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

August 6, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Continues from here.

♥Jun 6th Friday♥

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥Jun 7th Saturday♥

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

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

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

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

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

Something different.

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

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

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

It was a very fragrant and tasty kueh.

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

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

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

July 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Continues from here.

♥Jun 5th Thursday♥

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not far from Siti Khadijah Central Market is China Town.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

East Coast Part 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.

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

June 24, 2014 at 7:52 pm

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

♥Jun 1st Sunday♥

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worth it? YES YES YES!!

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

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

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

♥Jun 2nd Monday♥

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

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

Room is clean and modern.

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

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

Sand is clean, soft and fine.

And the sea, clean, clear and calm.

We spent the morning there strolling at the quiet beach.

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

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

We came across a Budu maker at Pantai Rhu Sepuloh.

Lots of anchovy like fish were being dried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continues here.

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

May 4, 2014 at 8:53 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥Siang Malam♥ (Jalan Kota)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larut Matang Food Court Red Bean Soup

Larut Matang Food Court Groundnut Soup

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

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

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

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

Restoran Mr BBQ Nyonya Steam Fish

Restoran Mr BBQ Fried Squid

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

Restoran Mr BBQ Taiping

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

Ipoh Bakery Taiping

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

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

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

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

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

♥Sentosa Villa♥

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

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

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

Stream at Sentosa Villa

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

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

Exploring the gardens at Villa Sentosa

Taiping Dec 2013 – The Sights And Places We Visited

April 30, 2014 at 11:26 am

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

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

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

Taiping Lake Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taiping Lake Garden

Taiping Lake Garden

Taiping Lake Garden

Taiping Lake Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climbing down Bukit Larut

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

Taiping Zoo Night Safari

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

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

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

Kuala Sepetang

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

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

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

Kuala Sepetang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day Trip To Kuala Selangor and Sekinchan, Dining at Bar Beach Grill

September 3, 2013 at 4:34 pm

During the Raya break, we didn’t go for any holidays except for day trips out of town. The 1st one we took was to Kuala Selangor and Sekinchan.

The girls upon knowing we’re going to Kuala Selangor, requested the hubs to stock up on peanuts so we could feed the monkeys. We fed some Silvered Leaf Monkey at the entrance of Kuala Selangor Nature Park sometime last year, and the girls wanted to go to the same spot to find the monkeys.

None were found in the afternoon heat. The girls’ spirit were deflated just for a moment… As we exited the Nature Park, we saw some of them at the foot of Bukit Melawati.

Unlike the common Macaques that we see in KL, Silvered Leaf Monkeys or Silvery Lutong are friendlier and have a more gentle nature. We could almost pat it when we gave them food, and they never grab, only picking the food from our hands.

The baby Silvered Leaf Monkey have golden fur babies, we spotted a couple of them. When they grow older, their fur then becomes silverish grey like their parents.

4 pack of peanuts later, we headed to Sekinchan. Seems that the planting season has just begun.

Some farmers are lucky, such a tranquil place to live in.

We heard of this paddy processing factory, PLS Marketing, that sells pearl grain rice. It’s a big factory which is opened to public, and they have a section which sells the vacuum packed pearl grain rice which is produced in Sekinchan, and also other local Sekinchan produced (vegetable, yam etc). A good place to visit, and to stock up on locally produced rice.

The factory has machinery running which hulled and polished rice, good for the children to see how the rice they eat become that state from a grain. There are lots of stacked bags of rice, which I think make a nice backdrop for photography.

After visiting the factory, we brought the girls to a husk hill, which is formed by all the disposed husk from the factory. From a far, it looked like a sand dune.

The girls had so much fun making ‘husk angels’, rolling on the husks etc.

(Beware! After we’re done here, we were all itchy. Zaria even had an allergy reaction on one of her eye. Both Zaria and I have rashes on our legs which I think was probably caused by some mites on the husks).

(PLS Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd, Lot 9990, Jalan Tali Air 5, Ban 2,, 45400 Kampong Sekinchang, Selangor, Malaysia. Tel : 016-205 6558. A map on how to get there can be found here.)

We then moved on to Redang Beach. A tiny stretch of beach in Sekinchan. It’s of course not as nice as the Redang Beach in Teregganu, but a beach is still a beach, and it drew quite a big crowd during this holiday season.

We wanted to dine at one of the seafood restaurants in Sekinchan, but there’s a new set up at the beach which attracted us. Bar Beach Grill, which is opened by a group of like-minded youngsters who grew up together in Sekinchan.

The place provides you a BBQ stove (with red hot charcoal), table and chairs, and you just have to order the food from them to BBQ. As Sekinchan is a fishing village, our plates of prawns, squid, skates, and clams (lala) were really fresh and nice. No seasoning required, just taste from the sea.

One of the owner and her boy friend entertained us with some songs, and the girls decided to join in too. Zara did her Adele, acoustic version.

And the girls were quite thrilled to be able to cook for us too (fuchuk or bean curd skin being BBQed can be so tasty).

Having dinner at the beach has its advantage. The girls had a chance to explore and pick up some shells at the tide pool nearby while I cooked dinner.

(Bar Beach Grill is located at Redang Beach Sekinchan. Contact : Darren 014-9305724, Jack 016-3443330. Opened during weekends and eve of holidays)

Penang Trip 2013 P4 – Noordin Mews & Soi On Woh Soy Sauce

August 13, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Continues from here.

♥June 4th♥

Day 4 of our trip was spent enjoying the morning at Noordin Mews.

For the girls, they could spend the whole day in the pool!

For us, the whole place is so pretty, we could just laze about and enjoy it.

The place is small enough where we could still keep an eye or listen to the girls’ voices wherever they were in the public area. That’s what I like best about small hotels. We could sit at the courtyard, and watched them swim, or watched them walk back the room to shower. For bigger hotels, no way I would allow them to walk back to the room alone.

When we checked out, the girls wrote their feedback on the hotel. Time to get their own Tripadvisor account maybe. 😛

Here is another bonus point. We found this really old soy sauce factory (100 years old?) at the end of Lebuh Noordin. It’s a corner shop lot with a very big piece of land, where urns and urns and soy sauce were being brewed.

Look at their signage. The phone number they had was only 3 digits!

We asked what the ginger was used for, and the brewery owner (3rd generation) told us it was to make their black vinegar.

Super old and dusty bamboo sieves lined one side of the wall (not sure what they were used for).

A helper gluing the brewery labels on cleaned/recycled bottles by hand.

And this is the signage of the shop.

We of course bought a few bottles of soy sauce to try, but alas, none of them had a label stuck on. So I can’t really tell what the name of the brewery is in English, but in Chinese it’s 瑞安和醬園醬油, I don’t have the address as well, but it’s along Lebuh Noordin if you want to look for it.

What’s the verdict of the soy sauce? Kwong Heng Loong’s soy sauce at Pulau Tikus is sweeter and darker, with thicker soy flavour. Soi On Wor(瑞安和 in Cantonese, since the brewery is owned by Cantonese) is saltier and lighter in colour (which probably suit Cantonese more) with a mild soy flavour. Both are good. Even at home, we have mixed reviews. Zara likes Kwong Heng Loong, Minerva likes Soi On Wor, I like them both, especially when mixed!

You go on and get a bottle next time you visit Penang and try it out yourself!

Penang Trip 2013 P3 – Spice Garden, Ah Chui Terubong Seafood

August 2, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Continues from here.

♥June 3rd♥

Woke up to a good day to enjoy breakfast outdoor.

Noordin Mews have little decorations here and there which make the place beautiful. I especially like the glass ornaments dangling from a tree in the court yard.

We spent the morning in the hotel, and then at noon time headed to Pulau Tikus to stock up on the flavourful Kwong Heng Loong Soy Sauce which we like a lot (only available at their shop located outside Pulau Tikus market).

And we found putu mayam being steamed (usually in KL, they are being stored in a metal case loaded at the backseat of the motorcycle of the vendor, and we don’t get to see them being steamed) with water laced with pandan leaves by a road side vendor.

Yums.

Besides putu mayam, the curry puff sold outside a coffee shop next to the market, the soy bean and taufu fa sold at a shop next to the market were also really good (no photos though). Filled with these snacks, we still went to Kedai Kopi Sin Hwa to have our asam laksa and char kuey teow fix.

The Asam Laksa was good, with a strong fragrant of bunga kantan.

The char keuy teow… hmmmm.. wasn’t as good as the last time were were here; not sure if it was because he just started his business for the day when we arrived.

(Kedai Kopi Sin Hwa is located at 329 Jalan Burma, 10350 Penang, Malaysia. Which is opposite the Pulau Tikus Police Station)

After all these eating, we chanced upon a kitchenware shop, and I bought a couple of antiques kitchenware, a 60s enamel bien marrie, a teapot and some teacups.

We then took the long drive to Teluk Bahang to visit the Tropical Spice Garden.

From Tripadvisor:
Tropical Spice Garden is an eco-attraction tucked within a natural valley fronting the Straits of Malacca. The showcase garden houses over 500 species of herb, spice and tropical plants. Explore and discover the fabulous diversity of nature as you through trails and pathways that meander through undulating hills, jungles terraces and natural streams.

Again, the girls have a good time exploring the place with a map each. It’s not really a big place, but with the different terraces, trails and paths leading to different vegetation/plants to explore, we spent the whole afternoon there.

Some of the spices were hard to spot, probably not the season to see them. Can’t recall what these were, but these were easily spotted (they were all labeled, just that I couldn’t remember their names).

Hmmm… Saw this sign, which indicated Ceylon cinnamon, but what was showing in the picture was cassia.

The girls favourite spot was where they left big stone mortar and pastel / grinders and spices for people to try out spice grinding. They tried to pound and mix the different spices to make their ‘magic potion’

My favourite spot? The hammock.

We were glad to find the Tree Monkey Restaurant which were tucked at the far end (or another side of the entrance) of the garden. The cool iced drinks were really refreshing.

The restaurant were named so, probably because of these little cute fellas which were on the trees around the restaurant.

The girls before leaving, did pebble tossing at the pond at the entrance. As the ticketing counter was already closed, nobody was there to reprimand them. o.O

(Tropical Spice Garden, Lone Crag Villa, Lot 595 Mukim 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11100 Penang, Malaysia. Telephone: 604 – 881 1797. Admission for family of 2 adults and 2 children is RM45 for Mykad holders.)

After the Tropical Spice Garden, we have a tough time deciding where to have dinner. I then recalled a recommendation from my colleague, an sms to him and he pointed us to Ah Chui Seafood at Paya Terubong (sometimes called Terubong Seafood too).

Paya Terubong was quite a distant away from Teluk Bahang, but we were glad we went anyway. Oh boy, it was one of the best meal we’d had in Penang.

Zara asked how come the vegetable tasted so nice.

The hubs and I found the stingray to be so fresh and juicy with a spicy sauce which was not too overpowering.

The fried shrimp was soooo good, we ordered another plate.

Of all the dishes, this was the least nice, but Zaria had all the fish paste.

The fried rice which was just fried with egg was very nice too.

At the end of the meal, Zara asked if she could move to Penang to study, so that she can have food like these all the time. o.O

So, of all the restaurant meals we’d eaten in all our trips to Penang, I think Ah Chui Seafood is the best! Penang never seized to amaze us and we always discover something new in each of our annual visit.

Don’t give this place a miss if you ever went to Penang.

(Ah Chui Seafood Restaurant 阿水海鮮, 1238-T Jalan Paya Terubong, 11060 Penang. Tel : 04-8660903 / 012-4103303)

Continues here.

Penang Trip 2013 P2 – Georgetown, Street Art By Ernest Zachas

July 25, 2013 at 11:28 am

Continues from here.

♥June 2nd♥

The last 3 years when we were at Penang, we stayed in Traders Hotel, but decided we would try a smaller hotel this time. Hence we chose Noordin Mews, a small hotel converted from a corner prewar shop lot, which is near Traders.

It was a rainy morning and we took it slow. Breakfast at Noordin Mew is ordered from a menu (not buffet). This is Zara’s.

And I have poached eggs on toasts.

Not deterred by the rain, we walked over to Jalan Kuala Kangsar, where my favourite dry grocer Fook Weng and kitchenware shop are located. Then it was time for lunch, which we had in Nonya Breeze, another must stop every time we went to Penang (even the girls would insist dropping there for at least 1 meal).

As always, the meal was good.

The girls’ favourite is the Inchi Kabin, and the fried mushroom. Zara almost licked the plate clean.

(Nyonya Breze, 50, Lorong Abu Siti, Georgetown, 10400 Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 04-227 9646)

Before we went to Penang, the hubs had already done some research and picked a few places for dessert. One of them was La Vanille, which serves one of the best macarons in Penang.

The price is not cheap though.

Girls have a tough time choosing the flavour, because we only allowed them to order one each initially.

They sell cake toppers too.

The macarons in fact were very good, instead of 1 each, we ended up having 3 each!

(La Vanille, 122 A Hutton Lane, 10050 Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 04-226 4024)

After our macaron fixed, we just thought of walking around Georgetown. The girls were attracted by the exterior of a toy museum, and wanted to enter.

Ben’s Vintage Toy Museum is just a small set up, but with lots of vintage toys.

Some of the items are still in working condition. The girls, after exploring the whole place in 5 minutes, spent most of their time playing this Tomy pinball machine which was made in 198x.

(Ben’s Vintage Toy Museum, 55, Lebuh Acheh, Georgetown, Penang Island 10200, Malaysia. Tel : 014 308 6657)

And by chance, we came across this bicycle shop. The friendly shop owner was distributing Georgetown Street Art map.

Click on the pix to get the full size map

We were wondering how to get around to see all those street art. The girls although can cycle a 2 wheeler, we were not comfortable they ride around the busy town. The shop owner took us to another section of his shop and recommended us Japanese style bicycle with a basket as back seat, and suggested we take 2, so we adult can paddle while the girls sit in the basket. Zara was a bit reluctant, worried someone she knew would spot her in one of these *roll eyes*; but soon she was enjoying herself too.

The price for these? RM16 per bicycle, we took the bicycle at 5pm, the owner said we can return anytime before 7:30pm, and that’s the price!

(Chin Seng Leong Bike Shop, 84, Armenian Street, 10200 Penang. Tel : 0125533553)

So the girls each held a map and navigated, while we did the paddling. It was quite fun, and the girls felt it was like a treasure hunt they were going on, hunting down all Ernest Zachas‘ streetart. And these were what we saw.

For every street art, there’s an unwritten protocol, people just stood away from the art and waited for their turn to photograph or to be photographed.

This is not by Zachas, but still it’s worth a photo. The Chinese writing said, “If I couldn’t fall asleep, the shop will remain opened. If I overslept, shop will be opened late.” 😛

As for this at the Chew Jetty, it’s already faded and almost all gone.

The girls enjoyed hunting down all these street art, as much as we did. In fact, they wanted to do it again the following day, but we didn’t, as hubs thought a Monday traffic in Georgetown would be more difficult to navigate than a Sunday’s traffic.

For dinner, we had heard so much about Tek Sen Restaurant, and it was nearby, so off to Tek Sen we went.

Well, the food is good, but wasn’t like really THAAAT good. Maybe they do better pork dishes.

(Tek Sen Restaurant, 18, lebuh carnarvon, 10100 Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 012-981 5117)

Back to Noordin Mews, girls were eager to see what the house keeping folks did with Fifi. There she was, placed in the middle of our bed.

This is the room we got, with a King bed + 1 day bed which converted to another single bed. I slept with the girls on the king bed, while the hubs slept on the single bed.

As with all holidays, the girls have to write in their journal before they are allowed to watch TV or use the iPad. So they wrote about their ‘adventure’ hunting down Zachas’ street art today.

Continues here.

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