Replacing a Geocache

For those of you, who do not know what a Geocache is, have a look at the Wikipedia entry about Geocaching . I became interested in this activity in 2002, and have hidden more than a dozen geocaches in Malaysia. Often in such remote locations that they never have been found..:-). At the moment I have only two “active” geocaches, a real “oldie” in the Kanching recreational forest, The Kanching Falls , and a more recent one in Bukit Kiara. I hid the Kanching geocache in 2003 at the 7th waterfall and it has been found 35 times.

One month ago a geocacher reported that the geocache had disappeared. So I had to go back to Kanching and replace the geocache. It was at the 7th tier that Aric and I had our backpacks stolen, a few months ago. See my post Robbed at Kanching. Therefore I  did not want to go alone. Several of my friends had never visited Kanching and were eager to accompany me! Here is the Fellowship of the Geocache…:-)  From left to right PK Chan, me, Peter Thang, Clinton, Damian, Emily, Chee Wai and Pola Singh. Suat took the picture.

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There are seven waterfalls in Kanching. The first four tiers are easily accessible via a cemented path. Two of them have pools, suitable to take a bath. When we started around 10 am, there were not yet so many visitors, but on our way back, there was really a crowd.

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Before you reach the first waterfall, you have to pass a crowd of monkeys (long-tailed macaques).

They are watching you if you have any food they can grab.

This alpha-male did not mind to have his picture taken, but modestly he protected his family jewels

 

 

Here are the first four tiers. The fourth tier is the most popular one.

After the fourth fall, cemented steps continu for a while and lead to a bridge. After that the trail is clear and well-marked, but steep. The fifth tier is my personal favourite. The sixth tier is a very tall cascade. Finally you reach the top tier. A nice pool invites for a bath.

Here we had coffee and delicious cake from Suat. I checked the geocache location and found that the geocache was indeed missing.

I had prepared already a replacement cache. It is a glass container with the usual content, a logbook, pencil and some goodies. Chee Wai and his daughter were interested to see what was inside.

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Problem was that there were a few more people. In Geocaching lingo they are called Muggles.  I decided to talk with them and explain the geocaching concept. They were interested, so I did not need to be secretive hiding the cache. I asked them to take a picture of the group, before I hid the cache. Here it is.

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Going down a steep slope is more difficult than climbing up. Here are two videos. The first one is taken when we left the 7th tier. Another group of people was going up

This one is taken during the descent beside the tall cascade. The exposed tree roots are very useful

Here we are back at the bridge, after which the cemented steps start. The other picture shows the crowd at tier 4. Just after taking this picture I managed to loose my balance, falling and sliding down. I needed helping hands to stand up again…:-) Luckily no sharp rocks, only some scratches on my arm and leg. Could have been much worse.

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We were back at our cars around 1:30 pm. Perfect time for lunch. Clinton knew a nice shop near Jalan Ipoh. Delicious food.

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A very successful trip

Bukit Apek waterfalls

Almost ten years ago, in 2006, a friend took me to Bukit Apek. It is the blue track in the image below (click to enlarge). At that time I was not aware that there were waterfalls…:-). When I was told there were waterfalls, I went two more times, one time to the lower fall (red track), a second time to the upper fall (green track). It resulted in a page on my waterfall website: Bukit Apeh falls (I understand now that Apek is the correct spelling).

ge

On this page I wrote:

It will be interesting to see if it is possible to follow the 
stream down into the Ulu Langat Valley. The distance to the 
nearest road is about 1 km, as the crow flies. 
Altitude difference about 200 m

When I talked about it with my Kiara friend Peter Leong, he got interested and recently he and a friend did a recce. It is the red track to the right. At the end of the road, passing a water treatment plant, a clear trail led to a water catchment. Here the trail split, they explored the right fork, it might lead to the Lookout Point. The left fork should lead to the falls.

To check if that was true, we went back with a few friends. From left to right Steven, Chee Seng, Suat, Chee Kwan and Peter. An afternoon trip, we started at 2:15 pm


To reach the trail, we had to pass the water treatment plant, which was heavily fenced with barbed wire. Warning us to be careful, Peter himself got hurt and needed a bandage.

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The trail follows an old pipeline to a small reservoir. One of the most scenic trails I have walked! Shaded, mossy, Lord of the Rings atmosphere.

Here a few pictures of the pipeline

The small reservoir, where the trail forks

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From the catchment we followed the left trail, well marked, must be used regularly by hashers, many hash papers. This part is less interesting, a bit monotonous. After a few hundred meters  it joins the trail leading to the two waterfalls. I wanted to see the lower fall and that meant we had to descend a steep slope.

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Here is the lower fall.

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I had brought a stove to make coffee, here Chee Seng is boiling the water. Of course Suat had brought her delicious homemade cake…:-)

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Time to take pictures

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I don’t remember what I said here to the two alpha-males…:-)

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At the waterfall we met another friend, Michael, who had started the hike from the other (Saga) side. He joined us on our way down, after we had taken a group photo. After about one hour we were back at our car, where cold beer was waiting for us..:-)

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Here is a GE screenshot of our hike.

detail

 

 

Our nearest neighbour?

As you may know from my  blog, I think we may be alone in the Universe. But of course I would be more than happy if (intelligent) life would be found outside our own planet. My PC is taking part in the SETI project, see my blog  Anybody out there? Last week there was excitement about a strong signal from a sunlike star, but: No alien signal, says SETI astronomer.

Numerous extrasolar planets have been found by now, as of 1 September 2016 the count was 3518. A few dozen of them might be able to support life (rocky, similar size to Earth, orbiting in the habitable zone of their star).

So, why did this Letter to Nature (one of the leading science magazines) :  A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri cause so much commotion that it became front page news in the media?

The answer is simple: Proxima Centauri is not just one of the hundreds of billion stars in our galaxy. It is the star closest to our Sun, at a distance of 4.22 lightyear “only“,

Let’s have a closer look at this nearest neighbour of the Sun.  Where can we find it in the night sky? And can we see it  with unaided eyes or binoculars?

Here is the night sky (in Malaysia) in March, south-eastern direction. You will notice three constellations, dominated by Centaurus. The name comes from Greek mythology, where a Centaur is a half-horse half-man creatureSky-march

centaurus_contellation

Here is how the Greek saw a Centaur in the stars.

You may find it difficult to see a centaur, but the two bright stars in his left leg are conspicuous. Rigel Kent, better known as α Centauri, is the third-brightest star in the sky, after Sirius and  Canopus. 

Hadar (β Centauri) is also a bright star.

α Centauri is actually a star system, consisting of three stars. Two of them, α Centauri A and B are so close that they can not be separated by the unaided eye. Here is an image taken by the Hubble telescope.

Best image of Alpha Centauri A and B

 

α Centauri A (to the left) is slightly larger than the Sun, while B is a bit smaller. They orbit around each other with a period of 80 years.

 

 

The third component, α Centauri C is a red dwarf, much smaller and cooler (more reddish)  than the Sun. Very far away  (about 0.21 ly) from the other two. If it is bound by gravitation to A and B (not 100% sure), the estimated orbiting period is ~ 500.000 year. Here are A and B (seen as one star here) and C (in the center of the red circle). The other stars are Milky Way stars, much farther away.

The α Centauri system is closer to the Sun than any other star, about 4.35 ly away, and of the three components, α Centauri C is a bit closer (4.22 ly) and therefore it has been named Proxima Centauri.

Because of the close distance, the system has been studied intensively. A planet might be orbiting α Centauri B, but even if found to be true, it will not be habitable.

 

Now a planet has been found, orbiting the red dwarf in the α Centauri system. It has been called Proxima b. Very close to the star, orbiting it in about 11 days only. Compare this with Mercury’s period of 88 days. But because the star is less bright than the Sun, the planet is still in the habitable zone. Here is an artist impression how the planet could look like. α Centauri A and B are also shown, as bright stars.

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Our closest neighbour! But a distance of 4.22 light-year means that Proxima b is still 40 trillion km away from Earth. At this moment spacecraft New Horizon, after taking spectacular pictures of dwarf planet Pluto, is leaving our solar system with a respectable speed of ~ 60.000 km/h. That is fast, but it would take ~ 80.000 year to reach Proxima b.

Here is what the Mail Online reported on 24/8. “The second Earth that we could visit in our lifetime”  and  “just four light years away

Actually there is an audacious plan to send a probe to Proxima b. Not a spaceship but a space-chip! Not one probe, but a swarm of them. Interested?  The project is called .Breakthrough Starshot and it deserves a separate blog post.

Here only a few comments on the idea of a “second Earth”.

  • As the planet orbits very closely to its Sun, it will probably be tidally locked, like Mercury. In that case the sun side will be scorching hot, the other side dark and freezing cold. Only the twilight zone might be able to support life
  • Proxima Centauri is a flare star, with occasional eruptions of radiation, comparable but much stronger than the solar flares. Not very suitable for the development of life.
  • Will there be water on Proxima b?  Earth got its water during the Late Heavy Bombardment. when numerous comets and asteroids, disturbed in their orbit by the giant planets, collided wit Earth.

In this very readable Scientific American blog more skeptical arguments are given.

Here are a few other habitable planets. Proxima b is not yet in this list, it belongs to the bottom row, Proxima Centauri is a so-called M star

Kepler-452b (top row) is sometimes nicknamed Earth’s Cousin..:-) But the distance to Earth is a whopping 1400 light-year!  It would take New Horizon about 25 million year to go there.

More about the Breakthrough Starshot project in a later blog post

Unknown gems

I like listening to (classical) music. When I was still living in Amsterdam, I was a regular visitor of the Concertgebouw . Here in Malaysia I have visited several times the Petronas Filharmonik Hall. Nowadays I am mostly listening to YouTube…:-)

At YouTube you will find not only recordings of compositions by the “great” names  (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc), but also works of lesser well known composers. Recently I have collected many of these recordings, limiting myself to piano concertos composed between 1805 and 1830. Why piano concertos and why these dates?

The piano developed and became accepted in the late 18th century (successor to the harpsichord). Not surprisingly many composers wanted to explore the possibilities of this “new” instrument, in combination with an orchestra. What I like in piano concertos is the contrast between the sound of the  piano and that of  the orchestral instruments, because the piano is not represented in the orchestra already (in contrast with concertos for violin, flute, hobo, cello, etc)

The dates are of course rather arbitrary. In 18051806 Beethoven wrote his Piano Concerto no. 4, here performed by Mautizio Pollini. It is my favourite Beethoven concerto. And in 1830 Chopin composed his Piano Concerto nr 2  (when he was only 20 year old!). Another favourite of mine. The recording is by Rosalía Gómez Lasheras (19 year old!). You might say that the dates mark the transition from Classical to (Early) Romantic

Before I started searching YouTube and Wikipedia, I was not really aware of any other piano concerto composed between those dates.

Here is what I found. I have ordered them according to the birth date of the composer. The first link refers to a Wikipedia article about the composer. All concertos are worth listening to, but of course I have my favourites. They are marked with *****


cramer

Johann Baptist Cramer (1771 – 1858), English musician, from German origin, a renowned pianist, highly appreciated by Beethoven.

Piano Concerto No.7 (1816)

Piano Concerto No 8  (1825)

 

 


ries2

Ferdinand Ries (1778 – 1837), German, friend, pupil and secretary of Beethoven. He wrote eight piano concertos

Piano Concerto No. 3 (1812)

Piano Concerto No. 8 (1826)   *****

 

 


hummel

Johann Nepomuk Hummel  (1778 – 1837) , Austrian, pupil of Haydn and Salieri in Vienna.  After his death, he was quickly forgotten. Only recently interest has revived, and rightly so!

Piano Concerto No 2 (1816)    *****

Piano Concerto No 3 (1821)    *****

 


lessel

Franciszek  Lessel  (1780 – 1838), Polish, pupil of Haydn. He wrote only one piano concerto. Worked as a court musician. Not much info available

Piano Concerto in C-major (1814)  Mozartian style. In this recording it is played on a pianoforte

 

 


Field

John Field  (1782 – 1837), Irish, influential composer of the Early Romantic period, admired by Chopin and Liszt

Piano Concerto No. 2 (1816)    *****

 

 

 


220px-Friedrich_Kalkbrenner_by_Charles_Vogt

Friedrich Kalkbrenner 1785-1849, French of German origin, pianist, composer, piano teacher and piano manufacturer. A vain  man, thinking that after Bach, Mozart Beethoven, he was the only classical composer left.

Piano concerto No. 1 (1823)   *****

 

 


Carl-Maria-Von-Weber

Carl Maria von Weber  (1786 – 1826), German, considered one of the first Romantic composers. Of course I knew his name (opera’s), but not that he had written piano concertos. He wrote two:

Piano Concerto No.1 (1810)

Piano Concerto No 2 (1812)

 


Franz_Xaver_Mozart_(Wolfgang_Jr)_1825small

Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (1791 – 1844), youngest son of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, pupil of Salieri and Hummel.

Piano Concerto No. 2 (1818)

 

 


Ignaz_Moscheles_1860

Ignaz Moscheles  (1794 – 1870), Bohemian, lived in London and later in Leipzig. Long time neglected, now more interest, but not much of his work has been recorded.

Piano Concerto No. 3 (1820)   *****

 

 


DobrzynskiWikipedia_nn719

Ignacy Feliks Dobrzynski  (1807 – 1867), Polish, a classmate of Chopin at the Warsaw conservatory. He wrote this concerto when he was 17 year old.

Piano Concerto in As-major 1824    *****

 

 


burgmullersmall

Norbert Burgmüller  (1810 – 1836), German. Friend of Mendelssohn and Schumann. Died young by drowning after an epileptic seizure. Wrote the piano concerto when he was 19 year old.

Piano Concerto in F-minor (1829)    *****

 

 

Bukit Gasing 18-8-2016

Bukit Kiara is my playground, but there are a few more hills in and around KL where you can hike and enjoy nature. The most popular of them is Bukit Gasing, during weekends it can be a problem to find a parking for your car. The hill divides Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, the trails start from the PJ side.

Recently I have come in contact with several groups of active hikers. I have joined a few “hashwalks” and made new friends. One of them is Master Ho, he took me and others a few months ago to Air Hitam, see my blog Air Hitam, finally!  He is a regular walker in Bukit Gasing and  was willing to guide me. My friend Hin was interested too.

We met at the “Arch”, Master Ho came on his bike and had cycled already 31 km! In the picture he is receiving a call from the “General”, who also was joining the hike.

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Our first destination was the Indian Temple from where we had a nice (although a bit hazy) view of the Bukit Gasing jungle and the PJ skyline.

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The Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva is located next to the Telcom tower on the hilltop and was built by Indian workers who put up the first telecom tower, more than 50 years ago. Several landslides have occurred in recent years, after a major one in 2011 it was decided to demolish the temple. But it is still a place of worship and there are plans to rebuild it.

Because of the landslides some of the trails have been destroyed. We had to be careful going down from the temple, entering the KL part of Bukit Gasing. Shocking! I had read about the difference between the PJ part of Bukit Gasing (protected) and the KL part, (open to development).  And sure, it was…:-(  Apparently in the right picture there was still jungle a couple of years ago where now everything has been cleared.

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A few more pictures of this KL side. GE screenshots in 2010 and now. A huge suspension  bridge has been built, leading from nowhere to nowhere. There is a campsite, also unused. Spending crony money?

It was a relief to hike back to the PJ side. On our way we passed the ruins of two houses, destroyed during the tragic events happening 13 May 1969.

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A few nature pictures

Our hike was a relaxed one, spending time to take pictures and, being senior citizens, taking a rest every now and then. Some parts of the trail were quite steep, and there was a very scenic suspension bridge. Note the difference between this bridge and the huge unused one!

Altogether we walked for more than three hours. When we finished our hike at the hut near the Arch, the General came with a nice surprise: a coolbox with ice-cold Tiger beer. Delicious. We had a nice conversation and I also managed to catch a few Pokemons….:-)  Very appropriate in the Chinese 7th lunar month, when the ghosts can roam freely on  earth.

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ghosts

Here is a GE map of our hike. It was a nice hike, buth I think I still prefer Bukit Kiara.

Gasing

 

Taiping & more

By now my interest in the history of Taiping, my 2nd hometown,  must be clear to followers of this blog..:-). I am a member of the Taiping Heritage Society , which has about 600 members. It is a closed group, but you are welcome to join, if you are interested in the history of Taiping.

Surfing the Internet, I recently came across the FB page of Encik Anuar Isa, the curator of the (now closed) First Galleria . I was intrigued by this entry, published in 2014:

Old_house

Intrigued but also puzzled. The Hj Abdullah mentioned by Anuar Isa is Abdullah Muhammad Shah II , the 26th sultan of Perak. In 1875, he was accused of being involved in the murder of British Resident JWW Birch and exiled to the Seychelles in 1876. Could this be his house?

I published the picture on the THS whatsapp, asking if anybody had more info about this house. A few weeks later another THS member, Amril, also interested in the history of Taiping, replied that he had found the house and more information about it. The house was built in 1926 by a famous bomoh. Interesting but not related to Hj Abdullah and Isabella Bird never visited it.

A good reason for me to visit Taiping again and visit this house..:-)  I decided for a 3D2N trip and, as Aric was busy, asked my friends Paul and Fahmi to accompany me. Here is the report, actually about a lot more than Taiping..:-)

We left KL Friday morning and only had to be in Taiping in the afternoon, as we were invited by Amril to attend the Open House of his father, the OBJ of Larut, Matang and Selama. We decided to visit Kellie’s castle, as Fahmi had never been there.

For a history of the castle, click here. It has been renovated and embellished in recent years, making it a popular tourist attraction, although it has made the atmosphere less romantic. But still worth a visit.

Kellie's Castle

Our next destination was the Ulu Lecin waterfalls near Beruas, but when we arrived there, it started raining, so we decided to skip this and continue to Taiping where I had booked rooms in hotel Furama. Close to the Lake Gardens and within walking distance of the town center.

After a short rest and a change of clothes, we drove to the residence of the OBJ. The open house was held between 3 and 6 pm, I was expecting Malaysian timing, i.e. that it would start later. Mistake, when we arrived around 4:30, most of the food was finished already and many guests were leaving…:-)  No problem, there was still enough food and friendly company…:-) Amril was there to introduce me to his parents and I met  Abdur-Razzaq Lubis and his wife Salma, authors of many books about the history of Perak.

The Residence of the OBJ  was built in 1893 for the wife of Ngah Ibrahim. Before that time she had been living many years in what is now Kota Ngah Ibrahim in Matang. Of course both the Kota and this house have been enlarged and renovated many times. Interesting to note that the present OBJ is actually a descendant of Ngah Ibrahim.

The exterior of the residence and the main hall on the first floor.

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After the open house we went back to our hotel and walked to the Lake gardens. It often rains in the afternoon in Taiping, but this day it was very beautiful weather. Shall we make a boat-ride on the lake?  , I suggested. I have visited the Lake gardens numerous times, but never rented a paddle boat! It was fun, but more tiring than expected…:-)

A visit of Taiping is not complete without enjoying the food. Often it is Chinese food I have there, but this time it was it was mostly Indian/Malay/Mamak fare.

The next day I had arranged with Amril to meet him in the afternoon to visit the bomoh house. Our plan for the rest of the day was to visit the region around Batu Kurau, north of Taiping. Main target: the Air Hitam waterfall

We parked our car at the gate of the water catchment area.  When we were preparing for the hike, a friendly local passed us with the durians he had just harvested. He offered us one for free, and we could pick more, if we saw them on the ground.

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It is an easy walk along a clear trail until you can see the waterfall. A small trail brings you down to the river. It was a Saturday, but there were no other visitors and the waterfall was pristine, no rubbish!Air Hitam fall

It is a nice, powerful waterfall. We spent quite some time there, taking many pictures, making coffee and of course enjoying the durians. A very enjoyable morning.

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On our way back to Taiping, we had a look at “my” barbershop, near Anak Kurau. I call it “my” barbershop, because I have been there three times for a haircut and the barber knows me…:-) The shop is built against the limestone cliffs and the last time I payed RM 5 only. During my recent Taiping trip it was closed because of Ramadan. This time it was closed too, the neighbour explained that the barber had gone our for lunch. Next time, better luck..:-)

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Near to the shop, there is a cafe and a small cave. A good location to take pictures.

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A trail starting from the cafe, follows the river for a while. Beautiful limestone formations, where Fahmi could not resist to show his climbing power…:-)

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Then it was time to go back to Taiping, where we had a simple lunch in the Saiful restaurant at Changkat Jering, while waiting for Amril. He took us first to his friend, Encik Zamberi, living nearby. Zamberi could be called the local Taiping historian, he has written many books and knows a lot about the local history.

He showed us his beautiful library, apologised that it was a bit messy, because one week later there would be a wedding dinner. Then he took us to the bomoh house. The present owner, a descendant of the bomoh, is a friend of him. The friend had gone for the Hajj, the house was closed, but a caretaker opened it for us. Beautiful interior.

After this visit, Zamberi suggested to visit another old Malay house, with interesting interior details. Although coming unannounced, we were warmly welcomed by the couple living there, Malay hospitality at its best…:-)

As it was getting late, we skipped a visit to Long Jaafar’s tomb, where Amril’s ancestors are buried. It was a nice afternoon, a real pleasure to meet Encik Zamberi and Amril, I hope and expect it will not be the last time.

We went for dinner to a Yong Tau Foo foodcourt. Many shops, all serving yong tau foo. Malay style, quite different from the (Ampang) yong tau foo I am used to.

The next day, before driving back to KL, I had to show Paul the “Shame of Taiping”. Some historical buildings in Taiping (presenting itself as a Heritage Town!), are just left to themselves, decaying slowly. And not in a remote part of the town, no, just opposite the prestigious King Edwards school. Pictures without comment

The Town Rest House (1894) is another example. It has been fenced off, the fence is decorated with posters, promoting the many “Firsts” of Taiping, but one of the posters was torn. Again! In my 2nd hometown report I also wrote about a torn poster and that it was replaced after I had complained about it. Let’s wait and see if this happens again …:-)

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We had breakfast at the January cafe in the Old Railway Station. During my last visit I met Mei Chong who, with her sister Mei Chee, is running this cafe. I admire their energy and want to support them…:-)  So, when you visit Taiping ( or live there), have a coffee or some waffles in the January Cafe!  There is also a gallery next to the cafe with historical pictures of Taiping, and outside the building they have collected some old bicycles. Which we had to try of course…:-)

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After our breakfast we drove back to KL. I still had many ideas about places we could visit on our way (Pasir Salak, Batu Gajah, Papan, the Tualang tin dredge). But we had done already a lot and were getting a bit tired.

Then I got an idea. I had heard a lot about the “mysterious” Tasik Cermin, in Ipoh. Also seen pictures of this “Mirror Lake”. I knew that it was somewhere around Gunung Rapat, and could be accessed only via an active quarry and a tunnel. .According to some reports. the quarry owner did no longer allow access to the lake. Why not try to find it

How to go there? Surprisingly, by just following the Waze app on my smartphone…:-) The wonders of the Internet. When we arrived at the entrance of the quarry, there was indeed a No Entry sign. But no security guards, and we noticed a few more people walking in. So we did the same..:-)  A big quarry, we had to ask a friendly worker where the entrance of the tunnel was.

And here it is, Tasik Cermin. A mirror lake indeed. Beautiful and serene.

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The tunnel ends at a jetty with a platform where you can sit down and admire the lake. There is no path around the lake. A few pictures

Back home, I tried to find more information about this lake. One reference mentioned the coffee-table book about the history of the Kinta Valley.  I have a copy of that book, here is the relevant passage:

GunungRapat

The writers of this book?  Lubis and Salma, whom I just had met a few days earlier..:-) As I have said many times, Malaysia is a small world…:-)

It was a trip full of variety, as usual.

Tabur East, 19 July 2016

Bukit Tabur, also known as the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, is located just north of Kuala Lumpur. With a length of more than 16 km,  this quartz “dyke” is the  longest of its kind in the world. The razor-sharp ridge is clearly visible on Google Earth.

Quartz ridge

It is a popular destination for hikers, but some parts are steep and require climbing, you must not have fear of heights.  At Tabur West  quite a few (sometimes fatal) accidents have happened, so recently it has been decided that you have to apply for a permit first. As a result Tabur East has become more popular and during weekends it can be crowded. I have climbed Tabur West several times, last in 2009, but Tabur East only once, in 2002. Here is the report I wrote then..:-)

When Edwin asked me if I would like to join him and a few friends to Tabur East, I eagerly accpeted his invitation. And what a wonderful hike it was! We went on a weekday and met only one other couple during our hike.

Here is again the Quartz ridge, with both my 2009 hike to Tabur West and the recent hike to Tabur East. Click on the image for a larger view.

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First I had breakfast in Deen’s Nasi Kandar , where I met Edwin, Paul, CYTan and Kendary. From there we drove to Jalan Melawati where we parked our car and met Peter, Elaine and Rina. Before we started of course a group picture had to be made. From left to right, standing: Peter, Elaine,me, Paul, CYTan and Rina. In front Kendary and Edwin. Peter is a regular hiker of Tabur East and acted as our guide.

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From the car we first followed the water pipes to the actual trail head. There a sign probably told us that we were not allowed to enter…:-).

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From there a steep climb took us to the ridge. Fortunately the many exposed tree roots made it easier and here and there fixed ropes were helpful too.  Some pictures (click to enlarge)

A short video of the climb

When you reach the ridge, the view is spectacular and really worth the strenuous climb. On the north side you look down on the Klang gate reservoir, on the south side there is the concrete jungle of Kuala Lumpur.

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On the ridge going is easier, but you have to walk carefully. Nice quartz crystals everywhere.

To reach the top of Tabur East, a final steep climb is needed. Because the rock is so hard and full of hand- and footholds, it is not scary, if you have no fear of heights.

Arrived on the top, it is time to relax and take pictures.

I always try to have my picture taken in a position that looks spectacular, while still very safe. This one is a good example..:-)  The group picture is also not bad.

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We continued a bit further, going down slightly until we reached a steep cliff from where we could see the next quartz hill, Tabur Extreme. No access from here. But a nice place for dramatic pictures. Rina climbed down first until the edge of the cliff, followed by Edwin and the rest. Adrenaline-filled fun.

Of course then they had to climb up again. Carefully. Watch Rina, a real daredevil…:-)

Generally going down a steep slope is more difficult than climbing up, because you can not easily see the suitable footholds. Here it was not too difficult because of the many footholds plus helpful ropes.

We took another route back, the least agreeable part of the hike, because it was a bit slippery here and there. The reward was that in our descent we crossed a durian and rambutan farm. Rina turned out to be an expert tree climber and collected lots of rambutans. The durians were delicious too.

Walking back to the car, I had a last view of Tabur East.

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It was a very nice hike, not in the least because of the pleasant company

Taiping, my 2nd hometown

The last time I visited Taiping was during CNY 2016 , before my trip to the Netherlands. As I was missing what I jokingly call my 2nd home town, I went back last week, staying with my friends George and Jenny. We started from KL on the first day of Ramadan, not much traffic and the Tapah R&R was almost deserted.

We had lunch in the Taiping Old Railway Station, Assam Laksa and Cendol, delicious.

The Old Railway Station is located next to the modern one and is now part of the Taiping Heritage. Quite nice, don’t know who is responsible for its “renovation”, but a few eateries are operating there now, and there is a small Heritage Gallery.

One “historical” mistake struck me, the signboard says that this old station dates back to 1885. But that is not true. Yes, the first railway in Malaya was built in 1885, from Port Weld (Kuala Sepetang) to Taiping, but the Taiping station was where now King Edwards School is!  Only about a decade later,the “old” station was relocated to where it is now.

We had a look at the gallery and met the young, dynamic, manager, Soo Mei Chong, who with her sister, recently started a cafe, the January Cafe,  next to the gallery. Both gallery and cafe worth a visit.

After our lunch we passed the Rest House, another one of Taiping’s “firsts” and for many years already in a deplorable condition. Recently this eyesore had been protected by a decorative fence, illustrating the many “firsts” of Taiping (the Rest House actually being one of them..lol).

I was quite shocked to see the present condition of the fence and immediately published this picture on the Whatsapp of the Taiping Heritage Society, with a caption: Taiping Warisan?

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We had also a look at what was originally Anuar Isa’s  First Galleria, a failed project, now taken over by the MPT town council. I could enter, although it was not yet open to the public. The friendly Malay staff could not tell me much about the MPT plans. Here a few pictures of posters. Look at the prices for the planned “Hop on Hop off” bus. Another failed project in the making?

A few weeks ago the Taiping Heritage Society , had organised an event to plant new flowers around the “Peace park” in the Taiping Lake Gardens. In the afternoon George and I went there to see how it looked now. A few of the newly planted flowers had  perished already. A very Malaysian problem, how to maintain a project…

Actually the Taiping Lake Gardens could become a no 1 tourist attraction of Malaysia! BUT maintenance is needed. Instead of spending money (cronyism? ) for ugly warning signs, some of the existing landmarks could have been repaired. In the past the pillars were connected with planks, supporting colorful vegetation. And the “monument” was originally supported by Japanese Sanyo, with a digital clock, powered by solar cells on top of the structure. Sanyo was taken over by Panasonic and the monument is now a sad and sorry sight.

I had dinner  that night with my friend May, nice Indian food in Siang Malam. She told me that  a shop opposite Taiping General Hospital served a good curry mee, so the next morning George and I had our breakfast there. She was right, very nice food, a pity that the shop will close end of this year. As I forgot to take a picture of the shop, I had to use Streetview in Google Maps…:-)

What to do after breakfast? I suggested to make a short trip to Batu Kurau, north of Taiping. It is nice countryside with padi fields, limestone caves, small kampungs. Years ago I had discovered a quaint barbershop near Anak Kurau, built against a cliff. I had a haircut there for a few Ringgit and during later Taiping trips I had gone back a few times. I had left my GPS at home, so we got lost a bit and had to ask directions for “a barbershop built against a cliff”. Surprisingly everybody immediately know what we were talking about!

But the shop was closed, probably because of Ramadan. Nearby the shop there is a small cafe, also closed and a cave with nice stalactites. The footpath along the stream was new, but it ended after  a few hundred meters. Fascinating to see how the trees struggle for survival. The road continues for a few km and ends at a resort (also closed).

The resort is located next to a small stream with crystal clear water. There could well be a waterfall further upstream.

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After driving back to Taiping, we had lunch at Duncan’s Cafe. Duncan Raj is a THS-member and has recently opened this cafe as part of a boutique hotel, Maxwell Inn. I hope he will succeed as the location on Jalan Taming Sari, is a bit far outside the town center.

The THS has an active Whatsapp, where I uploaded the picture to the left, after we arrived. Not much later a few more guests came in, also THS-members…:-)  They were planning to have lunch in another shop nearby, when they received the picture, so they came over to meet me. Taiping really feels like my 2nd hometown!

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In the afternoon I (re)visited the Kota Long Jaafar in Bukit Gantang, with George, Suet and her husband Peter. Suet is a member of THS and very interested in the history of Taiping. She is a friend of George and we had met the night before in Siang Malam.

It turned out that we are both fans of Isabella Bird! This intrepid English traveler has been traveling from Taiping to Kuala Kangsar, February 1880. She had to wait in Long Jaafar’s fort until the elephants arrived who would carry her to Kuala Kangsar. Read her letter XX and enjoy. Actually she made a mistake in that letter, the KOta is not in Matang but in Gantang…:-)

Not much is left of the fort, except graves with tombstones. When I first “discovered” it, in 2014, it was  ruined. Surprisingly (?), this time, it looked much better. No idea who was responsible for the renovation.

One more  example to show how small the Taiping world is…:-) Amril is another THS member, very knowledgeable about Taiping’s history and actually a descendant of Long Jaafar. I had asked him to join us to the Kota Long Jaafar, but he was busy. After our visit we wanted to have a drink, but this is a Malay region, most shops are closed. We tried our luck at Changkat Jering, where we had a look at the busy Pasar Ramadan and finally found a mamak stall that was open.

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Having our drinks there, I got a Whatsapp message from……… Amril! He had a stall at the Pasar and had seen us passing. On our way back to the car, we met him and had a chat. Looking forward to meet him after Hari Raya.

It was only a short visit, the next day I had to go back home already. After George and I had breakfast at the Casual Market, his favourite joint, we visited Taiping’s Central Market. I have been in Taping so many times, but never explored this heritage site. Fascinating, dating back to 1884 (Old Market, on the far end in the picture below) and 1885 (New Market, in the foreground). In between Siang Malam, now another popular joint, but originally meant to provide the market workers with drinks and food.

There are plans to relocate the markets to a new location and transform the old markets into something similar to KL Central Market, a tourist attraction. Heaven forbid…

Taiping markets

To the left the New Market, right picture shows the Old Market

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Fascinating architecture. I hope THS will fight to preserve these Taiping.landmarks!

Originally I was planning to drive back to PJ after my market visit. I was aware that an Australian War Veteran music band was going to perform in the New Club, but I thought it was during the evening. Actually it was a lunch concert so I decided to attend the concert.

That gave me an opportunity to bring Yeap, the president of THS in contact with Soo Mei Chong,  the manager of the January Cafe in the Old Railway Station…:-). She looks so petite between the two giants :-)! We had nice coffee there..

On our way to the New Club, we passed the Rest House, and, lo and behold, the torn banner had been repaired! Miracles do happen…:-)

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In the New Club a big crowd was waiting for the concert. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) veteran band was on a short tour of Malaysia, giving concerts in Taiping, Ipoh and Batu Gajah. I would have liked to attend the Batu Gajah concert in God’s Little Acre. Every year on the 2nd Saturday in June a memorial is held at this cemetery to commemorate the victims of the Malayan Emergency, quite a few of them were Australians. But I was not free that Saturday, and this concert was a pleasant alternative.

The RAN Veteran Band

RAN Veteran Band

They played well. Two more pictures. The left one shows that the players may be veterans, but they know how to use modern technology! The trombone player is using a tablet for the musical scores, instead of printed sheet music….:-)

The right picture shows two happy French horn players. Paul Baker, to the right, played as a guest in the band. He is the composer of the Taiping Suite

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Here is a short video of the concert.

Taiping, my 2nd hometown…:-). Looking forward to come back soon

Ayer Hitam, finally!

Numerous times I had heard and/or read about the Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve in Puchong. With a waterfall, maybe even more than one….

But I had also heard that this forest reserve was a research project of the UPM university and officially out of bounds. As I am a good citizen, I was reluctant to trespass…:)

Last week I joined a so-called hashwalk, for the first time in my life. I will blog about it later. After the walk there was an open-air beer party where I met Master Ho, 76 year old and still going strong.  When he was 15(!) years old, he started a hiking group Pathfinders55, which still exists today. We came to talk about Ayer Hitam and I accepted his invitation to join him for a hike there.

Here is the location of the Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve. Surrounded by urban development, it is surprisingly large. Our hike is marked in green.

Large map

Here is part of the Reserve in more detail (click to enlarge). Our hike was about 10 km and took more than four hours. The grey line comes from Google Earth and probably marks an”allowed” trail. On our hike we did not meet any enforcement officials, maybe because it was weekend

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Master Ho had sent me a whatsapp where to meet:

Date: Sunday 22/5/2016
Meet time at the the purple(or pink you may call it) colour single storey
corner shop opposite the coconut stall
Start time: 9.30am

I was surprised that there was quite a big crowd that Sunday morning. The pink/purple house was easy to find and Master Ho was waiting for us. We took a group photo and started our hike. Clear trail, climbing up, then down, crossing a stream, then up again.

After about one hour we reached the waterfall. Many people there, enjoying a bath and relaxing. No rubbish! I understood that the local community is taking care about the place.

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Here is a video of the waterfall

What next? We could take the same way back, but we also could have a look at the Blue Lagoon. Easy decision of course…:-)  So we continued our hike, passing another nice waterfall (no people, access difficult) and an orang asli settlement. Nobody living there now, probably only when fruits (durians?) are harvested. Romantic setting.

Here is a video of another river crossing. Master Ho and I decided to get our feet wet. Of course I was hoping that at least one of my friends would fall…

Here is Peter, taking a bath in the BLue Lagoon

The second Blue Lagoon is even more attractive, with a small waterfall at its end.

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A pity that these lagoons are out of bounds, but understandable. Fortunately they are located deep inside the Reserve. It took us about two more hours to hike back to the pink house. Here are a few pictures to show the beauty of nature.

All the time we were in the jungle, but just before the end, we came out in the open and noticed this rock face with bright flags on top. Maybe because the day before it was Wesak?

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A very rewarding hike!

Kanching revisited

In  my last blog I described how Aric and I were recently robbed when we were visiting the Kanching waterfalls. No physical hurt, only material loss. But I was wondering if this bad experience would negatively affect my appreciation for Kanching.

Ten days later I could check this…:-). Talking with my Kiara friends about Kanching, several of them confessed that they had never been there and that they were interested in a visit. So we organised a trip.

To be honest, I had been thinking what to do if I would meet the guy again, so I was happy to go with a group of friends, just in case…:-) But of course we did not meet any suspicious person this time.

It was a very nice hike. Here are a few pictures:

I had promised to bring my stove so we could make coffee.

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The big surprise for me was that Suat had baked a (belated) birthday cake for me. With a real candle. A delicious concoction with many ingredients, including rum. Yummie.

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I explained to my friends how the robbery had happened and we decided to reenact it, with Peter as the thief and me as the victim. A happy victim, according to Suat… :-). Kind of closure…:-)

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I checked  my Kanching geocache and found it to be in mint condition. Then it was time to go down and have lunch. The descent from the top fall is very steep, when the thief ran away, he can not have taken this route. Probably he took the trail upstream, hiding there and waiting until we had gone down.

Here are a few  pictures of our descent from tier 7 beside the cascade (tier 6).

And a video

Suat, for whom it was a first visit, liked Kanching, but was shocked about the rubbish we found everywhere, left behind by inconsiderate visitors. At one place it looked as if a party of (Malay?) youngsters had been interrupted by the arrival of the religious police. We found several full beer(!) cans, some clothes(?), and also a few plastic rubbish bags.

Being good citizens we used these bags to do some cleaning on our way back to the entrance. As you can see, it was no problem to fill the bags.

To end this nice outing, I treated my friends to lunch in T.K. Chong, near my condo.

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I am sure now that I will visit Kanching again, without bad feelings.