Year End Holidays Planning

November 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm

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

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

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

I think I overbought the books.

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t wait to see all these.

Photo credit: Rakuten

Photo credit: thousandwonders.com

Photo credit: japan-guide.com

Photo credit: guide.travel.co.jp

Photo credit: balichartercars.com

Pulau Sembilan

September 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And for me, I just took it easy.

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

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

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

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

This side of the island is more picturesque.

(the show off)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Stop Over Trip – Sitiawan

August 28, 2015 at 5:41 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johor – Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm (Koref) 2014

December 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taiping 2014 – The Food

December 10, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Continues from here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curry Mee over the Mee Udang anytime!

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

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

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

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

See the sparks flying?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taiping 2014 – The Sights

December 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Continues from here.

After our Penang trip, we were off to Taiping for 2 nights (Sept 17th and 18th). 3 other families from KL were to meet us at the hotel, Sentosa Villa, so that we could enjoy the city together.

As usual, we find Taiping and its surrounding having so much to offer. Besides eating non-stop, we spent time at Taiping Town, Taiping Lake Gardens, Kuala Sepetang, and the girls love just being in Sentosa Villa as there were so much to do.

♥Sentosa Villa♥

There’s a stream running through the compound of the hotel, with thick vegetation at the river banks, there were lots of tiny fishes and shrimps found in the stream. We bought colanders and used them as ‘nets’, the children spent loads of time ‘netting’ fishes and shrimps in the stream. Zaria was especially happy when she became an expert shrimp catcher.

The children had water fights at the shallow natural pools at the hotel too. Luckily the loud happy sounds they made were muffled by the sound of the running stream.

♥Taiping Town♥
As we went to town for breakfast, we usually spent sometime walking about town, looking at the pre-war shop houses/buildings.

Showing the girls some of the innovative ways shop owners keep their cash for the day, which is just a retractable pail.

♥Taiping Lake Gardens♥
A trip to Taiping is incomplete without taking a stroll in the Taiping Lake Gardens.

♥Kuala Sepetang♥
And for us, Kuala Sepetang is also a must go when we go to Taiping, as we want to stock up on our charcoal for the year.
Instead of going to the more famous Mr Chuah’s Charcoal Factory, we went to Charcoal Collection instead.

The entrance to Charcoal Collection can be easily missed. It’s on the right side before you come to Mr Chuah’s big wide entrance. However, once you pass through the entrance, the inside is wide and spacious, with many kilns. One of the main reason people visit Charcoal Collection is to get big charcoal decoration pieces for the home (supposed to keep air fresh).

There were different kilns in different stages of baking the charcoal.

This one is in the process of baking.

This one is in the process of cooling.

And this kiln is in the midst of being set up.

Surrounding the factory, mangrove logs were skinned to await being baked into charcoal.

Besides the charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang, the fishing village is also a lovely place to visit for seafood meal and also stocking up on dried seafood.

♥An Tong Coffee Factory♥
This trip, we visited An Tong Coffee Factory as well, the oldest coffee mill in Malaysia (located at : 8A, Jalan Syed Burhan Taiping Perak, 34000 Taiping)

A tour of the place is free, where they showed us how coffee is roasted using firewood, then skinned.

For our local type of coffee will have a few extra steps. The coffee beans are fried with sugar and other ingredients and then grindded into powder. Caramel is prepared before the roasted coffee beans are mixed in for frying.

Aaah, and here is another one nice one for the album. We saw this elderly man bringing his dog out in his bike, and he was so cooperative he asked his dog to pose for us.

East Coast Part 2 – The Summerland Retreat, Pantai Telaga Papan, Pantai Rhu Sepuluh, Setiu Wetlands

July 3, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Continues from here.

♥Jan 3rd Tuesday♥

After googling for a place to visit around Setiu, which is the district The Summerland Retreat is located, we decided to visit Setiu Wetlands; not knowing the place is so illusive.

We only knew we were supposed to head North, and then try to locate signage. There was actually no signage, so we had to ask around, finally locating the narrow village road that led us to Setiu Wetlands. We knew we were there when we saw some boats docked with mangrove forests nearby.

We asked around if anyone would bring us around, but the folks there were more interested in their game of checkers. Only a Pak Din was willing to show us around in his boat for RM150.

Pak Din mentioned that the place is not well posted with signage because they were afraid that big tourist crowd may actually cause harm to the environment, how true that is, we don’t know. Usually only university students come to the wetlands for research purposes, and they normally hire him to bring them around so he’s quite familiar with the area.

In his small boat, he showed us around.

One of the main income in the wetland area is generated through oyster farming. We passed by many of them, with floating platforms.

Pak Din docked at a mangrove forest, and got us to explore a bit. He expertly watched over the shallow pool of water (for bubbles rising from sand), and dug out a couple of big clams. I’d never eaten clams this big, but they seem to be quite popular in the East Coast. He asked if we wanted to bring home to cook, and when we didn’t want, he happily pocketed them.

Pak Din pointed out some strange stack horn like parasitic plants which could only be found here, according to him. They look like a big sweet potatos attached to the tree, with a few thin stalks with leaves sticking out at the ends.

He took his boat out to the open sea as well, just to show us how the Peninsular looked like from the sea. He also docked at a sandy beach near the Laguna Agro Resort, pointed to us where Pulau Perhentian Besar, Pulau Perhentian Kecil and Pulau Lang Tengah are. His boat stalled when we wanted to leave, and took a while to restart. That got us worried, so we headed back soon after that as none of us wanted to get stranded in the middle of the sea.

If you are visiting Setiu Wetland, do contact Pak Din to show you around in his boat. His number 0139030119.

After our lunch at Pak Din’s little shop (run by his wife), it started raining. Nothing much we could do, so we headed back to our vacation home. On our drive back, we caught these. A heard of goats squeezing together to shelter themselves from the rain.

Another peck of animals sharing a shelter together.

While this duck was enjoying itself in the rain.

At Pantai Rhu Sepuluh, we decided to try the famous Ikan Goreng Tepung (fried fish with batter). Not only fish, they have prawns, squids, and keropok lekor (fish sticks) and some other processed stuff like crab sticks, sausages and nuggets. We picked a few items for tea, and they were good as long as you don’t see how they were fried! I guess you can’t go wrong with fresh seafood.

The long wide stretch of beach at Pantai Rhu Sepuluh was nice to explore after the rain. It was so difficult to get the girls to leave.

Back at The Summerland Retreat, we went for a swim at the sea. The water is clean and shallow, and the waves so gentle and calm, it was the first time the girls actually enjoying themselves swimming in the sea.

At night, we asked if Oya and Ena could cook us a simple dinner since we were too lazy to go out again, we didn’t mind anything, even just a plain omelette. Instead we got fried black pomfret, omelette, chicken rendang, and stir fried celery ♥♥.

While having dinner, Oya shared her story of how both of them started the place together. Their story of 2 city girls giving up the city and choosing to live a simple life running a small place like this is so inspiring. Have I mentioned that one of the dreams I have was to run a small B&B in the mountains or at a beach? They are living my dream.

♥Jan 4th Wednesday♥

When in East Coast, we should all try to catch the sunrise. Well, not me, the hubs did. This was at Pantai Telaga Papan.

For the last 3 days we stayed at The Summerland Retreat, we’d been having breakfast at this eatery recommended by Oya. Located just across the Merang Mosque, this small eatery, which is hard to miss because there’ll be lots of cars parked next to it, serves one of the best nasi kerabu we’d ever tasted. Owners were friendly, and besides nasi kerabu, they have nasi dagang, nasi lemak, and nasi minyak (translate to oil rice) as well.

The hubs who tried the nasi dagang claimed it was nice, so when he had nasi kerabu, he added the fish from nasi dagang as well; the girls had nasi lemak for 3 days with fried chicken and they like it too.

I love the nasi kerabu so much, I didn’t try any of the other rice, and had the same thing 3 days straight. The plate of nasi kerabu which is RM5 comes with rice, fish cracker, a slice of salted egg, 2 pieces of freshly barbecued chicken, ulam (Malay salad), serunding ikan (spiced fish floss) a pickled onion and the secret sauce. So yummy I tell you.

It was then time to leave The Summerland Retreat and move to our next destination, Kota Bharu.

We used the coastal road. Nice kampung houses were seen all along the coastal road, although most of them now have Astro Satelite dish attached to them.

This small quaint barber was empty when we passed it.

We had lunch at Kuala Besut, the main jetty to get to Pualau Perhentian, and also had some sata, a Terengganu fish satay grilled on a gentle fire fueled by coconut husks.

Then we reached Kelantan state. We drove passed Tok Bali, a small fishing port, before we headed inland towards Kota Bharu.

There were lots of clam stall at the road side selling the big clams we saw in Setiu Wetlands.

It was meant to be a 2hr journey from Merang to Kota Bharu, but it took us 4hrs using the coastal road and making numerous stops. When we finally arrived at Hotel Perdana, our hotel Kota Bharu, the girls were so glad; more so we got upgraded to a Deluxe Premier room, a big and modern room.

After many days of having Malay food, we were craving for Chinese, so we went to Four Seasons Restaurant, a halal Chinese restaurant; it was ok food.

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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...