Taiping, August 2020

After our trip to the Cameron Highlands had shown us that traveling in Malaysia was possible again after the lockdown, a visit to Taping was of course my first priority. I booked four nights in my favourite hotel Furama, we drove to Taping on Thursday 13 August, Aric went back to KL on Saturday, I stayed two more nights and went back home on Monday by ETS. Here is a report.

My friend George was also in Taiping and suggested that we could have lunch in a Tupai food court, Sin Wong Kok, where they had the best popiah in town, according to him. When we arrived , my friends were already waiting for us, George and Jenny, and also Suet Fun and Peter. A nice start of our trip and the popiah were delicious indeed.

Of course we took off our face masks during the lunch, but in public we were good citizens.

After checking in at Furama and taking some rest, we went out in the evening and drove to Simpang for the famous char koay teow prepared over charcoal fire. Char koay teow is a favourite of mine, I had visited this stall before, but for Aric it was a first. The shop has been operating since 1972, nowadays the son has taken over from the father. The char koay teow was perfect, we also had very nice stingray.

On our way back we stopped for a while at the Lake Gardens and had a look at the Chinese Pagoda bridge. That the bridge is illuminated is in itself not a bad idea, but the gaudy and continuous change of colors is ugly, IMHO. Judge for yourself.

The next morning we had chee cheong fun for breakfast at Tong’s stall in the small food court in front of the Novotel hotel. That has become a routine for me when I am in Taiping ūüėČ .

Back in our hotel, we noticed a group of monkeys in the huge tree opposite the hotel. Spectacled Langurs, we were quite surprised to see them there, and were wondering how they would go back to the Lake Gardens, where they probably came from.

Our first stop this day was in Barrack Road where we visited Mrs Long, the sister of our Singapore friend ST Lee. Another tradition. During my last visit I had promised her a photobook with pictures of Taiping.

Our next destination was the Taiping Aerodrome. There was some activity at the entrance, friends told me later that they were preparing for a skydiving event on Merdeka Day.

I had asked Aric to bring his drone, here is the first result. The former runway is clearly visible.

I am working on a blog about Isabella Bird in Taiping and one of the targets for this trip was to visit places related to her visit in February 1879. AFter crossing the Straits from Penang and entering the Sg Larut, she landed in Teluk Kertang, from where she continued to Taiping. In those days this was the main port to ship tin to Penang!

Now it is a romantic stream, with quite a few shipyards and charcoal kilns on the opposite bank of the river

We continued to Port Weld (Kuala Sepetang), the successor of Teluk Kertang, where we had the famous curry mee for lunch.

On our way back to Taiping we stopped at Kota Ngah Ibrahim, mentioned by Isabella Bird in her book The Golden Chersonese. Next to the fort is Speedy’s bungalow.

The fort is now an interesting small museum, free of charge and worth a visit. The centerpiece on the ground floor is a statue of an elephant . According to legend this elephant came back from the jungle in the 1840’s with tin mud on its legs, starting the tin mining in the Taiping region. The first floor tells the history of the court case against the murderers of J.W.W Birch, the first British Resident of Perak, who was killed in 1875. The trial took place in this fort.

The Kota has also been used as a school, a teacher training college and it was the HQ of the Japanese army during the war. Because of his involvement in the murder plot, Ngah Ibrahim was exiled and died in Singapore. His remains were brought back to the fort in 2006 .

A drone picture of the complex.

Our next stop was at the pillars in front of the ruined Casuarina Inn. The Taiping Heritage Society (THS) is planning a gotong royong (cleaning) operation of the pillars. The bungalow still existed in 1961 and has been used as accommodation for visiting Residents and Governors. Some of the (34) pillars are completely overgrown, cleaning them will be a formidable job.

A drone picture of the hill with the pillars and the ruins of the Casuarina Inn (originally the Taiping State Rest House).

From the same location the drone took a nice picture of the Lake Gardens. Just visible in the bottom right corner is the former Residence of the Assistant Resident, now the DO’s bungalow. Speedy started building it, Maxwell lived there and received Isabella Bird as his guest in 1879. Of course in those days it was only a simple bungalow, as described in her book.

We decided to have dinner in Yat Sun, one of Taiping’s landmark restaurants. It has now two branches, both in Jalan Pasar. The original establishment was closed that day, so we went to the new one. A bit lacking in atmosphere, but the Hainanese chicken chop was still very good.

After our meal we were looking for coffee and cake. We tried Yinn’s but found it closed. The owner told me later that they close earlier these days because of the covid19 crisis. So not everything is back to normal yet. The beautiful illumination of the facade (the former town house of the Hai San leader Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee) deserves a picture.

During my last visit to Taiping in February I had a look at a bungalow in Tupai, near my hotel, which had been overgrown for years, but recently cleaned. The building intrigued me and with the help of a friend I found out who the owner/caretaker was. Yeap, the president of the THS contacted this Dalbir Singh, who was willing to give us a tour of the inside.

Here is the bungalow, looking glorious in the bright morning sun.

The bungalow is in good condition. The house has not been inhabited for a long time, but it looks like the last residents moved out just recently.

Hopefully this house, built in the 1930’s, will get a new lease of life. I would not mind living there ūüėČ .

Next we visited Crystal Creek. A larger contrast is hardly thinkable. We wanted to have a look to see if apartments here could be a good investment.

We had a look at a penthouse, apparently never inhabited yet, so a massive “renovation” would be needed. The view from the balcony is spectacular, but we found the general atmosphere of Crystal Creek disappointing. Many condo’s are for sale, or used for AirBnb. A bit of a failed project, despite its own waterfall?

We had lunch in the Peace Hotel, char koay teow again. Notice the nice decorations on the pillars. Built it 1928, it is one of the many decorative buildings in Taiping.

After lunch Aric drove back to KL and I took some rest. These days I am a volunteer gardener at the TTDI edible garden, so I was interested when my friend Lay Chun told me that she had started a garden behind her house a few months ago. She showed me around, I was surprised how much she had achieved already in such a short time.

Taiping is called “Rain Town”, but during this visit there was not the usual afternoon rain. It was a Saturday, many people were at the Lake Gardens, boating, walking or just relaxing in the grass. Taiping, my 2nd hometown ūüėČ

When I visit the Lake Gardens, I always have a look at my favourite cannonball trees. For those Taipingites who don’t know the location, here are the coordinates: N 4¬į 51.05′ E 100¬į 45.10′

One problem I have in Taiping, is paying the bill after a dinner with friends. They are hospitable and generally faster. This time I was the host at Restoran Yes and I found a trick, by warning the waitress halfway the dinner that the bill was for me. It worked.

We had pig trotter, fish curry, sotong, tofu and veggie. Total bill RM 119.80 for six pax. Amazing ūüôā

Halim had told me that he was free for a trip on Sunday, did I have an idea? I suggested that we could explore Kuala Kangsar and surroundings and he agreed.

Actually I wanted to visit two places related to Isabella Bird. In February 1879 she travelled (by elephant!) to Kuala Kangsar to meet the Resident Hugh Low. She stayed a few days in his Residence, a simple bungalow on a hill top. This bungalow was demolished in 1904 to make way for the King’s Pavilion, designed by  Arthur Benison Hubback in 1906, and meant as a residence for visiting Governors of the FMS. Now it is a school.

Nearby is one of Hubback masterpieces, the Ubudiah Mosque, completed in 1917, in my opinion the most beautiful mosque of Malaysia.

Next to the mosque is the Royal Mausoleum of Perak, built in the same period. The two tombs in the right picture finally gave the answer to a question I have often asked (in vain) my Muslim friends :-). Graves have either two round tombstones or two flat ones. What is the difference? The answer is, the round tombstones are for males, the flat ones are for females.

After Kuala Kangsar we went to Kota Lama Kanan. Ever heard about it? After Birch was killed in 1875, the Brits retaliated of course with the Perak War as result. The decisive battle of Kota Lama Kanan was fought against Maharaja Lela and his army on 4 January 1876.

Nowadays Kota Lama Kanan is a peaceful rural district. We went to the mosque and were pleasantly surprised to find there a cannon, according to the caretaker dating back to the battle.

Why was I interested to visit this place? Because Isabella Bird also went there on 16 February 1879. Riding an elephant and crossing the Perak River on it. At that time, three years after the battle, the region was still a “black area”. Detailed story in my forthcoming blog about Isabella in Taiping.

From the mosque you can walk down to the mighty Perak river. It looks impossible to cross this river on the back of an elephant.

We were intrigued by the mention of a Batu Peringatan (memorial stone) on the signboard, looked around for a while, but could not find anything. Finally we asked the caretaker of the mosque who told us that the memorial stone was actually inside the mosque. He allowed me to enter the mosque, after washing hands and feet. A very nice guy.

Mansur Shah I was the 2nd sultan of Perak (1549-1577), he had his residence in Kota Lama Kanan, and in 1577, during Friday prayers in the mosque, he disappeared without leaving a trace. This memorial stone (round and only one!) has been placed in the mosque in 1916. Probably the sultan was kidnapped by the Acehnese. Interesting story.

Our last destination had nothing to do with Isabella Bird. I wanted to show Halim the Suka Suka Lake Retreat of my friends Aziz and Asiah, because I was sure he would love the place. I had stayed in this peaceful resort five times between 2010 and 2014, and it was nice to visit Aziz and Asiah again after a long time. Aziz buys old Malay houses, disassembles them and then rebuilds them on his resort. Halim liked the place very much and I think he will come back soon.

It was a wonderful day, full of variety, really grateful to Halim, hope we can do something similar during my future Taiping visits.

The next day I took the train back to KL, but in the morning I still had meetings with friends. First breakfast and an interesting chat with Anand in Lian Thong. Later, after checking out at Furama, my friend Bok Kin picked me up for lunch, again at Lian Thong. Bomb Mee this time.

After lunch she dropped me at the station. It was a wonderful visit, looking forward to go back soon.

Very convenient way of traveling with the ETS, and no problem with social distancing ūüôā

Here is a short video taken by the drone. It shows the Taiping Aerodrome, the Kota Ngah Ibrahim and the Casuarina Inn with the the pillars.

Journal Dutch trip 2019

On the 15th of April I arrived in Amsterdam and seven weeks later, on the 4th of June, I flew back to Malaysia.

I have written already quite a few blogs about this visit and I will give links in this final post. But there is still a bit more to report ūüôā

The first two weeks Aric”s sister joined us, it was her first visit to the Netherlands, we visited many tourist attractions, here are some highlights.

Detailed report here : Aei Ling’s visit. We also spent a few days with her in Paris, resulting in a separate report: Paris.

After Aei Ling had gone back to Malaysia, Aric stayed two more weeks. We visited a photo exhibition in Den Haag: Erwin Olaf in the Gemeentemuseum

And we spent five days in Italy, here is the report: Cinque Terre.

After Aric went back. I stayed for another three weeks. During that period I visited my family and friends. I wrote a report about three of these visits: Family Visits. Here a few pictures, one of each visit.

I also visited a friend in Utrecht and walked around a few hours in this beautiful town. It resulted in another post: Utrecht 2019 .

And finally I wrote a post about an open-air art exhibition in Amsterdam, which I visited just a few days before I flew back to Malaysia : ArtZuid

Altogether seven (!) blog posts ūüėČ . About some of my other activities I will report in this final post.

Aric and visited the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, Aric had never been there yet. In 2016 I have written a detailed report about the Royal Palace, Amsterdam. Here a few pictures taken during our visit.

During an earlier visit, Aric had found on the Internet information about an interesting sculpture near the Leidseplein, the Little Saw Man. The artist is unknown, and has created more artworks in the past decades. We found two more.

Each time I come back to Amsterdam, I fall in love again with the town ūüôā .

There is a lot of beautiful architecture, old and new. From left to right, the Westerkerk, the hardware store of Gunters & Meuser and the hotel Nhow, still under construction.

And there are so many beautiful museums! The Stedelijk Museum is one of my favourites. They have a large collection of Malevich paintings

Like many museums do nowadays, often different art forms are combined in the exhibitions, which adds to the pleasure of walking around.

I like the German Expressionists, the museum has quite a large collection.

A few more of my favourites.

My followers will expect that I also write something about food and the meals I enjoyed :-). I had many lunches and dinners with friends, at home or in a restaurant, but I don’t always take pictures nowadays.

Let me start with a YouTube where I show how to eat a raw herring. It was on Kings Day, normally I am not dressed like this ūüôā

My usual dinner with Yolanda took place this time in restaurant Entrepot . Casual, relaxed atmosphere. We ordered the chef’s menu, 5 courses, and everything was delicious. Each dish looked as an artwork ūüėČ

I had also a lunch with ex-colleagues from my school. In restaurant Merkelbach. a 3-course lunch menu. Beautiful weather, and here too each dish was a work of art (and delicious as well).

Two more “social” pictures. Left a lunch with friends from my school, right a dinner with friends from my university past.

I will finish this post with a few pictures of my apartment and its direct environment. Here is the livingroom and my study annex guest room.

This is the view north from my apartment.

And here the view west during sunset.

From my apartment it is a 5 minutes walk to a big shopping center, where I almost daily go for my grocery items. On my way I have to cross a small park, with a pond where I noticed a Common Coot who had built a nest. In the right picture the bird was standing up for a short while, so I could see that there were six eggs.

The nest was only a few meter away from a footpath and often people were standing there watching the bird.

On the first of June, three days before my departure, the eggs had hatched! In the video you can see three chicks and the father bringing food. Very interesting. Unfortunately on the last day, the nest was empty and only one chick was swimming beside the parents. Probably the other had been eaten by the seagulls who are frequenting the pond. That’s life

Seven wonderful weeks, though sometimes a bit hectic. After I came back to Malaysia from my “holidays”, I needed time to recover ūüôā

Singapore 2018

Regular readers of my blog may remember that during my visit to Taiping in April 2017, I met a gentleman from Singapore, Dr Lee. We are both interested in (Taiping) heritage and kept contact by email. He suggested that we should visit Singapore, not only for its cultural heritage, but also for its nature, he could show us some interesting places.

So we booked a hotel in Singapore’s Chinatown for three nights and took the Aeroline bus to travel. Quite convenient

On my to-do list were a few of the recent modern buildings and one of them we passed already in the bus…:-). The Interlace¬†(2013) , a 1000-unit apartment complex,¬†which looks like numerous bricks irregularly stacked upon each other

From the bus terminal we took the MRT to Chinatown. The Keong Saik hotel was a good choice, the room was not big, but comfortable, and we had a view of another building on my architecture list, the Tanjong Pagar Centre (2016), the tallest skyscraper in Singapore. Although designed by world famous  Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, it did not look very special from our balcony. The Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar temple nextdoor was more interesting, but we had no time to visit it.

After a short rest, we met Dr Lee and walked with him through Chinatown.

Nicely restored houses and shoplots, many consisting of three storeys, unusual in Malaysia. Also here mural art. There are several works by Zacharevic, but we had no time to look for them. Next time…:-)

During our walk passed another modern building on my to-do list, the Pinnacles@Duxton (2009), a residential complex of 50 storeys high, dominating the three storeys shoplots of Chinatown. Initiative for this development came from Prime MInister Lee Kuan Yew, who was concerned about the exodus of residents from Singapore’s center.

We walked back via Keong Saik Road, beautifully restored houses. In the 1960’s this was the red-light district of Singapore! Dr Lee told us that in those days you could not pass the street without being addressed by the ladies of the night..:-)

For our dinner we went to the foodcourt in the Chinatown Complex¬†, where we met a few of Dr Lee’s friends. Nice food, nice company.

The next morning Dr Lee picked us up from our hotel and brought us to the “best nasi lemak shop in town” for breakfast. He was formally dressed this time because he had to work in the hospital that day.

But first he dropped us at the Botanical Gardens, where we spent the next few hours. The gardens are 158 year old and, since 2015,  an Unesco World Heritage Site.

We started with the Rainforest, a small part of the gardens, actually older than the gardens themselves! Of course Malaysia has more rainforest, but Singapore is one of the few cities with a rainforest within its borders.

We walked around, beautiful views everywhere

On many places you can find sculptures, Here are two of them, Change Kuda (2011) by Chong Fah Cheong and Girl on a Bicycle (1987) by Sydney Harpley.

A few more pictures. To the right the Bandstand (1930), no longer used for musical performances, but still an iconic landmark of the gardens.

The bandstand was a good spot to take some rest

After our rest we had again enough energy to continue…:-)

Nice flowers.

Interesting leaves.

The gardens are free and open all day but for the famous National Orchid Garden you have to pay an entrance fee. After some hesitation we bought tickets and entered. Very worthwhile. Never in my life seen so many orchid species!

Here is a collage of orchids we have seen.

First we wanted to take a “wefi”, then a friendly visitor offered to take the picture. Even better..:-)

It would have been no problem to spend the whole day in these gardens, but we had decided to spend the afternoon in another beautiful garden, the Gardens by the Bay, created in 2006 on reclaimed land. The public transport in Singapore is well-organised, we took the MRT to the Bayfront station and walked via an underground corridor to the gardens.

This passage has a few remarkable works of art. Left in the upper picture is a painting by Sol Lewitt, Wall Drawing#915, Arcs, Circle and Irregular bands (1999). Further on both walls are covered with mirrors, which gives multiple reflections. Could not find the name of the artist

Perfect location to take a wefi..:-)  Can you find out who of us has taken this picture?

When you exit from the underground passage and look backwards, you see the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel towering above you. One of the most impressive buildings I have seen in my life. I have stayed once there, expensive but it was worth the money..:-).

Entering the gardens you pass three smaller gardens, Malay, Chinese and Indian, Singapore is proud to be a multi-racial country. Far away the surrealistic Supertree Grove, but first we had a simple lunch at a snack bar.

Also in these gardens you can spend easily a full day. We had only limited time and decided to visit one of the two domes in the Gardens, the Cloud Forest dome. Expensive but 100% worth it.

Inside the dome a “misty mountain” has been created, with a waterfall, and pathways leading up and round the structure. Amazing and fascinating, just look at the pictures.

Of course flowers, mosses, ferns everywhere. These are fuchsia flowers, a favourite of mine.

Look carefully, two pictures show real flowers, the other two are fake!

In between the Lego “artworks”, there are real pitcher plants and other carnivorous plants.

A lot of maintenance is needed, but the result makes it worthwhile.

Interesting artworks, made of tree roots.

There is a Secret Garden too

When we bought tickets for the Cloud Forest, we thought about combining them with tickets for the “canopy walk” at the Supertree Grove, but the friendly lady at the ticket counter advised us to wait, because there might be rain in the afternoon and then the walk is closed. Good advice, there was a downpour while we were inside the dome, when we came out we noticed that the canopy walk around the trees was empty.

We went back to our hotel and had some rest. Later Dr Lee picked us up and with two of his friends we went to the Kent Ridge Park, to have a view of the harbour. Nice surprise, his friends had brought pulut & mango for us. Delicious

Next we went to Labrador Park, where we walked a part of the boardwalk. Nice view of another building on my list: Reflections at Keppel Bay (2011), a luxury residential complex designed by Libeskind, another famous architect. Singapore knows how to choose…:-)

Here is the boardwalk

TIme for dinner. We went to the Alexandra Village Food Centre, where we had a tasty soup and claypot chicken rice from the well known Tai Liok restaurant . It really is an advantage to go out with Singaporeans, they know where to find the good food!

The next day, after breakfast in our hotel, we took a bus to the Southern Ridges for a long hike, from the Alexandra Arch bridge to the Henderson Wave. Surprising that Singapore has so many hiking and walking opportunities. On the map you can see also the location of the Labrador Park.

The bus passed two buildings I had seen before already, the Reflections and the Interlace

It was an interesting walkway. We met many student groups on a Learning Journey, as it is called.

We continued until the Henderson Wave, a pedestrian bridge with a unusual artistic design

From this bridge we had a nice view of the Singapore skyline. Dark clouds again, it was quite rainy during our visit

The Henderson Wave, as seen from below.

After this walk we took a bus to the city center, as we had planned to visit the National Gallery in the afternoon. There were still remnants of the Christmas celebration. Again we had a very simple lunch

We walked around and had a look at Singapore’s landmark, the Merlion.

View of the Theatres on the Bay, colloquially known as the big durians. Memories came back of a “concert” by MozART Madness, attended many years ago…:-)

Boat Quay, dwarfed by the skyscrapers

We walked around in what is called the Civic District. Here many of the heritage buildings are located. Left another “wefi”, right the St Andrews Cathedral (1861)

The Victoria Hall began as Town Hall in 1862, the Asian Civilisations Museum is housed in what originally were the Government Offices (1864). The Old Parliament House, possibly the oldest surviving building of Singapore was built in 1827 as a mansion for a Scottish merchant. The National Gallery occupies two more recent buildings, the Former Supreme Court and the City Hall, both built in the first half of the 20th century

We decided to keep the National Gallery for the next day, and walked a bit more along the padang in the direction of two conspicuous buildings. The left tower is part of the Raffles CIty (1986) designed by architect I.M. Pei who has been responsible for many of Singapore’s skyscrapers. The right building was new for me, and it was only after I came¬† back home that I found out that it is¬† the South Beach development.

Looking back from the padang, the skyline of Singapore, the National Gallery, the Victoria hall with in front of it the Singapore Cricket Club.

It was in this club , the oldest one of Singapore (1852), that Dr Lee invited us for our farewell dinner. The club has a dress code, fortunately we had brought long pants, shirts, shoes. We started with an aperitif and what could be a better choice than a Singapore Gin Sling?

After our dinner we walked to the Singapore river for a few night view pictures. The majestic look of the Fullerton hotel suggest that is one of the prestigious old hotels of Singapore like the Raffles. Not true, the building is from 1928 and for many years it has been the Post Office of Singapore. It was only in 2001 that it became a five-star hotel!

After the posh dinner in the club, we enjoyed at a stall coconut ice cream as a dessert…:-)

The next morning we visited the National Gallery. There was so much to see and admire that I decided to write a separate post about this impressive museum: National Gallery, Singapore

 

In the afternoon we took the bus back and arrived home around 11 pm, tired but very satisfied. There is much more to do in Singapore and we are looking forward to come back soon.

 

Middelburg

Middelburg is a town in the south-western part of the Netherlands and capital of the Zeeland province. It takes about 2.5 hour by train from Amsterdam, very remote according to Amsterdam standards…:-). So ¬†I have visited Middelburg (en Zeeland) a few times¬†only. A friend of mine, Henk, ¬†is living in a small village near Middelburg, we know each other from our University days, more than 40 years ago! Since a few years we have a more or less regular contact again, ¬†because we are both interested in astronomy and cosmology.

Finally this year¬†we met for the first time in many decades. I could stay overnight in their “garden house”.¬† ¬†Did I like mussels, Henk’s wife Nel asked me? Sure, I did and Zeeland is famous for its seafood.

Henk met me at the station and had planned a walk in the historical center of Middelburg. Nice weather. MIddelburg has a rich historical past, in the Dutch Golden Age (17th century) it was after Amsterdam the most important trading center. Many lavish 17th and 18th century merchant houses and storehouses (some of them  restored after bombing in WWII) can still be admired. Center of the town is the Abdij (Abbey) with the Lange Jan (Long John) tower, built in the 14th century

We decided to climb the tower, one of the highest monumental towers in the Netherlands (91 meter). Beautiful view of the town , the abbey and the impressive town hall

We continued our walk, admired the Town Hall and had coffee on a terrace at the Market square. I tried the Zeeland specialty, a cinnamon bun called bolus. Bolus means “turd” in English, quite an apt name, I think…:-) ¬†In May 1940 part of the historical center of Middelburg was destroyed by bombing and fire. I include¬†one¬†picture of the St Joris Doelen as it looked like in 1940. What a beautiful restoration. The same holds for the Abdij.

After our lunch we had a look at the beautiful sundial of the Stadsschuur.¬†Not everybody looking at this sundial will understand the meaning of the figure eight “decorations”. They are analemma’s. See the Equation of Time for technical details.

From Middelburg it was only a short drive to Serooskerke where Henk and Nel are living in an attractive bungalow, with a beautiful garden. When they told me I could stay overnight in their “garden house”,¬†I expected simple accommodation, so I was quite surprised that it was actually a full-fledged apartment.

We had a very pleasant evening. Nel apologised that the mussel season was over, instead we had lobster. Yummy!  And a dish with zeekraal (Salicornia, glasswort in English) and baked mussels. And ice cream with strawberries. What a treat.

We had a lot to talk that evening…:-) Memories from our shared past, stories about our respective family backgrounds. We will hopefully meet again next year. In Zeeland or in Kuala Lumpur…:-)

Kemensah Krazy 12-4-2015

A few months ago Aric asked me if I was interested to join him and a few of his friends on a hike, called Kemensah Krazy.

website

They were thinking about the Kemensah Kinda Krazy, 15 km, “ideal for those who want to have a feel of what the jungle is all about without going to extremes

Could I go the distance…:-) ¬†Hm, I was pretty sure I could, with my almost daily morning exercise in Bukit Kiara. So I¬†registered for the 15 km hike. Checking¬†more carefully what to expect, I found on the website this profile of the 15 km hike. It made me slightly nervous…:-) ¬†Distance no problem, but up and down all the time, total ascent (and descent) 850 meter

profile

The start was at 9 am, but we had to be there at 7:30 am to collect the race card and a BIB number, which you have to fix on your shirt. The race card will be punched at the various checkpoints and the BIB number contains a tag that will record your start and finish  time. Here is my BIB  number. With my nickname Kwai Loh..:-)

BIB

The whole event was organised very well. Free shuttle buses took us from the car park to the start. There breakfast was provided and you could leave a bag with a fresh set of clothes at a counter. For our hike there were six checkpoints, with free water and fruits.

For the 15 km hike there were about 200 participants, just after the start there was a big crowd, slowly moving forward. The organisers had done their best to create an attractive circuit. Sometimes wide logging roads, but also narrow jungle trails and a few steep slopes. Those slopes formed real bottlenecks, at one place we had to wait for about 45 minutes, in the hot sun. We had decided to walk at our own pace, Aric and his friends were faster than me, and often I walked alone, which I did not mind at all…:-)

It was a tough hike, much more strenuous that I had expected. There were a few moments that I thought about giving up. Actually there were quite a few participants who did, halfway. And almost everybody was huffing and puffing. I may have been the oldest participant and one Indian couple asked about my age. When I said I was almost 71, they replied: Wow, we are half your age. That you can do it, gives us strength to continue.  Really nice to hear.

The last (very steep!) part of the hike could be skipped without missing a checkpoint. Aric was waiting for me around there, to tell me that…:-) Sweet. But I decided to struggle on.

And I made it !!

When I shared the finish picture with my siblings in Holland, my youngest brother commented : “Everybody else went home already?” ¬†LOL. But his next comment was that he complimented me…:-). Actually it was true that I was one of the last finishers…:-) ¬†It took me more than 6 hours to hike this 15 km.

Here is the official result. A few participants finished after me. Aric (Cheah Yoke Seng) finished late too , but that was because he had been waiting for me! Later he told me that he and his two friends also had moments where they considered giving up!

results

Here are my certificate and my medal.

Certificate

Medal

And here is a Google Earth map of the circuit. There were three loops, green, red and finally blue. The red one was quite strenuous. Will I (we) do it again. No lah.  But it was a good experience

Map

And of course I had to show off with my well-earned T-shirt. Here in IKEA. You may note that my tummy is still there…:-(

Showing off

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… ūüôĀ 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 1-9-2014

Time flies. My last journal was published seven weeks ago, just after I came back to Malaysia. After recovering from jet lag (not so difficult this time), I settled down in my usual routine. A morning walk in Bukit Kiara followed by breakfast (RM 1 only!) at IKEA. Spending a lot of time with my laptop, actually too much, especially now that I have become addicted to acomputer game called ¬†Hay Day ¬†ūüôĀ

But of course also quite a lot of social activities, like meeting friends and enjoying food. Here is a selection of (food) pictures.

Soon after I was back home and acclimatised, the urge came to visit a waterfall. So I eagerly accepted my friend Siang Hui’s invitation for a recce to a remote waterfall in the Semenyih region. It would be a long hike, we had to leave early. Three of us, my friend Teoh also joined. Maybe because I did not sleep well the night before, but after about one hour on our way, I did not feel well, a tight feeling in my chest. After a discussion with my friends, we decided to go back.

I was worried (and not only I…haha), so I made an appointment with my cardiologist for an echo and a stress test. I could see him only after Hari Raya (the end of Ramadan), so I kept quiet a bit for a while. ¬†Quite relieved when the results were ok!

With Hari Raya we visited Aric’s hometown. It is an old Malay custom to fire impressive coconut palm canons, celebrating the¬†Hari Raya¬†Aidilfitri festival. And impressive it was, I was worried for a while that it might affect my hearing. I wrote a separate blog about it: Boom Boom!!

Hari Raya

After I had received my clean bill of health, I was looking forward to meet Akke and Pim and show them a few nice places in my 2nd home…-). ¬†Akke is the daughter of friend¬†of mine, who, with her future husband, was traveling in Malaysia. We visited the Kanching waterfalls and the Batu Caves and¬†completed it with a delicious¬†dinner, prepared by Aric.

Here are a few recent pictures of Bukit Kiara, where I have my daily exercise. I have written many blog posts about it, you can find them here . I am quite pessimistic about its future, JLN (the National Landscape Department) is trying to transform it into a concentration camp, including barbed wire fencing ..:-(  But still beautiful, along the budding Penchala river I have hidden another of my geocaches.

I am a member of the Taiping Heritage Society. I joined them in May on a trip to Lenggong. A few weeks ago they organised a members night and asked me to give short talk about this trip. Here are some pictures. I had prepared too much material for my talk, so I have published this material in a separate blog post  Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley

On my way back from Taiping, I decided to stop at Pos Dipang to meet my Orang Asli friend Jinnah and his family. Recently he has been our guide to the spectacular Pos Dipang waterfalls.Very nice people. They belong to the Semai tribe, my Bahasa (Malay language) is bad, but we could communicate quite well in broken English.

Jinnah & family

To end this journal, a few pictures of a trip made with Aric to a Hot Springs near Bentong. I had passed the place before several times, the hot springs were not well maintained. But now some renovation had taken place, itr looked a lot better. The water was not too hot and you could use the mud from the bottom to scrub your skin…:-)

 

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

 

Journal 17-10-2013

The last three weeks, after Aric went back to Malaysia, I have been busy with many social and cultural activities. I started with visits to my GP, my cardiologist, my diabetician, my ophthalmologist and my dentist….:-) ¬†Everything is under control.

My dentist used a new torture contraption, which made me look like a breedbekkikker (wide-mouthed frog, rana ore lato, can only be found in the Netherlands, lol).

Breedbekkikker

I visited two more musea and went to two concerts. In the Concertgebouw I listened to Maria Pires, playing Beethoven. She got an ovational applause which she rightly deserved. With a friend I went to the Gauguin, Bonnard & Denis exhibition in the Amsterdam Hermitage museum. A bit disappointing, although the museum itself is worth a visit. Another concert was given in the impressive Neo-Gothic Dominicus church in Amsterdam. My friend Yolanda sings in a choir, they performed works by Bach and Mozart. Beautiful music, especially the Bach cantata Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir . With another friend I went to an exhibition of Hundertwasser  in the Cobra museum in Amstelveen.


The Hundertwasser exhibition was a pleasant surprise. I knew him only as an architect (here is is picture I took of the Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna, 6 years ago), but first he became famous as a painter, in the 1950’s. Here are some of his paintings. Both from these paintings and his buildings it is clear that he did not like straight lines, he called them devil’s tools..:-)

When I am back in the Netherlands, it has become a tradition to have dinner with Yolanda in a ¬†‘fine dining’ restaurant. This time we went to restaurant Vandemarkt¬†and had a delicious dinner there. The presentation of the food makes it almost a work of art.The reason that in the picture the main course looks messy, is that I could not control myself, I started eating before I thought about taking a picture…:-)

vandemarkt food

Yolanda

Another tradition during my stay in the Netherlands is a reunion with my siblings. This time it took place at my sisters place. My brother Ruud could not be there because he just had had a hip replacement operation, but in these days, with webcams and skype, he still was able to join virtually…:-)

Just before coming back to Malaysia I went to Groningen to meet Ruud and his loved ones. He was already able to walk in the garden with his crutches and could point out to Jur where the walnuts were hanging. I stayed overnight and met his two sons, my favourite nephews.

Harvesting walnuts

Two nephews

 

 

I also met many friends, former students, ex-colleagues etc. Often for a drink and food, so not surprisingly I gained weight again, will have to work hard to slim down. The weather remained nice and warm with often spectacular sunsets.

It was only during the last few days of my stay in the Netherlands that the weather became autumn-like, with some heavy rain and lower temperatures. But altogether I have been very fortunate, the weather gods must love me. On  my way to Schiphol airport I finally could take a picture of the trees near my apartment in autumn colors.

I will end this post with a picture of my new watch. It is a Pebble watch, synchronised with my iPhone. It gives a warning when a SMS or email has arrived and you can choose between many different displays of the time.

Pebble watch2013-10-16 09.36.26