Kanching Mission(s)

The Kanching waterfalls near Rawang belong to my favourites. Near to KL, easy access. Many tiers, clear paths lead to the lower ones, the upper falls are more adventurous and require some scrambling. I have visited these falls numerous times, it has always been a pleasure.

Yesterday I went again, this time with my friends Paul and Fahmy. For pleasure, but also with a mission. Actually two missions…:-). In 2003 I have hidden a geocache near the upper Kanching Fall. No idea what geocaching is? You can find an introduction on my website: What is Geocaching. In those days I was quite active in this “sport”, nowadays I have lost interest a bit, but I still maintain two geocaches, one in Bukit Kiara and the other one at Kanching Falls . The Kanching one has been found (“logged” is the term) about 50 times, but the last geocacher reported that he had found the location, but the geocache container was missing.

So I had to visit Kanching again, check if the cache had disappeared and if so, replace it with a new container. That was mission 1.

When my friend Joe Yap heard that I was going to Kanching, she asked me if I could report to her about the “cleanliness” of the place. Pollution is a problem for many, if not most, Malaysian waterfalls, too many irresponsible visitors leave their rubbish behind. Joe has organised many waterfall clean-up operations, for example this one in 2010: Major clean-up at Kanching Waterfalls.

She is organising another one to Kanching soon and wanted to know if there was still a lot of rubbish. That was mission 2.

A long introduction. Here is the picture story. When we arrived at the car park around 10 pm, we where a bit surprised that it was so busy already and that the prices had gone up (but what else is new in Malaysia..haha).  Now even including GST! For locals RM 2.12, expats RM 5:30 !  But the place was well kept, clean toilet, some food stalls, a surau

From the car park you follow a cemented trail to the first tiers. Numbering waterfall tiers is not always easy..:-). I follow here the counting of my WoM site,

After the 3rd tier, recently a fence has been built, but without access gate. Strange. Do they want to block access to the upper falls? The cemented steps continue to the 4th tier, before crossing on a bridge. Until here you are in the maintained part of the park, dustbins here and there, not much pollution. Sadly that changes in the upper part of Kanching.:-( I found several places with rubbish.

After about one hour hiking from the car park we reached the upper fall. Fortunately no other people there, so I had time to check the geocache and replace it..:-).

Of course we also took a bath in the top fall and enjoyed the view. Cold water, very clear. A nice location to take pictures.

There are two more tiers, but far upstream, we decided to skip them, maybe we will go again another time. On our way down I found some more rubbish. How can people do that? But we also found two very cute fairy dwellings! No idea who took the trouble to create these miniature houses along the trail. Almost back a monkey family was watching us, if we would leave some of our ice cream for them.

A nice trip!

17th Chopin Piano Competition

The International Chopin Piano Competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious music competitions in the world. Held every five years in Warsaw, it is exclusively devoted to Chopin’s works for piano. The first competition was held in 1927 and last week was the final of the 17th one.

More than 450 applications were received, from which 160 pianists were selected to play in the preliminary rounds in April. The jury admitted 77 pianists to the main competition, which consisted of three rounds, followed by the final.

The whole event has been documented brilliantly on the website Chopin Competition 2015  The concerts have been uploaded almost immediately to YouTube, here is the complete list of all concerts , 28 videos, totaling more than 100 hours of recordings!

Many of the participants are really young. And surprisingly(?) many of them are of Asian descent. There are 13 participants from China, 12 from Japan, 8 from South Korea and a few from the United States and Canada who have their origins in Asia. Here are the five who made it to the final round.

Here they are again. From left to right  in the foreground Aimi, Kate, Eric and Yike with Seong Jin in the background between Eric and Yike. Seong Jin got the 1st prize, Kate the 3rd, Eric the 4th, Yike the 5th, while Aimi got a honorable mention. Yike is the youngest prizewinner ever at a Chopin competition (minimum age to participate is actually 17, which he will be only in December)


I have been watching many YouTube recordings these last few weeks. To see these promising youngsters play is added pleasure. Here are a few examples

Eric Lu

Yike Yang

Kate Liu

Aimi Kobayashi

Seong Jin Cho

In the final round, all ten participants had to play Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E minor Op. 11. Here is Yike Yang. I find it absolutely amazing that a 16 year old boy can play this beautiful concerto in such a brilliant and sensitive way.

Lata Tampit 14-10-2015

Lata Tampit in Janda Baik is a waterfall described in my Waterfalls of Malaysia website, but I have never visited this waterfall myself. So, when my hiking friend Peter Leong told me that he was going to visit this waterfall with his gang and if I would like to join,  I accepted the invitation, hoping the group would be of an acceptable size. It was …:-)

We met at the Mc Donalds in Genting Sempah and from there we drove to the Latto Caruk chalets. The resort was closed and rundown. We went through the gate and followed a clear trail. Bamboo forest, one steep part, two easy river crossings.

There are seven waterfall tiers, we skipped the lower ones, at the fifth tier a big group was camping, we continued and after less than 45 minutes we reached the top (7th) tier of Lata Tampit. Here we were the only ones. The waterfall is attractive, with a pool. A huge tree had fallen across the pool, a perfect place to rest and take pictures

Here you can see a senior citizen climbing the tree to join the fun


And fun we had.

The waterfall with the huge tree form a very scenic background for pictures.

Here is a short video of the waterfall and our group enjoying lunch

We did not stay very long as the sky darkened. Soon it started raining, actually it was more of a drizzle. We passed another tier on our way down, I just took a single shot, must come back here to take pictures of all tiers.

For lunch we went to restaurant 126 in Bukit Tinggi. I had been there several times, many years ago, could not recognise the place…:-)  Once a simple shed, now a huge two-story building. Personally I had the feeling that the food in the simple shed was better…:-)  After some shopping we went home contentedly. A nice, easy trip

View of the restaurant, highway in the background

Restaurant 126

A Google Earth screenshot of our walk

GE screenshot


Kelantan trip, October 2015

My friend Siang Hui is very good in discovering “new” waterfalls, using the Google Earth imagery. This time he had found a promising one in Kelantan. We decided to make it a weekend trip, as Kelantan is far from KL. Siang Hui had booked a homestay in Dabong, the plan was to visit the waterfall on Saturday. Earlier that week I had caught a bad cough and a cold, thought about not joining, but finally decided to go, as Siang Hui estimated the hike to be relatively easy. Siang Hui, Rani, Nic and Teoh could start only Friday afternoon, Aric and I left earlier.

Encik Din, the owner of the homestay had warned that the direct route from Gua Musang to Dabong might be blocked. The bridge across the Nenggiri river had been destroyed during the catastrophic January floods, and the temporary bridge might be closed because of heavy rain a few days earlier. We decided to try our luck and found that he was right…:-) The temporary bridge looked passable, but apparently the authorities did not want to take risks. We had to go back to Gua Musang and make a long detour to reach Dabong. Of course we warned our friends…:-)

The homestay was a pleasant surprise, well-kept, three bedrooms each with aircon, TV, fridge. Hard to imagine that during the flooding, the water had risen until above the doorposts!

Unfortunately I did not sleep well that night so I decided not to join the waterfall trip..:-( Aric kept me company, and after breakfast we decided to visit an easy waterfall nearby. Lata Kertas.  The website suggests that it is well-maintained, but that is not true. Here are a few pictures and a video. Quite a nice fall actually, could be a nice tourist attraction when maintained properly

When our friends came back, at 5 pm!, the first thing Nic said, was : “Good that you did not join”. It had been a tough 7-hour hike to reach the waterfall, and even Siang Hui was exhausted. I will leave it to them to report about the “Twin Falls” as they have named the falls. That evening we celebrated the birthdays of Teoh and Rani. They look quite recovered already..:-)

The next morning I felt a bit better and we decided to visit the nearby Jelawang waterfall, also known as Stong waterfall. It is on my website, but I had never been there myself, although I had seen the fall several times from the road. Most people climb up to Baha camp, at the top of the fall, crossing the suspension bridge to the right side of the fall. We stayed on the left side and walked carefully over the rocks to the base of the fall. Very impressive, supposedly the tallest waterfall of Peninsular Malaysia. Click on the pics to enlarge them, and try to find the tiny humans.

Here is as video of the Jelawang waterfall

Siang Hui, Rani, Nic and Teoh had to drive back to KL after this visit, another long drive. Aric and I were not in a hurry and decided to make it a round-trip, first going north  to Jeli, then following the East-West highway to Gerik, stay overnight in Kuala Kangsar, from there the next day back home. It gave us the opportunity to visit one more “easy” waterfall, Lata Janggut. Not spectacular but worth a visit. Will soon add it to the Waterfalls of Malaysia website.

On our way to Gerik we saw a signboard Air Panas (Hot Spring). We love hot springs, so we had a look. What a surprise, a futuristic design in bright colors, still under construction. The water was too hot, not suitable for bathing, as a poor frog had found out. I doubt if it will become a tourist attraction. In Kuala Kangsar we stayed in a boutique hotel, the Shop Hotel. Nice design, but rooms really too small, I almost got claustrophobia..:-)

The next morning we visited a few of the Kuala Kangsar landmarks. The Istana Kenangan itself was still closed for renovation, but at least we could enter the garden. The Ubudiah mosque (designed by a British architect!) was beautiful as always. The Baitul Anor, now a ruin, was built in the same period for the Perak royalty. We visited the Royal gallery, full of memorabilia of the former sultan.

Then it was time for lunch. Laksa, a Kuala Kangsar specialty and one of Aric’s favourite foods.For me one laksa was enough, Aric had three. The first was Laksa Pak Ngah, a famous one. Modernised, and a bit disappointing. The second one was Laksa Pokok Limau, where my friend Ibrahim had taken me during the Sg Siput Recce. Before going there, we had a look at the Victoria Bridge, visited by Chadel and me when we followed the  route of the Japanese invasion in 1941-42. Finally we went to a Chinese laksa shop in the town (the other two were Malay). Aric’s verdict: the laksa in Laksa Pokok Limau was the best, although a bit too creamy.

Although I did not visit the new waterfall, it was a nice rewarding trip.


Journal 1-10-2015

It’s a long time ago that I wrote my last regular journal! Time for an update, in chronological order.

25 July

Durian trip with Joe Yap. Joe has a relative in Kg Chetang (near Raub) who has a durian farm. When she told me that she would go there and if I would like to join, I could not say no, of course..:-)  After a dim sum breakfast in PJ we went to the farm. It was high season, we had a lot of Musang King and Joe’s friends bought a lot to bring home. After having (too) many durians we used the traditional way to remove the smell .  Wash your hands with water flowing over the husk, and drink water from the husk. Does it really work? Not sure, but it was fun.

8 August

Trip to the Chiling waterfall with Edwin, Janine and friends. I must have visited this waterfall more than a dozen times in the past decade, the hike with its many river crossings never gets boring…:-) This time our target was the remote top Chiling fall, also known as the Jewel of Selangor. As the friends of Janine were newbie hikers, they decided to stop at the main fall. Edwin, Rani and I continued, ignoring a recently placed signboard…:-)The reason for this signboard is apparently that accidents have happened at the upper falls. It’s another hour hike to this top fall. Beautiful pool.

15-17 August

More waterfalls the next weekend. Through my waterfall website I had come in contact with Ibrahim, a waterfall explorer from Perak. He suggested a waterfall recce in the Sg Siput region. I have reported about this trip in a separate post: Sg Siput Waterfall Recce Here pictures of the waterfalls we visited.

25 August

Another waterfall visit, this time with our British friends Pat and Roger. We went to the Chamang waterfall near Bentong. On our way back, we took the old road, passing a hot spring that has recently been renovated. We decided to have a bath here and as usual we ended the day with a nice dinner.

29-30 August

The following weekend  for a change not a waterfall but a mountain! My friend Rani had organised a weekend trip for his (teacher) colleagues with their families to the Cameron Highlands. Plan was to climb Gunung Irau, would i like to join? I am not really a mountain climber, but Gunung Irau, with its mossy forest, interested me, so I accepted his invitation. They had rented two apartments in a Brinchang hotel, for twelve adults and numerous kids. I was a bit shy in the beginning, as probably were Rani’s colleagues too…:-). But what a nice group!  And I was poplar with the kids, one of them immediately ran to me and called me “apek”, grandfather!

The ladies, many of them teachers too, did not join in the hike, but prepared delicious Malay food. And of course went shopping..:-)

The next morning we drove to the trail head and started our hike, together with numerous other climbers, because Gunung Irau is a popular destination. Here is our group, at the start and at the summit. Small detail: as you have to grab trees often during the climb, Rani had bought gloves for me. They were useful, although, as my friends pointed out, I was using them inside out…:-)

The trail head is at 2000 m, the summit at 2110 m. Distance 2.4 km. Easy hike?  Forget about it. You have to follow a ridge which goes uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill and so on…Here is a collage of my struggle with Gunung Irau. As you can see, much of the mossy forest has been destroyed because of too many visitors, causing the trail to become extremely muddy.

Gunung Irau and me

But I reached the peak! Many people there congratulating me that I, a senior citizen, had made it…:-).  Then it started to rain. The hike back was very tiring. Happy that I made it, but this was a once in a lifetime experience for me.

Latest newsThe Gunung Irau trail has now been closed to the public, effective Oct 1 until mid-2016. I hope it will help.

6-19 September

Good that I had a few days to recover before Aric and I left for China with Pat and Roger..:-) The 14-day trip was the result of a promise made by Aric, a few years ago already, to show them China. We started in Xi’an, followed by Suzhou, Zhouzhuang and finally Shanghai. I took more than 1500 pictures and it will take time to write a detailed report about this fascinating trip.  Here an impression.

26 September

We celebrated the Mid-Autumn (mooncake) festival in Kepong, where Aric’s uncle lives. The family had booked a lok lok car. Lok lok is a Malaysian specialty, a bit similat to steamboat. It was a happy celebration, because Aric’s mother after suffering a stroke in August and being in hospital for some time, now had recovered, so she could attend the celebration.


I will do my best to update this blog more regularly…:-)

The End of the World? Not again, please!

The last End of the World was predicted for 21-12-2012, the end of the Mayan calendar. Earth would be destroyed by an asteroid, Nibiru, or some other interplanetary object, an alien invasion or a supernova. Nothing happened.


End October 2012 I created a special homepage for my website stuif.com with a counter keeping track of the time until the apocalypse. Have a look..:-)

This counter is still counting, now almost 1000 days later.

Maybe I it is time to design a new homepage…:-;

So what about the next End of the World?


The next apocalypse prediction has a “Christian” background and should take place between 15 April 2014 and 28 September 2015. I have written “Christian” in quotes because it is not mainstream Christianity. Heavily leaning on its Jewish roots, “evangelical”,  often considering the Catholic Pope as the Anti-Christ.

Why these dates? It has to do with lunar eclipses.

Time for a short astronomical intermezzo.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the shadow of Earth. If the moon’s orbit would be in the same plane as Earth’s orbit around the Sun (called the ecliptic) , this would happen every month, during full moon. But the orbital plane of the moon is tilted ~5 degrees respective to the ecliptic. Without going into details, as a result a lunar eclipse doesn’t occur monthly, but on average every six months. And it is not always a full eclipse, sometimes it can be partial, with part of the moon still lit by the Sun.

When the eclipse is complete, you would expect the moon to be completely invisible. But that is not the case! Here is a beautiful composite picture taken during the lunar eclipse of 15-4-2014, taken in Las Vegas, USA. During full eclipse the moon is still visible but reddish!


The explanation is “basic” physics. It is because the sunlight  is blocked by Earth, but not fully by the Earth atmosphere. The blue part of the sunlight is absorbed (causing our  blue skies!), but the red part is let through, still reaching the moon, even during eclipse. Sometimes people call it a “blood moon“.

Back to the End of the World prophesy.

The Bible contains several prophesies about the apocalypse, the “Day of the Lord” . For example in the Old Testament, Joel 2:31:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Apparently we have to look for solar eclipses and lunar eclipses! But both eclipses occur 2-3 times each year! Here is the list for 2014 and 2015. Notice that solar eclipses are only visible in a very limited region of Earth, compared with lunar eclipses. Also notice that a solar eclipse always falls two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse.


One feature is a bit special: all four lunar eclipses are total and will result in a blood moon. Such a tetrad of lunar eclipses is not common, but also not rare, you can check it yourself on this very informative eclipse page

Time to introduce John C. Hagee, founder and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational evangelical church with more than 20000 active members.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, which may explain his interest in astronomy. Prolific writer. In 2013 he published “Four Blood Moons”, a NYT bestseller



John Hagee does not like Catholics and considers Obama to be the Anti-Christ. He is founder and National Chairman of Christians United For Israel. Very significant for him is that the eclipses in 2014 and 2015 coincide with Jewish holidays.


Is that really so remarkable? The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, with festivals generally on New Moon or Full Moon!

So, according to John C. Hagee, on 28-9-2015 the Great Tribulation will start! Repent! I am wondering how he and his family will spend that day..:-)

If nothing happens, you will have to wait for the next End of the World. Here is a list of predictions. The scientific prediction may be the most reliable: in about 5 billion years, our Sun will develop into a Red Giant star and absorb Earth.

Interested in this topic? Do a Google search for Blood Moon Apocalypse and you will get numerous hits. But be prepared for a lot of “rubbish”. Like for instance this youtube clip

Sg Siput Waterfall recce

The Waterfalls of Malaysia website has brought me in contact with quite a few people who share the same waterfall addiction..:-). One of them is Ibrahim Ngah Ahmad. He writes a very informative blog: Malaysian Waterfall Travel Log . After exchanging emails, I met him for the first time in person during my recent visit of Taiping. We had an interesting chat, which resulted in a plan to do a waterfall recce together.

Ibrahim suggested a few waterfalls north of Sg Siput, which he had not yet visited himself. As this would be about a 3 hour drive from KL, we decided to make it a 2D1N trip with a stay overnight in Sg Siput town. On the first day we could visit two waterfalls, where he had already been. The second day we would explore new territory, a guide would join us. Here is the poster Ibrahim prepared for our recce:


Top row, from left to right: Sereiyang, Jalong Tinggi and Sg Kuncha. Bottom row, from left to right Sg Buloh and Sg Serai. The links refer to the falls he had visited already

Five waterfalls in two days! Hm, at my age?  I suggested we could skip Sg Kuncha, as it seemed a tough hike.

No problem, Ibrahim said, we could replace it with an easier fall near Kuala Kangsar.

Don’t get the impression from the contact numbers in the poster that we were targeting a big group. On the contrary, we both prefer small groups. Ibrahim would bring a friend, Hafiz, and I would come with Paul, Fahmi and Rani. A group of six, perfect size. Rani picked us up at 7am and after our traditional mamak breakfast we drove to Sg Siput where we met Ibrahim and Hafiz. Six people in Rani’s X-Trail needed some improvisation..:-) Our first destination was the Sg Buloh fall, just outside Sg Siput.

It was an easy walk, but you must know the way, there are many forks and splits. Fortunately earlier visitors had left a paper trail. From where we parked the car it was less than half an hour to the main fall. Not a lot of water this time, but an attractive fall. About 100 meter upstream there is a second fall in a gorge. Nice for swimming, but the view is spoiled a bit by water pipes.

After this waterfall it was time for lunch. Ibrahim suggested a laksa shop, near Kuala Kangsar: Laksa Pokok Limau. I love the Penang Assam Laksa, but have not really experience with the Malay version. It was delicious! An interesting feature was the deep-fried egg/omelet on top of it. Worth to remember.



After lunch we continued to the Sg Dal waterfall. The fall is called by locals Lata Bubu, because it is located on the slopes of the Bubu range. From where we parked the car it was only a short walk to the fall. Not a lot of water, but nice to play around and take pictures. Upstream of the fall there is a slide where the local youth was enjoying itself.

Here is a video of the slide with the kids having fun

We had booked accommodation in the Fila Homestay in Sg Siput. Probably recently renovated, very spic and span..:-)  RM 180 for the three-bedroom apartment, value for money. Only the owner should put air-con’s in each room.

The next morning we drove to Lasah where we met our guides Anazil and Ayhenda. We had breakfast, bought food for our lunch, and drove to Bawong. To reach the Serai falls, first you have to cross a plantation. We had been told that even a Kembara could do it, but the road was worse than expected and Rani did not want to take risks, so halfway we parked the car and walked about 2 km until we reached the jungle.

Where we left the plantation and entered the jungle, we had to pass electric wiring, meant to keep the elephants away. Never before seen this. We did not check if the wires were actually “live” ..:-)


After a hike of about 45 minutes we reached the first fall, Lata Kaku. It had rained the night before, the current was strong and the water a bit murky. To have a good view of the fall, we had to cross the river carefully. Very powerful fall, quite intimidating.

After crossing back we had to river trek to the next waterfall. Actually not too complicated, just be careful with slippery boulders. I don’t know why, but I felt uneasy, stumbling often, maybe the years are counting….  It was not far, about half an hour of river trekking took us to the Lata Curek, with an impressive pool. Time to relax and take pictures. Then the same way back, it was hot and sunny in the plantation, we were very thirsty when we came back to the car.


The Serai river has actaully three waterfalls, we skipped the first one, Lata Bawong, which can be reached easily from Kampung Bawong. The left picture has been taken four years ago, on my way back from Taiping.

At that time I had no idea that there were more waterfalls upstream

We continued our recce to the Sereiyang waterfall. If you know the way, you can almost drive to the base of the waterfall. Also here we did not take risk and parked the car where the road got rough and walked the rest. The waterfall is visible from a distance and very tall. I used  my clinometer and found that it was 40 meter high. No pool. Very impressive.

Here is a video of the Sereiyang fall

We had our (late) lunch here, it was already 3 pm and we still had to go back to KL. So we decided to keep the Jalong Tinggi fall for a next visit.
mapHere is a GE screenshot of our recce. Click to enlarge. The “new” waterfalls we visited are not far from Bawong.

From Bawong 4WD roads lead to remote Pos Piah and Kg Kuala Mu

There must be dozens  if not hundreds of waterfalls along these roads, waiting for intrepid explorers!


It was a rewarding weekend

Trip up North

Last week  we decided to make a trip up North, to celebrate Aric’s birthday. A 4D3N trip, staying overnight in Kuala Sepetang, Gunung Jerai and Georgetown.

Kuala Sepetang, or Port Weld as it was originally called, has recently become a popular tourist destination. We arrived at lunchtime on a Saturday and were amazed by the large number of tourist buses. There are now two “boutique” hotels and we had booked a room in the Happy 8 Retreat , located above a fish processing factory and a seafood restaurant.

Port Weld


The reviews for this hotel are rather mixed, the decoration of the rooms and the use of recycled materials is appreciated, but the walls between the rooms are paper thin and there are some complaints about the service. We were lucky, not many other guests, so we could sleep well. We had a room with a view of the river, you can spend hours there, watching the busy traffic.

Here is a video, taken from our balcony

We were just in time for the famous curry mee of Kuala Sepetang. After our siesta we walked in the village. The new bridge makes the other side easily accessible, fortunately not yet very developed.

For our dinner we went to the Tepi Sungai restaurant, also located above a fish processing factory. We had mantis prawns, lala shells, spikey snails, vegetable and tea for RM 61

The sunset view was priceless and free of charge…:-)

One reason to visit Kuala Sepetang was that I would like to have a look at Kuala Sangga, a small fishing village at the mouth of the Sepetang river. We saw  many tourist boats coming in and out and expected that at least a few of them would go to this village. Mistake. Most tourists come for the fireflies and the eagle feeding, not many are interested in the (tiny) village.

After an interesting “fusion” breakfast we continued our trip to Gunung Jerai. As an alternative for Kuala Sangga, we decided to visit the Hindu temple complex of Bukit Batu Pahat, on the slopes of the mountain. But first of course lunch…:-)



I had read about these temples, but never visited them. The Bujang Valley where these temples are located is considered the richest archaeological area in Malaysia! But many Malaysians have never heard about it. Why? Could they be neglected because this part of Malaysian history predates Islam and the Malacca Sultanate?

Expecting the complex to be a bit rundown, I was pleasantly surprised to find it in mint condition. The museum with information about the excavations and some artefacts is interesting. The Bukit Batu Pahat temple is in situ, the others have been relocated. And there is even a small waterfall, more a cascade.

Only a few visitors, not surprising as the site is badly signposted. Merbok is the nearest larger village. The complex is really worth a visit. And free of charge!

We had booked accommodation in the Regency Jerai Hill Resort, near the top of the mountain. A winding road leads you to the resort at an altitude of almost 1000 m above sea level. From the resort and from our balcony we had a fascinating view of the rice fields and the coastline of Kedah.

Here is a video, taken at the resort. We are just below the clouds

We had booked a puasa promotion, RM 230 for the room including 2x dinner and breakfast. During puasa (Ramadan) Muslims will eat only after sunset, and we thought it would be polite to follow that rule. Muslims will also not eat after sunrise, but for our breakfast we did not follow the rule…:-)  English breakfast!



Also here we had something on our program. There are quite a few waterfalls on the slopes of Gunung Jerai and one of them is located not far below the resort. Just before entering the resort, you will see a path with cemented steps going down. In about half an hour you reach the Alur Naga fall. A vertical fall in a romantic surrounding. On the way back I noticed a swarm of bees/wasps, my enemies. I managed to pass  without disturbing them. There were also leeches, I don’t mind to give them a free lunch..:-)

Here is a video of the fall

Our last destination was Georgetown. My friend Joe Yap had suggested a heritage hotel in Armenian street, Straights Heritage. They have only two “suites” and we had booked the Phoenix suite, on the second floor. It was like a dream, the most beautiful place where I have ever stayed.

It would have been nice to stay in our “mansion” the rest of the day and relax, but we also wanted to taste Penang durians! We met one of Aric’s friends and went to a stall in Bayan Lepas, where we tasted a Red Prawn durian. Yummy. After dinner in the New Lane hawker center, we went back to our suite and enjoyed the luxury.

Our program for the last day consisted of two parts. Joe had told us about a Christian cemetery where one of the graves had a sculpture of a dog, resting on the tombstone.The Western Road Cemetery was easy to find, but it was much bigger than I expected. Fortunately the caretaker could point out the grave to us. Legend has it that the dog visited the grave of is master after the latter had passed on, and continued to stay at the grave.

Nearby the cemetery is one of our favourite Laksa restaurants, the Taman Emas Coffee shop, where we had an early lunch. Last stop was at the Penang War museum, another suggestion of Joe. It is located at Bukit Batu Maung, where in the 1930’s the British built a fortress to protect the island against the Japanese army. It was a huge complex with cannon firing bays, barracks, tunnels etc. Manned by British, Malay and Sikh soldiers, each group in their own barrack, with their own cook etc, of course…:-) The fortress fell because the Japanese attacked from the land side and not from the seaside…. Like not much later Singapore.

After the Japanese had taken over, it became their army base. And after years of neglect it is now a museum. Steep entrance fee, RM 20 for locals, RM 35 for foreigners. Overpriced. You can also play war games (paintball) or follow ghost tours…:-(. Nevertheless still interesting, you can crawl through tunnels, climb escape ladders etc.

Not far from Batu Maung you can enter the second Penang bridge back to the mainland. The bridge is 24 km long with many curves. Interesting

Second bridge

It was a very satisfying trip, full of variety

Close encounter with Pluto

In an earlier post, Close Encounters , I mentioned three memorable astronomical events in 2015. One of them was the flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft of the (dwarf) planet Pluto on 14 July at 11:49:58 UTC  (7:49:58 pm Malaysian time)

One day earlier, when the New Horizons was still a respectable 800.000 km away from Pluto, it took this picture.The heart-shaped region, the smooth surface, caused already much excitement


New Horizons was approaching Pluto at a speed of ~ 50.000 km/h, so the flyby was near. At this high speed the observation window for taking close-up pictures was narrow. It was decided to stop communicating with the spacecraft during the flyby, as the on-board computers would be busy collecting data. There was a lot of tension in the control room during the blackout. Here is the response when the first signal of New Horizons after the flyby is received. Mind you, it takes about 4.5 hours for light and radio signals  to cross over form the spacecraft to Earth, as the distance to Pluto is about 5 billion km at the moment.


This first signal was only a sanity signal that everything was working normally. Transmission of the images is a time-consuming process. It was only the next day that NASA published the first detailed image. nh-pluto-surface-scale

Many surprises. The surface looks very smooth, scientists think it can not be more than a few hundred million year old. Has Pluto still an active interior? And there are mountains, up to 3 km high. They might consist of water ice.

A second picture has been published today, details of Pluto’s (principal) moon, Charon.


More excitement. Impact craters here, but what is this strange feature in the top left corner? More pictures will arrive and hopefully be published in the coming days. But the analysis will take months if not years.

New Horizons has done a marvelous job. It will now pass through the Kuiper Belt and leave our solar system. You can follow the spacecraft on the New Horizons website

What about the two other events?

Dawn has successfully entered orbit around Ceres and is still observing the asteroid. The white dots on its surface have not yet been explained. Here is a collage of images taken by Dawn. The Dawn Blog is still online and active


Finally Rosetta and Philae

Rosetta is still orbiting comet 67P, which is now on its way to perihelion, the closest distance to the Sun. Perihelion will be reached on 13 August. Already the comet is feeling the heat of the Sun and partly evaporating. This picture was taken on 7 July


Mixed news about Philae. There was huge excitement when it came out of hibernation on 13 June and “talked” for a few minutes with Rosetta. But after that, communication has been intermittent, for reasons unknown. However, ten days ago, Philae has contacted Rosetta again and actually transferred data from one of its on-board experiments! The scientists are hopeful that it will get more active the next few weeks. Read more on the Rosetta/Philae blog

I will update this post when more  news/pictures become available

Update 18-7-2015

Yesterday NASA published another picture, a detail of the heart-shaped area , which has been provisionally named Sputnik Plain. Some features have been identified. This icy plain can not be more than 100 million old. More details here


Lawing waterfall

Six years ago, in 2009, I finally discovered the Lawing waterfall in the Ulu Langat region. I knew that there should be a waterfall on the way to Gunung Hitam and I had tried a few times to find it. Here is a Google Earth map with some of those attempts and the final success.



Soon the waterfall was published on my Waterfalls of Malaysia website, Lawing Falls , with the description “Unknown, pristine waterfall in the backyard of KL”


When you visit the webpage, you will notice that there are several comments that the falls could not be found. Was there something wrong with the directions given, for example “turn left at a remote orang asli hut“?

Therefore I decided to revisit the falls with a group of friends. We met for breakfast at Suntex, then drove to Kg Lui, following the directions of the webpage until we reached the end of the road. It was durian season and we had to be careful where to park the car because there were durian trees all over the place. Crossing the bridge we followed a clear trail until we reached the orang asli hut.

A whole family was staying there, very friendly. We asked the old man how to go to the waterfall. Just turn left for the waterfall, he said. And also without him we would have found the (vague) trail. BECAUSE…. the house was in the center of a durian orchard and the undergrowth had been cleared, so people could find the fallen durians easily. That explained a lot. When you come outside the durian season, the hut is empty and the undergrowth has grown back, making the trail almost invisible.

It is only a small part of the trail (until you enter the jungle again), that “disappears” outside the durian season. I will update the description on the website. Once you have entered the jungle, the trail is clear and leads you to the waterfalls.

We had a pleasant time at the falls, enjoying the pristine environment and our lunch. Two of us were interested to find out if there was another fall upstream. They found one, but the access was difficult, huge boulders and slippery rocks.

On our way back to the car, we spotted several durians that had just fallen down. We could not resist the temptation to take a few, opening one on the spot to find out that the taste was delicious! We also passed a tree with a makeshift ladder leading to the top. Could it be to collect honey? Many beautiful beehive gingers (Zingiber spectabile)

We still felt a bit hungry so we went to a Thai seafood restaurant in Hulu Langat. We asked permission to prepare the rest of our durians and have them with our meal. As you can see, Aric loves durians but not with a meal…:-) The others enjoyed durian with rice.

A fun trip with nice company!