Journal 1-1-2016

During our recent China trip, we stayed one night near the Yangcheng lake, hoping to enjoy a dinner with the famous hairy crabs. It turned out that we were a bit too early, the season was just starting. It became quite an adventure, read the report here. We had hairy crabs, but they were slightly disappointing because there was hardly any roe and that is what makes them a delicacy.

When, end of October, we noticed that the Dragon-I restaurant in 1 Utama had a hairy crab promotion, we could not resist the temptation..:-). The crabs are flown in twice a week from Shanghai, they are not cheap, price is RM 400-500 per kg. In Yangcheng we had to prepare the crabs ourselves, here it was done for us by two nice waitresses who created a real work of art. And as you can see, now there was plenty of roe. Not healthy but so delicious…:-)

The next day I went back to Lata Tampit, this time with Aric, to show him how attractive these falls are. It was a weekday,during my first visit the 5th tier was crowded with people camping, now there were no other visitors. Beautiful large pool.

On 8 November the yearly Kathina ceremony was held in Taiping. In an earlier blog, Kathina Festival 2013 , I have given information about the background of this Buddhist festival. This time I went with Aric who had never attended. About the Festival I will write a separate post: Kathina 2015. Here only one picture of the monks waiting for the devotees to present their gifts

When I am in Taiping I always want to have a look at the Old Resthouse, probably a masochistic streak in my character. It is a real eyesore, half hidden behind a fence that proudly advertises the heritage of Taiping. But of course I still enjoyed my stay, meeting many friends…:-)

Recently I have written a post Kanching Mission(s), where one of the missions was to check for my friend Joe Yap if there was a lot of rubbish. There was, so she started organising a cleaning operation. I could not attend the event itself, as I would be in Laos, but I met her in Kanching a week earlier, when she went there with some of her volunteers. I met her there with my friend Rahim.. He had never been to Kanching, so I showed him a few of the falls, before it started to rain.

About our trip to Laos I have published already a few posts. More will follow. Here only a picture of an alms giving ceremony in Luang Prabang.

2015-11-30 06.27.20

Several of my friends were interested in Lata Tampit, so I went back for a third time. It will not be the last one, the waterfalls are beautiful, access is relatively easy, a pleasant half-day trip with a nice lunch as reward. Edwin suggested restaurant Wonderland Valley in Bukit Tinggi, and that was a good choice.

We don’t celebrate Christmas, but I decided it would be a good time to have a small party.  From this post you will have noticed that I am still addicted to waterfalls..:-), so I invited friends with a similar interest. My sifu Khong had recently created a personal book with all the waterfalls he had visited, I had borrowed the book to show it to my friends. There was food, a Western style buffet. And I had created a slide show of the waterfalls visited by me during the last 10-12 years. Without identification. After the dinner my guests had to determine name and location of the various falls. Big fun. A nice party

A few days later I was invited for a real Christmas party by my friend Philip. With a Christmas tree, a turkey and lots of other food. And even the singing of Christmas carols, where I surprised myself by joining the others in “Silent Night, Holy Night” 🙂

For New Year’s Eve, we have a tradition that we celebrate it at home, with a nice dinner. After the countdown we watch the fireworks at the Curve from our balcony. Nothing spectacular this time, but the dinner was a success.

And so came 2015 to an end. In that year I published more than 40 posts and albums!

I wish all my followers a happy and prosperous 2016!

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…:-)

Journal of my Dutch trip 2015

On 15 April 15 I arrived in the Netherlands for a stay of six weeks. Spring was late this year, I was welcomed by nice weather, flowers everywhere. And I was really craving for traditional Dutch food..:-)

I did not really celebrate my birthday on April 17, because the next day we had a Family Gathering . But I did not feel lonely that day, because I got visitors, my youngest brother Otto and my soulmate Inez. A good opportunity to practice  taking selfies..:-)

1-IMG_5796

2-IMG_5801

As usual it took me a few days to get acclimatised. I visited friends and went to the Vondelpark for a photo shoot, resulting in a blog Homage to the Vondelpark .

One of the big celebrations in the Netherlands is Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), now renamed Koningsdag (King’s Day). Observed for the first time on 31 August 1885, the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina.  When her daughter Juliana became Queen in 1948, the holiday was moved to her birthday, 30 April. Then, in 1980 Beatrix became Queen. Her birthday is 31 January. Too cold to enjoy the many outdoor activities. Therefore it was decided to keep it on 30 April. Now Willem Alexander is King, born on 27 April, so they changed the date. Personally I think they should have kept it on 30 April. What to do when Princess Amalia (born 7 December) will become Queen…:-)?

I went to town only for a short while. Too many people.

A few days later I went to Utrecht to meet Yolanda, a former student, who has become a good friend. Beautiful weather, we walked in the town before we had dinner.

And of course I had dinner with my other Yolanda, Paul’s sister. It has become a nice tradition that we meet for a “sumptuous” dinner when I am back in Holland. This time we went to restaurant Bonjour. French cuisine, friendly service. And very reasonably priced: 24.50 Euro for a three-course dinner.

With my friend Inez I visited Rotterdam and Dordrecht on a day trip. In Malaysia, thinking about what to do during my stay in Holland, I had optimistically assumed that I had plenty of time for longer trips, but that was a mistake…:-)

On the evening of the 4th of May we have  the Remembrance of the Dead ceremony in my country. Quite impressive, I used to go to the Dam Square for the two minutes of silence. This time I was already on my way, when I noticed that near my condo there was a (smaller) celebration. So I attended that one instead. Impressive. After the ceremony I met (my second…) Yolanda at the Concertgebouw, where we attended a performance of the Anne Frank cantata. I hope the name Anne Frank is familiar  to everybody?  We finished the evening with a beer at the famous Welling cafe! Near to where I have been living most of my life. Nostalgia.

By the way, it was a good decision not to go to the Dam Square. Have a look at the crowd there!

1-IMG_6517

The last two weeks of my stay were a bit too hectic…:-) I felt like the Flying Dutchman, travelling all the time. Of course I was to blame myself…:-) I had to maintain a calendar meticulously…:-)

agenda

First I went with Nico, Paul’s brother, to Santenoge in Burgundy, where we stayed five days in his country house, Living Like God in France. After coming back, I visited Ruud and Jur in Groningen. They live in a nice house with a beautiful garden. The next day we made a trip in the countryside and visited the old (14th century!) church of Zeerijp.

My following visit was to the south-west of the Netherlands, the province Zeeland where I visited a friend from my university days, a long time ago. Here is the report: Middelburg.

One day at home and off I went again, to Alkmaar, where Arie and Ineke are living. Another report: Alkmaar. The next day I continued to Valkkoog, where I stayed overnight with Lous and Arend. In the afternoon we visited the sand suppletion project of the Hondsbossche Zeewering (Sea dike). In the left pic below I have indicated the location of the sea dike in red.This dike was a weak spot in the Dutch defense system against the sea. Now new land and dunes have been created. Impressive. The visitor center had an interesting gadget where you could give the impression (with a soap film) that you were standing in the water. Of course we had a nice dinner, my youngest brother was also present.

Before going back to Amsterdam the next morning, I took pictures of the sculptures, ceramics and paintings created by My artistic sister

Finally the next day I traveled to Limburg with Paul for a few days of long distance walking, part of the Pelgrimspad

Then it was time to fly back to Malaysia, where I could recover…:-)

Of course beside all this, I visited and or invited friends. A few pictures

This visit was a bit longer than usual, the reason being that I was considering to come back once a year only, for a longer time. After this visit I think I will keep it as before, coming back twice a year, for about one month.

Journal 21-3-2015

How time flies. It is almost months ago that I published my last Journal! Before I start forgetting what I did, I better write an update ..:-)

In February we visited our friends Pat and Roger in Melbourne. We enjoyed very much their hospitality and visited interesting places. During our 12-days trip I took more than 800 pictures and I am still struggling to write a trip report. Here are a few, just to get an impression.

On 19 February the Chinese Year of the Goat started. Last year on the first day of CNY, I visited Houses of Worship in KL with my friend Joe Yap. This year we decided to explore Putrajaya. There is a lot of interesting architecture in this government capital of Malaysia, resulting again in many pictures. Full report here, in this journal a few highlights of our visit. I find the older buildings rather megalomaniac, but many modern ones are beautiful and stylish. Like these ministry buildings.

Putrajaya

Making a trip with Joe on the first day of CNY might become a nice tradition. Like having CNY lunch with my friend George, this time on the 2nd day. But of course I also went to Parit Baru, Aric’s hometown to to celebrate CNY with my adopted family…:-). After first visiting a “new” waterfall with Siang Hui and Nick. Another tradition, they celebrate CNY in Teluk Intan, not far from Parit Baru, and the last three years we have visited new waterfalls in Perak on the 3rd day of CNY: Lata Naga Air (2012),  Ulu Licin  (2013) and Upper Damak (14). This time our target was two waterfalls in the Klah river, near Sungkai. A beautiful trail and nice waterfalls. Detailed report later…:-)

My friend Rani joined this waterfall trip and came with me to Parit Baru for the CNY party of Aric’s family. Quite a crowd. There was food and fireworks. Here is the official picture. One Indian, one Malay, one Kwai Loh and many Chinese. There was a penalty if you were not wearing red and I was upset that my orange shirt was not red enough…:-)

CNY Parit Baru

Two weeks later I was back at Sg Klah, this time with Edwin, Janine, Paul and Fahmy. During my first visit we thought that we had found the second fall, Lata Tujuh, but comparing my picture with the one on the Internet, that was not the case. Looking at the Google Earth map, we had an idea about the possible location of this Tujuh fall, so I went back. True, we found another fall on that location, but again, not Lata Tujuh. However, it was a very pleasant trip with nice company. Looking for a suitable place for lunch, we found a nice shop, Nasi Bamboo Sg Klah. Will sure come again!

Of course I still walk regularly in Bukit Kiara. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. Recently I joined a group of hikers for a long hike, from TTDI until Desa Park City! A fun group, we had a birthday party, with cake, under the highway..:-)

I became a member of Friends of Bukit Kiara. We are worried about the plans of JLN to turn the park into a “recreational arboretum”. Here is a letter, written to the STAR by Pola Singh and me. Will it have any effect?

Upgrade of Bukit Kiara - Keep us in the Loop, Metro Star 18 March 2015

For another article Pola asked me if he could use some of my flora pictures. Of course no problem, so I selected a few. Here is the beauty of Kiara..:-)

We have started a cleaning and renovation exercise in our condo. Throwing away a lot of stuff. Like my old specs and my outdated computer and programming books. Bought a new bookcase for my books. The storeroom looks much better now. More to come…:-)

Journal 2-1-2015

December is not a very suitable month for waterfall trips. It is the season of the East monsoon, with lots of rain not only in the Eastern states, but all over the country. Not advisable to visit remote falls with a lot of river trekking. Early December I had visited the nearby Kanching Falls, we were back just before the rain started..:-)

Kanching

One week later I visited another waterfall with Janine, Edwin, Paul and Fahmy. I had been there before with my friend Eddie Yap, who has “discovered’ this pristine and unspoiled fall. He wants to keep it that way, I promised him to keep the location secret. We started early to avoid rain and we were lucky, the weather was splendid.

When at home, I spend much of my time with my computer, actually I must try not to get addicted (hey, you are already, some of my friends will tell me). Recently my computer chair broke down, I bought a new one in IKEA. Quite easy to assemble it…:-)

Chair

IMG_2470

My friend Chuan has recently discovered the hobby of bird photography and is a fast learner. One of his pictures, a heron in flight, is very nice and I had promised him that, after some editing, I would have this picture printed and framed. Here I am handing over the result, during a lunch in our favourite Black and White stall. The other picture is taken at the house of my friends Joseph and Beatrice. Christmas Caroling, very enjoyable even for a non-believer like me…:-)

Chuan Christmas Caroling

The weekend before Christmas I went to Sabak Bernam, to attend the wedding dinner of one of Aric’s cousins. It was a big event, more than 70 tables (that is the way the size of a Chinese wedding dinner is counted, one table is for ten people). Among the more than 700 guests there was one Kwai Loh (me) and one Indian (brother in law of the groom).  This time no pictures of the food (which was nice), the cutting of the cake, the uncorking of the champagne bottle, the yam seng singing. Just a few pictures of me…:-)

On Christmas Day we went to KLCC with Aei Ling, Aric’s older sister. Because her husband died recently, she and her kids will in general not visit family and friends during the mourning period of 100 days.  Therefore they did not attend the wedding dinner. We walked around in KLCC, crowded with everybody in Xmas mood;  later we had a nice dinner together.

A few days later there was a big family gathering in Damansara Mutiara, near to where we live. Everybody was supposed to bring some food, I had prepared eggs stuffed with salmon and cucumber. They liked it…:-). It was a pleasant meeting, Aric is a very popular uncle with the many kids around.

Here is the official picture

Family gathering

New Year’s Eve we stayed at home, as usual. This time we had decided to prepare a gastronomic dinner for the two of us, with Aric and I each preparing 5 dishes. We started with the first course at 7 pm and finished just before midnight. Big fun. Here is what we prepared.

dinner

From left to right and top to bottom:

1. Pork Liver Pâté  2. Avocado with prawns 3. Shiitake Soup 4. Scallops with vinaigrette
5. Salmon with herbs from the oven 6. Tomato stuffed with macaroni, olives and cheese
7. Salad 8. Cheese 9. Ricotta with strawberry coulis 10 Ice cream with warm berries

Wines: Merlot, Chardonnay, Sake and Monbazillac. We also had a bottle of champagne but we decided to keep it for another occasion. Don’t worry, we did not get drunk.

Wine

Because of the severe flooding in several states (more than 200.000 people evacuated!), the government had decided to cancel the traditional firework celebrations. Usually we watch the fireworks from our balcony, this time it was a quiet countdown.

Happy New Year

Journal 30-11-2014

Another journal. Starting with sad news.

On Wednesday 8-10-2014,  Aric’s brother in law, passed away. A few days earlier we had met Victor and his family during a wedding dinner. Here he is sitting to the right with his wife and two kids, still in good health.

Family dinner

During the weekend he developed a fever and on Wednesday Aric took him to the hospital. A few hours later he passed away: blood poisoning (septicemia). How fragile life is. Hectic days followed, cremation on the following Saturday.

Cremation

Less than one week later, our planned visit to Japan started. We considered canceling the trip, but decided to go. It was a good decision. Reports about Osaka, Kyoto and Wakayama have been published separately already. Here a picture of a Zen garden.

Zen Garden

Back in Malaysia, we were invited for the 60th birthday party of our friend Zen. In a very different style: a polka dot and swinging sixties party. A very pleasant evening!

I am still a regular walker in Bukit Kiara. The original Kiara Bunch has more or less dwindled away, only my friend Boon Chee is left over. So I often walk alone, but sometimes with friends whom I show the beauty of the hill. Here some pictures of two walks, one with Paul, another one with Rani.

When you have been following my blog, you will know that Bukit Kiara is under threat. Development is taking place and the plans to gazette it have not yet materialised. But at least there are plans to protect it.

The situation is much worse for Bukit Lanjan, opposite our condo. The hill is basically the property of real estate developers..:-( Mainly MK Land, but now also Mammoth Empire. We chose our condo in Damansara Perdana mainly because of the splendid view of the forested Bukit Lanjan slope, as seen from our balcony. Have a look at how it was when we bought it, and the present situation!

Interested to buy one of these “villas”? Better first read this forum…:-)

View from our balcony Bukit Lanjan now

Here are two more pictures, Google Earth screenshots, to show clearly how Mustapha Kamal (the big boss of MK Land) has created his own paradise on top of Bukit Lanjan, in the meantime destroying the hill. Like Saruman in Lord Of The Rings… 🙁 Click on the pictures to enlarge and see details. Left the situation in 2010, right as it was beginning of this year. Sad.

Bukit Lanjan before

Bukit Lanjan2

Another popular location for walking and jogging is the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM). I have been there a few times, but do not know the location well, so I was happy to accept my friend’s Edwin invitation for a hike. Here are a a few pictures.

Of course I also visited waterfalls, although I have become much more careful recently. I guided my late friend Yian’s daughter Carolline and her NZ boyfriend Dave to the Kanching waterfalls. And I joined Edwin to a “secret” waterfall, recently discovered by him.

Last weekend  I was back in Taiping. On 23-11 the Taping Heritage Society had organised a day trip for its members and the Committee had asked me to tell the participants about the Kota Ngah Ibrahim in Matang. I had collected a lot of information, you can find it here About the trip irself I will write a separate post.

It is always a pleasure to visit the Lake Gardens in Taiping.

Lake Gardens.

Journal 5-10-2014

On September 8,  the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated in the Chinese world. It is also called the Mooncake festival because of the tradition to eat mooncakes during this period. We went back that weekend to Aric’s hometown and decided to combine it with a visit of Teluk Intan. I had visited Teluk Intan numerous times and knew that it was famous for its landmark, the leaning tower.

Leaning tower

But there is more to see. A friend of mine maintains an interesting  website Malaysia Traveller and he has published an article about the Teluk Intan Attractions. It has a map with the location of the various points of interest. Here is a collection of interesting buildings. Visit his site for more details.

On our way back home, after the weekend, Aric suggested to stop for a while in Sekinchan. The village is famous for its seafood restaurants, but there is also a nice beach, Pantai Redang. In general I am not that keen on the beaches of the Straits of Melaka (Port Dickson, argh!) but this was a pleasant surprise. Local people have built a number of tree houses along the beach, using driftwood, parts of old boats, fishing nets etc. The result is very attractive. There is also a Chinese temple with a wishing tree. Will probably be crowded during weekends. Worth a visit!

Back home, we had dinner with Caroline, her boyfriend Dave and her brother Julian. Caroline is the daughter of my dear friend Yian Tze Ang, who passed away in 2010. Since then we have kept in touch, so when she came back from New Zealand to Malaysia for some time, we met for chitchat and dinner. One topic of conversation was that I had taken up playing flute after many years, but that I was unhappy with the condition of the instrument. “Why not use the flute my mother has been playing”, Caroline said, “She would have been very happy with the idea”

With some hesitation I accepted this generous offer, so a few days later I met them again, the flute was handed over ceremoniously and I am now playing it…:-)

Dinner withCaroline

Handing over the flute

Here is a first result, Paul and I are playing the famous Canon in D by Pachelbel. Keep in mind that both Paul and I have not been playing for several decades! We will have to practice more, and maybe Caroline will join us on guitar…:-)

The next weekend I went to Lenggong and Taiping with Joe Yap for a heritage trip, You can find a detailed report here.

My daily routine is still to walk in Bukit Kiara followed by breakfast in IKEA. When you have been following my blog, you will have read quite a few posts about Bukit Kiara, for example: Bukit Kiara, Not All is Well

I am pessimistic about the future of this unique piece of nature within the city. But still beauty can be found there.

Bukit Kiara Bukit Kiara

Yesterday we attended a Chinese wedding dinner. Hundreds of guests, a huge banquet hall. A nice-course dinner, quite good food. But the hall was freezing cold.Good that the hosts were generous with Hennessy XO..:-)  The Master of Ceremony was in drag, quite funny (if you understand Chinese, that is). After the official toast, he made a round through the hall, making fun of the guests. And as I was the only Kwai Loh in the hall, of course he had to pick me, LOL.

 

Journal 12-7-2014

From 29 May until 9 July I have been back in the Netherlands. During that period I have been so busy  that I had no time to update this blog. Here is a journal about what I have been doing. More detailed reports will follow. I arrived on Ascension day and had not much time to overcome my jet lag because two days later Yolanda, Paul’s sister, celebrated her 65th birthday with an afternoon party. Here she is showing her youngest grandchild. It was an animated party, where I met several old friends. The picture to the right shows our former music group, numerous times we have come together to play (classical) music and enjoy  the fellowship (and the food!).

Yolanda My friends

The next few days Paul and I have been done some long-distance walking, an activity we also started decades ago. We had planned to walk three days, a part of the Pelgrimspad  in the southern part of the Netherlands. But the first day I developed a few painful blisters, so we had to cut short our trip. Beautiful countryside, here is a detailed report: The Dutch Pilgrims Path

Pilgrims Path When I am back in Amsterdam, one of the first things I do is to call Inez, my long time friend and soul mate.  We had a nice dinner together in a Turkish restaurant. She is also a proud grandmother now…:-). By the way, don’t laugh at me that I am always complaining that I gain weight when back in Holland (this time it was only 2 kg) Turkish food Inez Turkish food

 

 

Aric arrived a few days later, just in time for the family gathering. My siblings and I always try to have a reunion during my visits, and this time we decided to do it in a grander way, because we had much to celebrate. My brother-in-law and I turned 70 this year, my brother Ruud 65 and my brother Pim 60, nephew Jasper 40, nephew Stefan 35, twin nephews Xander and Aswin 15. And there were several relationship celebrations. So we rented a number of bungalows in a recreation park and spent there the Whitsun weekend. Here is part of the crowd Family meetingAnd here a few more pictures

We had decided to make a trip to Norway during this visit. I had seen pictures of the Preikestolen, near Stavanger in Southern Norway and had become fascinated by this rock, rising 600 meter above the water of the Lysefjord. So we booked a flight to Stavanger and climbed this Pulpit Rock! Here we are. I can tell you that It is quite scary to get close to the edge…:-)

Preikestolen Preikestolen

As it was our first visit of Norway, we also visited a few other places, Bergen and Oslo. Traveling from Bergen to Oslo by bus, boat and train is quite spectacular, beautiful fjords, numerous waterfalls and still a lot of snow in the higher regions. Stavanger and Bergen are picturesque towns with their brightly-coloured wooden houses. In Oslo we visited the famous Vigeland park, an ice-bar and the local nude beach. Our overall impression of Norway is positive, we like to come back. But the country is really very expensive. I took about one thousand picture, here a few. Click here for a detailed report.

After we came back in Amsterdam, we took two days absolute rest, because the trip was interesting but also tiring. The last day of Aric’s visit we decided to go cultural and visit two musea. Not sure if you can call the Erotic museum and the Marijuana museum cultural, but it was fun…:-) After lunch with a pancake, we went to the beach. At 7pm it was still warm and sunny.

Although the water was still very cold (~ 16 C) I even took a bath. It happens not often that you have the beach completely for yourself…:-)! Beach Time flies, so the last two weeks of my stay were quite hectic. One day I met Nellie, my friend of 50 years, in Zwolle.  It was a real cultural visit, the Nijenhuis castle (part of the Fundatie museum) had two interesting exhibitions. We also visited the bookshop Waanders in de Broeren, I was very impressed by the way this old church had been given a new destination.

The next  weekend I did another long (20 km) walk, with two of my former students and the partner of one of them. After heavy rain at the start, the weather became sunny. From the train station of Amersfoort we took a bus to Woudenberg and then walked back to the station. I have documented the walk in an EveryTrail report

Heiligenbergerbeek wandeling

Another tradition during my stay in the Netherlands is that I visit my (only) sister and my brother in law. They live in a nice bungalow near Schagen and this time they took me around the countryside. We visited a plant nursery, specialised in unusual/exotic flowers and got a private guided tour by the friendly owner. Also a windmill, where the miller explained finally what had puzzled me for a long time: why do rotate windmills always counterclockwise! He is living in the mill and was so kind to give us permission to have a look inside. We also went to the seaside. In that particular region there are no dunes, so the hinterland has to be protected by a dyke. And the next morning we visited my brother Arie and his wife Ineke, who proudly showed us their new house in nearby Alkmaar.

Here are a few more pictures of my activities. From left to right, visiting my former vice-principal and good friend Dick, dinner with Yolanda, lunch with Edmund and Johan and dinner with my ex-student Raoul and his Thai husband Aunn.

On the last evening for my departure I had dinner with Pim and Inez in a restaurant in the northern part of Amsterdam. A pleasant surprise, we had to cross over the river by ferry to an industrial area, the restaurant was located in a former machine factory. Delicious food and very friendly service. The name of the restaurant is Hotel de Goudfazant

Then it was time to go back. The last days it had started raining, maybe the country was crying to see me leave…:-) But I was looking forward to Malaysian food and to celebrate Aric’s birthday…:-)

Rain Hokkien Mee IMG_9011

Journal 30-12-2013

One more day to go, high time to write a journal about the last weeks of 2013, so I can start 2014 with a clean slate…:-)

We went back to Sabak Bernam two times, related to the passing away of Aric’s father, 20 November last year. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, many events follow the lunar cycle, so on 9 November this year there was a memorial ceremony. A meal for the deceased, prayers and the burning of gifts for him in the hereafter.

Ceremonial meal

Burning of gifts

The second time was at the Winter Solstice, an important solar event in the Chinese calendar. We went to the cemetery, near Bidor. Aric took a beautiful picture of the whole family around the grave

cemetery

Here are a few more pics

We attended the wedding dinner of one of Aric’s cousins. In traditional style, with nine courses, cutting of the cake and yam seng singing.

Family picture

Nine courses

Of course I had several meetings with friends. Sometimes I am lazy to take pictures, but here are two. A visit to my friend Khong’s house to admire his garden and a dinner with friends of Aric in Chinese Muslim restaurant nearby our condo. Quite good food.

Meeting Khong and George

Dinner with Denise and Faresh

I made two waterfall trips with Eddie Yap. He guided us to a remote waterfall, which he had visited once before. So remote that even he, an experienced guide, could not find it back during the first trip..:-). We found a waterfall, but not the one he had in mind. It was a nice trip anyway, we had a relaxing bath in hot springs near KKB. Of course we had to come back, to find the missing fall! This time Eddie found it, a very pristine fall, access not so easy. A well hidden secret, we will keep it that way…:-)

We celebrated Christmas in the usual way, relaxing at home with a nice home-cooked dinner…:-)  Poached egg on mushroom with spinach as a starter, baked salmon with pak soy as main course, blue cheese (for me only, haha), and zabaglione with forest fruits as dessert. Cleaning the kitchen later was quite a job!

1-PC252060

After dinner

We always create our own (digital) Christmas and New Year card. This time using the Christmas decoration in our living room. Aric used his Photoshop expertise to “clean” the picture, I added the text.

Before

After

What better way to end the year than by visiting a waterfall! My Dutch friend and former colleague Dick was in Malaysia and wanted to visit a waterfall. Paul was also interested. Chiling is only open to the public during weekends, so there was a crowd. I have been there so many times now, but each time it is again a pleasure to visit this most popular waterfall in Selangor. This picture was a lucky shot, it looks as if only the two girls are there!

Chiling waterfall

We visited first the upper fall, as usual less crowded, then the lower fall. On our way back we had lunch in the WK restaurant in Ulu Yam. Here are more pictures.

 

Journal 6-11-2013

Back in my second home for almost three weeks already. How time flies. This time I suffered less from jet lag, maybe because I used Melatonin the first week. Melatonin is supposed to adjust your biological clock.

Melatonin

In earlier posts you have read that we are collecting KLM-houses. We bought many during our last visit, here is part of it. Next to it a sad picture of the present view from our balcony. The destruction of Bukit Lanjan has not stopped.

KLM-houses

View from our balcony

 

After two months of Western food I was craving for Nasi Lemak, Hokkien Mee (picture), Roti Chanai etc. But in the fridge there was still a smoked sausage (“rookworst”), so we had also a Western meal, with Sauerkraut and mashed potatoes..

Hokkien Mee

Sausage & Sauerkraut

After a few days of recovery I started walking again in Bukit Kiara. It is still under threat of “development”, but walking there remains a pleasure. Instead of completing the atrocious fence, the authorities should concentrate on maintenance. Personally I don’t mind the “illegal” rubber tappers, but the neglected signboard for the Sg Penchala is an eyesore.

When Aric was back in Sabak Bernam he sent me a picture of a beautiful bird, found in his mum’s garden. With a broken wing. For my birding friend Khong it was no problem to id the bird: an uncommon Black-backed Kingfisher

Black-backed kingfisher

Aric took it back to KL, then a friend brought the tiny(!) bird to a bird doctor in Shah Alam. But the bird was too weak, it died. Pity.

After recovering from the flight, as usual came the craving for jungle and a waterfall…:-) I found Paul and Rahim willing to join me to a remote waterfall in the Tanjung Malim region, the Gerehang fall. Not many people visit this fall, Rahim had to do a lot of chopping to clear a trail.

Gerehang fall

During our hike of about 5 hours we did not meet a single soul. When we arrived it started to rain for a while, but after the shower, the sun came through again, so we had coffee and our lunch. Unfortunately, with the sun came also the sweat bees, many of them, and with (or because of?) all my precautions, I got stung again. A tiny sting in my finger, but it resulted in a swelling of my hand that lasted for more than one day. I did not have to use my Epipen, but it was worrying. Maybe I must stop going to remote places in the jungle. Here are some more pictures.

Last weekend it was Deepavali, the Hindu festival of light. In the Ikana/Ikea shopping center, a beautiful, elaborate, kolam was created.

2013-10-31 11.59.21

I spent the weekend in Taiping with my friends George and Jenny. Of course we visited the Lake Gardens, but also the ruins of the New Rest House. With May, another friend, I attended a delicious Deepavali lunch, offered by her Indian friends. I also took part in the Kathina festival, see my separate post. Here are some Taiping pictures

Malaysia, my 2nd home, full of variety