Deepavali Holiday (Ipoh – 20 Oct 2017)

Activities on the 3rd day in Ipoh:

Cass helped around the kitchen. She peeled a pile of pink Barlotti beans for making soup…

… and helped her granny  bake an Ogura pandan cake.

It was the first time my mum baked Ogura cake in pandan flavor and it did not turn out as well as she had expected it to be like when she baked the original flavor one. Nonetheless, the cake was very, very yummy and cottony soft. The beautiful green color is pure pandan juice, extracted from pandan leaves grown in the garden.

Feeling challenged and determined to bake a perfect Ogura pandan cake for us, my mum  got up at 4:30 a.m. today to bake another Ogura pandan cake. That’s truly a labor of love, from the best mum in the world, thanks mummy!

And the cake turned out beautifully this time – no burnt top and no dampness on parts of the cake. She cut the cake into slices and placed them into containers so that we could snack on them in the train.

To beat the 38C heat, we chilled at Ipoh Parade @ Uniqlo and Popular book store:

While waiting for me to shop, Cass worked on her Crossword Puzzle book, her latest obsession.

 

Dad cooked our favorite dishes for dinner:

Braised chicken with homegrown sand ginger, braised pork ribs with wood ear fungus and carrots in claypot…

Pan-fried turmeric fish with curry leaves, ginger and onions and blanched ice-berg lettuce with garlic oil.

Trip Back To Ipoh (18 Oct 2017)

I got up at 4:45 a.m. on a very lovely Wednesday today. We have a mission and that’s to reach the KL Sentral station by 8 a.m. to have breakfast before catching the 8:30 a.m. ETS to Ipoh.

After 2 rounds of laundry and some house chores, I woke the girls up to get them ready.

I could not resist the magnificent colors of sun rise splashed on the sky and snapped a couple of pix. Can you spot the crescent moon and star? The moon and star are aligned beautifully for us today.

 

Thank God we were on time and managed to hop onto the train at 8:28 a.m.  The train departed at 8:30 a.m. on the dot.

We were warmly greeted  by my dearest papa and mummy who were already at the train station half an hour before we arrived.

My papa took us to Thean Chun @ Ipoh Old Town for lunch.  This part of Ipoh is the most popular place in Ipoh where tourists and locals flock to savour the best ‘ngar choi kai’ (bean sprout chicken) in the world.  Bean sprouts from Ipoh are the crunchiest, freshest, fattest and juiciest in the world.


Beef balls, beef belly with radish, satay, ‘kai si hor fun’, bean sprouts…

 


Wanton mee with chicken fillet (best in the world!) and ‘sui kow’ (meat dumplings).

Beads of sweat were dripping down our head and body while we tucked into our piping hot bowls of ‘kai si hor fun’.  The weather today has been scorching hot and the sea of people at the coffee shop and the entire stretch of road made me dizzy. It’s definitely not a good idea to visit this place during public holidays.

After a satisfying and sweaty lunch, we adjourned to Concubine Lane, located just opposite Thean Chun coffee shop. It was our first time visiting this  tourist hot spot.

Concubine Lane on Lorong Panglima is known to locals as ‘Yi Lai Hong’. Rich Chinese tycoons in the past were known to have kept their mistresses on this lane.

Image may contain: 3 people

Concubine Lane is a 120-year old lane in Ipoh Old Town. It is part of Ipoh Heritage and one of the icons in Ipoh. Concubine Lane is most vibrant on weekends and public holidays where many pop-up stalls sell souvenirs, candies, desserts, refreshing drinks, toys, handmade crafts, etc.

Below – Drama Queen shopping for souvenirs of cute pencil cases for her school’s upcoming canteen day.

Below – dream come true for Drama Queen and Cass when they came across a stall selling DIY dream catchers.

Below – the ever indulgent koong koong bought these fruit popsicles for his precious grand daughters. At RM8 each, these ice fruit popsicles sure don’t come cheap.

Below – I spotted this concubine wannabe walking down the Concubine Lane.

Below – Cass and Drama Queen checking out drinks packaged in light bulb bottles. And no, I did not succumb to Cass’s plead to me to buy her one bottle to try.

 

Cuti-Cuti Malaysia

This school holidays, we are staying put in KL as it is only a week-long holiday. Plus, Drama Queen has to attend school for the first three days of the holidays to attend UPSR exam preparation classes.  Today I brought the girls to Mid Valley Megamall to chillax. We had a sumptuous dim sum  lunch at Han Room and then did what girls like best – retail therapy 😀

With our Ringgit shrinking to such a miserable value, I doubt we will be having any overseas holiday this year.  We shall be exploring our very own beautiful country, Malaysia.  There are so many places in Malaysia that we have never been to. We have never visited East Malaysia and even in the capital of Malaysia where we live in, there are so many places of interest that we have not brought the girls to.  KL Tower (at present, the world’s fifth tallest structure), Batu Caves (400 million-year old limestone hill with a 100-year old temple incorporated within it) and Istana Negara are some of the places that I have in mind to bring our girls to.

Revolving Atmosphere 360 restaurant at Menara KL Tower (picture below) is one of the to-visit places in my bucket list. Hailed as one of the tallest freestanding structures in the world, Menara KL plays host to a revolving restaurant,  Atmosphere 360.  You can have a meal or enjoy high tea along with the most spectacular view of the city centre, bar chartering a helicopter (though that would be very costly!).  Boasting a theater, an amphitheater, beautiful cascading pools, a fast food restaurant and souvenir shops, this tower is a definite must-visit sightseeing attraction in Kuala Lumpur.

We could even do a staycation at Best Western PJ Hotel or any hotel in the Klang Valley. I know our girls would love to have a staycation in a luxurious hotel to enjoy the rooms, the swimming pool, the hotel food and the feeling of being on a holiday. We can get the best of our holiday right in the heart of where we stay at a fraction of a cost of an overseas holiday.

For an inexpensive half-day tour, we could do a little jaunt in Batu Caves (picture below). Batu Caves, one of Kuala Lumpur’s most frequented tourist attractions, is a limestone hill comprising three major caves and a number of smaller ones. Located approximately 11 kilometres to the north of Kuala Lumpur, this 100-year-old temple features idols and statues erected inside the main caves and around it. Incorporated with interior limestone formations said to be around 400 million years old, the temple is considered an important religious landmark by Hindus.  The last time I visited Batu Caves was exactly 30 years ago!  I was 14 then (Alycia’s age now) and had followed the school on a trip to Kuala Lumpur and Malacca. That trip was my first ever trip with my class and school mates as a teenager and remains as one of my fondest memories up until today.

Another place that I would love to go with our girls is Langkawi Island. The hubs and I went to Langkawi for a holiday 17 years ago (with our buddy, Alan Yun) and fell in love with this island. We vowed to visit there again. Our most memorable experience in Langkawi was a deep sea fishing adventure where we caught a huge rainbow trout and then brought the trout to a restaurant in the Langkawi Yacht Club to have it steamed. The rainbow trout was sinfully fresh and sweet, though I felt really sorry for the trout.  One of the island’s highlights that I really want to visit is the Langkawi Sky Bridge (picture below).  It is a 410ft-long curved pedestrian bridge located 2,300 ft above sea level with stunning views.

With so many places to visit in our beautiful country, there is just no necessity to splurge on an overseas holiday in this gloomy economy that we are in now. Here’s a tip for you. To get the best deals on flights and hotels, go to Traveloka Malaysia.

 

New Year’ Eve and Happy 2017

Our New Year’s Eve on 31.12.2016 was a peaceful and quiet one at our cozy home, unlike previous years where we would either be counting down in a hotel or be gallivanting  the streets of Bukit Bintang joining other rowdy revelers. Our girls and I prefer a quiet New Year’s Eve where we could watch fireworks display from KLCC, Mid Valley and other parts of KL at the comforts of our own home in our jammies.  Two families from our usual group of friends had some emergencies at home, thus we didn’t have our usual New Year’s Eve count down. Nonetheless, we had a sumptuous lunch at Overseas Restaurant, Jalan Imbi on that day.

Below – backdrop of KLCC and KL Tower taken just before the fireworks were released at the stroke of midnight.

On 1.1.2017, we were at the Gardens Mall. Hubs, the mil and the girls watched Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at the premium cinema at Gardens while I did what I loved most – retail therapy 🙂

Below – Cass enthralled by her favorite author, killing time while waiting for the movie to start…

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting

On 2.1.2017, we hung out with our usual group of buddies. After a light lunch at The School, we adjourned to a Japanese eatery and German pub and snacked on grilled saba and pork knuckles with crackling skin while sipping on beer and sake – chatting and laughing over everything.

2.1.2017 marked the end of the girls’ 6 weeks of school holidays. Today we are back to reality, back to structured days and me, I started the first day of ‘work’ feeling zombified and crabby, no thanks to my Aunt Flow. My darn alarm clock died down on me this morning. Thankfully I had my phone alarm as back-up!

 

Hike To The Waterfall @ Ratu Rening

Hiking in the jungle is not the girls’ first. They had tackled Rangitoto Island in New Zealand 2 years ago as well as Stanley Peak and Victoria Peak in Hong Kong last year. But this is by far the toughest ever hike for them at Ratu Rening.  The hike to the waterfall on steep and very muddy terrain (it had rained all night) took us about 2 hours.  The descent was about 1 hour plus. I almost wanted to give up and make a U-turn but our Indon guide had warned us prior to agreeing to the hike that there shan’t be any U-turn. He also asked me several times if I was certain that I wanted to bring Cass along as the hike is not suitable for young kids. So I soldiered on, pushed my boundaries and challenged my stamina despite being breathless each time we climbed up a steep and muddy hill.  There were a total of 7 steep hills to conquer. Flat terrain was easy peasy for me, though muddy. What zapped away all my energy was the steep hills.  We could make a U-turn after reaching a stream about 1km away from our villa. Hubs and I had initially agreed to go back after reaching the stream but when everyone was super enthusiastic to hike for another 1.5 hours to the waterfall, especially Cass, we joined them.  Well, no regrets as the waterfall was a sight to behold. The water was crystal clear and icy cold.  The waterfall area is pristine and unpolluted as I think not many people would want to venture into such a risky hike to the waterfall.

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor, nature and water

Below- about half an hour before reaching the waterfall, we had a nerve-racking balancing stunt on some slippery and rickety bamboo ‘bridge’ while holding on to ropes – crawling and climbing down steep steps towards the waterfall. I made sure I was behind Cass screaming to her to hold on tightly to the rope. And I hollered to my man to take a snap shot of this stunt for I know that the snap shots will be priceless and definitely a keep sake for future reminisce.  Am glad he obliged and despite lugging his humongous backpack and mine, he managed to whip out his phone to take a quick snap shot 😀

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Below – see the man with an orange float across his shoulder? That’s our friendly Indon guide.

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing, shorts, tree, outdoor and nature

As we got nearer to the waterfall, the sounds of the gushing water got louder and louder… and the descent got tougher and finally, voila, we saw the beautiful waterfall!!

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor, water and nature

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, plant, outdoor, nature and water

Below – my tough cili padi with an indefatigable spirit braved  2 hours of tough jungle hike on unforgiving tracks without a single complaint. It’s always been her wish to tackle tough jungle hikes, just like her 2 sisters. Cass missed the 2 jungle hikes that her 2 sisters did in Hong Kong last year.  Her limbs were covered with mozzie bites despite me applying thick layers of mozzie repellent and lemongrass essential oil on them but she had no complaints. She was always ahead of all of us and I think she’s a hero in her own right.

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor, nature and water

Crystal clear and unpolluted water – can you spot the fishes in the water?

Image may contain: outdoor and water

Image may contain: plant, outdoor, water, nature and food

Alycia soaking in the sun after a long dip in the icy cool water…

Image may contain: plant, bird, tree, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: plant, outdoor, water and nature

Picture perfect postcard shot of the waterfall…

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor, nature and water

 

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor, nature and water

Despite the icy cold water and everyone shivering (it was drizzling lightly), everyone made a dash into the cold water. We brought along snacks and devoured on them like a pack of hungry wolves after our grueling 2 hours hike and long dip in the water.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, tree, child, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor and nature

My baby girl and I…

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor, water and nature

On our hike back to the villa, we had a close encounter with these lovey dovey creatures in the midst of their love session!

Image may contain: shoes, plant, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature

 

I asked the girls if they would want to go to Ratu Rening  for yet another wilderness adventure stay and do another hike to the waterfall and I got three resounding YES!!  As for me, I still have reservations as my main turn-off is the lack of ensuite facilities in the bedrooms.  Well, I may consider doing this again after a few years when Cass is bigger and I have forgotten about all the inconvenience and creepiness of walking up and down slippery steps in the rain in the forest to use the toilet at ungodly hours.

Check out more updates and pictures of our villa at Ratu Rening Residency in my other blog.

Back To ‘Civilization’!

After a 3-day-2-night stay in the jungle doing ‘camping in style’, I am SO SO glad that we are back home. To civilization!  During our stay in the forest reserve, we were  up close and personal with nature. Though the rustic villa at Ratu Rening was breathtaking, I just could not live comfortably without an ensuite toilet / bathroom in our bedroom. We had to climb up and down stairs and walk briefly (less than a minute) in the forest in the rain to reach our toilet where we would be greeted by a mishmash of jungle insects and creatures (lots of dragon fly, jungle roaches, baby frogs, camouflage insects, ants, lizards, etc) in the toilet when we visited the toilet in the wee hours of the morning *shudder*.   Cass was terrified of using the toilet each time and would stay frozen in a stationery position clutching on to me, lest the jungle insects flew to her direction.

Though the rooms are modern, there are still plenty of jungle insects inside them. Only 2 rooms are 99% enclosed to the top. The other rooms are open, leaving creatures and insects roaming freely into the open rooms! The two most adventurous couples chose the open rooms, sans air-cond. Thankfully it only drizzled on the two nights we stayed there. Had it rained cats and dogs, our friends occupying the open rooms would have been  wet.

I told the girls that they were camping in style in the jungle and that if they had so much complaints with insects and no ensuite bathroom, they have failed miserably and will never have the guts to camp in the jungle in tents sans toilets and bathrooms like how I used to when I was a teenager, where hiking and camping were my forte.  I even did a 1-day solo camp in the deep jungle during a 10-day wilderness adventure camp in Lumut. Yup I was that brave and dirt-resistant but that’s history now.

Our stay at Ratu Rening Residency brought me down memory lane. The loud sounds of insects filling the still of the night as we slept, the walk in the forest to the toilet in chilly air in the wee hours of the morning, the smell of nature, sharing our beds with jungle insects, the hike in muddy terrain to the waterfall, peeing in the wild (haha!), swimming in the waterfall, the BBQ at night, remind me of my camping days in 1987 – 1989. I am in awe that Cass has so much energy to reach the waterfall first and to return to our villa first, along with other kids during the 3-hour hike to and fro the waterfall.  The owner of the villa stated in her website that this place is not suitable for kids below 12 years old. I am so glad that Cass survived living in the wilderness.

That’s the aftermath of our 3-day-2-night forest retreat – loads of wet and muddy clothes and shoes.  I did 5 rounds of laundry today and my house now looks like a make-shift laundry shop.

I can’t wait to plonk myself onto my cosy bed now!

To be continued with more pix of our forest retreat and our challenging 3-hour hike in the jungle to a beautiful waterfall with pristine water and scenery…

Weekend Getaway In A Jungle

In  under an hour’s time, we will be off to Ratu Rening (near Genting Highlands / Batang Kali) for a weekend getaway with our usual group of buddies and their kiddos. Hubs and I have been friends with these group of friends since we were teenagers. Our girls and their kids have been friends since they were infant. Our girls look forward to this ecological retreat in a forest reserve very much. Errr, but not me. I used to be a sucker for the jungle, camping in the wilderness, swimming at the waterfalls, bathing in the streams and rivers but ever since having kids, I have morphed into a clean freak haha!  Well, guess it’s time to un-morph myself back to what I was when I was a kid. Who knows I’ll love the wilderness and adventurous life once again. I’ve stashed away bottles of lemon grass essential oil, tea tree oil, lots of mozzie repellent and band aids in our bags for our jungle adventure! ha ha ha!!

 

 

 

School Holidays

The mil came back from Hong Kong after being away for 4 months. As usual, she brought back lots of goodies from Hong Kong, New Zealand, Korea and Japan.

We had Panettone Christmas bread for breakfast today. Panettone bread is something that we only get to eat once a year around Christmas, which my eldest sil from Hong Kong buys for us, thus is a holiday treat for us. If you’re new to Panettone bread, you’ll be shocked to see the price tag on it.

It has been a wet holiday the past one week.  Alycia’s tennis lesson had to be cancelled yesterday because of the rain and we couldn’t go to the park either. The past few mornings have been wet too, so I’ve had a good excuse to skip exercise. My bad, I must compensate and try to work out in the gym soon! Drama Queen is already planning on the next baking project in the kitchen and Cass has been spending hours on end doing art and craft.

The mil ain’t feeling too well and my stint as sous-chef de cuisine has to be extended indefinitely.  Thankfully I have Drama Queen to help me out.

The girls have something to look forward to this school holiday. First is a 3-day-2-night stay at Ratu Rening with friends next week. Ratu Rening is a hidden ecological retreat near Genting Highlands, surrounded by a crystal clear stream and forest reserve. Second is our yearly end-of-the-year holiday at my parents in Ipoh where we plan to have several celebrations during this festive period 🙂

A Quick Beach Getaway to Port Dickson

Port Dickson started life as a humble charcoal producing town, but in recent times it has turned into a thriving and popular beach destination.

This jewel of a destination is just 60km from Kuala Lumpur, meaning it is a popular destination for city slickers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Indeed, many of them own holiday homes in the area. It also means that the city is readily accessible for anyone who is visiting this exquisite area, it is actually just a one hour drive to the world renowned city.

But don’t go jumping for a rental car too quickly, because there is plenty to do and see in this picturesque holiday destination.

Naturally being near the coast, the area has a great abundance of beaches, with all types and levels of beauty. Teluk Kemang Beach is a popular beach for the locals, calm clear waters and beautiful golden sandy beaches, it is the perfect scene for a relaxing sunbathe and a frolic in the ocean. It is also a great place for water sports, the beach side is well stocked with exciting water based activities to hold your attention all day.

 

While you’re at a beach, the one at Tanjung Tuan to be exact, why don’t you try the thrilling climb up the historic local lighthouse?  Not only is it an amazing example of human engineering, keeping our oceans safe, but it also offers amazing views across the bay and beyond.

Finally after a great day at the beach, perhaps a relaxing massage should be considered, there is only one place to attend. The Thai odyssey is a famous massage parlour and is always reviewed well, thanks to their experienced experts in massage comfort, just be sure to book your slot well in advance.

So you’ve swum and relaxed, now it is time to sleep. Fortunately, Port Dickson has a myriad of hotels, ranging in all qualities and prices for you to choose from (Click here to find more options of hotel!). Below is a small selection of hotels, to give you an idea of what to expect.

Hotel Seri Malaysia Port Dickson
Lot PT 49, Jalan Pantai, Port Dickson 71050, Malaysia
With a nightly price beginning at just RM133, this is a very affordable and good quality hotel. There is a pool and restaurant on site, ensuring you’ll never go hungry or bored and the free hi speed WIFI means you’ll always be connected; enabling you to be able to send those priceless holiday photos to your social media sites.  This hotel is available in Traveloka. Simply visit https://www.traveloka.com/en-my.

Corus Paradise Resort
3.5km, Jalan Pantai, Port Dickson 71000, Malaysia
This excellent resort combines quality with reasonable pricing; with prices starting at just RM215 a night. It has all the amenities you’d expect at a high class resort including; pools, a gym and excellent restaurants. You’ll never be bored and the business centre ensure you’ll always be connected.

Ilham Resort Port Dickson
Batu 10, Tanjung Biru | Si Rusa, Port Dickson 71050
This is a high end resort and you get what you pay for. Spacious rooms and the highest quality possible, the hotel even provides a viewing tower, so you can enjoy the amazing views it has to offer. An amazing pool and brilliantly stocked gymnasium, all you could want on your resort holiday.

 

Ocean Green Restaurant, Penang

One of the hubs’ favorite old haunts in Penang is Ocean Green Restaurant. It’s a seafood restaurant situated by the sea.  It is near Northam Suites Penang (our go-to hotel during and after Cass’ surgeries) and Gleneagles Medical Center.

This place is not difficult to located. It is situated by the sea side, at the end of an alley along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, just before Despark Auto College. It is easy to miss the turn, so go slow and keep left.

Besides the delish seafood, the waterfront vista is great too. I prefer to eat there at night as it’s breezier at night. During the day, the hot sea air blown into the open-air restaurant can cause you a little discomfort, especially on a hot and humid day.

Below – Revisiting our favorite old haunt @ Ocean Green on 7 June 2016. We had a very late dinner as everyone was stuffed from a day of non-stop binging on Penang food.

Below – no frills baked crab – with a light touch of salt and nothing else. That’s how we  have always liked our crabs executed.

Below – cheese baked crab – the hubs’ favorite and a dish that he will never fail to order whenever we visit Ocean Green.

Below – oyster omelette (hor chien).  Someone photo-bombed the picture as her tummy was growling and she couldn’t wait anymore!

Below – super crispy deep fried spring rolls with generous amounts of cabbage, crab meat and other ingredients.  Perfect appetizing appetizer!

We also ordered a plate of fresh steamed prawns (no picture taken). As we arrived pretty late at the restaurant, all their prawns supply was sold out and what was left was a pathetic 200gm of prawns which the hubs did not hesitate to accept.

Despite a day of pigging out, we still enjoyed our late night dinner / supper at Ocean Green thoroughly.  Did I tell you that while waiting to go out for dinner, I did an hour of jumping jacks and stretching in the hotel room?  That really helped in jacking up my metabolic rate to burn the calories at a much faster rate 😀

I can’t wait for our next holiday in Penang where I am pretty certain the foodie hubs will stop by Ocean Green again to tuck into all his favorite seafood 🙂

Ocean Green Restaurant and Seafood
48F Jln Sultan Ahmad Shah 10050 Georgetown, Pulau Pinang (Google Map)
Business hour: 12pm-11pm
Contact: +604-226 2681