Lombok Part 4 – Jeeva Klui and Around Sengigi Area

January 15, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Continues from here.

♥November 28th♥

Jeeva Klui entrance

Jeeva Klui, is a small boutique hotel with 35 rooms located on Klui Beach, 5km away from Senggigi, the main Lombok tourist area. The place is beautiful : the rooms spacious and functional, the grounds immaculately kept and nicely landscaped. Every thing is very stylish yet rustic.

Our room was a partial ocean room, located on the top floor of a two-story bangalow.

This was the view from our verandah.Jeeva Klui - view from room

Our room key.Jeeva Klui key

The bangalow with our room on the top floor.Jeeva Klui - Partial Ocean View Room

The girls were so happy there was a pool, like me, they prefer to swim in fresh water instead of sea water. We took a table at the restaurant which was close to the pool for breakfast to keep an eye on the girls while they swam.

Watching over the girls over breakfastJeeva Klui restaurant and pool

My healthy breakfastJeeva Klui healthy breakfast

Lounging by the pool.Jeeva Klui pool lounge

It was hard to get the girl out of the pool, but we wanted to go to Senggigi for lunch and a walk about, and when they were told they could buy something from the art market, they agreed to shower and get dressed.

We took a bemo (small covered pick-up truck with narrow padded seating benches in the rear) to Senggigi, which we flagged outside of Jeeve Klui, and it cost about USD1 for 4 of us for the trip (an aircon taxi would probably be about ~USD2).

Senggigi is the main tourism centre on Lombok. Not as large or busy as its Bali counterparts, it’s more laid-back, with a small art market for shopping, a couple of mini-marts (we were looking for supermarket, but we only saw those 24 hours mini marts), a few spas. There were many cafes and restaurants that line the beach and along the main road, some local warungs, and lots of tour and dive/snorkeling centres.

We had lunch at Yessy Cafe (nice fried fish, simple hut like setting, nothing to shout about), and then did a walk about in Senggigi.

A sign board for a tour centre at the beach.Tourist Sign at Senggigi Beach

A painting on the wall of a restaurantRestaurant Painting at Senggigi Beach

Lots of boats docking at the beachBoat At Senggigi Beach

A local warung at the beach.Warung At Senggigi Beach

Snorkeling and dive centre drying the equipment.Snorkeling and Dive Centre At Senggigi Beach

I don’t know where these baby turtles come from and why they are kept in the small tank, I hope they would be released out to the sea and not ended up on someone’s dining table.Turtle At Senggigi Beach Snorkeling and Dive Centre

A BBQ Warung we wanted to try, but only served beef mainly.A BBQ Warung At Senggigi

Late afternoon, I had a massage, the girls have their pedicure manicure done in a spa (all came out to be about RM60), while Daddy had a beer (or two?) at a bar waiting for us. Everyone had an hour doing what they like best.

Locals in Lombok are friendly, and we chatted with a few. Nobody seems to be in a rush, and they look like life is good to them.

Friendly local with ukuleleLocals At Senggigi

The son of the Bemo driver we took back to the hotel.Boy in a Bemo

We went back to Jeeva Klui in the evening to catch the sunset, and the girls went back to the pool.

All around Jeeve Klui, sandstone statues like these can be seen.Statue in Jeeva Klui

Jeeva Klui restaurant in the eveningJeeva Klui Restaurant in the evening

Jeeva Klui restaurant outdoor sitting in the eveningJeeva Klui Restaurant at sunset

The sunset wasn’t that spectacular as it was a cloudy day. If it was a good and clear day, you can actually the sunset with Bali’s Mt Agung (yes, you can actually see Mount Agung from Jeeva Klui) on the horizon.
Sunset at Jeeva Klui

It was very nice though to have a sunset drink by the pool while watching over the girls enjoying themselves in the pool.
Sunset drink at Jeeva Klui

I love the turn down service in Jeeva Klui. It’s always interesting to see how they’d placed Fifi in the room.
Fifi In Jeeva Klui

For dinner, instead of dining in Jeeva Klui like the day before, we decided to take a cab to go to Mataram (the capital of the Province of Nusa Tenggara Barat, the province Lombok belongs to).

Daddy found this restaurant, Warung Menega online, and wanted to try out. It’s a Seafood BBQ restaurant by the sea. The fish and prawns (Lombok sure have the best prawn I’d ever tasted) were fantastic!

After dinner, we went back to the hotel, hang about in the reception area, and game room, and then off to bed.

Jeeva Klui reception in the nightReception at Jeeva Klui

Continues here.

Lombok Part 3 – Jeeva Beloam – Soft Tracking Around Tanjung Ringgit

January 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Continues from here.

♥November 27th♥

On our 3rd day at Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp, we’d arranged to do soft tracking around Tanjung Ringgit.

We had a hearty breakfast and started our journey at 7:30am, with April and another Camp Host Jawa accompanying us.

Soft tracking it’s called; but…. it was about 5km journey and 2.5hrs track, walking through some thorny bushes (with April and Jawa giving us all the help like parting the bushes for us, or carrying the children over them etc), hilly rocky path, and what I couldn’t stand most is, because of the dry season, we hardly got any shelter from the plants/trees around, and even though it’s early morning, it was HOT!

April helping Zara with through thorny bushesSoft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

Tracking along the cliffSoft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

The reward? Spectacular View!

Tanjung Ringgit – CliffTanjung Ringgit

Tanjung Ringgit

Both April and Jawa helped with the girls, while we followed them closely. With Daddy making many stops to photograph the grand view or whatever he fancied. Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

There were a couple of beaches we walked passed, and the girls spent some time exploring.

Leaving their mark on one of the beachesTanjung Ringgit beach

Because we have 2 children with us, Irwan was arranged to meet us mid point with the car, just in case the children were too tired to go on.
Tanjung Ringgit beach

Irwan and Jawa, spent sometime with the girls at the tide pools showing them various sea snails.
Tanjung Ringgit beach

The girls decided to move on with the tracking, and not take the car back. (Zaria regretted afterwards)
Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

And continued the exploring…
Shelter at Tanjung Ringgit

Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

Zaria got a bit tired after a while, and had to be coaxed by April.Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

And because it was so hot, when she saw the sea next, she said she wanted to jump into the sea (April had to hold on to her just in case she really jumped in).Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

We made a couple of rest stop finding whatever shelter we have, and there were more beautiful views that greeted us.
Tanjung Ringgit

Tanjung Ringgit

Beach at Tanjung Ringgit

Tanjung Ringgit

Beautiful views after beautiful views followed by more walking.Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

Finally, Zaria gave up and wanted to be carried. Luckily Daddy had the stamina to carry her and walk on.Soft Tracking at Tanjung Ringgit

We tracked from Beloam all the way to the Light House, and then Irwan picked us up from the Light House so that we didn’t have to walk the return journey (I don’t think I could have made the return journey walking in the heat).

How did the girls do? They did well… Me? I had massive heat stroke after that, with throbbing migraine, and I had to lie down and missed lunch.

We rested in the room till about 2pm and then it was time to leave Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp. Irwan drove us to our next hotel, Jeeva Klui near Senggigi, which is about 2hrs away.

I was in a bad state and just slept throughout the journey; and then had to rest further in Jeeva Klui. I didn’t even manage a proper good bye and thank you to all of those in Jeeva Beloam who made our stay so memorable.

After this trip to Jeeva Beloam, I’m known as the softie in the family. Snorkeling… sea sick. Soft tracking under the sun… heat stroke..

Continues here.

Lombok Part 2 – Jeeva Beloam, Pink Beach, Tanjung Ringgit

January 4, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Continues from here.

♥November 26th♥

We woke up when it got bright and the aircon was turned off (~6am). This was the view from our bed.
Jeeva Beloam Morning View

After breakfast, April and another Camp Host, Irwan, brought us to Pink Beach or Pantai Pink for snorkeling. The beach is called Pink Beach due to its pink colored sand which is formed by dead red corals, the sea calm and clear with corals near to the shore, so it’s suitable for swimming and snorkeling.

Pink Beach

There were a couple of fishermen there making breakfast of grilled fish.

Fisherman Grilling Fresh MackerelsGrilling mackerels at Pink Beach

No special BBQ equipment required to grill these mackerels. They were just propped up by the fire using twigs.Grilling mackerels at Pink Beach

Friendly fishermenFriendly fishermen at Pink Beach

Small fishing boats docking at the beach.Pink Beach

Pink Beach

Fishermen at Pink Beach

Check out the crystal clear waterCrystal Clear Sea at Pink Beach

We wanted to bring the girls out snorkeling, but they complained the snorkels were very uncomfortable (pinching their noses). So instead, they played at the beach and swam at the shallow part of the sea. April brought me and Daddy out to snorkel, while Irwan accompanied and took care of the girls.
Clear water at Pink Beach

I was all geared to snorkel the whole morning. Was excited to see bright colored star fishes in the sea bed not far from the shore. After about 15mins and when we went out further, I started feeling nauseous. The goggles affected my vision, and made me feel sick. We haven’t even reached the nice corals yet and I requested to turn back.

So I nursed my sea sick siting down under a shaded tree, while the girls got entertained by Irwan and April, and Daddy went around taking photos.
Pink Beach

Thank goodness by lunch time, I got better, and managed to enjoy the sumptuous lunch served at Jeeva Beloam. Except breakfast, lunch and dinner were 3 courses (Zara got fattened by the end of the trip due to this). The chef, even though just cooking for 4 of us (and maybe the staff too), gave us 2~3 items to choose for each course.

This is our lunch for the day.

Bread for allJeeva Beloam lunch - bread

For starters :

My chicken soupJeeva Beloam lunch - chicken soup

Daddy’s squid saladJeeva Beloam lunch - Squid Salad

Girls didn’t like the starter so they went straight to main courses.

Zaria’s fish and chipsJeeva Beloam lunch - fish and chips

Zara’s Hawaian pizzaJeeva Beloam lunch - pizza

Our chicken satayJeeva Beloam lunch - satay

The dessert, Cream CaramelJeeva Beloam lunch - caramel

As it was too hot in the afternoon to do anything, we just went back to our room to laze about. I got the girls to do writing, and the coolest place to be is at the verandah (Remember no electricity supply? So we have to depend on the sea breeze to cool us down).
Jeeva Beloam verandah

Zara doing writing at Jeeva Beloam verandah to earn her time on iPad.Jeeva Beloam verandah

In the evening, April brought us out around Tanjung Ringgit.

The closest ‘commercialisation’ we got near Jeeva Beloam is this warung right next to the Jeeva Beloam guard house at the entrance of the property. The people who lived around Tanjung Ringgit depended on the land for livelihood. They farm and also rear cows on this piece on land. They are poor (in monetary sense but may be richer than us city folks in other things) but warmth. They invited Daddy for coffee when he went out walking alone.Tanjung Ringgit Warong

Tanjung Ringgit, used to be the base of Japanese armed force during World War II period, there is a Japanese hiding cave (which we didn’t explore, as April told us it’s not safe to do so) and some cannons left behind by the Japanese soldiers, although most of them have been taken away. The bumpy semi-paved roads where laid by the Japanese back then. The attraction around here is the beautiful beaches, the spectacular cliffs, and because of its remoteness, there’s no crowds, building, just nature.

As it was dry season when we were there, all trees have shed leaves and gone barren.Tanjung Ringgit forest

There was a simple lighthouse on Tanjung Riggit.Tanjung Ringgit Lighthouse

The sole Japanese WWII cannon left behind and still standingTanjung Ringgit Japanese WW2 cannon

This strange flower was blooming everywhere, even though it was the dry seasonTanjung Ringgit flower

We were glad that the Camp Hosts in Jeeva Beloam helped us with our girls especially during the excursion nearby. Here, April holding on to Zaria as she got a bit excited running around the bumpy hill.Zaria with April at Tanjung Ringgit

Enjoying the view at Tanjung Ringgit Tanjung Ringgit

We were told that the salt content in the sea water around Tanjung Ringgit is higher, making the seafood and fish more delicious, so locals like going cliff fishing here.

Cliff fishermanCliff Fisherman at Tanjung Ringgit

Another cliff fishermanCliff Fisherman at Tanjung Ringgit

The view here is stunning.
Tanjung Ringgit View

Tanjung Ringgit Cliff

Tanjung Ringgit

This is the car that we used during our stay in Jeeva Beloam. Now Zaria is saying we should get one of these so that we have more space to carry things.
Jeeva Beloam transport

About 5:30pm, it started to get dark. The barren trees looked pretty creepy (although pretty) at dusk.
Dusk at Tanjung Ringgit

Back at Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp, the girls wanted to play at the beach even when it’s dark. Just when we hit the beach, a staff sent a lamp over. He told us he would be standing close by should we need any assistance and then he went and stood 50 meters away. That’s how it is in Jeeva Beloam, the Camp Hosts are nearby to help and assist you, but at the same time giving you space and privacy.

Continues here.

Lombok Part 1 – Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp

December 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm

My memory of Lombok when I went on a company trip more than 10years ago was : beautiful beaches and clear sea, uncommercialised, laid back. So when I learnt about Air Asia’s plan to fly there, I immediately convinced Daddy to go there for a holiday. We planned to break our holidays into 2 parts, touristy Senggigi and a quiet part of Lombok.

After much research, and trying to pick between the 2 famous Lombok hotels Jeeva Klui and Qunci Villas (both highly rated in Tripadvisor) as our Senggigi base, we found out that the Jeeva Klui management have another camp like property, Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp, just opened, in a very remote part of Lombok.

We contacted a few properties South of Lombok and Jeeva Beloam, we were attracted by Jeeva Beloam’s offer (all inclusive, camp like, remote) and decided to go there as the first part of our holiday.

Jeeva Beloam initially did not want to accept the 2 girls since the property does not have facilities for children and being far from everything (nearest public health facilities an hours away); but after a few email exchanges with them, we managed to persuade them and agreed to take full responsibility of the girls’ well being while there.

The plan was set. We would spend the first part of our holiday in Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp then to Jeeva Klui.

♥November 25th♥

We arrived late morning in Lombok, and easily spotted April, our Jeeva Beloam camp host, who came to pick us up.

Jeeva Beloam is located at Tanjung Ringgit, the remote South Eastern tip of Lombok (so remote that roads are not paved, and there’s no electricity supply). The 90 minutes drive from the airport took us on small country roads going through rice and tobacco farms. April was obliging and stopped upon our request whenever we saw something interesting.

A warung spotted along the way

Lombok Warung

Most tobacco farmers have already harvested their tobacco, leaving the fields pretty barren.

Tobacco Plant

We even managed to make a pit stop at a salt farm using salt pans or salt evaporation ponds.

(From Wikipedia : Salt evaporation ponds, also called salterns or salt pans, are shallow artificial ponds designed to extract salts from sea water or other brines. The seawater or brine is fed into large ponds and water is drawn out through natural evaporation which allows the salt to be subsequently harvested.)

Salt farmer drying sea water

Lombok Saltpan

Pools of seawater, which will dry up and turn into salt

Lombok Salt Farming

Salt farmer ready for work

Salt Farmer

Zaria picking up salt crystals found along the salt pans

Salt from Salt Farm

After passing the last village where electricity services terminate, the rest of the 11km car journey was on a semi paved road built by the Japanese during WW2, hence it was very bumpy (but the girls had fun rocking around in the car).

Arriving Jeeva Beloam

Upon arrival at Jeeva Beloam, we were greeted by other warm Camp Hosts, AND a spectacular view.

We were told we were the only guests there during our stay, so we have this whole luxurious camp all to ourselves!

The five available Berugas, i.e. rooms

Jeeva Beloam Berugas

The key to our Beruga

Jeeva Beloam - The key

The view from the restaurant.

Jeeva Beloam - The view

The view from our balcony.

Jeeva Beloam - The view from the room

There’s no electricity supplied to Jeeva Beloam, lights were powered by solar panels, and power from generator was only turned on from 6pm to 6am daily. Hence during the day, we only got sea breeze instead of fan; but after 6pm, we can have the aircon turned on, and all power sockets working (to charge our phone, camera batteries, laptops).

Our room.

Jeeva Beloam - The room

Tea and Coffee making facilities (fresh supplies of hot water was provided in flask instead of using electrical kettle)

Jeeva Beloam - The room

The shower

Jeeva Beloam - The shower

As this is an all inclusive stay, all activities like cycling, soft tracking, snorkeling were included and we got 3 meals from the camp. A set menu was provided for each meal, but the chef will accommodate any special requests, if the ingredients were available.

The lunch menu on the day we arrived

Jeeva Beloam - The Menu

The dadar gulung we had which consisted of shredded coconuts with palm sugar wrapped with pancakes

Jeeva Beloam - Dadar Gulung

It rained while we were having lunch, cooling the place down. (As Jeeva Beloam wasn’t set up for children, children who visit the place need to be sensible to avoid accident.)
Jeeva Beloam - Rain

We spent the hot afternoon napping in the room, with sea breeze cooling us. And after the girls woke up, they wanted to play at the beach. The girls claimed it’s one of the most beautiful places they have been to. The sand powdery soft, and the sea crystal blue, and the beach is just few meters away from our room. The waves were very strong and not suitable for swimming but there are other places which April would bring us in the next few days for swimming.
Jeeva Beloam - The beach

Jeeva Beloam - The beach

Jeeva Beloam - The beach

In the evening, April brought us to one of the nearby beaches to view sunset. (In Tanjung Ringgit, both sun rise and sun set can be viewed from different beaches).
Tanjung Ringgit Beach

It got dark around 6:30pm in Lombok. We had a nice long dinner, and then have an early night.

Girls waiting for dinner.

Jeeva Beloam - Restaurant

The building that houses the Reception, Library and Game Room

Jeeva Beloam Reception

The Restaurant

Jeeva Beloam Tenda Restaurant

Our Beruga

Jeeva Beloam Berugas

Continues here.

Holiday In Cameron Highlands 2012 – Tea Plantation, Mossy Forest

July 2, 2012 at 9:12 am

♥June 5th♥
After leaving Penang, we continued our journey to Cameron Highlands using the Simpang Pulai way.

We arrived Cameron Highlands in the evening, and welcomed the cool weather.

We stopped at the first place that offered strawberry plucking. For RM20, we get half a punnet to fill up which is equivalent to 0.5Kg.

Zaria being helped by a worker to reach the nicer strawberries on the higher racks.
Zaria plucking strawberries

Each flower of the strawberry plant will turn into a strawberry.
Zaria plucking strawberries

Strawberries

Heading down to Tanah Ratah where our hotel, Hotel De La Fern, was located, we got stuck in the Brinchang jam which was caused by the night market (If you use the Simpang Pulai Way, you’ll reach Kampung Raja, then Brinchang, then Tanah Ratah). Don’t get fooled by the Hotel website, there’s nothing luxurious about it. It’s by the main road next to a busy steamboat restaurant.

Dinner was at Rosedale Bistro, Tanah Rata. Girls didn’t want any noodles or rice, so they have scones and strawberry ice cream for dinner.
Girls attacking strawberry ice cream

We had an early night as we knew the next day will be a long day.

♥June 6th♥
12am, when the restaurant next door closed up, the staff started chatting away. This plus the clattering of dishes, the cars revving up the slope next to the hotel, made Daddy & I have difficulty falling asleep.

Our quad room is comfy, but I don’t think it’s worth the rate we paid for. With the noise pollution we got, not a place we’ll stay again.
Hotel De La Fern

We checked out soon after breakfast, and headed to Boh Sungai Palas Tea Plantation. As we neared the plantation, vege greenhouses were replaced with slopes of tea plants in different shades of green. It’s a very calming and lovely sight.

Sungai Palas Tea Plantation

We drove, got out of the car, walked a bit, explored a bit, went back into the car, drove some more, and repeated the process many times.

At the workers’ quarters, girls played with the dog and cats there.
Cats at Sungai Palas Tea Plantation Workers' Quarters

Puppy at Sungai Palas Tea Plantation Workers' Quarters

Girls at Sungai Palas Tea Plantation Workers' Quarters

Workers who were home were quite friendly. This handsome man allowed us to take his photo.
Worker at Sungai Palas Tea Plantation Workers' Quarters

We also spotted this.
Rooftop Garden at Sungai Palas Tea Plantation

A real ‘rooftop’ garden in one of quarters.
Rooftop Garden at Sungai Palas Tea Plantation

Near the quarters, is the Boh Sungai Palas Tea Centre.
Boh Sungai Palas Tea Centre

Boh Sungai Palas Tea Centre

Love the floor to ceiling windows in the cafe.
Cafe Boh Sungai Palas Tea Centre

Cafe at Boh Sungai Palas Tea Centre

Tea served was good, scones was ok, but the the beautiful sights surrounding was the reason people came.
Boh Sungai Palas Plantation

Boh Sungai Palas Plantation Workers' Quarters

The factory itself has nothing much to see, but I think this is one place that must be visited when in Cameron Highlands.
Boh Sungai Palas Tea Centre

Next on our agenda was mossy forest, which is near Sungai Palas. As a bonus, when we were driving there, we saw workers picking/cutting tea leaves up close.
Tea picker at work

Tea picker at work

Tea picker at work

Their supervisor, a veteran, watching over all these workers.
Tea plantation supervisor

Workers working at Sungai Palas Tea Plantation

Workers working at Sungai Palas Tea Plantation

Me watching over the girls messing about.
Girls messing about

As the road got narrower, the slopes too become more jagged.
Tea Plantation

Tea Plantation

Finally, we arrived the mossy forest; where fog was thick, and visibility lower. It got very cold too.
Cameron Mossy Trail

We tried going into one of the trails, but 5mins into it, we turned back out. We were not properly attired and the girls were complaining the ground too soggy to walk on.
Dirty Shoes at Cameron Mossy Trail

So we walked along the tar road, and yet, it was still interesting.
Flowers at mossy trail

Moss at mossy trail

For the girls, it’s another play time.
Girls pulling at vines

Girls pulling at vines

Before heading back to KL, we did some shopping at Brinchang. The ‘night’ market started trading at 3pm+.
Strawberry and marshmellow

Roses

Cactus

Girls… went searching for things to buy for their friends and teachers.
Girls shopping at Brinchang

Girls shopping at Brinchang

See how the car boot is filled up with all the shopping from Cameron Highlands and Penang?
Stuffed carboot

Holiday In Penang – 2012 (Part 1) – Around Penang Island

June 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm

After exploring all the different holiday options, instead of going somewhere else, we decided to make our annual trip to Penang during the June holidays to keep our tradition of visiting St Anne’s church yearly alive.

♥June 2nd♥

We slowly crawled our way up North due to the heavy traffic, reaching St Anne’s, which is located in Bukit Mertajam, in the evening.
Girls at St Anne's

The church closes at 7pm, so we were asked to leave not long after we arrived. We decided to have dinner at Northern Coastal Seafood Restaurant in Butterworth (1, Pantai Bersih, Bagan Ajam , 12000 Butterworth, Penang).

Recommended by a colleague, promising great view of Penang Island, and fresh seafood, we were not disappointed.

(no photos of food, but the stingray in Nonya sauce is our favourite)

Girls loved the coastal wind and the view.
Girls at Northern Coastal Seafood Restaurant

♥June 3rd♥
Girls were looking forward to the buffet spread at the hotel. It was one of the things they love about staying in Traders Hotel. 3 years in a row, we’d been staying here. The place is still well maintained and the service is tip top.

What I like best about Traders Hotel is its location. Soon after breakfast, we walked out to the Chowrasta market along Jalan Kuala Kangsar.

I would have tried a plate of Java Mee, if I wasn’t full. The noodle is fried with the sauce, instead of the KL type of just blanching the noodle then pour sauce over. Java Mee

The Java Mee stall owner prepared a plate of Java Mee for his daughter, to share with her sister.
Java Mee

We saw a big crowd at the famous Penang Road Cendol stall. We’d never tried it before, so I queued for a bowl too.
Penang Road Chendol

Penang Road ChendolAnd I don’t know what the fuss is all about. I shared a bowl with Daddy and we didn’t even finish it.

For lunch, girls insisted we go to Nonya Breeze (50, Lorong Abu Siti, 10400 George Town, Penang). We’d been eating at this restaurant on every of our visit, but never took photos of the food. This time, I we did.

I don’t think we can find this vege in KL, but it’s call kuaci cai on the menu. Fibrous and sweet leaves.
Kuaci Cai

Asam Pedas Fish; I almost drank all the soup!
Asam Pedas Fish

Zara likes this fried oyster mushroom.
Fried Oyster Mushroom

Girls favourite, Inchi Kabin. Even on the journey, they already mentioned they wanted to eat this fried chicken in Nonya Breeze.
Inchi Kabin

As usual, Nonya Breeze never disappoints. It was a good lunch.

We then took the long drive to Batu Ferringgi. As guests staying in Traders Hotel, we can make use of the Golden Sand Resort facilities, so we spent the rest of the day at the pool and beach there.

I wanted one of the girls to go with me on a parasail, but they both didn’t want. So, maybe next time.
Parasailing

Zaria is more of a beach person. Zara just wanted to go back to the pool.
Zaria at the beach

Zaria at the beach

Zaria at the beach

Singapore Holiday – 2012

April 6, 2012 at 5:09 pm

We drove to Singapore during the recent March school holidays (March 10th ~ 13th) , as a reward for all Zara’s hardwork during her 1st term exams.

Upon a friend’s recommendation, I bought a Marriott Vacation Club Holiday Package Voucher. A 3D/2N stay in Ritz Carlton Millenia for a very good price, and we extended another night at YMCA International House.

The room in Ritz Carlton is oh my, super duper nice. It’s been a while since we’d stayed in such a nice hotel as a family. The girls absolutely love it! We told them this is a five star hotel, and we can’t normally afford to stay in such a hotel.

The girls upon arrival, went to check out if there’s Carton Network on the TV.
Ritz Carlton
(Before we arrived, Zara was telling me this, “Since it’s a high class hotel, maybe they won’t have Cartoon Network. They will only show all the modelling shows, arts on their TV.”)

The view, from the room and bathroom….beautiful; and what I love most is the bathroom with the big bathtub!
Ritz Carlton

Taiwan Part 5 – Taipei Zoo, Taipei City, Shida Market

January 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Continues from here.

♥Dec 7th – Sunny♥
Initially, I planned to spend the whole day shopping, but the weather was so good compared to the last 2 days I thought it would be wasted if we didn’t do any sight seeing.

We decided to go to the zoo, do a quick dash and see what the girls have not seen before, i.e. Panda, Penquin, Koala, and then we can do the shopping after that.

We wanted to take the metro, but the station master told us to take the bus instead, as it’ll be quicker. The 45mins bus ride allowed us to have a snooze, which was good.

We were glad we went to Taipei Zoo (臺北市立動物園), a zoo that encloses 165 hectares, including 90 hectares open to the public (compared to Singapore Zoo which is 28hectares and charging almost 10times more). It’s a big and lovely zoo, with lots of wide open space; with eateries, restaurants and rest areas scattered all over the zoo. The entrance fee was TWD60 for adults and TWD30 for children. What a steal for this world class zoo!

We could have spent the whole day there, with so many to see, but we had to be selective and spent time only on the animals we wanted the girls to see.

First stop, Giant Panda House. Unfortunately, both the Pandas were far away from us.
One munching on some bamboo.Panda

Another taking a nap.Panda

They have a big gift shop at the Giant Panda House, girls wanted to choose something to bring home.
All things Panda

She wanted to get something cool for herself.Zaria in Panda sun glasses

And when there were children having a go at the vending machine, both girls wanted a go too.Yoyo vending machine

Zaria with her prize.Yoyo vending machine

Zaria on a giant panda

We have to dash to the next point of interest, the Koalas, after the Giant Pandas (with a zoo so big, it was quite tiring actually).Dashing to the next point of interest

Koala Deco(no photos of koalas although we saw quite a few of them).

We had lunch at one of the rest area, bought some pizzas and buns from a bakery (no inflated price, btw), and just ‘picnic’ there.

When we asked what’s the nicest thing they did or saw in the zoo, the answer was “Jumping on the hippos.” at the African Animal Area.

Girls at Hippo Square

Girls at Hippo Square

Girls at Hippo Square

Decos around the African Animal Area.African mask

Caught one real hippo surfacing.Hippo cooling itself

We spent some time at the Nocturnal Animal House to look at Owls (Influnce from Harry Potter and Legend of the Guardians), then it was to see the Penquins.

Penquins

There’s a children zoo as well, but we didn’t have time to check out. Hippo cooling itselfIt was already almost 4pm when we left the zoo. Next time, we have to come back and spend the whole day there.

We took the Metro this time to the Cityhall Station (市政府).

While having tea at one of the food court, the girls poured out the content of their bags. Their goodies from Taiwan.

Zaria’s loot from TaiwanZaria's loot from Taiwan

Zara’s loot from TaiwanZara's loot from Taiwan

We wanted to head towards Taipei 101 and have dinner around there, and just our luck, we saw a huge Budhist procession near Tapei 101. It’s a procession with ~500 monks, where a Buddha’s tooth relic was featured (佛光山佛祖舍利台北巡境祈福). It seems these monks are doing a round island procession.

Hundreds of monks were walking along the busy Songshou Road (松壽路).Monks' hats

Buddhist monk procession in Taipei

No special privilidges. They wait like us to cross the busy road.Buddhist monk procession in Taipei

Monks crossing busy road

Along the roads, there were little tables set up to provide offerings.Offerings along the road

We were also given bottle of waters, little book marks and souvenirs for just being there!

There were African, Indian and Caucasian monks as well. Buddhist monk procession in Taipei

Buddhist monk procession in Taipei

Monks passing Taipei 101.Buddhist monk procession in Taipei, near Taipei 101

The procession was so long we didn’t wait till the end.

We went to City Hall area actually just to see Taipei 101Taipei 101but was lucky to catch the procession.

The busy Songshou Road.Songshou Road (松壽路)

We had dinner in a Ramen Restaurant, a meal was not worth mentioning, and then did food shopping in the supermarket and food halls around that area.

♥Dec 8th – Drizzle♥
The day has come to go home. Girls were getting excited, but Zara was dreading the flight home.

After breakfast, I went out to Shida Market to shop for some food stuff. After that I came back to pack, while it was Daddy’s turn to go to the market to take photos. These were the shots taken in the market. (And if you’d followed my site long enough, you would have realised we always like visiting markets every where we go).

Shida Market lane. Shida market

All sort of fish.Fresh fish

Fresh fish

Fresh fish

Fresh belt fish

The market was not too crowded, and rather cleanFresh belt fish

Chicken seller. (Take note the chicken there have ‘black feet’)Chicken seller

Cooked meat seller.Cooked meat seller

Super delicious dried persimmons (we bought some).Dried persimmons

Sesame oil and tea oil for sale.Sesame oil and tea oil

Bamboo shoot.Bamboo shoot

Breakfast counterBreakfast counter

Vegetable stallVegetable stall

Hot spring salted egg.Hot spring salted ett

Humongous Chinese Yams.Chinese Yam

And guess what this is? Each of them the size of my palm??

BBQ Goose eggs it seems. Didn’t try it. Should have just bought one and tried. ?

By 12:30pm, we were out of the hotel, and headed to the airport for our flight.

It was a good trip. And the girls can walk. On a daily basis, we left the hotel at 11am, and returned at 9pm. They just walked and walked and walked with us, sometimes even refusing to take the escalator but use the stairs instead at metro station. Just so much energy.

Taiwan is relatively cheap compares to Hong Kong or Singapore, and there are still so many beautiful places we’d not seen. I believe, we’ll be going back to Taiwan again when Daddy accumulated enough airmiles.

Taiwan 2011 Part 4 – Pingxi Railway Line, Jinguashi Gold Ecology Park, Sashimiya (平溪線, 金瓜石黃金博物園區, 三四味屋)

January 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Continues from here.

♥Dec 5th – Rain♥
We planned to do sight seeing today, taking the Pingxi (Pingshi) Railway Brunch Line (平溪線鐵路) which will bring us through sleepy mining towns which are famous for sky lanterns. Alas it was raining!

We thought since we’ll be taking the train, maybe we can still see some sights and with some luck, the rain might stop, so we stuck to our original plan.

After breakfast (of ham and cheese sandwitch, the standard breakfast Windsor B&B offers), we took the bus from Jiufen to Ruifang station, bought ourselves a Pingxi Railway all day pass (平溪線一日週遊券), which is TWD52 for adults and TWD26 for kids. The pass will allow us to hop on and off the train at the various stops along Pingxi Railway Line.

Despite the rain, the spirit was high. Zaria in raincoat

We chose Qingtong (Chingtung, 菁桐), the last stop on the Pingxi Raiway Line as our first stop.

The rain was quite heavy, so we only managed to walk around the station. Spotted a pagola hung with lots of bamboo wishesBamboo wishes

We dropped by a restaurant across the station, thinking of grabbing a quick bite. However, there was only 1 person working there, and he took time to make the drinks as well as cooked our pasta, making us miss our train. We had to wait for more than an for the next train.

In the rain, we really couldn’t do much. We had to kill time in the small station. Qingtong Station

Qingtong Station

Zara did drawings after drawings (she’s well prepared)Qingtong Station.

It was pure time wasting. By the time the train arrived, it was turning dark. We decided to go to Shifen (Shrfen, 十份). Our last stop. The rain was even heavier, but since we saw some sky lantern upon arriving, we went to search for the location where they were releasing the lanterns.

There were lots of shops along the rail way track providing such servies. You can purchase the lantern, write your wish on it, and then they will help you light it up so you can release it. We saw some Korean getting theirs done. Sky lantern.

Releasing sky lantern

3 of us getting back to the station (that was how we travelled the whole day)Walking in the rain

Shifen Station

We didn’t stop at Pingxi, and headed back to Ruifang for a simple roadside dinner (asked around and were told there was no restaurant near the Ruifang station), then took the bus back to our B&B in Jiufen.

It was a wasted day in my opinion due to the rain. Hmphh!

♥Dec 6th – Drizzle♥
The rain has subsided to a drizzle, which was good news to us. As we planned to go to Jinguashi (金瓜石) a small town notable for its historic gold and copper mines, about 10mins bus ride from Jiufen.

After breakfast, we checked out and left our bags at the B&B and then took the bus to The Gold Ecological Park (黃金博物園區) at Jinguashi.

The park has several attractions. The first we went to was The Japanese Style Residence (四連棟) which housed Japanese officials during WW2. Play room in the Japanese officials' Residence

The Restaurant at the Park to is themed. It’s called the Miner’s Canteen. You can get Miner’s lunchbox here, which is pork rice in a tin box with a set of cutlery wrapped in a scarf. Miner's lunch box

We had something Western. Nuggets and smiley fries for the girls.Zara having nuggets

Spagetti with a kind of watery pesto sauce (quite unlike our pesto) for Daddy.Spagetti with Taiwanese Pesto

Horrid testing sesame chicken mee-sua (wheat noodle) for me which I didn’t finish. Sesame chicken meesua

To give visitors an experience of being in an actual mining tunnel and understand the working conditions underground, the old Benshan Tunnel No 5 (本山五坑) was opened to public. We paid TWD50 to get a miner’s experience.

First you put on the hygience cap,Puting on a disposable hygiene capthen the hardhat.

Listened to some instructions then off we went to the tunnel.Getting ready to enter the tunnel

In the old Benshan Tunnel No 5

Then it was out for more adventure.

We have our hands on Gold Panning (淘金體驗) as well for TWD100 per head. God Panning Ticket

God Panning materials

The Gold Ecological Park has huge grounds, and pretty scenic, with an old rail track serving the tunnels.Around Gold Ecological Park

(Little one trying to hold her breath when we wanted to take a photo of her)Around Gold Ecological Park

What we missed was entering the Museum Of Gold, which you can actually touch and try to lift a 220kg 999 pure gold ingot.Museum Of Gold Building

The surrounding area of Jinguashi is very hilly.Jinguashi

There was a nice cafe around that area, but becasue it was quite far we gave it a miss.Cafe sign board

Instead we have dou-hua/taufu fa (豆花) instead at the park. Taufu Fa (豆花)

It then started to rain again, by the time we got back to Jiufen, it was pouring. Our plans to go to Keelung (基隆) has to be changed. We headed back to Taipei instead.

We decided to have a nice dinner, and selected a restaurant recommended by my guidebook.

Upon arriving at the Zhongxiao Fuxing (忠孝復興) metro station (where the restaurant is located), the girls were so happy to see all the various art works at the station.

3D art work showing all the famous Taiwan Snack.3D Art Piece

They were so attractive, Zaria requested photos to be taken.Taipei 101

The restaurant Sashimiya, better known by its Chinese name, 三四味屋, was a good choice, as the whole family loves Japanese food.

Here are some of the things we had. Chinese Yam (山藥) chips.Chinese Yam chips

Girls love the chips!Zaria eating Chinese Yam chips

Fried prawn.Fried prawns

Grilled chicken wings (for the little one, a chicken fan)Grilled chicken wing

Grilled OnigiriChinese Yam chips

We were back at Li Yuan Hotel for another 2 nights stay.

Taiwan 2011 Part 3 – Jiufen (九份)

December 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm

(continues from here)

♥Dec 4th – Cloudy♥
After breakfast, we checked out of Li Yuan Hotel, stored our baggage there, and headed to Taipei Main Station (台北火車站) using the Metro. We bought our tickets to Ruifang (瑞芳), our transit point to Jiufen (九份). Adults and kids ticket with numbered seats cost NTD76 and NT38 respectively.

Train was comfortable, and took us about 40mins to arrive Ruifang.

Ruifang Station Underpass was turned into a photo galleryRui Fang Station Underpass

Girls were not interested in the photos, but the ‘sparkly’ pebble washed wall. o.O”Rui Fang Station Underpass

This girl will use the disable ramp instead of stairs; and climbing through barriers, instead of just walking passed it.Zaria Monkeying at Ruifang station

And she’s always eager to do something dangerous. o.O”Zaria Monkeying at Ruifang station again

We wanted to have lunch at Ruifang. We walked through the street market but could not find a place to eat.Pork Seller

Pork sausages.Pork Sausages

So we got a bus and headed to Jiufen (九份), a picturesque town which used to be a prosperous mining town.

The moment we arrived, signs of minsu (民宿) or homestay is every where.Minsu Sign

Using the directions sent to us by the minsu owner, we found our minsu, Windsor B&B/溫莎堡景觀民宿, easily.

The entrance to the reception area of Windsor B&B or minsu.Windsor B&B entrance

We got room no. 3 for our first night. Girls love the spacious room we got. With 2 queen beds; a balcony; bathroom with wooden tub; separate living and dining area (although cooking is not allowed); and a little attic with floor to ceiling window, which the girls loved the most. Zaria called it the ‘secret’ room, and everytime we got back to the room, she would ask us to go there to share secrets.

Our room balcony.Room balcony
Jiufen’s main attraction is the old street, filled with eateries, and shops selling food stuff. It was good place for us to get some snacks as late lunch.

Instead of pop corn, there’s pop rice (a crisp made from puff up rice) Pop Rice crisp

This stall stinks, but it serves extremely tasty fried stinky tofu.Stinky tofu shopDon’t miss it if you were in Jiufen. The shop name is Jiufen 1st Shop (九份第一家).

We actually went back for another serving of this stinky tofu before we left 2 days later. Fried Stinky tofu topped with pickled cabbage

While we had stinky tofu, girls had the fishball there (not bad too).Zaria munching on a fishball

This is a very famous snack in Jiufen. A dumpling made with red yeast and pork or Hongzao Rouyuan (紅糟肉圓).

A group of workers making the dumpling.制作紅糟肉圓

Boiling them in water.Cooking the hongzao rouyuan

And this is how they look like.hongzao rouyuan (紅糟肉圓)As it’s filled with pork, we didn’t try any.

Yam/Taro Balls or Yu Yuan (芋圓) is another famous snack in Jiufen. This is the balls that you get in your Snowflake dessert.

Business is brisk for this famous Taro Balls shop Lai Apo (賴阿婆). Tourists buy them raw to bring home as souvenir.Taro Balls seller.

Taro Balls seller

Making of taro balls in Lai ApoMaking Taro Balls

Most people would just buy a bowl and eat in the shop.Making Taro Balls (we’re not most people, instead we went to another shop for Taro Ball Dessert o.O”)

Vendor selling various stew dishes.Stew dishes

Signage of a herbal tea shop.Herbal tea shop singage

Shaved peanut brittle with ice cream (花生捲冰淇淋) is another popular snack. A big block of peanut brittle is shaved, and laid on top of a springroll wrapper, 3 scoops of ice cream is added, and then topped with some coriander leave and wrapped up.Man shaving peanut brittle We had one without ice cream. The coriander and the crunch of shaved peanut brittle was a nice combination.

Jiufen has some ‘traditional’ toy shops which of course attracted the girls.Girls at a toy shop

Jiufen is a place to sip tea, relax when enjoying the view, so the old street is lined with tea houses with fabulous view. Jiufen Teahouse (九份茶坊) is probably the most posh one. Tea blocks from Jiufen Teahouse

Love the way they boiled water for tea brewing.Water boiling

After checking how much it cost to have some tea here (~RM300 for the whole famiy), we thought better of it. What more, Zaria was touching everyhing, and I was worried she might break something.

We continued walking came to a cafe (988 Cafe).

Zaria decided to hang around and try out riding on a bike while Zara and me went into the cafe to get a table with a view.Zaria trying out bikes

The cafe didn’t serve nice drinks, but the view was spectacular.Around Jiufen

We can see other cafes or tea houses along the old street.View of Jiufen Old Street

As well as Keelong town far away. View of Keelong town

After sunset, Jiufen is still very picturesque.Jiufen Old Street in the night

The restaurant street of Jiufen in the night.Restaurant street

Looking up at the restaurant street.Restaurant street

We took dinner hopping from one stall after another while the girls took the onigiri from 7-11 (which they loved and had it a few more times the rest of our trip).

To be continued.

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