Bukit Keluang hike

Although I’ve been hiking all over the country, I didn’t have much chance to hike in my home state of Kelantan. Well if you didn’t count gunung Yong Yap at the border of Pahang/Kelantan in my last hike. There’s not much interesting places to hike near Tanah Merah or Pasir Mas but I kept on seeing people posting hiking pictures of Bukit Keluang from nearby Besut so it definitely piqued my interest. So last Christmas holiday I finally got the chance to go up Bukit Keluang on my way back from Dungun. To get there is simple enough, just set your Waze app for pantai Bukit Keluang (Bukit Keluang Beach) and you’re set to go. You shouldn’t miss the starting point because it’s situated right next to the beach in front of the food stalls and the parking lot.

There’s no admission fees or whatever to go up the hill. The first obstacle is the few set of stairs that you have to climb. The stairs are quite steep but thankfully they are relatively short. After the steps, be prepared to hike the more challenging part of the hill. The slopes are quite steep but there’s plenty of above ground tree roots to hold on to. The entire hike from sea level to higher part of the hill should take no more than 45 minutes. Once you are near the top, you can already see the magnificent view of the sea and surrounding islands.

The summit of the hill is marked by a big hut, purposely built for hikers and tourists. They are perched right next to the cliffs which is guarded by rail guards for safety. The distance from your first panoramic view to the hut is about 10 minutes so you just keep on walking and follow the clearly marked trail to reach the summit.

The view from the top of the hill was really beautiful. You can see the south china sea straight into the horizon with a couple of islands dotting the landscape. I could just relax and chill at the top for hours just enjoying the view.

At the top you will notice that there’s another way to reach the summit from the opposite side of the hill. I don’t know how accessible the other side is, perhaps one day I will try to hike from that side as well. There’s a bunch of mean-looking monkeys hanging around the cliffs attracted by the food from hikers I’m sure. Just don’t attempt anything stupid like try to touch or hit them if you know what’s good for you.

I’m pretty sure the view from Bukit Keluang during sunrise would be gorgeous but we didn’t plan to come that early. Sunset is not bad but since the sun sets from the opposite side it wouldn’t be as spectacular as in the morning. So is this is good for newbies and beginners? Absolutely. I saw many locals attempting the hill in their flip flops and sandal (although panting heavily). Needless to say, a decent hiking shoe and a bottle of water would be highly recommended. Although the place looked pretty harmless, don’t hike alone unless you really have to you know since shit do happen.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 review

Even before I bought my first Xiaomi phone last month, I’ve been a little fan of the Xiaomi brand. They feature clean minimalist design, decent specs and really affordable prices. How do they do it? Buy cutting out the middleman and selling straight from their website. The downside of this method is their product ran out pretty fast and you could almost always see an out of stock sign for many smartphones on their website. Which is really frustrating to say the least. Here you got an amazingly affordable phone but you can’t buy it because it’s out of stock. It seems that Xiaomi can’t cope with the local market demand. Anyway that’s in the past now. Today you rarely see their smartphones being out of stock and their website.

Although I’ve been a fan, I didn’t have the need to buy another Android phone yet since I’ve already own not one but 2 iPhones to myself. However after I sold one iPhone and started looking for another smartphone to use, Xiaomi immediately came to mind. After much research, reviews and deliberation, I’ve decided to buy the Redmi Note 2 which fits all of my required criteria - large 5.5” screen, decent 16GB space, memory card slot and a slew of other features. I paid RM649 for my Xiaomi online (using online banking) and it was not until a week later that I finally got my Redmi Note 2. Actually I couldn’t wait a week for them to deliver so I went to the Fedex warehouse in Kota Damansara and pick it up myself. Apparently Xiaomi delivers so much product through Fedex that the courier company had set a one day a week delivery only for Xiaomi products. Which kinda sucks cause you had to wait that long to get your hand on your purchase.

The Redmi Note 2 features a replaceable plastic back cover and 5.5” IPS LCD screen. From the official website, you can only pick between the white and space grey but you could find pink, blue or yellow back covers from local resellers. I like the material for the matte finish for the back cover because it’s not to slippery and unlike glass back covers it doesn’t attract much fingerprints at all. On the inside it features a 2.0GHz 8-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor which is not too shabby for a mid-range device. RAM size is 2GB and you can choose between a 16GB or 32GB model for the internal storage. There’s dual SIM card slot and a separate memory card slot all of which are accessible under the back cover. The replaceable batteries means you can use the Redmi Note 2 for a really long time if you wish. Just replace the battery when it doesn’t hold much charge anymore.

At the front of the screen, you can find a 5 megapixel camera, proximity sensor, receiver and notification LED. You can find the multitasking, home and back button at the bottom part of the screen which lights up (red) when the phone is active which is pretty useful at night. The volume rocker and power button is still on the right side while the micro USB charging port is still located at the bottom. On top of the phone you will find the audio jack and infrared blaster. The mono speaker is located at the back of the phone which is a pity because any music or sound coming out from it will be lowered by half if you place the phone face up.

One thing I noticed immediately is the beautiful MIUI user interface. This is my first experience with MIUI and I must say it’s miles better than TouchWiz, Xperia or even a stock Android phone. The interface is very smooth and responsive, everything just runs a lot faster than my previous Android phones. Its interface kind of resembles the iPhone without the regular application drawer and all installed applications are displayed on the screen. Furthermore you won’t find any bloatware on the MIUI. What they do include are some useful tools like the Security which let you do cleanup, virus scan, manage blocklist and restrict data usage. There’s also the Scanner app, SIM Toolkit, FM Radio, voice recorder and Mi Account app. Apart from the pre-installed themes, you can find a lot more themes online from the Themes app. The Redmi Note 2 comes with MIUI version 7.01 which is upgradeable now to 7.1 and is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. Hopefully I don’t have to wait too long for the Marshmallow version to be released.

As I mentioned earlier, the Redmi Note 2 comes with an IR blaster which is not so common with smartphones these days, let alone midrange phones like this one. However don’t get to excited yet, I cannot get any of the remote function to work with 2 TVs, 2 decoders and one CD player that I tried. I don’t know whether they used a different frequency or something but I had to use a third-party universal remote app to get it to work with my LG TV. I presume Xiaomi made the Mi Remote app specifically for the Chinese market so they might not work anywhere else. If we are ever going to use this neat feature, Xiaomi certainly need to improve on this, like make them actually work with any TV or device?

The Redmi Note 2 supports 3G and 4G/LTE networks and I had no problem getting high-speed Internet to work on this phone. Camera-wise, the 13 megapixel shooter is certainly capable of taking decent pictures in broad daylight and also not too shabby in low light conditions. There’s a few camera modes to choose from when you swipe left on the camera app such as panorama, HDR, scene mode, manual, timer, gradient and HHT (hand held twilight) mode. HHT basically allows you to take night pictures with less noise and slightly more exposure. Below are some sample pictures taken with the Redmi Note 2 and also a time-lapse video taken during sunrise.

So how does the 3060mAh battery fare? I’ve been using the phone regularly every week day - emails, intermittent web browsing, Instagram, Facebook, a little bit of reading with Google Play Book, a few minutes of music now and then and suffice to say the battery will have like 20 to 30% left when I got home. Not bad for a mid-range phone but could be better. I didn’t get to test the phone to the extreme with graphic-intensive games but I’m sure the Octa-core Heliotek processor would be more than capable to handle them all. Yeah 16GB is a tad small to be downloading a few gigabytes of games that I will hardly play. Can’t wait for Marshmallow to come for the Redmi Note 2. Then I would be able to use my external SD card as an internal memory.

Conclusions. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 ticks a lot of boxes in the ideal phablet that I’m looking for. It has a nice big 5.5” screen, decent camera, expandable storage, gorgeous MIUI interface and a respectable performance for its price. The big screen is especially nice for watching movies and reading ebooks which are the two things that I use the phone for the most. You can’t get a better Android phone for RM649 in the market at the moment. However at the time of writing, the Redmi Note 3 is already out and it’s a lot better, made from unibody aluminium and only cost 50 ringgit more even for an imported set. So if you don’t mind unofficial imported handphones, I strongly suggest you get the Redmi Note 3 instead. But if you’re patient, you can get the same phone from the official Xiaomi website for a little less in a few month’s time.


  • big 5.5 inch screen
  • decent camera
  • expandable storage
  • MIUI 7
  • IR blaster
  • USB OTG capabilities
  • replaceable battery
  • affordable


  • plastic body
  • moderate battery performance
  • IR blaster app is useless
  • micro USB 2.0 charger (USB type C is the future man!)
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop

Post script:
You can get the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 16GB from me for only RM649 with free next day delivery around Klang Valley. Contact me now at +60107761573 to order today.

The allegory of the cave

Once upon a time there were a group of people imprisoned and living in a cave. They’ve always lived there and they don’t know anything of the outside world. There is no natural light in this cave. The walls are damp and dark. All the inhabitants can see comes from the shadows of things thrown up on the wall by light of a fire. The cave dwellers get fascinated by these reflection of animals, plants and people. Moreover they assumed that these shadows are real and if you pay a lot of attention to them you’ll understand and succeed in life. They don’t of course realize that they are looking at mere phantoms. They chat about shadowy things enthusiastically and take great pride in their sophistication and wisdom.

Then one day quite by chance, someone discovers a way out of the cave. Out into the open air. At first it’s simply overwhelming. He’s dazzled by the brilliant sunshine in which everything is for the first time, properly illuminated. Gradually, his eyes adjust and he encounters the true form of all those things which he had formerly known only as shadows. He sees actual flowers, colours of birds, the lines in the bark of trees. He observes stars and grasp the vastness and sublime nature of the universe. Previously he had been looking merely at phantoms, now he is nearer to the true nature of being.

Out of compassion, this newly enlightened man decides to leave the sunlit upper world and makes his way back into the cave to try to help out his companions who is still mired in confusion and error. Because he’d become used to the bright upper world he could hardly see anything underground. He stumbled along the damp, wet corridor and gets confused. He seems to the others, totally unimpressive. When he in turn is unimpressed by them and insist on explaining what the sun is or what a real tree is like. The cave dwellers get sarcastic at first, then very angry and eventually plot to kill him.

The story of the cave is an allegory of the life of all enlightened people. The cave dwellers are humans before science and technology. The sun is the light of reason. The alienation of the returned cave dweller is what all truth-tellers can expect when they take their knowledge back to people who have not devoted themselves to thinking. We are all for much of our lives in shadow. Many of the things we get excited about like fame, the perfect partner, a high status job are infinitely less real than we suppose. They are for the most part phantoms projected by our culture onto the walls of our fragile and flawed minds. But because everyone around us is insisting that they are genuine, we are taken in from a young age. It’s not our fault individually, no once chooses to be in the cave. That’s just where we happen to begin. We’re all starting from a very difficult place.

An allegory is a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one. Allegory of the cave was presented by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato in his book the Republic. It was written to compare the effect of education and the lack of it on our nature. So what does it all mean? The shadows on the wall represent an illusion of reality that the people viewing the wall try to interpret without understanding the truth; that the shadows are only shadows. The viewers of the wall have never actually seen what the objects which cause those shadows look like. To the viewer of the wall, all of reality is represented by the shadows. The whole story is a social commentary about understanding what the true nature of the world is and how many people never see it because of the beliefs of the society they are raised in. If you had been raised in the 13th century, you culture’s world view would have been that the Earth is flat and it was the center of the universe. When Plato speaks of being blinded by the light of the fire or the sun open leaving the cave, he is discussing the way some people will react (sometimes violently) when their cultural world view is challenged to the core of their fundamental belief system. Imagine telling a christian that Jesus is not real nor the son of god or a muslim that their entire religion is just made up by some ancient Arab people. Some people would rather retreat back into the cave than acknowledge that everything they knew all their life was wrong.

We all started in the cave but we don’t have to stay there. The road out is called quite simply, science accompanied by reason and evidence.

Watch the full video of the allegory of the cave by The School of Life here.