Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gigi kekutuan

Gigi asyik keruk2...luka dia tak my mom sent her to the vet
Rupa-rupanya dia ada byk kutu...aiyo....
So dia kena sapu ubat kutu and perap for 3 days, lepas tu baru buleh mandikan dia chihihi..

Gigi kena kutu


Gunung Cantik Chentuk, Cameron Highlands

Note: Photo credit to Razeif

Another brilliant trip organized by PEERS. Kudos to the organizing committee for such an exhilarating experience!

Our trip this time is to Gunung Cantik-Chentuk in Cameron Highlands. It’s actually located at Boh’s tea plantation. Erm, wait…I think it should be the other way round…Boh’s tea plantation is on Gunung Cantik-Chentuk ;-)

Friday 23 July 2010

We departed for Cameron straight from office, but we were supposed to meet up first at Sg Buloh R&R at 8pm. Some of us arrived by 7.30pm and we had dinner first while waiting for the rest. It turned out that one of our mates went the opposite way instead (south bound), so we had to wait for the poor soul to make a U-turn, and we finally departed at 9.30pm.

When we were around Rawang area, we received a text from Limau relating that he had a bit of an incident at Behrang. His front left passenger window was smashed by rocks purposely thrown by some sick **stards in the hope that the victim would stop the car to take a look and the perpetrator would take the opportunity to possibly rob / carjack the victim. Thankfully, quick thinking Limau just went on, finding the nearest police station. Fortunately also, his wife Diba wasn’t hurt by the smashed pieces. They made a police report and later changed cars at Diba’s parents in Tapah. The police (not the 70s reggae rock band with singer Sting yah, but Polis Diraja Malaysia lah – sorry I’m digressing :-p) told them this was not the first incident and told them to be careful. (I guess we should drive on the fast lane then?)

We stopped again at Simpang Pulai Petronas station to round everyone up first before proceeding to Cameron. We decided to take the Simpang Pulai (SP) route instead (although it is further than Tapah route) as the SP route has double lanes and the road condition is better than Tapah (frequent soil erosion). It was a quite a long and winding (sing together now!) journey before we finally reach Tanah Rata at almost 2am! Limau has already reached the Homestay where we would be staying, and gave us directions there. But he forgot that we were coming from the other side (SP) and gave us the opposite direction. Limau manis suddenly became Limau masam, but all was well again when he came to our rescue at Starbucks (yes there is a Starbucks in Cameron!) We finally went to sleep almost 2.30am to have a short rest before our trekking just a few hours later.

Btw just to note – a 2night stay with 2 breakfast & 1 lunch at Desa Anggerik (our homestay) costs us RM65/person. Quite a deal huh ;-)

Saturday 24 July 2010

Rise and shine! I didn’t really get to sleep much actually. With 6 persons to a room, K Yat and gang arriving at 4.30am (had to open the room door for her, hey I’m not complaining ok ;-), someone’s Bunkface’s Situasi alarm ringing at 5.50am but nobody seemed to get up and silence it (ahem) and it was very cold- you can imagine why I was sleep deprived. But then again, I was feeling excited. Despite that, I managed to stay sane ;-)

I had a short stroll around Kg Taman Sedia (such a cute village with funky lightings sparkling up the whole village at night) and a bit of a chat with the homestay owner. It seems that Pakcik has been staying there since 1971 and also has a food stall business, apart from the homestay. The homestay rents 4 rooms to guests, and the owners live in a separate unit, but in the same compound, which has 3 rooms. Pakcik and makcik also served us breakfast and lunch for our trip.

Kg Tmn Sedia at nite

Ah the group was finally ready by 9am. We had to drive to the Boh plantation in Habu. The road to the plantation was narrow (only one lane) and winding, some skills were needed to manouvre around and we had to honk at blind corners to warn the oncoming traffic. Once we arrived, we had a stretching exercise first before proceeding to trek.

For an amateur hiker like me, I would rate Gunung Cantik as relatively easy. Experienced hikers would probably rate this as taking the escalator to climb lol! I think my mom would have made it too (but just until the tea plantation part, not the forested area). The view was breathtaking – rolling hills and lush greenery. You can act an Hindustani movie scene out from the majestic view. Someone also mentioned it felt like we were in the 90s Salem Country Heights / Peter Stuyvesant travel ads. Couldn’t agree more ;-)

The forested area hiking was more challenging, and I had a bit of struggle going down – I fell quite a few times. It was quite slippery. I also somehow felt that the forested area was like a big refrigerator – when we reached the peak, we saw sunlight and felt a bit warmer. But soon after going back in the forest, it felt cool and fresh – like the bottom compartment of your fridge lol!

Speaking about the peak, it was just a very narrow patch of land with no view and a sorry state of a Malaysian flag to signify your reach to the peak. But it doesn’t really matter because it also signalled the end of our climb, and more importantly – makan time! We had our lunch packed from the homestay and everyone ate like one big happy family :-)

After a hearty meal, it was time to turn back, using the same route. As mentioned, descending is more challenging as it was slippery and you tend to tumble down. Only Limau probably survived the fall – he doesn’t walk, he skips! He probably have springs in his limbs!
Overall, the hiking took about 3 hours total, about 1.5 hours ascending and descending each. At the end of the hike, I asked Zu what is her satisfaction from successfully completing a hiking trip– she mentioned it was the challenge – trying to beat your own record – reaching faster and higher.

We've made it!

Before going back, we pretended we were English royalty and had tea and scones at the Boh Tea Shop. Ahh…we felt very posh doing so, with good company and fresh clean air.

Tea and scones
Part of the convoy – the XD team returned back straight to KL after descending. The rest would be staying for another night for the 4WD trip to Gunung Berinchang the next day. After returning to the homestay and refreshing ourselves, we had strawberry ice cream and fondue at the strawberry farm next door to our homestay. It was quite good. I liked the strawberry dadih too.

We made a detour to the Parit waterfall first before proceeding to Bukit Gersang for sunset viewing. When we reached the waterfall, we felt we were transported to the world of Twilight movie with the tall alpine trees surrounding us. The hiking enthusiasts went to check out the trail to Gunung Berembun while the ahem, posh ones stayed back to camwhore eheh…
Hutan Sg Parit @ Twilight saga
We then head for Bukit Gersang. It’s actually a small hill behind some flats nearby the famous night market in Brinchang. I suspect K Yat and friends named the hill actually, and it was so named because of the barren peak. It reminded me of Bukit Tabur in Taman Melawati. Oh yes, I must mention also that there was a traffic jam at night market – a very long one indeed! I guess the whole population of Cameron was concentrated on there at that point of time.

We (at least myself and Liza) were deceived to think that Bukit Gersang was like Ampang look out point with concrete staircases to climb to the top and view the sunset. Boy were we wrong! It was another challenging hike, although short, it was very slippery, it was getting dark and we had no torchlights. And there was no sunset after all as it was a cloudy day, oh dear.

Bukit Gersang

But it’s OK as we were heading for the food trail next hurrah! It was still bumper to bumper after Maghrib, and trying to find a parking space also proved to be a challenge. We would tapau our food and then eat at the homestay. It turned out that everyone bought food like there’s no tomorrow (I guess everyone was hungry by then) so there were a lot of leftover food which we gave to the cats. After dinner, it was time to hit the sack. Tonight the girls had more breathing space as we were now comfortably placed at 3 to a room.
CH night market specialty- sayur goreng tempura

Sunday 25 July 2010

Wakey wakey. Today’s agenda would be going to Gunung Berinchang by 4WD. Ahh…no more hiking, sweet! Can’t wait for that ;-) After breakfast, we left for Brinchang only to be greeted by the ubiquitous van sayur of Cameron Highlands! Ah we were being deceived yet again! But it quickly turned out to be a fun ride actually. All 12 of us cramped on the back of the van with Pakcik Pari and our 2 guides in the front!
Our van sayur

Other passersby were looking at us as if we were new recruits of tea leave collectors. Cute! After a skillfull driving by Pakcik Pari, we reached Gunung Berinchang lookout point at 2031m in about half an hour. One can also trek by foot up here. What a breathtaking view once again from up here! We can see some of the other mountains such as Gunung Korbu and Jasar. Once again, our enthusiastic hiker Zu vowed to come up again to conquer the mountains (by foot of course).

I must say, Pakcik Pari’s van sayur package is quite a good deal. It cost us only RM12/person (covered by PEERS. Thanks PEERS!) He took us up Gunung Berinchang, then to a Lord of the Rings-esque location with ancient looking trees covered with moss. Then he took us to the flower nursery, taking us through Orang Asli villages up til a school (don’t ask us why we had to go until the school).

that Lord of the Rings location

It’s already noon by then. So we went for a last minute shopping for strawberries, vegetables and flowers at Kea Farm market before checking out. Before finally going back, we had another round of strawberry ice cream (sponsored by Razeif, thanks Razeif! ) and of course, our mandatory jumping shot session.

Beautiful memories indeed in Cameron. See you again!

Our homestay
flower power

Ice cream by Razeif ;-)
Jumping jack!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Langkawi revisit

Note: Photo credit to Shawn

Our main purpose was only one – to stay at the cool (or ‘chill’ as Manto says ;-) and happening The Cabin resort

We planned for the revisit back in May, but only revived it in late June – so MAS’ get-the-deal tix (which are quite a bargain actually) were sold out for the incoming journey.

We checked for other airline tickets, but they were quite expensive by then. I thought of something that can be quite exciting – taking a train ride to Langkawi instead! Luckily the gang agreed with it – thank you gals and (a lone) guy (hehe) !! We bought the Superior class sleeper (a double decker bed with curtains) which costs RM48 for upper bunk and RM56 for lower bunk. Upper bunk is cheaper because, well, you have to climb up (it’s in the effort you see ;-) We took the KL Sentral – Arau ticket. From Arau, we’ll be taking the taxi to Kuala Perlis jetty and take the ferry to Langkawi. Sweet!

Friday, 16 July 2010

We had dinner first at KL Sentral while waiting for Zu & Shawn to arrive for our train ride scheduled for 9.30pm. It was going to be an 11-gruelling-hours journey to reach Arau at 8.30am the next day! We realized later why our ride took that long – the train stops at each station (although it says Express Langkawi), so it stopped maybe every half an hour to pick up passengers from each of the station. We also realized that the train is still an important mode of transport for those living in remote or kampung areas. Our train was almost full, especially at the seated coach. There were kids who had to sleep uncomfortably on seats, but I guess they were used to it already.

in the train!
Our bunker

train tix

abg ktm check tiket

gossip session in progress
Our gossip session rocked! – hanging at the bunker talking about all sorts of things – from world affairs to jokes to nonsense :-p I really loved the chatting session, having friends around you, talk and just chill, especially from our resident storyteller – Manto ;-) But our diva Mas fell asleep quite early in the session – only to be awaken at midnight by hunger pangs

in the bunker

We finally realized that we needed some sleep to stay sane for our Island escapade lol! But before we went to sleep, we had a walkabout coach-by-coach tour. Ours was the first coach (but I later realized we had changed direction from being the head to the tail – most probably at Kuala Kangsar station – I also thought the stop there was quite long). We planned to have breakfast at the canteen coach the next morning – but it somehow didn’t materialize because we were all sleepyheads. But then again, I noticed that the café was closed the next morning when we moved from our sleeper coach to seated coach to get ready for arrival at Arau.

The train condition was overall – good. Our bunkers were clean – the bed and pillow sheet were white – no maps seen there – thank goodness ;-) (I actually brought my own pillow sheet, just in case lol!) Just one grouse though – it can’t be said about the lavatories – quite smelly and erm uuurgh not so clean – I shall not elaborate here.

For our ride for that particular journey – the coach with the surau somehow had faulty air conditioning, so our train was devoid of that coach. We performed our prayers on our bunks instead.

view from train

Saturday 17 July 2010

We arrived Arau the next day at 8.30am already feeling hungry. When we arrived at Arau, there was already a food stall waiting for us hurrah! We had a hearty breakfast and then took the taxi (more like kereta sapu – or driven rented car) to Kuala Perlis jetty which was only 25 minutes away.

finally in arau!
Ahh we were very flattered when the taxi driver asked us whether we were students (perasan muda chihihi). We had to tell the truth that we are already working instead. (Didn’t have the heart to lie lol!)

We missed the 10am ferry as it was already full – so we had to wait for the 1045am one. I wonder why it was called Express Labuan when it was destined for Langkawi hmm…We refreshed ourselves facially at the jetty (remember, there was no bathroom facility in the train, and our last shower was the day before – yikes!) while waiting for the ferry. Oh, and how can we forget – we also amused ourselves by snooping around the makciks’ Harian Metro / Kosmo! tabloids for sleazy headlines. We concluded that those tabloids can only have the words ‘songsang’ and the like (you get us right?) as their headlines. Check them out if you don’t believe us!
Well that somehow made passing the time bearable and we were then off to Langkawi (but slightly late by 15 minutes). I got a text from Isal that his flight was going to be delayed to arrive at 2.45pm due to technical difficulties. Fortunately, Firefly (the airline he was taking) provided lunch for the stranded passengers. Oh yes, another gang mate would be arriving directly to Langkawi by plane instead.

We finally arrived Langkawi at 12.30 noon – but it was already drizzling. Poor Liza had to have her photo session plan at Dataran Lang shelved again for the second time :- ( Perhaps a third trip then?

arrive at kuah jetty

We then took our rented car – the same black Avanza we had last March for Izwan’s wedding! This time the rental costed only RM150 per day as it was not a peak / school holiday season. We had lunch at our favourite haunt – Wan Thai Restaurant. This time everyone was pleased and nobody cried ;-) Unfortunately, our diva Mas had to suppress her pangs for pulut durian as there was no pulut available in the entire of Langkawi island (OK I’m just exaggerating). However, the asam pedas we ordered this time was a bit different from the last one, and unfortunately, it didn’t taste as good. And we had our clear tom yam mixed up with red tom yam instead oh dear :-(

It was then time to pick up Isal at the airport, then head to our cute cabins to check in. After a bit of rest an solat, we hit the shops along Pantai Chenang looking for Pulau Payar packages. We settled on the agent whom we took the banana boat ride last March. It would cost us RM100/person inclusive of lunch and snorkelling set via the Coral Island tour agency. I remember last March during the school holidays, we were quoted RM150/person.

our room

the cabin compound
We then headed to Kuah in search of the pasar malam as recommended by The Cabin pakcik. But unfortunately, we couldn’t find it and settled for the stalls nearby Jetty Point instead. I later had diarrhoea later that night after having Nasi Goreng USA. But the others who had the same dish as me survived, so they probably have higher maldigestion defense system.
Pulau Payar
Sunday 18 July 2010

Is NOT recommended!! If you can avoid visiting it, please do! Due to:
1.We noticed there were only 2 main agents monopolizing– Coral Island (and forgot the other one)
2. Each agent takes more than a hundred tourists!! Can you imagine so many tourists on a teeny weeny tiny island and the harm these people can do to the island?
3. We saw rubbish/plastic bags floating around. Myself and Shawn picked up some rubbish while snorkelling, but we couldn’t cover the whole island of course
4. One of the 2 beaches of Payar is closed due to coral bleaching from global warming. It’s the same case for Perhentian and Tioman, unfortunately.
5. Since there are too many people, the journey from our cabin to the tour agency (we were picked up by a bus) already took us 2 hours (8-10am), then the ride to the island took another 45 minutes. We were at the island proper for 3 hours only.
6. There was no open sea snorkelling. We could only snorkel around the buoyed area near the beach
7. The packed lunch was bland – of chicken chop, muffin and oranges. Nuff said.

arrive at pulau payar

pulau payar
The sea was choppy so we had a bit of struggle to snorkel. And just as we head back to the ferry, it rained. And the ferry had air conditioning on. So we were all shivering in the ferry going back from a beach. How ironic! And didn’t I mention the sea was rough? Well, a dude behind us vomited so we tried our best to sleep so not to be affected by it and prayed that we would arrive back ASAP!

I never felt so disappointed from a snorkelling trip -unfortunately this was! The authorities better buck up to preserve the island and limit the number of tourists! I do think they should close the island (it’s a Marine Park actually) for some time to clean up the rubbish and let the corals recuperate. Shawn mentioned the presence of sea urchins (which we saw here at Payar!) were not a good sign as these creatures prey on the corals.
Later that night, we tried to forget the island episode by going karaoke-ing! But before that, we had a nice dinner buying dishes from the Padang Mat Sirat pasar malam (this time around we found it!). Mas finally got her pulut durian and it was delicious! We brought our food to a nearby stall and ate there. How nice of the tuan kedai to let us eat there.

Karaoke at Jetty Point was a blast! And super cheap! Cost us only RM50 for 2 hours for the whole group of 7 people. Isal didn’t sing, so we shared it among 6 of us, but it was still cheap! Unfortunately, we felt that it ended too soon. We just missed out on listening to Zu belting out Sex Bomb by Tom Jones because it was her turn next when the lights went off sigh…

Went back to the cabin at midnight. We wanted to have a massage initially, but later cancelled it as it was already late and most probably the massage spas were already closed.

Back home
Monday 19 July 2010

Myself, Liza, Zu & Shawn had a morning walk along Pantai Cenang before finding breakfast. Our cabin package does not come with breakfast so we had to find our own. Unfortunately, business opens quite late here in Cenang as we had to walk some distance before finding a stall. And it was ridiculously charged at RM5 for a plate of nasi lemak biasa and milo o panas. While waiting for breakfast, we had a short game of spin the siput – whoever the tip of the shell landed to, she would have to answer the question by the spinner.

pantai cenang

We then head back to our cabin only to find the 3 remaining mates still hibernating. We gave them a wake up call and asked to be ready within half an hour. We then went for breakfast again for the guys. Later we dropped by at the Go Kart circuit to check out the price – RM37 for 10 minutes. We figured it wasn’t really worth our money, so we decided to skip it and spend the money on shopping instead lol! We got ourselves super cute Cookie Monster / Elmo / Bart Simpson t-shirts for only RM15! Hurrah! A bargaining session ensues later between Diva Mas / Liza and the shopkeeper to which the abang finally relented. They got a (imitation) Longchamps small bag for RM10 (instead of RM18). Must learn their technique :-)

go kart

Next was pinggan mangkuk shopping at Jetty Point after checking out (couldn’t get late check out). Then we met up with Baizura and her husband at Wan Thai (again) for lunch. How nice of her to treat us, thanks Bai! After lunch, we shopped for chocolates and then head to the laksa/cendol haunt near the airport before going back.

gerai cendol
See you again next time Langkawi!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mission Tracing Tajol Aros family house: Success

Ahhh I am very pleased to report that our mission to track the Tajol Aros clan family house in Tg Malim & Slim River circa 1954-1955 was a success!
Our Tok, Tajol Aros Ahmad was the Deputy Assistant District Officer (DADO) of Tg Malim, Perak in 1954. The house that our clan lived in was still intact, although no one is lving here anymore. The front lawn grass was trimmed. However the same can't be said about the back area which looked like a breeding ground for snakes *eeeeeeek*

Deputy assistant district officer (DADO) house, Tg Malim, 1954

Unfortunately also, the house was locked (but fortunately not the gate, so we could go in the compound) so we couldn't see the house condition inside.
An interesting fact about the house is, one of my aunties - Wan Chik - was born here in this house in the year 1954! My mom was 6 years old at the time. (There are 8 siblings)

Wan Chik was born here in 1954

Next destination was Slim River, about half an hour's drive from Tg Malim. My late granfather was promoted to Assistant District Officer (ADO) in 1955 and was hence transferred to Slim River. We were so happy to find the house not only intact and in good condition, but also, a family is staying here.
Our convoy of a 12-seater Toyota Hi-Ace was initially welcomed with suspicion (dari mana la pulak datangnya rombong Cik Kiah ni? ) , but our tok ketua - Pak Yope - the eldest of the clan quickly reassured the tenant Pn Anisah that we were actually nice people trying to trace our family houses that the clan used to stay in the old days. The latest tenant actually just moved in about a month ago and were still unpacking and re-arranging things.

Assistant district officer (ADO) , Slim River, 1955 (erm , imagine it was 1955)

The house is quite narrow, but long, with 3 rooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a store and as a norm for government's DO houses - has a huge compound! Interestingly also, another aunt - Wan Chu was born here, in the house, in the back room in 1955, the following year after moving in from Tg Malim.

The corridor

Still retaining its original grille and mounted wardrobe

Wan Chu was born in this room!
Pak Yope relayed a funny story that happened to him at this house - One day, he and his immediate younger brother Uncle Bob (the 2nd of the 8 siblings) were playing around the house and accidentally broke a netting at the window in the living room. They were around 9 and 8 years old respectively.
Being the mischievous albeit cunning ones, they knew they had to turn the tables around, or they will be in trouble if Tok knew what really happened. So as crafty as they were, they dragged little Pak Lope (around 5 years old) and asked him to throw something to the window to make it look as if the little one was the culprit. But Tok wasn't easily deceived, so the 2 were punished anyway - by locking them in the store room lol! Pak Yope wasn't satisfied with this so he suggested that the 2 of them should run away from home. But Uncle Bob didn't know where to go, so they abandoned the idea.

We then visited the District Officer's house just next door, but unfortunately it was locked, and no one was living there. It looked in good condition with quite modern looking additions of a (now dry) fish pond and lamp posts.

DO house entrance gate: Slim River
Modern looking lamp post + quite new paint: DO house Slim River
We then left our 'ancestral' homes for lunch at the sumptuously delicious, it's almost ridiculous Kedai Makan Andre. The specialty is Ayam goreng kampung with super yummy bawang goreng. On top of that, we also ordered gulai ikan patin ( I think so, not sure, but it was a freshwater fish), gulai ketam (I didn't try, I don't know how to eat crab meat still in their shell :-p), sambal petai udang, ikan masin goreng, ulam-ulam and daging empal. It's ridiculous because I cannot stop eating! It's authentic Malay kampung cooking at its best.
Open at 1pm ok

Simple facade of the kedai makan. I dunno how to find the shop again w/o assstance :-/

Ayam goreng kampung yg gurih & lezat
L-R: Gulai ikan patin (maybe), ikan masin goreng, ulam2, udang sambal petai, daging empal, gulai ketam, ayam goreng kampung w/ bawang goreng sedap
This was truly a trip down memory lane for us. I can't help but be happy to get the opportunity to relieve the memories and treasure the historical grounds (at least for our clan) and journey that my late grandparents undertook during their living years.