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Shell FuelSave 95 Lifestyle Trip To Cherating

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The Shell FuelSave 95 Lifestyle Trip to Club Med, Cherating.

Most of us motorists have understood the costs of owning and maintaining a vehicle, and most of us have accepted the fact that prices for petroleum-derived fuel is at a high point, but will inevitably continue to increase.

The shortages of petroleum fuel has long been discussed and debated over the years, with governments dishing out varying amounts of subsidies, in addition to considering alternate sources of fuel and power. Despite advances in science and technology today, there is currently still no single, concrete solution to the world’s vehicular power woes.

In attempting to alleviate the cost of transportation on motorists, Shell’s fuel engineers have developed what they feel is the most logical approach to increasing fuel efficiency; reducing friction losses in the fuel and engine itself. This enables the fuel to provide a higher energy yield per litre of petrol.

That brings us to Shell’s tagline for their FuelSave petrol variant; the Shell FuelSave 95, “Save up to 1 Litre per [full, RM50] tank [of petrol]”.

In order to highlight this subtle, but significant, difference between Shell’s RON 95 petrol and their competitors, Shell has organized a trip for the media to showcase its advantages.

Partnering themselves with Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors, Ogilvy PR, and G2 Worldwide, a challenge/lifestyle trip with an emphasis on fuel savings and efficiency was devised for the media.

The premise for the challenge is as follows:

  1. Teams of two media personnel (randomly paired) will be driving a YF Sonata with a PR personnel inside.
  2. Each team will be given a stipend; RM100, to spend on various tasks during the trip.
  3. The challenge is to complete the tasks set out by the organizers while utilizing the least amount of petrol and cash.
  4. The route will be from KGPA, Petaling Jaya, to Club Med, Cherating; with a few detours planned out for entertainment and gastronomic purposes.

This is the story of one easily irritated, incessantly complaining person who participated in the media drive.

The Event

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Good morning from Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam, a golf course for civil servants.

The day started particularly early for me, as I was trying to beat the jam heading towards KGPA from Petaling Jaya. The buntings and banners were already set up when I arrived, and it led me to the media registration table, where I was greeted by Ms. Melisa Yim, account manager for Ogilvy PR.

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The parking lot and flag-off point. The weather looked cloudy in the morning, but thankfully not much rain for us along the way.

As I was the first one from the media there, I had some time to be introduced to the host of people organizing the event, among them; Ms. Farah Zuber from Ogilvy PR, and from Shell; Mr. Damon Chan (Fuels Marketing Manager), Ms. Chung Ai Kee (Fuels Marketing Manager, MY/SG/HK/BR), Mr. Nick Gan (Fuels Category Manager, MY), Ms. Christine Liew (Head of Retail Marketing, MY/SG/HK) and Mr. Ratchatapong Boonwatsakul (fondly known as Coco, the fuel scientist for the trip). I was also introduced to Mr. Lau Yit Mun, Head of Sales and Marketing for Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors there.

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The stage for the Shell FuelSave 95 media drive briefing.

After filling up the necessary documents for the registration, I was treated to some nice teh tarik and fried bihun (vermicelli) for breakfast. Some of the other media personnel were beginning to arrive at the ballroom; Albakry from NST’s Car, Bikes, and Trucks, Christopher Ng from Top Gear Malaysia, and Che Mat from Malaysian Evo. There are more, though, but these are the ones who I’ve been particularly acquainted with.

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Mr. Ratchatapong Boon... Coco will do just fine...

The media briefing begun in earnest with Christine Liew giving the welcoming speech. Christine then passed the time over to Coco for an overview of what Shell’s FuelSave 95 is all about. In a nutshell, Shell FuelSave 95 provides better mileage because it is designed to increase fuel and engine efficiency.

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Mr. Fahrin Ahmad telling us how his life was changed for the better with the inclusion of Shell FuelSave 95 in his life. Here he was explaining the times other media personnel hit on him.

The Shell FuelSave ambassador, Mr. Fahrin Ahmad went up on stage next, and he shared 15 fuel saving tips with us. For those intending to squeeze every last kilometre from each drop of fuel, these are the tips:

  1. Fuel Matters; all fuels are not the same, the combination of the right fuel and driving habits contribute to a lower fuel consumption.
  2. Keep your tyres at the right pressure; even 10% underinflation can affect fuel economy
  3. Drive smoothly; aggresive driving will cost you money.
  4. Shift up for a low fuel consumption; utilizing a higher gear reduces engine revolutions, giving better mileage.
  5. Conserve momentum and keep your distance
  6. Use cruise control; electronic speed moderation is less strenuous too.
  7. Avoid excess idling; this is plain common sense.
  8. Avoid high(er) speeds; wind and air drag will burn more fuel.
  9. Use air-conditioning sparingly; erm… okay, maybe not.
  10. Keep the windows closed; aerodynamics is compromised when the windows are open at speed.
  11. Avoid carrying excess weight; please clear the car of all non-essentials. Your car is not your house… or is it?
  12. Plan trips carefully and avoid the rush hour; tell your boss you’ll go to work earlier and finish earlier… and risk the possibility of getting sacked.
  13. Use the correct engine oil; preferably according to manufacturer specifications, because they have been tested in accordance to the vehicle’s standards.
  14. Tune and service your engine and follow the guides in your vehicle handbook.
  15. Take the roof rack off.

Most of them are common sense, but you might be surprised as to how many people drive around doing exactly the opposite. Sad to say, I am not a particularly light-footed person, but I do acknowledge that the economic conditions are now somewhat pressing.

The [Excruciatingly Painful] Drive

After the briefing, we were paired into our teams. I had the absolute pleasure of being paired with an investigative journalist, Mr. Stuart Michael. He was sporting enough to allow me to grab the keys to our car, but I picked what was to be the last key in the bag. That was a kill-joy, actually, in addition to finding out that I got the 2.0-litre variant of the Sonata instead of the 2.4l everybody else had. When I went to shake Stuart’s hand, I immediately told him that I am genetically predisposed to lose a fuel-saving challenge, and he should ideally give up any semblance of hope in winning. He was initially taken aback with my defeatist attitude, but was polite enough not to choke me. Thank you, Stuart 🙂

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Our Hyundai YF Sonata, squeeky clean. Little does this fella know...

After the briefing, we were herded off to the parking lot cum flag-off area. We had no issues loading our luggage into the car (large boot!), and I prepped the provided GPS unit onto the driver’s seat, connected my hands-free car kit and phone charger, and strategically positioned the snacks, just in case. Melisa, who was our Shell PR representative, did not sleep the night before, and Stuart was only comfortable driving stick. Thus, this is another story of how I became the premier chauffeur for yet another media drive.

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See this bunch of cars? All 2.4 litres. Ours? 2.0 litre. *mumble* *mumble*

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The Shell FuelSave 95 Lifestyle Trip entourage. Look at their delightfully excited faces!

The flag-off was about as mundane as watching your pet iguana sunbathe, but nevertheless was a significant development from standstill. I was about to gun it when the cars in front stopped at the side of the road, about 15 metres out.

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The cars prepping to head out. No vroom vroom here. Sep minyak.

That was when I took the GPS, chewed on it, shoved it straight into my eye socket, and went into an epileptic fit.

No… no morbid end for me, not yet. Not until I reach Club Med, the awe-inspiring vacation destination for a select group of individuals (read: overly affluent). Also, at stake are pairs of 32-inch Sony LCD TV, HTC ChaCha, and iPod Touch; pretty strong motivators for winning the challenge.

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Off to Gombak!

Once the entire convoy was ready, we continued our journey towards Karak Highway via Penchala Link, then Duke Highway. Our next stop was at the Shell station right before Gombak Toll. There, we took our turn to fill the cars up to the brim with Shell’s FuelSave 95.

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The Sonata's parked for Coco to fill them up. Body pose customary of scientists in petrol stations.

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Coco is a warm, friendly and extremely well-mannered guy.

Coco, our resident fuel expert, demonstrated a method of pumping fuel called the 4-click technique. My mind, unfortunately, wandered off to the soft, sandy chalets of Club Med, approximately 285 kilometres away from where I was standing.

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Here Coco demonstrates the long-lost 4-click fuelling technique.

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Notice how his hands grapple the nozzle with love and dedication...

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Coco loves Shell. TCG loves horsepower. Videographer loves Oakley.

Once the cars were all filled up, we started our real, proper journey off towards Cherating. The first stop was to Raub, a town, I feel, where most people will not go to if not for necessity. I did not know it existed if not for this trip, to be honest.

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The convoy stopping right after the turn-in to Raub. I think one of the cars got lost.

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Restoran Ratha. Come here for awesome fishhead curry... but only if you really need to.

Our stop at Raub was for lunch, at a place called Ratha’s. Ratha’s is famous for its curry fish head and chicken curry, but frankly, although delicious, the food there was nothing to shout about.

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Buncha muncha hungry people.

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Stuart from Star Metro and Indra from The Sun. Hello!

After meeting the challenges, we headed back towards Bentong, and on the way, we saw a fatal accident between a motorcycle and a small lorry.

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Part and parcel of the highway code is to ensure that this does not happen. Rest in peace.

A schoolboy was being given his last rites when we passed; may he rest in peace. As I was driving, Stuart took a photograph on the Fujifilm camera Shell provided for us.

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Ice cream with cendol on a hot day, what more could you ask for?

We stopped by an ice cream shop for dessert. Since I was full from lunch, I was unable to appreciate the ice cream, much less finish it.

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Looks yummy, eh?

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Ahh... Melisa, our sporting perennial PR manager, being shot inconspicuously by me while she enjoys some ice cool cendol...

After dessert, we headed over to a nearby Shell station to participate in our first team challenge; to regurgitate 5 Shell fuel save tips. I believe most of the participants did very well in this challenge.

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Part of the entourage taking a moment to pose with the owners of the ice-cream shop.

After the challenges, we were told to head off towards Temerloh, our next stop. We were supposed to be at a shop called gerai makan Pak Usop, but due to time constraints, the challenge at the rest stop was cancelled, as is the next stop at Kemaman.

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Apparently Ikan Patin (Iridescent shark) is famous here in Temerloh. Nice shot of fish head courtesy of Stuart's hand.

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The entourage congregating before heading off to Cherating.

Pity, as I was looking forward to the otak-otak and satar at Warung Che Wan. Once again we found ourselves trawling the East Coast highway, and as usual, I was right behind the lead car, Melisa being the only reason why the pedal was not to the metal. Despite the overly mundane driving, it was fun being in the car, thanks to the jokes that we were throwing at each other.

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Our big break came when somebody in the lead car had to take a leak (thank you, God!), and they stopped at the nearest rest area. The moment Marcus (from G2 Worldwide) waved us to pass was the exact moment we lost all semblance of winning the challenge. Now, back at TCG’s native speeds, we were at least getting somewhere. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the Shell station in Cherating, near Club Med.

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Chendor aka The-Place-We-Ate-Lekor-Chilled-Out-And-Drank-Some-Juice.

The petrol station was right opposite a satar stall, and Stuart and I opted to head over for some delicious keropok lekor. As the kakak heated the wok for us, we chilled on some drinks. Stuart and I estimated that at the speed the other contestants are moving, we should be able to finish the lekor, finish our drinks, fry up and tapau some more for the poor PR personnel in the contestants’ cars, and walked over to the car. We finished that, and more, before the rest of the convoy reached Shell.

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Coco being ominously serious while he determined our mileage...

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So I decided to make him laugh a bit. Probably increased our chance to win by 0.05%.

After a bit of a fuss, with many people chomping down the lekor we tapau-ed, we parked the cars in line. In order to find out how many litres of petrol we used for the trip, Coco was tasked to refill the cars. Coco checked the amount of petrol, and we lost, by a very wide margin, with 29.44 glorious litres expanded (RM55.94) from Gombak Toll to Cherating. The other competitors were easily doing RM10 less than us, but they were travelling at an excruciating pace of 60-90km/h on the highway (Zzz-40km/h on trunk roads). Thanks, but no thanks, yeah.

Club Med

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A warm welcome from Club Med! Usher on left gave us the 15-minute roundabout trip to our rooms.

We headed over to Club Med after the refill, and we were told to freshen up and be back at the rendezvous point by 2100. Unfortunately for us, the usher took us on a 15-minute roundabout trip to our rooms. We reached our rooms at about 2040, which gave us about 5 minutes to freshen up, each.

After freshening up, Salihin (my roomie, from Berita Harian Auto) and I headed towards the rendezvous point, and found out that the shuttle to the restaurant just left the place. As we waited for the next shutttle to arrive, we were joined by Melisa, Farah, Francesca, Ahmad, Stephanie Khoo from Shell, and Prem from NST. We were waiting for some time before the shuttle arrived, and took some photographs while waiting.

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So we were all late, yeah? Nothing else to do but take some photos and seal some memories. From left: My roomie Salihin, Francisca, the videographer, Ahmad Ariff (all 3 from NTV7), Prem from NST Streets, and Stephanie Khoo from Shell. They're all smiling because they didn't know what will happen next...

The shuttle arrived shortly after, and we were slowly chugged towards the restaurant. We barely made it off the stop when the shuttle grinded to a halt. It was like a scene from a slasher film; the flickering lights, the eerie whine of the engine, the spluttering of the fuel, and the eventual pitch-black darkness. Needless to say, the fiasco was immediately followed by the chalkboard screeches of the females in our shuttle. After wiping the blood from our ears, we decided to walk back to the lobby to wait for the next shuttle.

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At the lobby waiting for the replacement shuttle to head over.

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Was bored to bits, so I took a shot of this... erm... potpourri.

Half an eternity passed by before we were shuttled over to the restaurant, and by then, the food was already cold. The guys at Club Med were pretty obliging, but I did not really enjoy dinner that night. The atmosphere there was pretty good, though, thanks to the East coast breeze, soothing lighting and warm camaraderie.

Once dinner was done, we were tasked to finish a short challenge; writing down 3 benefits of Shell FuelSave 95 petrol. Since Stuart and I memorized the fuel-saving tips instead of FuelSave 95 benefits, we basically flunked the challenge [insert facepalm here].

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Coco thanking the participants for attending the drive, and the TCG team for not going berserk ;p

The winners from the challenge are Christopher Ng from TopGear & Albakry from NST CBT (First prize), Fransisca Razak & Ahmad Ariff from NTV7 (1st runners-up), and Surekha Ragavan from TimeOut KL & Hafriz Shah from Autocar Asean (2nd runners-up).

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Surekha Ragavan from TimeOut KL & Hafriz Shah from Autocar Asean (2nd runners-up)

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Fransisca Razak & Ahmad Ariff from NTV7 (1st runners-up)

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Christopher Ng from TopGear & Albakry from NST CBT (First prize)

Once the winners were announced and participants congratulated, the entourage headed over to the bar to relax, chat and mingle. We also drank some bran… bubbly and sleep juice in celebration of Marcus’ birthday. The time taken to chill with the gang basically unwound my day’s stresses and tension.

I also took the opportunity to get some landscape and scenic shots done while the gang chilled by the bar.

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Night landscape shot of the pool at Club Med. Romantic, no?

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Three... erm... thingies, by the bar.

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The bar serves anything from intoxicants to bubbly to a hot cup of cocoa.

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The entrance to the Thai massage parlour. Ambient lighting encompasses the mood of the evening while the statue subtly dominates the frame.

The Next Day (aka The Journey Home)

The day began at about 0600 because I thought of taking the opportunity to get some sunrise shots. Once I freshened up, I took my kit to the beachfront and attempted to get a few shots done.

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The South China Sea as seen from Club Med during the blue hour.

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Slightly slower shutter produces milky waves as the sky starts to turn cream and amber.

The end result wasn’t what I quite expected, since the sun was obscured from view by the clouds. Despite the setback, I thought I got some rather cool shots during the blue hour.

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The chalets as seen from the beachfront. Notice the grey clouds? This time, the weather really broke loose on our way back to KL.

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Here you can see the sun being obstructed by some faraway clouds, so I decided to take a reflection shot.

After the few beachfront shots, I headed to the restaurant, kit, tripod, and all, to get myself some yummy breakfast. Salihin, who woke up early as well, joined me at the table. I also saw Coco there, and we had a short chat about the day before.

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The view from my room door. The traditional architecture here is a hoot to shoot!

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Interweaving sunlight gives this photograph an eerie feel. Now, couple this with creaking floorboards...

Once Salihin and I were both done with breakfast, we headed back to the room to relax and pack for the journey back to Kuala Lumpur. The somewhat lengthy duration before departure assembly allowed me to catch a few winks. I nodded off to the sounds of Salihin typing on his laptop and an action moviestar shouting in the background…

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Took this photograph while walking towards the bar area.

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The swimming pool before the bikini's arrived. Sorry, guys...

By 1200 we were at the bar area, with many of the participants grabbing their last-minute caffeine fix from the barista. As soon as the entourage was ready, we walked to our cars, gave our goodbyes and farewells, and drove off.

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Rear of the YF Sonata looks good.

Stuart and I, however, did not go straight back to KL. Instead, we went around Cherating and visited a local batik outlet. There, you can be taught to design your own batik clothing, get them prepared through the night, and collect them, ready to wear, the next day.

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Batik outlet; DIY and get a unique gift/souvenir home.

We also managed to stop by a local keropok shop en-route to the highway for some scrumptious souvenirs for the peeps back in the city.

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This place has got the yums.

Overall Feeling

Although the challenge was relevant to the essence of the theme (FuelSave 95), I would have appreciated it if the rules were more comprehensive to allow fairer competition and a more punctual schedule. Simple criteria like having a cut-off time would have enabled a fairer run, and communications equipment would prevent unnecessary delays in the convoy run (i.e. preset GPS, two-way radios). Additionally, the fact that the convoy was not allowed to overtake the lead car meant that momentum cannot be preserved for uphill climbs, defeating the motive of saving fuel.

Despite the minor hiccups during the drive, I thoroughly enjoyed not following the convoy, perhaps a little too much ;p

I loved the fact that I was paired with the mostest awesomest people during the trip; Melisa and Stuart have been great sports and possess a highly compatible sense of humour with me. Club Med is a beautiful place, further accentuated by the amount of bikini’s at the swimming pool. The Hyundai YF Sonata’s, although not mentioned much in the article, at least deserves some praise. The car is competitively priced, reasonably comfortable, fuel efficient, and spacious.

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Thank you for a wonderful time!

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About Andrew Lee

Andrew is a commercial photographer by day and speed demon by night. Don't let his pleasant, approachable demeanour fool you, as he's an incredible fast driver on the circuit! Andrew is a man of many talents (some hidden). He often baffles many with his uncanny ability to stay awake for an inhuman number of days, then disappears. For hours. TCG labels him “Comatose Man” for his nocturnal endeavours and sleep super powers.

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