, and not the big ones you see walking by themselves. Damn, I need some more bug repellant, the bugs here even sting through my shirt.

After all the boats arrived, the guides gave a short introduction, very cheerful people with a good mood. Their names were Emi Cobra, who had 17 siblings, Ayie and Emi Buddha. One of which was said to be crazy, but after a while we were certain all of them were. It was awesome. They told us that we might see elephants, but for that they first have to see how their poop looks like. If there was a mushroom growing out of the elephants poop, they would come again soon. As the animals walked in circles in the jungle. Later during the day poop with a mushroom on it was spotted, but sadly no elephants.

Leaving the houses and the concrete paths we left for a tour of approximately five hours. Those of us who were brave or stupid enough to put on shorts were very happy to see that most of the paths in the jungle were already trampled so that most of the low growing plants were not directly at your feet. The guide took a plant which, according to his grandpa’s secret, by rubbing it and adding a little water would create a white paste that would stop the bleeding after you removed a leech. Other information about certain trees was also given, but I was too amazed by the nature to actually write all of it down. I guess it is even easy to have a breathtaking moment when the air is so fresh.

The first part of the tour took us through terrain with a lot of inclines, caution was needed as some parts were very slippery because it had rained the night before. The walking was well manageable, but pretty soon everybody was sweating so much, by watching their shirts there was no distinction left between wet and dry. Home sweet home, as one of the guides joked. During a break the first leach was spotted on the shoulder of Michel. That little bugger was very small and people were happy to see that most leaches in the rainforest aren’t the big nasty things you sometimes see on TV. Further into the jungle the number of flying buggers seemed to be decreasing. A few minor rips in clothes and a major one where the damage at this point. This is nice, things are going smooth so far. When the break was over it was time to move on to the cave we would spend the night in.

Arriving at the cave, people were glad to remove the bags from their backs. It had been a long day. But this was no ordinary cave, it was a paradise in the rainforest. I got no words for this, so I will just show you with a photo. There was plenty of space for everybody, and the bats didn’t like the open part of the cave, so we were very comfortable there. In the entire cave, it was hard to see any bugs other than a mantis.

The day was far from over, it was time to prepare for dinner and for that we needed wood. One of the guides had a major smile on his face when he found out that our group was more than willing to work a little for some more wood. He ran outside and pointed at a big tree, which was easily 30 meters high. I remember thinking, so that is how they get small wood to start the fire. It took me a while to realize we were actually cutting down that tree with nothing but a machete and manpower. It was already dead before we started cutting it down so don’t worry, we were kind to nature.

After the tree was down on the ground, the strength of our backs lifted the tree in five meter long sections into the cave, where it was broken down even further. After that it was time to get some water out of a stream for cooking dinner. The guides prepared dinner for us, and the first people were already nearly asleep when dinner was ready. Dinner was nice; rice, chicken curry, soup and banana bread. After dinner we were chilling around the campfire. During twilight the cave got even more beautiful and because the ceiling was so high, it was easy to forget you weren’t outside. If you did look up it was easy to confuse the ceiling with clouds, until of course you realized they didn’t move.

Unfortunately the night walk in the jungle was cancelled due to hard wind. It was also raining, but the wind made it dangerous as entire branches could fall from the trees, so we went back inside and chilled some more, until everybody went fast asleep satisfied.

Erik Donkers

Day 6 – Goodbye, Singapore!

Sadly, we had to leave Singapore today. After enjoying (not really) some heavily sugared coffee, we started preparing ourselves for the jungle tour. During a trip to the shopping mall, three of us rescued a car that was stuck between the walkway and a fence. After buying lunch we returned to the hostel to make our final preparations. Before we left, we made a group photo with our Indian friend and receptionist “Abu”.

Before going to the jungle, we first paid a visit to the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. We crossed the Malaysian border without difficulties, and no cavity searches were given that day. After passing the border, the view quickly changed from a flat and populated city to a hilly landscape with orchards and forests. When we arrived at the UTM, we encountered our fist wildlife: a lizard.

At the UTM, we first got a presentation about the university in general and opportunities for international students. With over 20,000 students and almost 2,000 employees, the UTM is certainly bigger than TU/e. The UTM is one out of only five research universities in Malaysia; other universities focus only on teaching. After the presentation and some refreshments, we got a tour to three research labs. We first visited the materials lab. We were required to take off our shoes, which resulted in some unpleasant smells. Luckily, we could put our shoes back on when we visited the wind tunnel. There are only a few wind tunnels in Malaysia, and this was one of the biggest. It could fit a car and test speeds up to 65 km/h. The last ‘lab’ was definitely the most interesting. It was a canal where they can test the behavior of boats in water. The canal was 120 m long, 4 m wide and 2.5 m deep. It is the only facility of this kind in South-East Asia, and it is used for both academic and industrial purposes. The facility is not big enough for actual boats, so scale models are used for testing. These models are made by hand in a workshop, by cutting wooden boards to shape and then gluing them together.

After leaving the UTM, we went to a restaurant. At the entrance, we saw an aquarium with some very ugly fish. Fifteen minutes later we got the fish including head and tail on a plate. Although it looked rather gross, it actually tasted really good. Fitting for a group of students, we quickly drank away their entire stock of refrigerated beer. After dinner, we probably had our last opportunity to go to an actual toilet. Here, we first encountered Malaysian style toilets, where you have squat down and use a hose to clean yourself afterwards. Happily, there also was a ‘normal’ toilet that we could use. We left the restaurant and started our bus trip towards the jungle. Most of the time we drove on a four lane highway, which apparently hasn’t got any traffic rules. However, we found our destination alive and well, around 4 am.

Remon Damen

Day 5 – Exploring Singapore

Saturday the 22th of August

Today, there were no group activities planned, so we could go on a trip by ourselves. I joined Kelsey on a visit to Sentosa Island, followed by a visit to the Gardens By The Bay with the Marina Bay Hotel in the background. At the end of the day, we joined the rest of the group and visited the rooftop bar at Raffles place.

We started our trip to Sentosa by going to Harbor Front with the subway train. The public transportation in Singapore is very well organized and works excellently. With automated trains arriving at near perfect timing which depart with intervals that rarely exceed 10 minutes: NS eat your heart out. At Harbor Front we hopped on the cable car. This cable car spanned from the highest hill in Singapore all the way to Sentosa, providing a great view of the south of Singapore. A lot of which lies on artificially created islands to accommodate this awesome city’s ambitions. From Harbor Front we glided through the air at great heights to the highest hill in Singapore. Here we visited a monument celebrating Singapore’s independence. There, a tree was planted by one of the founding figures, overlooked by a large white merlion, which is a lion with a fishtail representing the symbol of Singapore.

After this, we took the cable car to Sentosa, providing a fantastic view of the harbor and the city. Unfortunately, the skyline of Marina Bay was not really visible from this point. Sentosa is a tourist hotspot. It has a lot of tourist attractions, including a water park, the Universal Studios Themepark, an indoor skydiving center and even an artificial beach with a beachside resort.

Later in the afternoon, we visited the downtown district to view the statue of the original British founder of Singapore, Raffles. Unfortunately, this district was under renovation, therefore the statue was covered in protective sheets. The colonial architecture and white buildings really make these building stick out. From the downtown district we walked along the GP circuit which will host the Singapore F1 Grand Prix in a couple of weeks. Preparations for this are made as workers are installing lighting installations and safety walls. The track takes us along the bay to the Marina Bay Hotel, where we had a great view of the skyline and the Art & Science Museum. Every 15 minutes there was a show at the Gardens At The Bay: a beautiful park with a lot of attractions and artwork, like a butterfly garden, a giant baby statue and giant flowers. The artificial flowers, towering the park, lit beautifully during the show, creating a mesmerizing ambience.

Finally, we joined the rest of the group at the sky bar on top of Raffle’s place. This building is one of Singapore’s highest and let me tell you, the view is nothing short of breathtaking. We arrived right in time to enjoy another lightshow at the Marina Bay Hotel, where an awesome display of lasers, fountains and even flame throwers entertained us while we enjoyed a nice cocktail. All things considered, it was another amazing day in an incredible city.

Greetings from Singapore,

Jelle Damen