Year End Holidays Planning

November 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm

School holidays are coming, have you planned for your holidays yet?

We’d not gone on a holiday this year, except for the short weekend trips here and there, all because of the project I was working on which had me working many nights and weekends. Now that the school holidays are coming, it’s time for a long break!

We have a Bali and Japan trip coming, and there’s lots of planning to do, especially for the Japan trip.

I think I overbought the books.

After googling, contemplating, checking out travelling books, talking to CPWong who’s a Japan travel expert, we’d decided to visit Kyushu this round. Still there’s lots of research to do, as in how we’ll be travelling around this Southern Island, what are the places of interest to visit, and where to stay for the night.

Once we know our itinerary, we have to book the accommodation. Since the exchange rate is not in our favour, we had to compare hotel rates from various hotel sites before making the booking.

In 2013 when we took our first Japan holiday, our accommodation was around USD200/night for 2 adults and 2 children. This round, with more time to do research, we are able to cut down to USD120/night on average for 2 adults and 2 children in Kyushu! Good deal eh?

I found HotelsCombined to be extremely helpful in comparing hotel room rates from different booking sites (agoda.com, booking.com, etc), and listing the best deals out.

We managed to get really good deals for Bali too, only RM350/night for a nice family room.

Can’t wait to see all these.

Photo credit: Rakuten

Photo credit: thousandwonders.com

Photo credit: japan-guide.com

Photo credit: guide.travel.co.jp

Photo credit: balichartercars.com

Pulau Sembilan

September 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm

We’d not heard about Pulau Sembilan (九岛屿) until our friend recommended the place to us. This is a small island just South of Pangkor, which is popular among scuba divers and anglers, and only recently the island started getting overnight visitors. Overnight trips are organised by a couple of operators, and for the trip we made, we went with 9 Island Agency (环岛旅游业).

The overnight tour was RM280/adult and RM200/kid, accommodation is in a tent, and all meals included, i.e. 2 breakfast, 2 lunches, 1 tea, 1 steamboat dinner and 1 bbq supper. We’d never been on a camping trip as a family before, hence we thought this would be a good opportunity for us to try out camping.

The meeting point for the tour was Bagan Sungai Burung, Bagan Datoh (巴眼拿督双武隆渔村) at 7:30am. The day before, we were already spending the night in Teluk Intan, at 6am, we started our drive to Bagan Sungai Buring, which still took us about 1hr (if from KL, it’ll be around 3hr +).

We were given a simple breakfast, and then got ready to leave for the island, which was a 30min ride away on a speedboat.

The side of the island we arrived at had a long strip of beach. A couple of tour operators have set up facilities here and ours was the biggest set up, which could accommodate around 200+ people. The facilities included a main shaded communal area where meals are served, and then next to it, clusters of tents were closely laid out in rows sheltered by zinc roof, and then between the clusters of tents, the toilet cubicles.

As we were the first boat to arrive the island for the day, we got to choose our tents first. We took 2 x 2 person tents on the 1st row closest to the sea, and not too far from the toilets. It’s no glamping, as the tents are basic, and we were given a straw mat and 2 pillows for each tent. ‘House keeping’ was done by a couple of people tilting the tents to shake off any sand (actually that barely got rid of the sand), and hastily wiping the mats with rags (which were not washed or changed the whole time we watched them ‘clean’ the tents).

I had to pick out the sand, wipe and air the mats before I allowed anyone in the tent; the pillows were so disgusting, we didn’t want to use them. We were told to bring along sleeping bags, and so that was where we slept on.

This is where we slept for the night (see how close the tents were packed).

And this is our view, check out how close we were to the sea.

Despite the basic facilities, we were taken good care and well fed by the operator. The island itself is also very beautiful, with clean sandy beach, and clear blue sea. Girls immediately changed and got busy swimming and exploring the beach.

And for me, I just took it easy.

A simple buffet lunch (seafood mixed rice) was served early. After a short rest, we were then brought out to sea to snorkel (part of the package). Unfortunately, the water around the common snorkeling spot was murky on that day, so we got back to the main island.

Then tea was served, eat as much as you can – red bean soup, prawn pancakes and some teochew cake. Red bean soup and prawn pancakes were so so so so good.

We walked further down to the island, passing 2 more tour operators (accommodate is all tents), where we were told the rocky coast is a good spot for snorkeling too.

Those who went ahead of us, somehow managed to find a squid (and caught it) and also a sea cucumber, and was showing off to us.

This side of the island is more picturesque.

(the show off)

The girls and I swam around, and did find school of fishes among the rocks.

There were lots of barnacles and sea creatures clinging on the rocks and we spotted crabs too.

Don’t know what they are, but we thought they looked like some aliens from sci-fi movies.

Before an early dinner, there were long queues at the toilets, everybody wanted to shower after a whole day of fun. Toilets are basic here, each cubicle has a toilet bowl and next to it a big container of water with a dipper. Water supply comes from the mainland, brought in by the operator in boats. It can get quite disgusting after many people have used it, as some uncivilised folks left sanitary pads, used toilet paper, plastic containers and bags behind after them, even though there were dustbins right outside the toilet cubicles.

We had steamboat for dinner (eat as much as you can) before sunset.

After dinner, we took a stroll and saw many tiny fishes washed ashore.

They were still alive, but when we brought them back to the sea, they got washed up to the shore again, as if they were not able to swim against the current.

After it turned dark, at around 8pm, we started combing the shore, in search of Bioluminescent Phyto Plankton (蓝眼泪), the highlight of the trip. The girls spotted the first one, tiny blue luminous dot, then another, and another. Everyone got excited seeing the shore sprinkled with more and more blue luminance dust, although they were not bright enough to be photographed. (Click here to see how a beach looks like with bioluminescent phyto plankton.)

A BBQ seafood supper and karaoke came after this. We decided to go back to our tents to sleep instead. With the tents so closely packed, it wasn’t easy to sleep as we could hear our neighbours talking, laughing, whistling. Moreover, it was a hot night with no breeze. Some people actually decided to lay their mats on the beach and slept there.

At around 4am it started pouring, some rain actually splattered into our tents and made it more difficult to sleep, and people around us were waking up too for the same reason. By 5am, most people were up and about, waiting for the rain to stop, good thing was it did, before breakfast.

Boatloads of new tourists started arriving, and some people started leaving. We decided to take our time.

Found this on the beach, and wonder if the little spots were the bioluminescent phyto plankton.

Before noon, we left the island, and back to Bagan Sungai Burung, Bagan Datoh (巴眼拿督双武隆渔村), and got fed again, our last meal which is part of the deal, a seafood lunch at Hai Yong Seafood Restaurant 洋海鲜餐馆 ; extremely good. In fact, we have no complaints about the food served, every meal was pretty good and the serving generous.

A short tour around Bagan Sungai Burung, Bagan Datoh (巴眼拿督双武隆渔村) later, it was time for us to head on home.

A Stop Over Trip – Sitiawan

August 28, 2015 at 5:41 pm

In June, the girls have a week of holidays, and despite the crazy schedule at work, we managed to plan for a weekend holidays to Perak.

We signed up a 2D1N package to Pulau Sembilan, and because we had to be at the Bagan Sungai Burong (双武隆渔村) by 7:30am to leave for Pulau Sembilan, we decided to spend the night in Teluk Intan, which is around 1hr away from Bagan Sungai Burong.

We decided to spend the afternoon in Sitiawan, as it seemed to be a nicer town to explore compared to Teluk Intan. My BIL is from Sitiawan, a couple of whatapps later, he told us where to have lunch and which gong pian is good.

Both my BIL and sister recommended lunch at Lido Restaurant (52, Jalan Dua, Taman Sitiawan Maju, 32000 Sitiawan).

This ugly looking plate of fried fish was so good, ok?

The oyster egg was delicious! I’d not eaten oyster egg this nice in Malaysia.

After lunch, we searched for the gong pian that my BIL recommended. Actually there were a few he recommended, but searching for the one near the ‘yellow’ old Courts Mammoth building was the easiest, i.e. Sitiawan Cheong Cia Gong Pian (曾家福州光饼) (12, Jalan Tok Perdana, 32000 Sitiawan)

By the time we arrived, that batch was sold out and they were going to make a new batch which will be available in 2hours time. We told them we came from KL, and asked if they have a piece or 2 to let us try. They did!
It was still warm, very crispy with a very flavourful onion filling. It was so good!

Guess what? The hubs decided to stay and watch them make the next batch. O.o The owner Mr Cheong, is more than happy to let us watch and photograph him, since it’ll be free ‘advertisement’ for him.

Gong Pian/Gong Piah/Kong Piah/Kompia is a traditional Fuchow biscuit baked in an earthen oven, it can be plain, savoury or sweetish. Cheong Cia’s has only one flavour, which is the onion Gong Pian. We saw them mixed equal amount of chop shallots and lard for the filling. No wonder it’s so fragrant, and crispy!

The dough stuffed with the filling was then flattened into disc, and stuck to the earthen oven to bake.

Once they were done, they were ‘scooped’ out, and ready to be sold.

2hrs after the previous batch was sold out, the next batch of gong pian was ready, and the crowd started forming.

We spent so much time watching the gong pian making that we didn’t have much time left. Out went our plan to visit the near by Teluk Batik, supposedly a beautiful beach.

We headed towards Teluk Intan instead, and checked into our hotel, Yew Boutique Hotel for the night. There’s nothing boutique about the place, but the facilities are still quite new, and rooms are clean and comfy.

Alpheretta and Atlanta 2015

June 5, 2015 at 5:05 pm

After Paris, it was a week of intensive meeting in Alpheretta, Georgia. Most of the days, we woke up before sun rise and then done for the day only in the night, it was a productive week though.

One of the highlight of the trip is the extended weekend stay, where I’d be meeting my friend from college days whom I’d not met for more than 20years.

These are some memories captured for the trip.

♥Hotel – Courtyard Atlanta Alpheretta♥

We stayed at Courtyard Atlanta Alpheretta by Marriott. It’s near to the office, and at the surrounding area, there are lots of restaurants within walking distant.

Room is spacious and clean.

I like the verandah that came with my room, overlooking the swimming pool. Although it was too cold to hang out at the verandah, it offered a nice view.

I spent almost every morning at the gymn as I woke up almost 5am daily (caused by jetlag) and hence did a morning yoga before breakfast.

I like the complimentary breakfast. We got to choose one item from the menu, and a drink. It’s better than a buffet with the same food served over and over again.

The best is the complimentary use of the washing machine and dryer in the hotel, detergent included.

♥Restaurants and Food♥

Office Food
Hmm.. we got catered food daily, and I didn’t really like them. The worse of the lot, the food served on Tacos Tuesday.
Taco shell with a bit of every thing… eeeyucks, especially the blobs of beans….

Burgerfi
A gourmet burger restaurant, the food in Burgerfi was so good, out of 5 lunches we ate there twice.

Chicken Apple Dog was good.

But their Vegefi Burger was even better. Didn’t taste vegetarian at all, don’t know how they made it, but it was juicy and flavourful.

Onion rings were good, but the portion is so big, after 2 rings, the rest just tasted greasy.

Pappadeux
Papadeux was another restaurant that we went twice. Just to get some seafood.

First dinner, I had the salmon, it was really good.

2nd dinner, I had the Alaskan King Crab, oh well, the crab wasn’t as nice as Japanese snow crab, the flash tougher, and less sweet compared to snow crab. It was just for the experience.

Ghion Cultural Hall

It was Valentine’s day and most restaurants were full. So we found an Ethopian Restaurant which is quite highly rated to dine. Ghion Cultural Hall it was.

It’s a weird place. From a shabby entrance, we had to go through a dodgy hallway before entering a brightly lit hall which is the restaurant.

I have never tasted Ethopian food, so I can’t tell if it’s authentic, but I didn’t like the food. We ordered a chicken and an egg dish with some special rice flour pancakes. It was like a curry dish, spicy but with very little flavour, more like a peppery kind of spicy.

We had the coffee as well, and it came with an incense burner, I don’t know if it enhanced the flavour of the coffee, but it was more like a ‘show’ for us.

Pho Dai Loi
The best meal we’d eaten during this trip is probably Pho Dai Loi in Atlanta, during our extended stay. It was so good we went back twice, although it was quite a distant away.

It’s a canteen like eatery, brightly lit, simple deco, no fuss kind of place.

But the food was good, so far whatever we tried, they were all good.

♥The Extended Stay – Holiday♥
The fun part of the trip besides our stopover in Paris, is the extended stay. Sally, Lesley and I spent a good weekend together. We moved to down town Atlanta for our stay, and we put up at Country Inn & Suites By Carlson.

We went to the North Georgia Outlet Mall for shopping. And this is what it looks like when 3 women spent the weekend together.

It was so cold, and temperature was below 0C that when we went downtown in the evening for a ‘tour’, we didn’t even want to get down of the car.

On Valentine’s Day, which we three spent together, we decided to have a picnic lunch. Went to Wholefoods Market to get some stuff, and then head to Piedmont Park.

Sunny day, but oh so cold. We sat on benches, and had our lunch, slightly shivering.

The park is beautiful though.

Too bad it was so cold, or we could have stayed there longer.

Because of the cold weather, there’s not much we could do outdoor, hence it was more shopping. Went to an upscale shopping mall, Lenox Square Mall. We experienced the bad traffic which Atlanta is famous for, so bad, a few kilometers took us more than an hour to cover.

Heard so much about Athleta, I was glad there was a store there for me to grab a couple of yoga pants.

Best part of the weekend was that I was able to catch up with my friend, and also got to know my colleague better. It was a good weekend spent together, eating, chatting. Don’t know when we can do this again.

Paris In A Day

May 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm

(Back dated)

I had another opportunity to go to US for work in Feb. As this round, I was going with a colleague, Sally, we made plans to take Air France, then spend a day in Paris, before flying to Atlanta for work.

My French colleague provided us the necessary information to maximise our stay there, so that we can see the key sights within a day.

So here is what we did on our 1D1N trip in Paris.

We stayed in Ibis Gare du Nord TGV near the city; the hotel is about 200m from Gare du Nord, station along the RER B train to the city from the airport. We got a day pass at the airport station (Euro23.50) when we arrived in the morning, which allowed us to travel on RER and Metro (and I believe bus too although we didn’t take the bus). And from Gare Du Nord, it was easy to get to the city centre via the metro.

Gare Du Nord is a big station, and we had to ask for direction before we could even get to the exit.

Gare du Nord viewed from across the road.

There are a lot of Ibis hotels around Gare du Nord, the one we stayed in, i.e. Ibis Gare du Nord TGV is along the road on the right of Gare du Nord, about 1minute walk away. This is the view from across our hotel entrance.

The hotel is a small hotel, with narrow walkway between rooms.

However, the room is of moderate size and very clean. We booked a triple room, which came with a queen bed and a single pull out bed.

After we’re done with our check in, we started our tour.

♥Eiffel Tower♥
We took the subway from Gare du Nord (RER Line B + Line C) to Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel. The Eiffel Tower is not far from the station. It was a beautiful day, but oh, so cold.

It was below 0C that day. My teeth were chattering, and my bones were aching, this was the closest we got to the tower.

♥Arc de Triomphe♥

My French colleague actually asked us to walk to Trocadéro (which is across the River Seine or La Sein from Eiffel Tower) to take a bus from there, but we couldn’t find the bus station, so instead we went to the nearest Metro station and found our way to Charles de Gaulle Étoile.

Right above the station, is Arc de Triomphe.

This is where the Champs-élysées Avenue begins, and so did our shopping.

We had something to eat at Publicis Drugstore, and it was my first time trying out Pierre Hermé macarons. Oh my goodness! It was much much much much more nicer than Ladurée. For Euro2 per macaron, I bought 8! They seemed to be less sweet, the shells were softer, and the filling much creamier and flavourful.

Later when we went passed Ladurée, I wasn’t even compelled to go in.

We entered a couple of shops, and spend most time in Loius Vuitton, Sally got herself a bag, while I was tempted, my frugality got the better of me.

We found it really nice that in all the shops, pets are welcome, even in Louis Vuitton, you can stroll in with your dog and no one will stop you.

♥Louvre♥
We took the metro from Charles de Gaulle Étoile to (actually, any metro station along the Champs-élysées Avenue which is on Metro Line 1 will do) Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre. From there, we walked Musée du Lourve.

I’d been to the museum more than 12 years back, and since we have limited time in Paris, we have no intentions of visiting the museum, but more to just take some photos around there.

♥Notre-Dame♥
In the afternoon, the weather has turned slightly warmer, so it was more comfortable to walk around. From the Lourve, we walked back to the Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre, and took the Metro Line 1 to L’Hôtel de Ville, and then walked towards Notre Dame.

We walked pass an outdoor skating rink near Hôtel de Ville. My first time seeing an outdoor skating rink. Later I realised this is Patinoire de L’Hôtel de Ville, the most popular seasonal ice skating venue in Paris. Aah, if only the girls were here, I’m sure they would enjoy skating there.

It was a short walk across the River Seine to Notre-Dame.

There was a big crowd in front of the cathedral, some just to take photos of the facade, some were queuing to get into the cathedral. For us, we just walked around the cathedral, trying to spot the gargoyles.

That was our last stop for the Paris tour. We were kind of tired, and wanted to go back to the hotel for a rest. From Notre-Dame, we walked towards Saint-Michel (the Latin quarters) and then took the metro (line 4) back to Gare Du Nord.

After a short rest, we were out again, to go to Hard Rock Cafe Paris as Sally is a Hard Rock Cafe merchandise collector. We took the metro (line 4 then 8 or 9) from Gare du Nord to Grands Boulevards, then walked there.

We wanted to have a good French dinner around Grands Boulevards, chose a restaurant which we thought was decent, but the food turned out pretty disappointing.

If it wasn’t so cold, we probably would have gone back to Eiffel Tower area to enjoy the night scene. But it was bone chilling cold! So instead, we went back to the hotel to have an early night.

The following day, we had to check out early to go to the airport for our flight to Atlanta. I was actually loosing hope of having a good meal before we leave, but good thing was Sally spotted this cafe, Cafe la Chaufferie, just behind our hotel; and we had a scrumptious breakfast there.

Bread with crispy crust and chewy inside, and the crumbly croissant were freshly baked. I had a chunky piece of cheese that came with my breakfast and it was good cheese.

Now we can leave Paris happy and satisfied.

Remedy for Dengue 治疗骨痛热症的方式

April 23, 2015 at 10:56 am

A couple of weeks back, a friend I know from blogsphere passed away due to Dengue. A shock to most of us who knew him, as he was still joking away when he was admitted to the hospital, most of us didn’t take his hospital stay seriously, thinking he would come out in no time.

2 weeks ago, a teacher Zara likes and admires tremendously from school contracted Dengue and was admitted into a hospital with a platelet count of less than 50, we thought we’ll help out as she was from outstation with no family to care for her here. After asking around and googling, we found 2 remedies which will help to increase platelet count.

The 1st one Papaya Leave Juice and the other Double Boiled Frogs with Small Bitter Gourd.

There’s nothing the doctor can administer for Dengue besides putting the patient on drip and feeding Paracetamol to the patient for fever, hence most people depended on this natural cure.

Here is how it’s prepared.

♥Papaya Leaf Juice♥

Ingredients
5, 6 papaya leaves from young papaya trees, best if it’s from trees that never borne fruits.

Method
Wash, clean and cut the leaves up and then juice them a slow juicer to extract out the juice.
Or use a mortar and pestle to pound the leave till a pulp and squeeze out the juice.

5~6 papaya leaves will only extract out half a cup of juice.
As the juice is extremely bitter, mix the juice with 1 or 2 tsp of honey. Take 2 tbs of juice 3 times a day.

♥Double Boiled Frog Legs with Small Bitter Gourd♥
Ingredients
5 frogs (the people selling the frogs will skin the frogs)
5 small bitter gourd

Method
1. Clean the frogs
2. Slice the small bitter gourds into half, remove the seeds, and slice the bitter gourd
3. Place frogs and bitter gourd into the double boiler (do not add any water)
4. Double boil for 4hrs
5. Remove the frogs and bitter gourd, and you’ll get about 1 bowl of soup.
6. Serve warm

This is another extremely bitter soup, but as the popular Chinese phrase 苦口良药 says, a bitter medicine cures the disease.

We made this and sent to Zara’s teacher for the first few days she’s in the hospital, we are glad that her teacher is well after a few days and now fully recovered.

Johor – Kluang UK Farm 2014

December 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Continues from here

We spent 2 nights in Kluang. Stayed in a nice hotel, Hotel Merdeka, which has been refurbished recently. The family room is extremely spacious and the big beds very comfortable.

Of course when in Kluang, one must go to Kluang Rail Coffee to have breakfast. There are a few Kluang Rail Coffees in Kluang, all under the same company serving similar stuff, but the original one is located right at the Kluang KTM Station.

Honestly, there’s really nothing great about the food or drink, but it’s something you have to do when you are in Kluang.

Even after spending a full day at Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm (KOREF) the day before, the girls wanted to go back there for a second visit; since they like farm visits so much, we decided to bring them to UK Farm, which is on the way from Kluang to Ayear Itam toll.

There are different packages for visitors in UK Farm, adults and children pay the same amount. We took 2 x RM30 package and 2 x RM45 package. Both include guided farm tour, but for RM45, a bottle of passion fruit drink, a muffin, an ice cream are given to the guest, but the main reason we chose this package was that it also included animal feeding.

UK Farm is a much bigger farm, we had to ride on a bus to tour the farm with a guide.

1st stop, goat pen. The girls get to feed the goats dried grass provided, and also bottle feed the goat milk.

The goats were quite fussy, the girls discovered that once the (bottle) teat has been sucked or licked by one goat, the others won’t touched it any more.

They had a chance to cuddle a baby goat too.

Next we were brought to see goats being milked. The goats with full udders were herded to the milking station, and while being fed, they had their head locked behind bars to prevent them from escaping while being milked. Their udders and teats are sterilised before being attached to pumps goat by goat to milk them. We could see the udders shrinking once the milk has been pumped out.

We were given some goat milk produced in UK Farm to try, hmmm, no one liked it, too errr muttony? If there’s such a word.

We met a group of Anqingban (安亲班)kids on a field trip at the next stop. The girls have to wait for their turn to feed the ostriches and turkeys with the feeds that were part of the RM45 farm package.

The animals at UK Farms all look pretty healthy, they must have been well taken care of.

Together with the big group of kids on field trip, we were brought to the Jakun Village next. There’s only 1 Orang Asli hired to stationed there, with a couple of houses built to look like an Orang Asli’s house, not really a village per say. The Orang Asli did a blow pipe trick to the cheers of the kids, and then we were free to enter the bare “show houses”.

On our way to the next stop, the mushroom farm, we saw a herd of sheep in the big grass field, like the picture that attracted most on the UK Farm’s website.
We probably missed the sheep herding timing, the tour guide didn’t stop for us, but continued to the mushroom farm.

The mushroom farm was the last stop of our guided tour, being close to the main entrance, we were left to explore the rest of the farm on our own.

There’s a big wishing tree next to the mushroom farm with a small tree house, the girls fooled around there..

while I took a rest on the hammock.

Walking back to the entrance, we saw healthy looking horses behind horse rail.
There were more horses in the shed near by. The girls, romancing the thought of riding on a horse galloping across the meadow, asked that we let them go on one.

We paid the extra, and they went on the horses, but both claimed it was so boring since the horse they rode on was led on a reign by the horse handler.

The girls were unwilling to go home after the horse ride, so we walked around more, and found not far from the main entrance, away from the horses, was a small enclosure where chickens, guinea fowls, ducks and geese roamed freely. The girls dug out their last packs of animal feed and had a swell time feeding the birds.

Zaria found her equal here, a duck glaring at her asking for seconds.

They had fun chasing after the birds too, making them all excited/scared fluttering about.

Further in the enclosure, Zaria found this little cutie at the side of the pond.

The duckling was joined by mother duck and more ducklings when Zara tried to go near it.
However, with Zaria’s agility, she did manage to catch one of the ducklings with her hands. She was quite reluctant to release it after.

UK Farm over all is a very well run farm with healthy animals, their produce here is goats milk and passion fruit juice, but both are not found in Klang Valley.

Both girls had a great time here, and Zaria prefers UK Farm over Kahang Farm (KOREF) because of the animals found here, Zara likes the latter because she enjoyed the rafting so much.

Johor – Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm (Koref) 2014

December 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Zaria and her gymnastic club went to Singapore early December for a competition and because she’s still so young, we kind of ‘accompanied’ her on this trip although we only saw her on competition day (oh well, we did sneak into her Hostel to check on her the 2nd day she was gone to make sure she was ok).

After the competition, we went to Kluang, as we were not willing to spend more in Singapore since the exchange rate is so high. Prior to making this trip, a couple of friends has already recommended some places to visit in Johor, the girls shortlisted Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm 加亨有机稻米生态农场 (Koref).

Koref is about an hours drive from Kluang. Upon arriving, we had to decide what we plan to do to pay for the relevant fee.

RM10 for a day spent there, with light refreshment provided.
RM35 for a day spent there + lunch.
RM50 for a day spent there + lunch and tea snack.
RM60 for full day spent there with lunch, tea snack and dinner provided.
(Prices of farm entry can be found here)

We decided we’ll go for the 2nd option.

The day we were there, there was only another family on a day visit and another group who’s about to check out, it wasn’t very busy, which was good for us.

Soon after we’d paid, the girls started trying their hands on rafting under the hot scorching sun!

The water is actually very shallow, the deepest end is probably just waist deep, and since the girls know how to swim, I left them rafting on their own while I stayed in the shade and walked about the farm.

Koref has farm stay too, the most luxurious ones are water chalets are built around the shallow pond with colourful wooden walking linking them.

Rooms are pretty basic, but I love the colourful deco and mural drawn on the walls of the chalets.

There are some dorms or bigger rooms for sharing as well, they are all colourfully painted.

Besides rafting, there is an obstacle course built on the pond. The girls had a go at it. Did they get wet? They did get a little wet, but didn’t fall into the pond.

However, Zaria dropped her slippers into the water crossing a path, and had to go into the water to retrieve the slipper even though she could have asked for help from the guides there. Oh well, she’s the sort who doesn’t mind getting dirty, so it was fun for her.

Lunch was served at the time we specified during registration. It was a meal of organic rice (grown in Koref itself), organic vegetable, organic eggs etc.
Besides the dishes shown here, we also have a steam Tilapia fish from their pond. Not bad actually for the price we paid.

After lunch, we had the girls walk with us to explore the farm together. Besides water activities, there are little animals around the farm roaming about freely.

The girls chased rabbits around, carried them, fed them kangkung they harvested themselves.

They found eggs in dirt pens and saw protective hens hatching eggs.
I think this hen has been conned into hatching normal eggs as the eggs we found on the dirt pens around were all white in colour, but this particular hen was hatching brown (supermarket?) eggs.

Further away, we found 2 goats in their pens. We could pat them, feed them and got really close to them.

We got so closed to the goats, we noticed the goats’ pupils were rectangle in shape instead of circle (does this apply to all goats or only the goats found here?)

Walking further away, we saw the padi fields, the tilapia pond, where the fish for our lunch came from.

The farm is not just a visitor farm, it’s actually a working farms, farmers or workers were toiling in the fields.

Egrets were found around the padi fields, some even taking a plunge at the tilapia pool grabbing a fish for lunch.

Of all that’s to be done and see at the farm, the girls still like the rafting the most.

By evening time, they were already experts. Even the young guides (students working during the long holidays) said they were getting really good.

I think we got our money’s worth spending such a long day there.

Taiping 2014 – The Food

December 10, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Continues from here.

Taiping has some really good food, this trip, we went out hunting for food so often Zaria actually asked if that was an Eating Trip or a Holiday.

♥Larut Matang Food Court/Medan Makan Larut Matang♥ (Jalan Panggung Wayang)
Although the food court has lots to offer, we really only like the deep fried radish cake and the tong shui (dessert) there.

The deep fried radish cake or lo bak kou is very different from the ones in KL. This one is plain white and deep fried. Yums.

No 40 dessert stall at the Larut Matang Food Court should not be missed.

Our favourite, the red bean soup and the peanut soup.

♥Restoran Kakak 家家茶室♥ (111, Jalan Pasar, Taiping)
The place is famous for its noodle, where you can pick your own topping like pork ball, fish ball, fish cake, stuffed tofu etc.

But what we came here for was really the Kakak Ping 家家冰; which is a drink made with Nescafe added into barley water. A smooth and creamy drink. They sold off the 1st day we arrived at 10am, so we went back the 2nd day.

♥Restoran Kong Xing 港星粤膳楼♥ (150, Jalan Satu, Pokok Assam 34000 Taiping)

Our friend’s husband brought us there for dinner the 1st night we arrived. It’s a proper Cantonese style air-conditioned restaurant which serves pretty refined dishes. No photos taken during dinner, but the food was really good, especially the steamed whole chicken! Zaria and I had so many pieces of chicken that night!

♥Mee Udang Mak Jah♥ (Kampung Menteri, Kuala Sepetang)

The outdoor restaurant was packed when we arrived. But seriously, I don’t know what’s the hype about. For RM11 per bowl, the noodle came with a generous amount of big prawns; to me, that’s all. Don’t like the alkaline taste of the noodle, and the starchy sauce.

♥Kuala Sepetang Curry Mee♥ (Jalan Taiping, Kuala Sepetang)

The stall is infont of the curve as you go into the town and is opened only after 3pm.

I’m a fan of curry mee, and boy, this one is goood! The soup has not much santan in it, but has a very rich prawn flavour. The prawn topping was so flavourful!

Curry Mee over the Mee Udang anytime!

♥Light House Seafood Restaurant♥ (10, Jalan Cina, 34750 Matang, Taiping)

Again no photos as we were chomping up the food so quickly. The popular dish here is the seafood porridge, and deep fried fish (Cai Yu Zhai), which were so well fried, even the bones can be eaten.

♥Simpang Fried Kuey Teow 新板华顺烟花炒粿条♥ (13, Medan Pasar, Jalan Taiping-Kuala Sepetang, 34700 Simpang. Opposite Simpang Mc Donald’s)

The Chinese name of the stall 新板华顺烟花炒粿条 is translated to Simpang Fireworks Fried Kuey Teow. The uncle who fried the kuey teow is like a performer, with each plate of kuey teow he fried, he was sending sparks flying.

See the sparks flying?

We waited for about 30mins for the first place to arrive; being with friends, we didn’t even feel it. The kuey teow was served on a heart shape leave, how pleasing.

It was wetter than the Penang ones but taste wise it was different too, but equally good.

♥Taiping Aulong Kaya Puff/Kaya Kok♥ (1106D Jalan Permaisuri/Lorong 4 Aulong, 34000 Taiping. Tel :05-8074136/0125635919)
No shop, just operating from their house, this Kaya Puff or Kaya Kok can be so popular in Taiping. We had our friend ordered them for us earlier (in case they ran out), and then we went to collect in the afternoon.

It was not easy to find. It’s actually a single story house, with the front gate closed and latched. We only realised later that the back door opens out to a lane, where regular usually picks their kaya puff from.

The Kaya Kok/Kaya Puff were nicely (and uniquely) packed, wrapped in paper glued with starch.

We find them quite nice, especially when freshly out of the oven; it doesn’t have the lard taste that we find in some kaya puffs, and the kaya is rich and fragrant.

Penang 2014 – Part 3 Around Georgetown

November 27, 2014 at 11:19 pm

OMG! Year end holiday has already started and I’m still not done talking about September holiday..

Continues from here.

♥Sept 16th Tuesday♥

Here is how a Executive Suite looks like in Traders Hotel (oh, now it’s called Hotel Jen). It’s 2 rooms attached, 1 being the bedroom, the other being the living room where they have placed an extra mattress for us.

Started the day at Lebuh Armenia (Armenian Street), rented bicycles again from Chin Seng Leong Bike Shop and wanted to ride around Georgetown, but it was such a hot day we returned the bike after less than 15mins (without any refund, sigh).

We walked instead. Enjoying the sights and trying to hunt down more street art/murals.

On a hot day like this, it’s nice to spot an Ice ball seller.

And the girls have a chance to taste our childhood dessert.

We visited the Peranakan Mansion just to show the girls how the Babas and the Nyonyas live.

Such a grand mansion, which is a favourite spot for wedding photos.

After that, we had a simple lunch and then spent the rest of the evening at Golden Sands Resort at Batu Feringgi. (This is the thing about staying in Traders Hotel, you get to make use of the facilities at Golden Sands Resort; with the hotel now rebranded to Hotel Jen, not sure if the same still applies).

That night’s dinner, we went to Nyonya Breeze Desire at Straits Quay. We’d been going to Nonya Breeze every year during our (11 years) annual visit to Penang, not one year we missed it. However, after this visit, we’re no longer compel to go there as the menu here is limited, and taste wise it wasn’t as good as how it was like in the Lorong Abu Siti outlet.

♥Sept 17th Wednesday♥

After breakfast, we checked out and did more exploring at Georgetown. First stop was Toh Soon Cafe (again) for a nice refreshing cup of coffee.

Zaria insisted on a visit to La Vanille (located at : 122 A Hutton Lane, Pulau Penang) for macarons. Ah… again, this round, we didn’t think it was that nice.

Then we went to the famous Lorong Selamat Char Kway Teow (located at : Kafe Heng Huat, 108 Lorong Selamat, Penang, Malaysia).

Auntie Shower Cap now has an apprentice who fry along side her (the apprentice used to be an order taker). That stove the apprentice was using was not a charcoal stove, but a gas stove.

Hubs and the girls got a plate from Auntie Shower Cap herself (this photo); I got a plate from the apprentice which was drenched in oil (I tilted the plate, and oil was dripping down!), and there’s not enough wok-hei. Just horrible!

Luckily the Heh Jian (fried prawns) from the neighbouring coffee shop (yes, you can order over) was good, so it was my lunch instead of the Char Kway Teow.

Unplanned, we passed the Made In Penang Interactive Museum and the girls seeing a crowd outside, wanted to visit it as well.

It’s basically a trick eye museum.

With a few interactive screens.

And some small models depicting life in Penang decades ago.

One visit is enough.

When we left, Zaria wanted to have a caricature draw her, but because there were 3 people ahead of her (a long wait), we decided against it.

It was time to leave Penang, and we took the ferry across.

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