Rock Climbing

In a recent post, Down Memory Lane , I have written about my mountaineering past. In those days I went during the summer holidays with my friends to Austria. To get additional training we also visited several times, during weekends, a rock climbing site in Germany, the limestone hills of the Kanstein . Here are a few pictures. The two pictures to the left show me (yes, this slender young man is me, lol) climbing a route up the Sudostlicher Buchensluchtfelsen and in the picture to the right I am abseiling from the Liebesnadel (the Love Needle, guess why it was named that way!)

Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing

Abseiling

And here I am climbing the Vogelbeerfels. If you look carefully, you can see that I am secured by a rope, after all I was a beginner. But the rappelling was unsecured, if you would loose your grip, you would just fall down…:-)

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That was fifty years ago.

Last week, one day after my seventieth birthday, I went rock climbing again. My friend Chadel had invited a few friends for a climbing practice day at Bukit Takun, a rock climbing site near Templer’s park. After a thorough instruction we would climb up the steep rock face, and then rappel 30 meter down.  It was especially the rappelling that attracted me…:-)

Bukit Takun is a conspicuous rocky hill. To reach the rock face, a steep climb was needed. In the right picture Chadel is pointing out the route we were going to follow. An almost vertical wall, rather overwhelming..:-)

Bukit Takun

Steep access

The climbing wall

We would start at the lower yellow cross, first climb halfway, then up through a so-called chimney (second cross). Finally abseiling down from the red cross.Click the pictures to enlarge them

Climbing up

Rappelling down

First Chadel explained rope handling, some useful knots and how to secure (belay) a fellow-climber. He is an experienced guide and has brought numerous clients to this hill.

Chadel went up first. In the left picture he has almost reached the ledge, where he will prepare the safety anchor for Edwin and me. In the middle picture it’s me on the ledge and in the third one Edwin. To be honest, I found it not easy and almost gave up, but thanks to Chadel’s pep talk I made it..:-). Click on the picture to enlarge it, so you can see how Edwin is belaying me.

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Me

Edwin

From the ledge Chadel lowered us down to the base, where we took a rest and had our lunch. Because this was just a practice climb..:-).

The second half (pitch) of our climb was easier but had a “chimney” as a bottleneck. In a chimney you have to use a different climbing technique and here it helped that I had some experience from my mountaineering past.

After this second pitch it was an easy scramble up to where we were going to rappel thirty meter down to our starting point. Not taking any risk, Chadel prepared an extra safety rope, in case we would loose our grip on the abseiling rope. The abseiling technique is very different from what I have been doing fifty years ago, Mark the tiny red gadget, that does the trick.

I think from my face it is easy to see how happy I was.

I also took a few videos. Here Chadel is starting the climb, belayed by Edwin.

In this video I have already climbed to the ledge abd I am watching how Edwin is coming up

And here Edwin is abseiling down. Can you hear the funny buzzing sound? There were a lot of annoying sweat flies..:-)

Thanks for a wonderful trip, Chadel!

Taiwan trip videos

During our recent trip to Taiwan, I have take quite a few video clips, which are now available on YouTube. Here they are presented with some additional comments and links..

The first clip was taken in the Longshan temple in Taipei. This temple was originally built in 1738 by Chinese settlers from Fujian, It was destroyed many times by earthquakes and fires, but every time rebuilt. The last time was after the Americans had bombed the temple in 1945, claiming that the Japanese had hidden weapons inside the temple. It is an iconic example of classical Taiwanese architecture.

Also a temple, but in a completely different style and much more recent: the Shell Temple in Dangshui. In the hills, north of Taipei, remote, we hired a taxi to get there. Completely built from sea corals and shells. Amazing.

During our trip we had lots of nice and often unknown food. One of them was this dish with I think  is called Milk Mochi. It has a Japanese origin and was very refreshing. Aric shows here how to eat it.

One of the tourist attractions of Taipei is the Maokong Gondola. It connects the Taipei Zoo with the Maokong hill. Opened in 2007 it was closed in 2008 after structural damage of the supporting pylons was discovered. Reopened in 2010. Some of the cabins have glass bottoms.

Maokong is a tea growing region, so one of the attractions is to drink tea in one of the many tea houses that can be found near the gondola station. It was misty, so the famous night view of Taipei was disappointing. But we had tea and here Aric is showing how to do a tea ceremony (more or less…haha)

In Xin Beitou I took two videos of the geothermal activity there. The first one on our way back from our  hot spring bath experience in the remote location. Note how there is a small stream with cold water just next to the boiling water and the steam. Transported with numerous pipes to the baths.

In Xin Beitou itself, walking distance from the center, there is a “Thermal Valley”, a small lake of hot water, greenish colour, with a lot of steam coming from the water.

Our next destination was Jiaoxi, on the north-east coast of Taiwan. Here Aric had discovered during his research a nice waterfall, the Wufengqi falls. Walkable from the town.This is the lower tier

The upper tier is quite impressive, a tall vertical fall. We were not the only visitors, although it was  a steep climb. This is a popular tourist attraction.

One of the must-visit places for food in Jiaoxi is the Wengyao Roast Chicken restaurant . Their specialty is chicken, slowly smoked over tropical longan wood.

WengYao restaurant

First here a video about how they prepare the chicken.

What a job! The chicken is cooked in its own fat, with some herbs. You can only order a whole chicken. They bring it to your table with two pair of gloves and you have to dissect it yourself. Here I am doing that, it became a kind of slapstick video. Watch it full screen and have a good laugh.

By the way, I have never in my life eaten a more juicy and delicious chicken!

From Jiufen, the last village where we stayed, we made a few trips in the north-eastern hills of Taiwan. One of the places Aric liked to visit was the grave of Teresa Teng, a Taiwanese Chinese pop singer, passed away at a young age in 1995 and still very popular in Malaysia and other Asian countries. Elaborate grave, with her songs being played. Interesting.

On our last day we explored the Pingxi line, a single-track railway line, built in 1921 to transport coal. Now a major tourist attraction. On a day ticket you can stop at each station, walk around and then proceed to another one. From the Shifen station you can walk to what is considered the most scenic waterfall of Taiwan, the Shifen fall. Kind of Niagara falls in miniature.

The Shifen station itself is an interesting one, with the railway tracks running in the middle of the village main street! When no train is arriving these railway tracks are a center of activity with people preparing huge Chinese lanterns, writing messages on them and then let them go up in the sky.

Chinese lanterns

Teoh’s Canyon

My friend Teoh has been talking several times about a beautiful canyon in Negeri Sembilan, where he would like to bring me and my waterfall gang.  A canyon in Malaysia! It was not easy to find a suitable date, that everyone was available, so finally we went only with three people, Teoh Edwin and I.

After breakfast in Batu 9, Cheras, we went on our (long) way to the region of Lata Kijang. This waterfall was almost destroyed by a severe flash flooding in September 2010 and is officially still closed to the public. With a 4WD you can reach the fall, we had to park our sedan at one of the Orang Asli kampungs along the access road and walk from there.

Hot and sunny

It was a few years ago that Teoh had been here, some development had taken place, it took him some time to find the right trail. It was a hot and sunny day, so it was really refreshing when we finally reached the river and could start river trekking!

Start of river trekking

It had not been raining for some time, so the water level was relatively low and the trekking easy. In the beginning the riverbanks were still walkable, but gradually they became steeper

River trekking

It was amazing to see how some of the trees were clinging to the rocks.

Giant tree roots

Tree clinging to the rocks

And then there was the canyon! Quite impressive. This is not a safe place to be when there is a risk of rain!. We noticed debris several meters up in the tree branches

The canyon

The canyon becomes narrower and at the end we saw a small waterfall. Huge tree trunks and branches in (and under) the water.  Here the water became also deeper, we would have to swim to get nearer. It might be interesting to find out if the canyon continued after the fall, but we considered it too risky to go further.

The canyon ends in a fall

Another reason that we did not stay too long, was that not only there were quite a few bees, there were even bee hives up against the rocks. With my bee-sting allergy I did not feel comfortable, so we returned.

Bee hives

Here are a few more pictures. This is the only canyon I know about in Malaysia, a quite interesting experience. Also a bit overwhelming.

So it was also nice to be back again in the green forest, with nice flowers…:-)

Nice flowers

Fresh green plants

On our way back we decided to have a look at the Semeniyeh reservoir, where last year a massive landslide took place. The road is still blocked, they are working on it.

Semeniyeh landslide

Road under construction

 

Here is a video of the canyon:

So many waterfalls!

What better way to end the year than by visiting a waterfall!” That is how I ended my last post for 2013. So, let me start my first post for 2014 in a similar way:  “What better way to start the year than by visiting a waterfall!

Yesterday I explored with a few friends waterfalls in the Sg Rinting. This river is located in the same region as the Chiling waterfalls, visited last week. But that is where the similarity ends..:-). The Chiling fall is the most popular waterfall in Malaysia, with a crowd of visitors each weekend. The Lata Medang, the main waterfall of the Rinting river is less frequented, access takes longer, although the trail is easy to find nowadays. Here is the Medang waterfall (upper part) with my personal marker. Picture taken few years ago.

Medang

Our target for this trip was not the Medang fall, but the several falls that can be found downstream of it. With as our main interest a tall fall, named Kijang Jatuh. After  having breakfast with Siang Hui and Nick, near my condo, we drove to KKB where we met Eddie. The trail head is the same as for Bukit Kutu and the Sg Luit waterfalls, starting from Kg Pertak. Well defined trail until you reach an Orang Asli (?) campsite near the first waterfall.

Well defined trail

First fall

From there we started river trekking to the next tiers. Vague traces of trails, sometimes just following the river. Very rewarding hike. Here are some of the tiers we found.

The second fall from right is called Lata Mendung. With a nice big pool. We took a short rest to take a group picture. Using the timer option. Eddie pushed the camera button and had to hurry to join us. Did not realise the water was quite deep, so he looked like a hobbit..:-) So we tried again, I took his place, becoming the hobbit. Very funny…:-)

Lata Mandung

Lata Mandung

We continued our hike and reached the Twin Falls. The next one should be the tall Kijang Satuh. But how to go there? Following the river or scrambling up the slope? Siang Hui and Eddie decided for the second option. It was a tough and steep climb up to a former logging road, completely overgrown. Thanks to Eddie’s and SH’s expert parang handling, we managed to reach the location of the Kijang Jatuh fall. However, we could not reach the bottom of this impressive tier. Halfway down the slope became too steep. Here are the Twin falls and a partial view of the Kijang Jatuh. Maybe we must come back and try the river trekking option.

Twin Falls

Kijang Jatuh

I took a video of this fall, it gives an impression.

From this fall it is only a short hike to the Lubuk Mecu. Here we had a rest and our lunch. Time for another group picture. No hobbits this time..:-)

Lubuk Mecu

When we were ready to go back, a downpour started. It is what you can expect when trekking in the rain forest and part of the fun. But good that it did not happen during our scrambling up the slope! Here are some more pictures taken during this great trip. Not only waterfalls…:-)

A perfect start of 2014. In a few months time I hope to celebrate my 70st birthday, maybe it is time to slow down my waterfall activities a bit. But this trip was big fun!

Dutchman meets Orang Belanda

Recently I have visited my friend Joe Yap in Sabah. We had a nice time, full of activities. Here is a detailed report: Sabah November 2013

One highlight was the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, located about 50 km from Sandakan.

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Near Sandakan there is also the better-known Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, but I preferred to see the Proboscis Monkeys. Why? Because these splendid animals with their characteristic big noses and their potbellies are called in Malay: Orang Belanda, which means Dutch Man ! Not really a compliment for me and my compatriots… haha. Are our noses really that big? And our bellies that pot?

Here is a Dutch Man in all his glory.

Orang Belanda

And here is a Dutch Lady with her child. She has a pot belly too, but her nose is smaller.

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The Proboscis Monkey is endemic to Borneo and considered an Endangered Species. Years ago I had seen them in Bako N.P in Sarawak, but only from a distance. Here they are used to humans and come close, especially during feeding times.

Feeding time

During our visit there were two (adult) males, each with his harem. Several of the females had children. These monkeys are really a photographers delight! Here is a collection of pictures.

Besides the Proboscis Monkeys, there are also Silvered Leaf Monkeys. In Peninsular Malaysia you can find many of them in Kuala Selangor. Beautiful animals.

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Here also a few more pictures. They have long beans for lunch

There are also a few hornbills (Oriental Pied)

Oriental Pied Hornbill

We enjoyed our visit tremendously, although I can understand that not everybody is happy with this project. The sanctuary is a small strip of mangrove forest and belongs to a oil palm plantation, as can be seen clearly on Google Earth.

Labuk Bay

A very small strip, hardly a sustainable habitat for a (fairly large) group of monkeys. They depend for their food on the Sanctuary and are almost domesticated. Exploited, say the critics. Very different from the Sepilok approach where the Orang Utans are taught to live independently of humans. Here are Tripadvisor comments, varying between “terrible” (21) and “excellent”(178).

My advice: visit the Sanctuary and judge for yourself 🙂

Europe trip 2013 part 3

When I was discussing my travel plans with my Malaysian friends, one of them mentioned Liechtenstein. It is a tiny country (160 square km, population less than 40.000)  between Austria and Switzerland. We decided to have a look and spend a night there.

On our way from Hall we had lunch in Feldkirch, another medieval gem in Austria. It would be easy to spend a full holidays in Austria!

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Liechtenstein is not part of the European Union, but belongs to the Schengen zone, therefore no border control or passport formalities. It is rich and expensive, has nice countryside, but nothing special. In the (characterless) main street of the capital Vaduz we met a VIP (the prince of Liechtenstein?) with his security guards. We found a supermarket, and bought food for an alfresco dinner…:-)

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The next morning we had a look at the castle of Vaduz, where the Prince is still living. Then we crossed the border with Switzerland.  It was the first time we visited this country and probably it will also be the last time.

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Our destination in Switzerland was Grindelwald. This mountain village is situated at the feet of the mighty Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains. With a special train you can reach the Jungfraujoch, at an altitude of ~ 3500 meter. This was the main target of our trip, to see the snow and walk on it. But would the weather be favorable? We arrived in the rain and the next morning we could see fresh show on the mountain slopes. The pictures show a lake on our way to Grindelwald, the view from our hotel room and the fresh snow the next morning.

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We decided to try our luck and bought tickets for the trip. Expensive, ~ 145 Euro pp. The train is a rack train and the ride consists of two parts. First you go from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg. It was quite cloudy but sometimes we could see the mountains, which gave us hope.

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The second part goes through a tunnel in the Eiger mountain. The train stops at two locations in the tunnel where windows have been made, so you can look out. The first stop showed only mist and fog, but at the second one, Eismeer (Ice Sea), the clouds were breaking and we had a good view of the glacier. Impressive!

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When we reached the Jungfraujoch station, this is what we saw.

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Difficult to describe our feelings. Exhilarated, almost emotional. You just could go out and walk on the glacier. Yes, it was very cold…:-)

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You can easily spend hours here. But go slowly, or you can get dizzy because of the high altitude. The highest point we reached is at the Sphinx observatory. It is possible to walk to the Mönch hut, but we were not equipped well enough for that hike. There is also the Ice Palace, dug out in the glacier with ice statues, freezingly cold but interesting.

The Jungfraujoch is called the Top of Europe and it certainly was the Top of our Europe trip. Worth every Euro. We have been very lucky, both one day earlier and one day later the weather conditions were bad!

Europe Trip 2013 part 2

From Salzburg it is not far to the romantic small town of Hallstatt, situated on the shore of a lake.We stayed there three nights, to explore the region. Besides enjoying the atmosphere of the place, we visited a few popular tourist attractions.

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On our first day we took the cable car to the Ice Cave and the Five Fingers. The Ice Cave fills up completely with snow and ice during winter, even in summer this ice remains there.

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We also visited the nearby Mammoth Cave (not that interesting) and then took a second  cable car higher up. Fabulous views of the Hoher Dachstein massif (2995 m). Nice flowers. And a mountain hut, with food and beer, reminding me of my younger days as a mountaineer..:-)

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After our lunch we walked to the famous Five Fingers. A metal construction, resembling a hand with a beautiful view of Hallstatt deep down. Not suitable for people with fear of heights…:-) A popular place for paragliders

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The next day we visited the salt mine. Hallstatt has a glorious past because of this mine. In the past miners mined the rock salt and to take it out they used slides. These slides are now a tourist attraction. Big fun!

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An “attraction” of a very different kind can be found in one of the churches. Because of its location, Hallstatt had only a limited space for a cemetery. Therefore after not so many years old graves were emptied to make space for new burials. The skulls of the deceased were treated with respect, painted with names etc, and kept in a chapel. Very impressive.

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After Hallstatt we continued our trip in the direction of Switzerland, passing on our way the Krimml waterfalls. Impressive falls, the highest in Austria and, according to the website, the 5th-highest in the world. That however is cheating, as the falls consist of three separate tiers!

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We had planned to spend one night in Innsbruck, but instead decided to stay in the small, medieval town of Hall in Tirol, not far from Innsbruck. An unexpected, pleasant surprise.

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Penarikan recce – part 2

In an earlier post I have reported about my friend Chadel’s plan to paddle in his canoe from Muar to Pekan, using the Muar, Jempol, Serting, Bera and Pahang rivers with a portage (penarikan) at Bahau. In that post I described our recce from Bahau to Muar.

This time we started again in Bahau, but now we followed the Serting river as closely as possible. The Serting river is a small one, running through palm oil plantations and Felda land. Chadel had bought topo maps of the region.

Topo maps

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADuring our traditional breakfast in a mamak near my condo, we studied the maps and found a meandering route that would cross the Serting river as many times as possible.

Here is the Google Earth map of our route (in red). The rivers are marked in blue

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In Bahau we first checked the two locations chosen by Chadel for the Pull Out and Put In. The original penarikan was from the Jempol river to the Serting river, a distance of about 500 meter. Chadel is considering to take the canoe out a bit earlier, from the Muar river. Considerably longer distance, about 2.5 km, but he could then use existing roads, which would make the portage a lot easier. Here are the Pull Out and Put In places.

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Pull Out , Muar river

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Put In, Serting river

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch in Bahau we started the actual recce. Altogether we crossed the Serting river seven times. We took pictures at each crossing; when you click on a marker in the map below, you will see the correspondig picture. All the way, Serting remains a small stream, at least in this time of the year.  Often trees have fallen in the river, a potential risk of puncture when you are paddling over them.

View the  Recce in a larger map

The confluence of the Serting river with the Bera river is located in the middle of plantations and not accessible by road. The Bera river is a real river, draining the Tasik Bera, about 10 km south of the confluence. The Bera river flows into the mighty Pahang river, the longest and biggest river of the Malay Peninsula.

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The mighty Pahang river

We arrived late in Pekan, wanted to stay overnight in the scenic Rest House, but that was fully booked, so we found suitable accommodation in the Melati Inn. Pekan is a sleepy hollow, but, driving around, we found a good Chinese restaurant and after our dinner we had coffee at a lively Malay stall near the Pekan riverfront.

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The next morning after breakfast we looked for a suitable pull out point. An easy decision, what could be a better location that the Pekan riverfront itself! When Chadel finishes his heroic expedition here, the Sultan of Pahang and the Prime MInister (Pekan is his constituency) can welcome him…:-)

Pekan has a few nice mosques and an interesting museum: the Pekan Water Craft Gallery . It is an open-air museum, FOC, with an interesting collection of various types of boats. They even had information about the Bahau Penarikan! Not completely correct, they take the portage distance as 300 yards, which is not true. And it is suggested that the Penarikan route was discovered by the Malays, while it was actually already used by the Chinese before the Malays came to the Peninsula. A sensitive issue…:-)

Here are some pictures of Pekan

On our way back we visited the Pandan waterfall near Kuantan. Many visitors as it was school holidays.

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Chadel is planning to do the real expedition around March next year. I wish him good luck!

Ulu Rening adventure

The last waterfall I visited was the Upper Tebing Tinggi waterfall in Perak, see A Dream Come True , end of March. That is a long time ago for a waterfall addict like me, I was really craving for a waterfall. Siang Hui had given me info about a waterfall near Ulu Rening, quite remote and not known to many people. A perfect destination for a day trip.

After our usual breakfast in a mamak restaurant, we (Aric, Rani, Edwin and I) drove to Batang Kali, where we bought nasi lemak for our lunch. Siang Hui had provided me with GPS-data and that was very helpful. The beginning of the trail was very clear, later it became  more vague, but no problem for experienced jungle trekkers like Rani and Edwin

It took us about two hours to reach the waterfall, about 4.5 km from where we had parked our car. At the end we had to cross the river a few times. The weather was perfect.

.Ulu Rening

The waterfall was a nice surprise, because of the magnificent, very deep pool with crystal-clear water. In the picture you see the waterfall at the back, the water thundering down in a narrow gorge. To get there you have to swim and then scramble up the rocks to the right. Here, in a picture taken by Aric, you see Rani and Edwin trying to get closer to the waterfall in the background.

Ulu Rening fall

We spent a full two hours at the waterfall, having our lunch, making coffee, enjoying the peaceful surroundings. And of course playing with the water..:-) Before reaching the pool, the water went down one last step over smooth rocks, so you could slide down.Big fun!

Sliding down

As you can see, the water was very turbulent, not without danger as I experienced the second time I slid down. I was pulled down and back by the turbulence (see video) but I did not panic and managed to swim out. Scary moment for my friends, who were already prepared to come to  my rescue! That is why the video stops so suddenly..:-)

Here are more pictures of this wonderful trip.

We were hungry when we came out and Edwin suggested a Thai shop near Serendah. Ky IKEA friends had mentioned this shop a few times, but I had never been there. You must really know where it is, otherwise you will overlook it…:-)  We had nice Tom Yam noodles, Fried chicken, and Lok Mei (drink) for RM 41. A place to remember.
Here are two more video clips. The first one shows daredevils Rani and Edwin, conquering the current, so that Aric could take a picture (he is shouting “don’t move” to them, because the picture shown above is actually a HDR composite of three pictures)

And in this video Aric shows how to go down the slide without being caught in the turbulence…:-)

Chatting with my sister in the Netherlands after I came back home, I wondered if I was not getting too old for this kind of playing around.She sent me this cartoon.

Cartoon

The translation of the Dutch text is:

We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.

Thanks, sis…:-)!

Journal 18-2-2013

Let me start this journal with Bukit Lanjan. The construction/destruction of what once was a beautiful forested slope opposite our condominium, continues. Here is a view of the slope. Next to the ugliness a picture of beautiful fungus found along one of the few remaining trails.

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I celebrated CNY with Aric’s family in Parit Baru. It was a nice family reunion, although of course the absence of Aric’s father was felt by all. .CNY dinner

Here are a few pictures I took during my stay. You may wonder what the pinkish “caviar” in the left picture is…:-) They are snail eggs! The flower in the middle picture is a kind of passion fruit flower. And in the right picture a couple of sun birds is building their nest in a tree just in front of the family house. It is less flimsy than it looks. Click here for a YouTube clip of the nest building activity.

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On the third day of the CNY I drove to Teluk Intan, where I met Siang Hui for a waterfall trip. See the separate Ulu Licin blog.

Ulu Licin

Back home I was invited by my friend Khong for a CNY dinner cum karaoke party. The dinner was nice, the company pleasant, but karaoke is not my favourite pastime, so I left early…:-)

CNY dinnerKaraoke

The next day I visited the Nyangung waterfall. Also a separate blog, Waterfall Adventure. During our scramble down the slope to the waterfall I noticed the beautiful “tube” in the right picture. It’s not a fungus but the nest of a colony of wasps/bees. Because of my allergy, I kept my distance, but had to take a picture. So beautiful.

Admiring the fallBee nest

I will end this blog with another hill, Bukit Kiara, where I have my regular morning walk. Also under threat, see my earlier posts about the infamous fence. During a walk with my friend Pola, we came across this recently made (illegal) opening in the fence. Strange that the person(s) who did this, kept the upper part intact. The right pic shows part of the foundation. The fence has been embedded in the cement and will be very difficult to remove.

Fence destruction

Foundation

 

 

Fortunately there is still much beauty to be found in Bukit Kiara. From left to right a Bat Lily, a tortoise and some unknown flowers(?) fallen down from a tree.

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Ten days full of variety…:-)