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.

Penang 2014 – Part 2 Georgetown, Penang Twa Pek Kong Festival

October 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Continues from here.

♥Sep 15th Monday♥

When we’re in Penang, we never failed to visit the market at Jalan Kuala Kangsar. One of my favourite shop Fook Weng Grocery has moved out from Jalan Kuala Kangsar, so we spent most of our time at my other favourite shop, Pots Kitchenware.

And when it got really hot, we went over to Toh Soon Cafe (located at a lane along Lebuh Campbell, Pulau Pinang) for a drink. The place was jam packed; so we packed the drinks and drank at the walk way. Their ice milk coffee (kopi ping) is sooooo awesome, especially on a hot day.

When it was lunch time, we were near Joo Hooi Cafe (located at 475, Jalan Penang, George Town, Penang), where the famous Penang Road Teow Chew Chendul stall was, and tried to get a table, but it was another crowded place. So we packed fried kuey teow from Joo Hooi (which was alright) and some muah chee outside of the cafe, and brought back to the hotel room to eat.

CROWDED!

Muah Chee is so yummy!

Back the hotel after our in room dining (of packed food), and a rest, we checked the weather outside to ensure it’s no longer so hot, before going out again.

We decided to cycle around Armenian Street area, so we went back to Chin Seng Leong Bike Shop (84, Armenian Street, 10200 Penang. Tel : 0125533553), which we used last year. Since it wasn’t a car free day that day, we thought it’s best the daredevil Zaria rode with hubs, instead of cycling on her own; we rented 3 bicycles, with one having a child seat, and off we went.

Armenian Street area has changed so much over the span of one year, it’s becoming a tourist trap now, more bicycle rental shops, along the streets lots of street vendors selling drinks, ice cream, muah chee etc; hope it won’t turn into another market street like Jonker’s street.

But Georgetown still have a lot of charm. We came across a youngster intricately decorating the wall at the entrance of Sekeping Victoria just with a permanent marker.

And we took a glimpse inside the quaint retreat, which was really nice.

We tried hunting down some of the street arts, but spent quite a fair bit of time hanging around at the Clan Jetties.

I like Tan Jetty the most.

The long walk bridge that stretches out to the sea is a nice place to sit and enjoy the sea breeze.

After sunset, we braved the traffic in our bicycles and headed towards Lorong Abu Siti Lane, planning to dine at Nonya Breeze, our favourite restaurant in Penang. The hubs was so stressed worrying about all our safety riding in the dark. We arrived safely, but alas, Nonya Breeze at Lorong Abu Sit Lane is closed permanently!

We rode all the way back to Armenian Street again, returned our bicycles, and then just picked DownTown Art Heritage Cafe for dinner, where food wasn’t that good and pretty expensive.

For the Twa Pek Kong Festival, some temples around Armenian Street were having night shows, and we managed to catch 2.

A Teochew Opera.

Which seemed to have only one really interested audience.

And a few streets away from the 1st opera, a Teowchew Puppet Opera.

The girls handling the puppets seemed to be having a good time.

By then the streets were rid of the hordes of tourists, the famous street arts by Zacka were all ours.

Penang 2014 – Part 1 Gopeng, St Anne’s, Penang Twa Pek Kong Festival

October 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm

We made our annual trip to Penang during the September holiday, a tradition which we’d maintained for the 11th year now.

♥Sep 14th Sunday♥
As usual, some unplanned stop has to occur even though we left the house very late. This is how holidays should be, according to the hubs. *roll eyes* Just before we hit Gopeng, he said we should turn in as there’s some interesting sights to see.

It was 2pm on Sunday, and Gopeng was almost dead. We wanted to have lunch at a coffee shop, but there was none opened. It seems, this is how it is on a Sundays. Not knowing what to expect, we just drove around town and chanced upon Gopeng Heritage House, a prewar shop house turned museum to show the way of life in the early 20th century.

The museum is free, and the girls have fun exploring the house, and they especially liked the peep hole on the 1st floor which was used to peep at arriving guests.

Before leaving, we picked up a Gopeng map and realised there’s a soy sauce maker near by, so we drove around to find it. Hup Teck Soy Sauce (合德酱油)is located opposite the Gopeng police station, it’s more like a house with a compound where the soy sauce urns are placed. We were told soy sauce urn has to be opened with its content sunned for a few months as part of the brewing process before it’s ready for bottling, and the day we were there, it was drizzling on off, so the urns were all covered up.

The owner opened up one of the urns for us to see. We caught a strong but nice sweetish fragrant from the soy bean fermentation.

I was given some soy sauce to try in the house (which is also the shop), and like the sweetish ‘sweet pickled lettuce’ (甜菜心)taste, so I bought 5 bottles of premium soy sauce from them. I actually think that Hup Teck Soy Sauce is nicer than Kwong Heng Loong Soy Sauce (廣興隆醬園醬油 from Pulau Tikus which we’d been consuming.

After this we left Gopeng and moved on to Bukit Mertajam, to visit St Anne’s Church for thanks giving, the main reason for the trip. This year, the girls visited the church as baptised Catholics, they have learned up their prayers from Sunday school, and Zara even asked us to recite the prayers together after we have each prayed in silence.

Before we headed to Penang island, we went to Yoong Kee Eating House, a very old restaurant near the Bukit Mertajam market for a simple dinner.

The girls couldn’t wait to get to Penang Island, so they could start enjoying the hotel. Alas, upon entering Georgetown, there as a massive traffic jam. Cars were barely moving. We saw lots of people walking on the street as well with big cameras, so we assumed some event must be going on. We parked our car and asked some people in the shops and found out that there’s actually a Twa Pek Kong Festival going on in Penang which would run for 3 days; the day we arrived was the first day, and a Twa Pek Kong Procession was going on, where around 50 floats from different temples would be passing through Georgetown.

The hubs of course wanted to take the opportunity to take photographs of the procession. Since we were stuck anyway, and couldn’t drive to the hotel, we obliged. We stood with crowd of spectators near Gat Jalan Magazine and caught the procession.

It was a long and hot day, and we probably saw about 30+ floats, and it was still going on and on. After a while, they no longer attracted us any more, the girls whined and wanted to check in to the hotel; so it was the hubs’ turn to oblige. By then, the traffic congestion has eased.

At the front desk of Traders Hotel Penang, we were so eager to get our keys to our room, only to find out there was a mix up in our booking. I requested for a room with an extra bed for us, but my reservation showed I was the only guest staying so we were given a small room without an extra bed. I wasn’t happy. After so many years of staying at Traders without any hic-up, one finally hit us. However, as the hotel was fully booked for that day, we were told they would bring us a mattress for the night without bed frame, but will rectify the mix up the following day. When we got into the room, we realised it was one smaller than what we used to get, it wasn’t going to be tough adding a mattress. But what could we do?

While the girls were showering, the manager on duty called us to apologise for the mix up, and offered a Junior Suite for their mistakes. What a way to recover! We were all so happy to move in to our new room, which is a Deluxe room attached to another room which has turned into a living room where the extra bed has been placed!

East Coast Part 5 – Sungai Lembing

August 28, 2014 at 11:04 am

Continue from here.

♥Jun 8th Sunday♥

Although I was born in Kuantan, and lived there for the first 6 years of my live, I no longer go back for visits since my God parent’s passing. I don’t know which restaurant is good, which is a good place to visit. After lunch, instead of going to another beach, we decided to head to Sungai Lembing, an old mining town 40+km from Kuantan.

On our way to Sungai Lembing, we saw this monolith off the main road (something you won’t miss when driving from Kuantan to Sungai Lembing). Not sure where that was, we detoured and headed towards it, driving on small plantation roads.

We saw quite some cars parked at the foot of the hill, and found out this was Gua Cheras, which housed a statue of a reclining Buddha. Paying a small fee, we climbed some stairs to explore it.

Inside Gua Cheras, it was pretty mystical, as the whole place was shrouded by a thin layer of smoke from incense burning.

And then we saw the reclining Buddha.

It was very cooling inside, probably five degrees lower than the outside heat, the smell from the incense smoke was unpleasant though, so we didn’t stay there for long.

Reaching Sungai Lembing, we realised we’d missed all the morning crowd. It was quite quiet with only a few shops still opened. We stopped at Kedai Tea Lembing or 林明茶室 (No.6 jalan besar sg. lembing, Sungai Lembing, Pahang, Malaysia) which serves big bowl tea that was common for miners, and famous for their handmade duck egg noodle.

The rich soup for the noodle is charcoal boiled for many hours, but to us, it was too strong in pork taste. The Egg Noodle was very chewy and springy though.

The girls wanted some ‘adventure’ so we visited The Sungai Lembing Mines, an old underground tin mine, now a museum, preserved in it most natural and original settings.

It was quite eerie being under ground walking in these tunnels, the miners could not be claustrophobic to be in this profession.

I was quite glad to end the tour, and went back out to the surface. The girls have a great time navigating the handcar at the museum ground, experiencing what coordination was required to properly move the car front and back.

Back to the town in the evening, the place is almost dead.

But this is probably the best time for wedding shots as the tourists have almost all left.

After this, it was the long drive back to KL. Long because of the bumper to bumper jam on Karak Highway. What a stressful way to end a holiday.

East Coast Part 4 – Tumpat, Pantai Seri Tujoh, Kota Bharu

August 6, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Continues from here.

♥Jun 6th Friday♥

Early in the morning, the hubs drove to Kampung Kuala Besar, a fishing village near Kota Bharu.

The fishermen there seem to love to keep the Jambul or Red Whiskered Bulbul, a bird which they will use in bird singing competition.

Back at the hotel, we had another scrumptious buffet breakfast; after that the girls wanted to go back to Siti Khatijah Central Market to get more fake legos (yes, they sell them there at a very good price).

We stopped by at Loo Coffee for a drink and ended up chatting to the owner, Alice, for almost an hour about Kota Bharu and the Chinese community. Most of the Chinese there seem happy with the ruling party, PAS. When pork is sold at a little hidden corner with high walls in Klang Valley, they are sold openly in Kota Bharu. The market near by Loo Coffee had pork sold right at its entrance, a scene not available in Klang Valley. Unfortunately, when the hubs walked over there later, the market was already closed. Alice suggested that we go to the Thai border to see the impressive and huge temples built there.

We could have gone on chatting with Alice, but the girls were restless and nagging us to move on.

We drove out of Kota Bharu, and headed to Tumpat, which is a district at the Thai border (the other bigger Thai Border town Rantau Panjang is inland and further away from Kota Bharu); but to cross to Thailand (Tak Bai Checkpoint) from this side of the border, a ferry/boat ride across the Golok River is required.

The closer we got to Tumpat, the more Thais we saw. We actually broke for lunch at a small road side shed serving simple Thai food. Every one spoke Thai there, a guy had to take our orders in Bahasa Malaysia, and translate to Thai for the cook. Zaria was happy to have some pork to eat after so many days at the East Coast.

We stopped at the KTM station there, which is the eastern terminus of KTM’s East Coast Line.

As the station was pretty quiet, we went to the track and took some yoga shots. Eventually, the station master spotted us and shooed us away.

The girls, not toying with danger, stayed in a nearby shed, fooling around while waiting for us.

While driving to Pengkalan Kubor, the hubs decided to make a stop at Pantai Seri Tujuh. It seemed like a pretty popular beach for a picnic looking at how much rubbish had been littered and accumulated! I’d never seen a dirtier beach!

I’m disgusted at how we ‘take care’ of our beaches!

Luckily it wasn’t a wasted trip as besides being a popular picnic spot, it’s also a local favourite for kite flying. We saw some huge Wau Bulan or moon kites, being flown.

We even got to go on a horse carriage ride around the village nearby, as requested by the girls.

By the time we’re done at Pantai Seri Tujoh, and rushed to Pengkalan Kubur the Malaysian checkpoint at the Thai Border, the chekcpoint was already closed for the day (up till 6pm each day), so no crossing over to Thailand.

We drove back towards Kota Bharu, and searched for Restaurant Kampung Kulim (GPS coordinates) at Wakaf Baru as it’s a highly recommended restaurant.

It wasn’t an easy restaurant to find, as it’s hidden in some residential area. We has to ask around for direction before we managed to find it but only to know it’s closed for the week! (So that the workers can rest it seemed!) Anyway, if we were to be in Kelantan the next time, we’ll definitely want to try this place. We ended up eating at Cheng Mai Restoran, a Thai restaurant nearby Restaurant Kampung Kulim, but it wasn’t good that good.

♥Jun 7th Saturday♥

We checked out Hotel Perdana after our morning breakfast. It’s been a great stay there, love the clean gymn, the nice pool, and with super buffet spread we got every morning, and the service we got from the reception to the concierge was 5 star!

After another visit to Siti Khatijah Central Market for last round of shopping, we went hunting for Kopitiam Kita ( 4357-A, Jalan Pengkalan Chepa, Taman Desa Jaya, Kelantan, Kota Bharu), another place highly recommended.

Crowded kopitiam, the place is famous for packed rice from different district of Kelantan.

However, most of the rice were gone when we got there. Only managed to grab 2 packs of Nasi Ayam Goreng Kak Wok.

The girls have some kaya toasts, and then some customers next to our table recommended us roti titab, famous in this kopitiam. It’s just a pan fried butter toast, top with soft boiled egg, with 4 dollops of kaya dotting the corners of the toast.

Something different.

This was considered our early lunch, before we took the long drive down to Kuantan. Our next destination.

Somewhere on the journey, we stopped at the road side for some kueh baked using brass pan over a fire fueled by coconut husks.

The brass pan was placed on top of the fire, and top with more burning husks to bake the kueh.

It was a very fragrant and tasty kueh.

Driving inland between palm oil plantations, we spotted some wild hornbills flying about kind of like playing, the hubs decided to chase after them.
.

All these stops made us finally arriving at Kuantan past 10pm. We felt so happy/relief to get into our cozy room at Riverview Boutique Guesthouse
.

East Coast Part 3 – Kota Bharu, Siti Khadijah Central Market

July 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Continues from here.

♥Jun 5th Thursday♥

After having breakfast at the hotel (which was scrumptious and part of the room rate), we headed to Siti Khadijah Central Market. Named after Prophet Muhammad’s entrepreneurial wife, it’s a name fit for this market which is mostly run by women.

This has to be the highlight of anybody’s trip to Kota Bharu. We like the place so much, we went there every day for the 3 days duration we were there!

This huge market has a tremendous variety of things being sold, from the regular produce you get from any wet market, vegetables, poultry, fish and fruits, to souvenirs for tourists, i.e. batik, keropok, serunding, copper ware etc.

First glance, it looked like any other wet market in Malaysia.

Until we moved to the centre of the market. The octagonal central hall of the market is probably the most visually attractive part of the market, it has vendors sitting on raised platforms surrounded with their enticing goods, i.e. colourful vegetables, pickled, sauces etc.

We were actually quite shock to see turtle eggs being sold by 2 or 3 vendors openly. I thought these were banned?

There are not that expensive considering these are from endangered sea turtles. The only consolation is during the 3 days we were there, we didn’t see anybody actually buying these eggs.

The central hall is best view from floors above, the glass roof ensures the whole place is bathed in enough light to show off the beautiful colours of the produce sold.

On the second floor, we found mainly dry grocers selling a variety of things. What attracted us was the wide array of salted fish available.

We went to one of the bigger stalls and asked for the best salted fish. The owner warned me it was very expensive, and asked me how many I would like to have. I gingerly (worried about the price) asked for 3 (they looked like these on the photo but lighter in colour), and waited for him to weigh and inform me of the price. Phew, they were only RM6 for 3!
(And by the way, they were delicious I regret not buying more!)

I love to see how spices and curry powder were sold in big bags by the weight, not pre-packed like how we get them in KL.

Serunding (dried meat floss) and keropok are being sold by a lot of the stalls here. I bought some back as well, not really that fantastic although they are cheaper than KL.

The 2nd flour is where all the batik sellers are. Lots of clothing, shoes, accessories can be found too on that floor. Zara got herself a fake Hello Kitty bag which was quite good quality.

Back to the ground floor, a section of the market is given over to ready to eat food. There’s wrapped tapai being sold.

Different kind of kueh-mueh (Malaysian cakes), some not seen before in KL. Most of them were not covered, and we didn’t dare to try them. However, we did buy a pack of Kuih Gomok (a round cake made with coconut and glutinous rice flour) and Kuih Ladu (pepper cake) each to try. Kuih Gomok is nice, but I can’t say the same for Kuih Ladu.

Not sure what this seed is, and a few stalls were selling this. We tried some and they tasted like lotus seeds.

Outside of the market, we saw this fish satay being sold. It’s 20sen per stick! We tried some. It’s not really fish pieces, but more like some fish flavored dough pieces. Still, it’s a cheap snack to munch on.

Not far from Siti Khadijah Central Market is China Town.

Most of the shops here have jawi written on their sign boards.

For lunch we went to Restaurant Nasi Ulam Cikgu at the Kampung Kraf Tangan. Food display wasn’t the most appetising looking (hence no photo), but taste wise it’s ok, lots of greens, ulam to choose from.

The rest of the day, we spent lazing in the hotel. Girls watched TV, while I went for a massage.

In the night, we went to try out Yati Ayam Percik (847, Jln Long Yunus, 15200 Kota Bharu). A big big disappointment.

We should have known when we stepped into the restaurant, with greasy floor and flies buzzing around. When the chicken (ayam percik) pieces were served, the girls asked if it was chicken covered in vomit, so unappetizing looking, and the chicken which was supposed to be barbecued was cold, cooked, probably many hours earlier. Even my neighbourhood Malay restaurants make better ayam percik than Yati. The vegetable that came in a clump with the rice was horrible as well.

We rarely walk out on a restaurant but this time we did, with our food barely touched. We thought we’ll only do justice to ourselves if we went to another place for dinner since we only have 3 nights in Kelantan.

Off we went to Kedai Kopi White House (1329-L, Jalan Sultanah Zainab, 15000 Kota Bharu.). Chinese owned, we understand that the owner’s grandfather used to be the Sultan’s chef, therefore their shop is so strategically located between the Muhammadi State Mosque and the Kelantan Sultan’s palace

This small place is constantly full, we waited a while before we got a table. Coffee, tea, toasts were great, and even the packed nasi tumpang was quite nice.

East Coast Part 1 – Chukai, Kuala Terengganu, Summerland Retreat, Pantai Telaga Papan, Pantai Rhu Sepuluh, Kampung Mangkuk

June 24, 2014 at 7:52 pm

During the June holiday, we decided to take a road trip to the East Coast of Malaysia. It’s a long long drive, covering coastal area of Terengganu and then all the way to the Thai Border in Kelantan, but this part of Malaysia is beautiful, especially the beaches.

♥Jun 1st Sunday♥

We started the journey noon time, lunching on sandwiches in the car.

Back in 2009 when we visited Cherating, we had tea at the famous Hai Peng Kopitiam in Chukai, we recalled it was really good, so we drove into Chukai town thinking of taking a tea break there on our way to Terengganu.

Arriving at Hai Peng Kopitiam, we found that the shop has closed and relocated, and it has also been renamed, due to some ‘family ownership’ dispute. It’s now called Sukiyang Kopitiam (located at : PT11283 Jalan Belatuk, Taman Chukai Utama, Fasa 3, Terengganu).

We went searching for it, and arrived to find the Kopitiam almost full house.

What is the verdict? Service was lousy, had to wait so long for our toasts and drinks (coffee, tea and milo), and everything was just so-so. I bought a pack of ground coffee back, and it’s RM17.90 for a 200g pack, very expensive for local coffee. The worst is, this is not the same ‘kopi’ as what they served in the kopitiam, it was darker and not so aromatic. I . felt . being . conned.

Pressing on, we arrived at Kuala Terengganu at dusk. Not knowing where to eat, we used Tripadvisor to look for a restaurant and decided to try Adeq Sue Ikan Bakar (located at : Batu Buruk, 20400 Kuala Terengganu). We followed the Tripadvisor map, but it was WRONG! Googled more, and finally found the place using this map.

Worth it? YES YES YES!!

The 2 grilled fish with sambal petai was so spicy and so yummy; the girls loved their ayam goreng kunyit (fried chicken with turmeric) and fried kangkung; and the best dish was the Tomyam Poktek. A creamy tomyam filled to the brim with a variety of seafood (clams, crabs, fish, prawns), it was so full of flavour.

The place wasn’t easy to find, but it was worth the effort.

Another hour drive after dinner, and we arrived at our accommodation, Summerland Retreat which is located at Pantai Telaga Papan. So tired after all the driving, we went to bed after a shower.

♥Jun 2nd Monday♥

Summerland Retreat is just a 2 rooms vacation home set in a big piece of land. The friendly owners of the place, Oya and Ena, live about 50 meters away in another building.

We only took one room at the vacation home, the other one occupied by an Australian and Irish couple.

Room is clean and modern.

The charm of the place actually lies in the surrounding. The garden is beautiful, and there were the occasional Iguanas and birds that can be spotted.

A quiet beach, Pantai Telaga Papan, accessed/used mainly by the occasional locals, is only 100m away.

Sand is clean, soft and fine.

And the sea, clean, clear and calm.

We spent the morning there strolling at the quiet beach.

We then took a drive up a little North along the coastal road. Stopping at Pantai Rhu Sepuloh, a small fishing village with a beautiful beach.

Fishing boats used were pretty traditional, some were beautifully decorated.

We came across a Budu maker at Pantai Rhu Sepuloh.

Lots of anchovy like fish were being dried.

Budu is a kind of fermented fish sauce used as seasoning and eaten with rice or fish. The fermentation takes place in cement urns like these.
As it was not season to make Budu, according to the worker there, the urns were empty, but still leaving a strong fishy smell.

Driving further North, we wanted to have lunch at the famous Terrapuri at Kampung Mangkuk. Terrapuri is a resort with old Terengganu Malay Classic houses turned into villas.

Alas, they didn’t even allow us to enter the resort compound, claiming there were busy preparing for a big group of visitors arriving, and did not have enough staff to serve us.

We just explored the surrounding beach filled with tall coconut trees, with cows grazing peacefully among them.

As the hubs wanted to go back to Kuala Terengganu to photograph the Crystal Mosque at sunset, we took the 1hr drive back to the capital city.

We wanted to check out China town in Kuala Terengganu, as there were a couple of eateries listed on tripadvisor. Unknowingly we parked near the Turtle Alley (located at : Jalan Kampung China, Kuala Terengganu), and had a chance to check it out.

Just a small alleyway sandwiched between 2 prewar shop houses, it’s decorated turtle mosaics art, teaching the public about turtle conservation.

And at about 5pm, China town is almost dead. Most of the coffee shops are already closed, no opportunity for us to try out Madam Bee’s Kitchen.

We took one last stop near Crystal Mosque, just to view this beautiful mosque from afar, and then headed back to Merang area for dinner.

Continues here.

Taiping Dec 2013 – Glorious Food, Around Town and Sentosa Villa

May 4, 2014 at 8:53 pm

(What we saw and where we visited in Taiping during our year end visit is captured in the earlier post.)

Possessing local knowledge helps tremendously in a trip, with this Taiping trip, we just referred to our “Where to eat” list from Zaria’s teacher, not having to hunt around or experience any disappointment during meal times.

One of the places that should not be missed is Restoran Kakak 家家茶室 (111, Jalan Pasar, Taiping)

The kuey teow soup is supposed to be famous, with a choice of your own topping (fish cake, fish ball, stuffed tofu etc) tasted alright with a nice soup and smooth kuey teow. And we saw lots of people ordering the chicken feet, which we should have tried but didn’t. What we really like is the Kakak Ping 家家冰, which is a cold Nescafe mixed with barley drink; a unique combination, which made the Nescafe has a slight malty taste.

The place is opened early in the morning, and sold out quickly, especially the Kakak Ping. We went back the following day at noon, missing the Kakak Ping already only to find they have sold out.

No photos were taken at the coffee shop as it was a mad morning rush when we were there.

As the coffee shop is located in town, we had a stroll around town after our breakfast.

The girls were fascinated with a shop next door to Restaurant Kakak, which sells animal food, chicken feed and also chicks.
Taiping Town Centre - shop selling chicks

The road that attracted Zaria, Jalan Boo Bee (just because it sounded like boobies) is just nearby.
Taiping Town Centre Pre-war shop house

Nice pre-war shop houses around town.
Taiping Town Centre Pre-war shop house

And we like all these old style shops.
Taiping Town Centre

Here are some other places we’d been for something to eat..

♥Siang Malam♥ (Jalan Kota)

It’s a bustling hawker centre beside the KFC Restaurant in town.
Taiping Pasar Siang Malam

We went there for supper, and hence couldn’t order much, but the cup of tea made by one of the stall was really good. The ‘barista’ deftly made cups of coffee and tea from the tiny kitchen was interesting to watch.
Taiping Pasar Siang Malam Drink Stall

We tried the chee cheong fun (flat rice noodle) there which was drenched with a reddish sweet sauce with generous topping of friend shallots and toasted sesame seeds. Unlike the brown sweet sauce we get in KL, this red sweet sauce is nicer and more fragrant.
Taiping Pasar Siang Malam Chee Cheong Fun

♥Larut Matang Food Court♥ (Jalan Panggung Wayang)
Best place for lunch I believe, as we went three times, once late afternoon, where some of the stalls were finishing up and closing, another before noon, but the Nonya kuih stalls were just about to start their business, and another time slightly after lunch, and the stalls were all bustling with activities.

Famous stalls include, Fishball kuey teow (stall number 78); it’s actually like a dry soy sauce fish ball noodle getting fried before serving.
Larut Matang Food Court Fried Fish Ball Kuey Teow
Unlike the fried kuey teow that we are used to, this one is a little wet, and the noodles are thicker cuts; I think we prefer the usual fried kuey teow.

Red Bean Soup 红豆水 and Groundnut Soup 花生汤 (stall number 40); We can just keep going back to this stall. The red bean soup is so rich and thick (but not bitter); while the Groundnut Soup is so fragrant, with melt in your mouth groundnuts. Best of all, only RM1.40 per bowl!

Larut Matang Food Court Red Bean Soup

Larut Matang Food Court Groundnut Soup

All stalls in Larut Matang Food Court have sign boards which indicate their stall number.
Larut Matang Food Court Stall Number 40

There are also two traditional nyonya kuih stalls (in front of the fishball kuey teow stall) which sell a huge variety of nyonya kuih.

♥Restoran Mr BBQ♥ (Jalan Maharajalela)
This place was so good, we had dinner there two nights in a row.

The BBQ stingray is not to be missed, but the asam steamed fish is also fantastic.
Restoran Mr BBQ BBQ Stingray

Restoran Mr BBQ Nyonya Steam Fish

Restoran Mr BBQ Fried Squid

On the eve of Zaria’s birthday, she, who’s the only pork eater in the house, wanted sweet and sour pork for dinner, so we ordered this for her in Mr BBQ. She said it was really delicious as well.
Restoran Mr BBQ Sweet And Sour Pork Rice

Restoran Mr BBQ Taiping

♥Ipoh Bakery 怡保面包西饼屋♥ (144-146 Jalan Taming Sari)
We chanced upon this when we googled for a bakery to get Zaria’s birthday cake. This bakery has been operating for more than 90 over years, the bread and the chicken pies are famous. They have also progressed with time and now they make fondant cakes as well.

Ipoh Bakery Taiping

Besides getting a slice of cake for Zaria, we bought lots of buns and bread too, and they were all quite nice, some of the bread like the cream roll, sure brought back some childhood memory.

Zaria said the slice of cake we got her tasted very much like my cake, meaning it’s very home-styled.
Zaria's 7th birthday cake from Ipoh Bakery

♥Restaurant Tepi Sungai(十八丁海上食店)♥ (150 Tepi Sungai, Kuala Sepetang)
Kuala Sepetang has many seafood restaurants but this was recommended by our friend. The fried little crabs are not common, but I think the fried little shrimps are nicer. They are so tiny they could be eaten whole.
Kuala Sepetang Seafood Fried Little Crabs

We tried the Bismillah Cendol (Jalan Barrack) as well, but maybe because we are not cendol connoisseur, we didn’t find it that nice (Just like we didn’t find the famous Penang Road Teo Chew Cendol nice as well).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

♥Sentosa Villa♥

As for hotel, we stayed in Sentosa Villa which is at the fringe of the Lake Garden. We got a family room at the main hotel block. Room is huge and clean but without any character. I think staying in the family villa would have been better (but they are quickly snapped up).
Family Room at Sentosa Villa

The hotel surrounding is beautiful, we only realised this when we stayed back on the last day for breakfast.
Cafeteria at Villa Sentosa

There’s a natural stream and pool in the compound.
Duck swimming in the stream at Sentosa Villa

Stream at Sentosa Villa

And there are chickens, ducks, turkey running around in the garden, which the girls were fascinated with, trying to feed them with bread from the breakfast buffet.
Feeding chickens at Villa Sentosa

They also tried catching some fishes from the pond, and because there were so many, they could actually scoop them up with their bare hands.
Catching little fishes at Villa Sentosa

Exploring the gardens at Villa Sentosa

Taiping Dec 2013 – The Sights And Places We Visited

April 30, 2014 at 11:26 am

To end our year last year, we made a trip to Taiping and spent 3 days there.

My memory of Taiping was of a drive we took many years ago (before the children came) passing the big angsana trees at the Taiping Lake Garden, last year, after gathering some information from Zaria’s teacher from Taiping, on what to eat, and what not to miss, we decided to make a trip there instead of Ipoh (which we’d been going for the previous 2 years at year end).

These are the sights and the places we visited in Taiping. Refer to this other post on where to stay; where and what to eat.

Taiping Lake Garden

The first public garden established in then Malaya; huge and scenic, the garden has lots of huge gigantic rain trees or Angsana trees lining the lake with its branches stretching from the road to the waters. This place obviously is a popular place for various exercise.

Soldiers did their physical exercise and this few didn’t mind a photo taken after completing their sit ups.
Soldiers at Taiping Lake Garden

There was a coach (Volunteer? Assigned?) doing some stretching exercises on the stage, with those interested following.
Morning exercise at Taiping Lake Garden

Small exercise groups did their own routine. This group doing taichi.
Taichi at Taiping Lake Garden

And this group doing fan dancing.
Fan Dance at Taiping Lake Garden

The huge trees were so fascinating, the hubs just couldn’t stop taking photos.
Taiping Lake Garden

Such a big beautiful park, so picturesque.
Taiping Lake Garden

Taiping Lake Garden

Taiping Lake Garden

Taiping Lake Garden

Taiping Lake Garden

The lucky residents of Taiping, we envy you!
Taiping Lake Garden

Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill)
The oldest hill resort in Malaysia, perched at 1250m above sea level, it is the wettest place in Malaysia, with temperature ranges from 10C to 25C. Access up the hill is available only by (government owned) Land Rovers although people are free to walk up the hill as many do for exercise.

The journey up the hill is about 13km, so we decided to take the Land Rover, and then walk down.

The Land Rover operational hour is from 8am to 5pm daily with a frequency of 1 hour. Fees is about RM5 for adult and RM3 for children.

We bought our ticket for a specific time slot, waited at the stop 15mins earlier, (but like all things badly operated by the government) but the land rover just zoomed passed us without even stopping for us (he claimed he didn’t see us later). We complained at the office (nobody was mending the ticketing office as it was 1:30pm on a Friday, prayers time), but was asked to wait for the next available Land Rover (coming down from the hill) to bring us up.

So we reached the top of the hill in the next available Land Rover late afternoon; it was a thrill ride all the way up, the roads were narrow with sharp bands, I chose the front seat, and tried not to get nauseous while the girls were screaming and shouting like they were on a roller coaster ride. The weather was nice and cooling at the peak, but we didn’t see anything operating, the cafeteria, tea garden were all closed, and I wasn’t sure if any of the bungalows were habitable. Whatever buildings we came across looked dilapidated.

We didn’t spend much time up at the top; took the next available Land Rover downhill but alighted midway and walked the rest of the journey to the foot of the hill. On foot, we were able to enjoy the fresh air (diesel smell on the Land Rover) and the flora and fauna available.
Spider at Bukit Larut

The last 3km we decided to take one of the jungle trek instead of walking on the tar road. This is the popular exercise trail lots of people take, but it’s not an easy trail especially with children. It was steep all the way, with lots of tree roots forming steps, and ropes provided to assist with the climb/descent at some part.

Climbing down Bukit Larut

Climbing down Bukit Larut
Zaria, the fearless, took the lead all the way.

Taiping Zoo Night Safari

The night before Zaria’s 7th birthday, we asked her what she would like to do in Taiping, and knowing there’s a night safari at the Taiping Zoo, she said she wanted to go just there.

Taiping zoo is located in a beautiful natural setting in Taiping Lake Gardens and pretty well maintained. Ticket was RM20 for adult and RM10 for children for night safari.
Night Safari Taiping Zoo

The animals were healthy looking, and some were very active in the night, like this clouded leopard which we could watch so closely through the glass cage.
Clouded leopard at Night Safari Taiping Zoo

Kuala Sepetang

Kuala Sepetang (formerly known as Port Weld) is a coastal town famous for its mangrove forest and also charcoal factories. The Port Weld railway station was located at the centre of the town, now dismantled, it was the last station up North on the first railway line in Peninsular Malaysia.

On the way there, this huge green piece of land was covered with cement buildings for housing swiftlets for their bird nests.
Swiftlets House at Kuala Sepetang

We had lunch at the fishing village at Kuala Sepetang, and bought some dried seafood.
Kuala Sepetang

Kuala Sepetang

A visit to the charcoal factories shouldn’t be missed when one is in Kuala Sepetang, in my opinion (here is the direction to get there).

We always go to Mr Chuah’s factory. There’s a smokey smell in the air upon arriving. The factory has many huge beehive like kilns to bake big wooden logs until the moisture is gone and turn them into charcoal.
Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Kiln

These logs, stacked outside of the factory, is ready to be baked.
Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory

This place has a nice charm, and it’s probably quite popular for wedding shots.
Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory Wedding Shoot

And of course, we took the opportunity to take some arti-farti shots too. Zaria doing a bridge.
Zaria doing a bridge at Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory“ title=

Me doing a Reverse Warrior pose.
Reverse Warrior at Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory“ title=

My current favourite bag from Ki Ichizawa gets an ‘advertisement-like’ shot too.
Ki Ichizawa bag at Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory“ title=

And Zaria trying to push a cart loaded with charcoal.
Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory“ title=

The charcoal produced here are mainly exported out to Japan (no wonder their yakitori there is so delicious), but visitors are able to purchase them too. We grabbed 3 big packs, freshly bagged.
Sorting out charcoal at Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory“ title=

Japan Part 11 – Day 12 – Osaka Doguyasuji 千日前道具屋筋商店街 and Shinsekai 新世界

April 10, 2014 at 10:08 pm

The posts and summary for the whole trip, can be found here

♥Dec 3rd Tuesday♥

Osaka Skyline

Last day in Japan, and I woke up with a massive migraine. I asked the hubs to bring the children out without me but they preferred to stay in with me. Good thing was after sleeping for 2hrs, the migraine went away, and we could still shop and explore for one last day before we left.

First stop was Doguyasuji 千日前道具屋筋商店街, a small shopping street which sells kitchen and baking wares/utensils. For a small street, we spent quite some time there, and I got myself a clay pot, a bread knife, a cast iron kettle, two thermometers and an aluminium pot; I made sure everything I got was Made In Japan to worth the effort for carrying them back.
Doguyasuji

There were other interesting shops around Doguyasuji, but we didn’t have time to check them out. O

Cycling seems to be very popular in Osaka and Kyoto; if it wasn’t for the busy traffic, we would have opted to use the bicycle too; maybe in future trips when the girls are older.
Around Doguyasuji

After that it was off to lunch. Our first western meal in Japan at Bene Pesce.
Bene Pesce Pesto Octopus Pasta

Bene Pesce Smoke Sardines

Bene Pesce Tomato Pasta
For about ¥800 for a set lunch, the food was not bad and of good quality, like all things Japanese.

We lugged all the things we’d purchased, and headed to Namba Station to store them in the locker.
Namba Station

Namba Station

Because the hubs has patiently waited for me to shop at Doguyasuji, I had to agree to go to Shinsekai 新世界; one of the poorest area in Japan, it has a unique character and tackiness that is not found in other parts of Japan. The moment we got out of the train, it’s as though we’d been transported back in time to a notorious and dangerous part of Japan.

Shinsekai Love Locks

People were sloppily dressed (Zara said every one looked like a gangster), some looked dirty and zombie like as though they had not taken a bath or rested for quite some time. Shinsekai is famous for cheap eats as well; we saw lots of small restaurants lining the streets, and they were mainly ‘standing bars’ or in Japanese 立吞, where the Kanji characters translated to ‘stand and swallow’ (I understand it’s now also a popular restaurant concept in Taiwan).

Shinsekai Standing Bar 立吞

Shinsekai Standing Bar 立吞

There were a couple of adult movie theatres that we came across with their bold posters, the girls squealed every time they came across one, “Eeeyer!!!! Humsup!!” “Eeeyer, she’s showing her boobs!” “Eeeeyer, they look like they are mating!” o.O”

I had to ask the hubs walk ahead of us to ensure the ‘coast’ was clear before we followed him.

There are a lot of Pachinko Parlour in Shinsekai too; hubs went into one of them to have a look.
Shinsekai Pachinko Parlour

If the restaurant signboards in Dotonburi is tacky (but acceptable), the ones in Shinsekai brought it to another level. Most of the restaurants have the Shinsekai Mascot Billiken that’s supposed to bring luck. Luck or not, it looked hideous.

Shinsekai Restaurant with Billiken

Shinsekai Restaurant with Billiken

Shinsekai Restaurant with Billiken

Shinsekai Restaurant

We didn’t have dinner there, because the girls were uncomfortable with the people they saw there. So if we were not after the cheap food, why were we there? This was all because the hubs wanted to photograph the vibrant colours of Shinsekai (no doubt it’s colourful) and the Shinshekai Tsūtenkaku 通天閣, which means “Tower Reaching Heaven”.

We were there late afternoon till night time, so the hubs could take the tower under natural light, and also when it’s litted.
Shinsekai Tsūtenkaku

Shinsekai Tsūtenkaku

So he took photos of the tower from different angles, of the tower itself, and also from the busy street.
Shinsekai Tsūtenkaku

Shinsekai Tsūtenkaku

Shinsekai Tsūtenkaku

He spent so much time there, the girls and I got really bored since there were no shops interesting enough for us to spend time in; and we had tackiness overdosed!

Finally when it was time to go, we were so happy! It was back to Dotonbori 道頓堀 and Shinsaibashi 心斎橋 for more shopping.

While we were walking around looking for restaurant to have a quick meal, a group of men were standing outside a small eatery chatting loudly. They started chatting with us too, i.e. where we were from, if we were enjoying ourselves etc. We asked what they were waiting for, and one of the guy mentioned onigiri. He told us the eatery sold really good onigiri, and we should try it. And so we did! It was one of the best onigiri we had tasted, they were made on the spot, it was so good we went for seconds. For the record, the name of the eatery is めはり屋文在ェ門 (pronounced as Mehari-ya Bun-zaemon).

After our light meal, we did all the girls’ shopping at GU, sister company of Uniqlo, where things were much cheaper. The girls bought 4 pairs of shoes from there, 3 were UGG like boots which were going for ¥500.

Then we came across Laduree at Daimaru, so we had to had some (moreover, a mochi costs the same amount as a Laduree macaron, i.e. ¥300, in Japan). We took 2 each, as we absolutely love (good) macarons. Choosing which piece of heaven we wanted to taste was tough though.
Choosing macaron flavours at Laduree Daimaru

Finally, a little more of Osaka by night, and it was time to go.
Osaka Taxi

Namba HIPS

Osaka At Night

The following day, after breakfast, it was time to leave for the airport. It’s been a good trip, and we can’t wait to return again.

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