In December 2021 we moved to our new penthouse. It took us more time than expected to do the renovation and furnish it according to our (mainly Aric’s) taste 😉 . Recently we have started to receive guests..
Our first guests, in November, just for a drink, my Gang of Four.
In December a real dinner, prepared by Aric, for a group of friends.
And in January we invited Aric’s family for a drink at home after a dinner with them in a nearby restaurant.
After all this went well, Aric wanted to invite his family and relatives for a CNY gathering. About 25-30 people, in Chinese style where everybody brings a dish for dinner . Actually in the US this is called a Dutch Party 😉 We didn’t expect the party to be noisy, but Aric decided to “warn” our neighbors anyway, by putting a friendly note on their doors.
His sister Aei Ling arrived early to help with the preparations.
It had been raining heavily, after it stopped Aric had to put back a Chinese decoration that had fallen down.
Around 6 pm the first guests arrived.
The younger generation
And the older one, enjoying a glass of Malaysian Timah whisky
Many of the ladies were helping to prepare the dinner. I just provided drinks.
Our huge dinner table was very useful now, Here the ladies are putting everything on the table.
Dinner is ready! A delicious variety of food. Aric is inspecting.
He had himself also prepared various dishes, durian cake and blueberry cheesecake, but I took only a photo of one of his signature dishes: abalone.
Time for dinner. There was enough to satisfy everybody.
After dinner there was time for chit chat and watching TV.
The kids were playing cards in Aric’s office.
And the seniors were having a chat in the garden
Before leaving of course the traditional group photo had to be taken. . Here there are two, they look the same, spot the difference 😉
There are two places I call home, Perdana View in Petaling Jaya and Backershagen in Amsterdam. Most of the time I live in Malaysia, once or twice a year I stay for a couple of weeks in the Netherlands. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic it was almost three years ago that I visited the Netherlands. In the picture below the apartments are indicated with an X, left Perdana View, right Backershagen.
In February I decided to book a trip to the Netherlands from 30 March until 11 May. I was fully vaccinated, including a booster shot. The Netherlands were opening their borders and Malaysia was planning to do the same. I only needed a negative PCR-test, taken less than 48 hours before my planned departure.
The weekend of 20 March I had visited Taiping, see my report Taiping, March 2022. On the last day of my visit I had been in close contact with a Covid-infected friend and although I should be immune, I was a bit worried, so I did an antigen self test, which was negative. Still I was nervous when on 28 March I went to my GP for the PCR test. Relieved when I received the negative result the next morning. Left the antigen test, right the PCR test
Because of the uncertainty, I only started packing after I received the negative test result, one day before departure! When I booked my ticket, I expected that, being a KLM frequent flyer, I was entitled to one piece of cargo luggage (23 kg) free of charge. But my level was too low, so I could only bring 12 kg cabin luggage. I managed to take only essential stuff, of course I had warm clothes in Amsterdam. The last evening I could relax in our roof garden 😉
In the past KLM had a direct flight from KLIA to Schiphol airport, but nowadays I first had to fly to Singapore. When I booked my ticket, I had a Singapore Airline flight to Singapore (20:40-21:50) with a connecting KLM flight (23:35 – 06:50). Perfect, less than a 2 hour transit in Singapore.
But a few days before departure KLM rescheduled my flight “for operational reasons” Departure from KL at 2pm with Jetstar Asia and from Singapore with KLM at 23:05, resulting in about 8 hours transit in Singapore. How to spend that time? The departure of the KLM flight half an hour earlier was probably the reason, to change the connecting flight from KLIA.
We left Perdana View early at 10 am and that was a good decision because KLM had not notified me that the Jetstar Asia flight would not depart from KLIA but from KLIA2, the former Low Cost Terminal. Nearby KLIA, but still a hassle for us and a bad move of KLM.
I was pleasantly surprised by the service of Jetstar. I think they were not used yet to KLM travelers. They decided to accept my cabin bag as cargo luggage and directly transfer it to Schiphol, so I didn’t have to carry it around in Singapore. I had to show my negative PCR test, that was all. There was time enough for a nasi lemak 😉 Passing Malaysian immigration was smooth.
When boarding started, they invited me to came forward first, for the first time in my life I entered an empty plane. And during the short flight (less than one hour) I was one of the few passengers who got a muffin and a bottle of water. Kudos for Jetstar
Thorough fogging of the plane and not a full flight.
In Changi airport I noticed the departure time of 23:05. Eight hours to spend. I had visited Changi Airport in 2019, admired the famous Jewel, but now I was in transit. However there are an amazing lot of things to do while in transit. You can even make trips to the city while staying in transit! I only visited the gardens in Terminal 1. There are three of them.
From left to right the Artifical Tree garden, the Waterlily garden and the Cactus garden.
I bought a book and found a quiet place to read.
I had dinner at the Burger King, quite good quality.
Many shops were still closed
Shock! The KLM flight was retimed to 23:35, the original departure time! So I could have taken the 20:40 SQ flight and saved 8 hours of time. The flight (from Jakarta) was unpleasantly full, but fortunately i had an empty seat next to me.
Usually the KLM flies from KL to the Netherlands over the Ukraine. Of course they did not because of the war in Ukraine, the plane went far south. As usual I could not sleep well. We landed early at 6:05 am, the pilot announced that the temperature was 1° Celsius with a chance of show.
Immigration was surprisingly smooth, no Covid checking at all. Nobody was wearing mouth masks. Because of the cold I considered taking a taxi, but finally decided to go the usual way, a ten minute train to Amsterdam-Zuid and from there a 15 minute walk home. I survived the walk, but it was bitterly cold.
Here I am standing in the lift to my apartment. Yolanda, Paul’s sister who has a key of the apartment, had bought flowers, a nice welcome.
As the apartment had not been inhabited for more than two years, I had to go shopping at the nearby AH. And have my first lunch, with cheese, herring and strawberries, of course.
It was a cold night, with snow.
Here are some pictures I took the next day.. Some daffodils were trying to survive. Real winter atmosphere.
I had to solve several problems that day. The prepaid sim card of my mobile had expired, I needed to buy a new one. My laptop had problems, I had to buy a new keyboard/mouse. And the central heating was not working properly. Not a nice start of my visit. But still I could enjoy a pre-dinner drink
And prepare my first, very Dutch dinner.
Saturday a guy came to repair the central heating. And a bicycle pump was deliverd after an online order. Because of course the tyres of my bike were completely flat after three years.
That Saturday evening, three days after coming home, I could finally relax and enjoy the tulips.
Sunset and view from my apartment Sunday morning. At least a bit of blue sky. But still unpleasantly cold.
More blogs about this trip to the Netherlands will follow
The Rawang Bypass is a highway opened in 2017 to avoid the frequent traffic congestion in Rawang. It contains the highest roadway viaduct of Malaysia, with pillars up to 58 meter above ground level. It is possible to hike from Rawang to a viewpoint high above the viaduct. Deco Diver, a friend of mine, has written a blog about this hike with a clear description of the route to follow.
We started with breakfast in Rawang. Not easy to find a shop that was open, because of Ramadan, but after some driving around we managed to find a place where we had an acceptable mee goreng.
Looking for the trailhead we overlooked the one suggested by my friend, but found another one nearby. Apparently the location is popular with Rawang hikers, signs indicate the various trails. A nice, easy walk.
The trail passes a few shrines, an Indian Hindu shrine and next to it a Chinese Datok Kong one.
After a little more than 1 km we reached the highway, which is still at ground level here. You can cross to the other side by a drain, but we continued on a maintenance road next to the highway. Easy walking, although not very interesting.
After about about 600 meter, the viaduct starts and you can cross under the highway to the other side. Mind your head 😉 .
The view of the supporting pillars is quite spectacular, we met another group who was coming back from the viewpoint and also stopped here to take pictures.
After crossing a drain on a flimsy bridge, the climb to the viewpoint starts. There are steps and ropes to help you.
Halfway you have already a nice view of the viaduct.
The climb becomes more challenging because you have to follow the drains. and they are constructed to guide the water down, with slanting steps. Care is needed, fortunately there are ropes attached to give you support.
The steep stretch is only a few hundred meter long, you have to climb about 60 meter to reach the viewpoint. A big tree gives shade, it is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the view.
Of course we took pictures to prove that we have been there.
Aric had brought his drone.
In this drone picture you see how the highway has been cut into the rocks. Notice the yellow marker, top right. That’s the viewpoint. It is often called Bukit Matt (Matt hill), although it is not a Bukit at all.
The viaduct. The main reason to build an (expensive!) elevated viaduct was to save more forest.
After a coffee break we climbed down the same way. Going down you must be even more careful! Not suitable after rain. We saw some nice pitcher plants.
We walked back on the maintenance road until we reached the drain. Beware! Before you reach this wide drain, you will pass two very narrow ones.
There was not much water, it will be different after a downpour.
Swiftlets have built their nests inside the drain, Aric managed to take pictures of them.
Walking back to the car we noticed these markings . Physical distancing according to the SOP! A reminder that the Covid pandemic was still around. No idea if anyone would follow these rules in this natural environment.
Another Hindu shrine near were our car was parked.
The whole trip took about 3 hours. We were hungry and our friend Jennifer, who lives in the region, knew about a Hakka eatery in Rawang, where they serve Lei Cha as a specialty. We went there and it was a good choice.
They also prepare healthy juices and even Lei Cha pizza! The owner is very friendly. We will come back.
It was a nice excursion. Here is a Google Earth screenshot, where I have marked a few locations. The yellow line marks the shorter, but less interesting route.
Well, not really that far south…:-). We had not been on a trip for some time and decided to make a 2D1N trip to Negeri Sembilan and Melaka.
Aric has a few projects. One is to try out assam laksa shops all over Malaysia and report about it on his Assam Laksa website. Another one is to take drone videos of fishing villages along the Malaysian coast. See for example Trip up North 2017 .
Our first destination was not an assam laksa shop and not a fishing village but…. a mosque! The Old Mosque of Machap was built in 1902 by Datuk Machap, a Makasar descendent from Indonesia. During the Japanese occupation he helped the local Chinese communities and in return they collected money for the renovation of the mosque after the war. That’s why the mosque looks like a Chinese temple!
The mosque is located on the shores of the Durian Tunggal reservoir in Melaka. We were a bit unlucky, because when we arrived at the mosque, it was closed. We waited some time for the caretaker to come back, but finally gave up. So I could only take a picture from a distance.
And of course Aric took some pictures with his drone. The location is very romantic.
For our lunch we went to the outskirts of Melaka, to Uncle Low’s Cafe. I am not an assam laksa expert, but this one was really nice, I finished the bowl until the last spoon..:-)
From Melaka we followed the coastal road to our first fishing village, Kuala Sungai Baru. Still in the town, we passed two interesting historical monuments. The Menara Lama Surau Tengkera (1728) in the left picture is all that remains of the oldest mosque in Melaka. Nearby we noticed an interesting isolated pillar, no idea about its history.
We stopped for a while at Tanjung Kling, 10 km west of Melaka, and visited the Mausoleum of Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah is a famous Malay warrior from the 15th century. There is some controversy about him, did he really exist, was he actually Chinese, etc. The mausoleum is well kept, with posters surrounding the tomb, describing his life.
The huge tomb is surrounded by a Muslim cemetery. A quiet, serene place, not the tourist attraction I was expecting.
Kuala Sungai Baru hardly deserved the name village, it was not more than a few fishing boats, on this drone picture you can not even see them. More conspicuous is the ambitious project in the foreground, with an observation tower, a surau and a few food stalls. Not in good shape, but the food stalls were operating.
Our next stop was at Kuala Linggi. No fishing village, but the remains of a fort, Kota Linggi. This fort was built in 1757 by the Dutch (who at that time controlled Melaka) and the Bugis, to tax the trade on the Linggi river. Here is a drone view of the Linggi river. The fort is located just outside the bottom right corner of the picture.
Not much is left of the fort, except some ramparts. The cannon is fake…:-). You reach the fort by a promenade which was not yet there when I visited the fort in 2008, see my report Linggi Adventure.
Pantai Cermin was our next destination. No fishing village, but a nice beach. While Aric was droning, I walked along the beach to a mangrove forest.
The aerial roots (left) are called pneumatophores, they take oxygen from the air and are characteristic for these mangroves. Many leaves were covered with a kind of woolly substance. A friend explained later to me that they are nests of whiteflies. When you enlarge the photo, you can see a few of these flies.
In the meantime Aric took drone videos and pictures of the Hibiscus resort nearby.
Pantai Cermin is located at the “neck” of the Tanjung Tuan peninsula. Our last stop for the day was another beach at the peninsula itself. To get there we had to climb first halfway to the lighthouse, then follow a trail down. Nice beach. Beautiful evening skies.
Two drone pictures. The left picture shows Tanjung Tuan with its lighthouse. You can see the beach to the left. The right picture shows the neck of the peninsula. The beach to the right is Pantai Cermin and in the background you can see the Hibiscus resort.
We had booked accommodation in a resort between Tanjung Tuan and Port Dickson, where we took some rest and enjoyed the sunset.
For our dinner we went to the Weng Yin Seafood Village, where we had a light dinner of sotong (cuttlefish) and lala (shells). Excellent food.
Next morning, after breakfast in our resort, we went to Port Dickson and found a few fishing boats there. You can see them in the center of this drone picture.
From Port Dickson it is not far to Lukut. In the 19th century, when PD did not yet exist, Lukut was a thriving town, because of the tin mining. In those days the region of Lukut was part of the Selangor Sultanate, but it was effectively controlled by powerful chieftains, like Raja Jumaat, a Bugis prince from Riau. He built a fort in 1847, Kota Lumut. In 1878 the Lukut region was ceded to Sungai Ujong (Negeri Sembilan) and the fort fell into disrepair. Not much is left these days, but there is an interesting museum about the history of the region. Here is drone picture of the museum (the building at the right) and the hill where the fort was located.
The museum gives information about the tin mining and the history of the Lukut region. Artifacts from daily life, like for example the coconut grater in the left picture. Really worth visiting.
Not much is left of the fort, parts of the remparts. two water reservoirs, the moat. Nowadays you climb the hill from the museum side, the original access road was from the other side, barely visible in the right picture
The nearby fishing village of Kuala Lukut was nice. Here is a drone view and some details.
We had planned to have lunch in the popular Soon Huat seafood restaurant, near the jetty, but we found that it opens only for dinner on weekdays, so we had lunch in a small food court close by. Also not bad and probably a lot cheaper.
After Lukut we left the coast and drove to Seremban, where we visited the Then Sze Khoon temple, 3 km north of the town center. It is a Taoist temple, established in 1864, beautifully located on a hill slope. Left a drone view, right the central court with a statue of Guan Yin, the goddess of mercy.
The temple is nicknamed the Centipede Temple. It is said that it brings you luck when you find a centipede on the temple grounds. Besides the gigantic centipede sculpture we did not find any, but there were tortoises.
When we followed the path up the hill we passed several colorful groups of statues. I am not an expert in Chinese mythology, but I think these are (several of) the Eight Immortals from Taoism.
And this could be some of the Eighteen Arhats, which actually belong to (Mahayana) Buddhism. The mixture of Taoism and Buddhism is quite common in Chinese temples.
Of course there are many shrines. Left a Taoist shrine, in the middle a Datuk Kong temple. I am very interested in this kind of temples, where local (Malay) spirits/deities are worshipped. No pork here! In the right detail you see the many songkoks left behind by devotees. Also note the tree roots!
It is no problem to spend a few hours in this temple, there are many things to see. In this picture you see characters from the famous Chinese novel “Journey to the West” where the monk Tripitaka goes on a pilgrimage to find sacred Buddhist texts. He has three companions who help him in the many adventures they experience on the way. The Monkey God (upper left), Pigsy(right) and Sandy (left). When you enlarge the picture you may be able to find me as Tripitaka…:-).
Of course Aric had to use his drone, while I walked around. From the temple terrace you have already a nice view of the surroundings, and of course the drone shows more. The mountain at the horizon, right of the middle, could be Gunung Angsi.
Before we left we took some pictures for the album. Aric is a dragon, I am a monkey, but the Monkey God was too high up, so I stood next to the centipede.
Before we drove back home, we had another assam laksa in Senawang, Laksa Tempurung. Nicely served in a coconut shell, but for the rest quite mediocre. The dessert, Lin Chee Kang, was nice.
Gunung Rapat is a limestone hill, south of Ipoh. When you drive the no 1 trunk road from KL to Ipoh, you will pass a number of Chinese temples, built in the limestone caves of Gunung Rapat. One or two I must have visited in the past and several times I have been to the Kek Lok Tong temple, on the other side of the hill.
Searching the Internet I found 8 major temples on the slopes of Gunung Rapat and I decided to make it a project to visit all of them during a visit of Ipoh. Here are the results. In the Google Earth screenshot below, the locations of the eight temples are given.
We started our trip with a visit of Tasik Cermin, the Mirror Lake. Until not long ago this was a “secret” location, known only to a few people. The lake is located within a quarry and can only be reached through a tunnel. Access was not always allowed by the quarry owner. This time it looked like quarry operations had stopped, there was no entrance barrier and we were told that the lake is nowadays becoming popular for wedding shoots!
If there is no wind, the water is really like a mirror, but during our visit there was a breeze. Aric tried to operate his drone, but between the steep cliff walls, GPS reception was not good enough.
Preparing a drone
Da Seng Ngan
Our first temple. When we visited Tasik Cermin in January 2017 (read my blog here), we noticed that there was a cave temple nearby. We visited it and the caretaker told us that the temple is quite old but has been covered by a landslide for many decades, and was only rediscovered in 2006! Restoration has now been almost completed. To get funding, devotees can “sponsor” statues of the Amitabha Buddha. For more information, click here .
You can sponsor these Buddhas
From this temple you can actually walk to the Kwan Yin Tong temple nearby, but we were by car, had to u-turn twice on the busy trunk road, which made it more efficient to first visit the Ling Sen Tong temple.
Ling Sen Tong
There are three temples along the trunk road next to each other, when you leave Ipoh. Lin Seng Tong is the first one, and that might be the reason that it is quite touristy and gaudy. A bit too touristy, we did not spend much time there
The Monkey God
The Goddess of Mercy
Nam Thean Tong
The second one, next to Lin Seng Tong. A 19th-century Taoist cave temple with colorful shrines.
We explored the elaborate network of steep, dark stairs. Interesting, but a bit rundown
The third temple is Sam Poh Tong, but it was closed when we arrived there in the afternoon. It even looked closed indefinitely, we continued to the Kwan Yin Tong temple
Kwan Yin Tong
Dedicated to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Numerous statues of Guan Yin. An attractive Buddhist temple
Very modern, with black light
I prefer this
Then it was time for food, always an important aspect of our trips 🙂 For dinner we went to a food court, where we ordered deep-fried Mantis prawns, sotong with kangkung, popiah and teochew kueh, everything nice, but way too much.. Breakfast next morning at Chooi Yue, one of the famous dim sum restaurants in Ipoh. Good quality dim sum, many varieties.
Unfortunately it was raining heavily the next day, a real downpour. Before continuing our temple tour, our Ipoh friend took us first to another “mirror lake” location, a former tin mining pond at the Iskandar Polo Club. Attractive scenery.
Kek Lok Tong
We started with the Kek Lok Tong temple, the most beautiful of the Gunung Rapat cave temples, in my opinion. In the 1920’s it was already a place of worship. In the 1960’s it became part of an iron mining site, the entrance to the cave was widened to allow lorry access. When mining ceased it was dedicated again to religious purposes and opened to visitors in the 1970s.
Interesting feature of this temple is that after entering and crossing the cave, you will exit to a beautiful garden. Because of the heavy downpour we could not visit the garden this time. Here you see the laughing Buddha, contemplating the view of this garden.
Searching the Internet, I had found two more temples on the North side of Gunung Rapat
The first one, Panna Tong, was closed, so only a photo of the exterior. By the way, tong means cave in Chinese language
Miaw Yuan Chan Lin
The second one was a pleasant surprise. It is a Thai style Buddhist temple and relatively unknown, compared to the popular, more touristy temples on the West side of Gunung Rapat. Nice environment, very scenic.
When I play tour guide again for my friends, I will include this temple in the itinerary!
Looks so real
Sam Poh Tong
Before finishing our temple trip, we decided to go back to Sam Poh Tong, because I had checked on the Internet that the temple was not closed forever. And indeed, now it was open, we were told that the day before they had closed early because there were no visitors!
It is quite a large temple complex, but as it was still raining, we did not explore everything. We had a look at the famous turtle pond and bought some kangkung to feed the turtles. But we did not enter the gardens, because of the rain. Will have to come back here.
In the afternoon I continued to Taiping, but that will be another post.
My friend David May has written informative web pages about many of the Ipoh cave temples, for example this one about Da Seng Ngan, with references to other temples.
When you search Wikipedia for Venice of the North, you will see that quite a few towns in various countries are so nicknamed. In my opinion Amsterdam really deserves that title, with its numerous canals and about 1500 bridges. But Giethoorn is also sometimes called the Small Venice of the North. It is a village in the Dutch province of Overijssel. In the map of Holland I have indicated the location.
Giethoorn is a tourist attraction, especially popular with Chineset tourists. I had been there once, many years ago, it was Aric who had read about it and was interested to visit it. We went by public transport, first by train, then by bus. Giethoorn is located in what was in earlier times a peat swamp. What remains are lakes and many canals, used in the past to transport the peat. In the map below I have shown the route we have walked. Cars can not enter this part of the village, you have to walk or rent a boat.
We were advised at the tourist office to walk. Most (mainly Chinese) tourists rent a punt. In the past you needed a pole to move it (not easy), now they are provided with a silent electric motor and called “whisper boats” 🙂 Restaurant menus and the timetable for the bus were available in Chinese.
When you reach the foot/bicycle path, you feel like entering a different world. Thatched houses, many on their private island, only reachable by wooden bridges. We were lucky to visit Giethoorn off-season, it was relatively quiet.
Here a collection of pictures, it is difficult to stop taking photos. Click to enlarge
Halfway we got a bit hungry and decided to stop at the Smits pavilion, surrounded by water. I was expecting they would serve “uitsmijter” , a traditional Dutch lunch, but that was not the case. The frikandel with fries was an acceptable alternative.
Refreshed we continued our walk, with more photos of bridges, thatched houses, whisper boats…:-)
For Chinese couples it is customary to make a wedding album before the actual wedding takes place. A professional photographer chooses romantic locations for the photo shoot. Here a couple had come to Giethoorn! It proves the popularity of the place with Chinese..:-)
When you mention Giethoorn to a (senior?) Dutchman, they probably will reply: Of course, Fanfare!Fanfare is an iconic Dutch movie, shot by movie director Bert Haanstra in 1958. You can say that the movie put Giethoorn on the map. The cafe where part of the action took place, still exists and is of course now called Fanfare 🙂
The movie is available on YouTube. It’s a comedy, worth viewing. English subtitles.
We enjoyed the trip tremendously. The statue which Aric is trying to imitate, depicts Albert Mol, one of the Fanfare actors. Of course he also had to try the giant wooden clogs. The giant leaves in the last picture you would expect rather in the tropical jungle..:-)
Many houses in Giethoorn still have traditional thatched roofs. They are beautiful but expensive, € 90 – € 110 per m2. Thatching a roof or repairing it, requires skill, as you can see in the last picture.
One last image of Giethoorn. Visit this Venice of the North when you get the chance!
Almost ten years ago, in 2006, a friend took me to Bukit Apek. It is the blue track in the image below (click to enlarge). At that time I was not aware that there were waterfalls…:-). When I was told there were waterfalls, I went two more times, one time to the lower fall (red track), a second time to the upper fall (green track). It resulted in a page on my waterfall website: Bukit Apeh falls (I understand now that Apek is the correct spelling).
On this page I wrote:
It will be interesting to see if it is possible to follow the
stream down into the Ulu Langat Valley. The distance to the
nearest road is about 1 km, as the crow flies.
Altitude difference about 200 m
When I talked about it with my Kiara friend Peter Leong, he got interested and recently he and a friend did a recce. It is the red track to the right. At the end of the road, passing a water treatment plant, a clear trail led to a water catchment. Here the trail split, they explored the right fork, it might lead to the Lookout Point. The left fork should lead to the falls.
To check if that was true, we went back with a few friends. From left to right Steven, Chee Seng, Suat, Chee Kwan and Peter. An afternoon trip, we started at 2:15 pm
To reach the trail, we had to pass the water treatment plant, which was heavily fenced with barbed wire. Warning us to be careful, Peter himself got hurt and needed a bandage.
The trail follows an old pipeline to a small reservoir. One of the most scenic trails I have walked! Shaded, mossy, Lord of the Rings atmosphere.
Here a few pictures of the pipeline
The small reservoir, where the trail forks
From the catchment we followed the left trail, well marked, must be used regularly by hashers, many hash papers. This part is less interesting, a bit monotonous. After a few hundred meters it joins the trail leading to the two waterfalls. I wanted to see the lower fall and that meant we had to descend a steep slope.
Here is the lower fall.
I had brought a stove to make coffee, here Chee Seng is boiling the water. Of course Suat had brought her delicious homemade cake…:-)
Time to take pictures
I don’t remember what I said here to the two alpha-males…:-)
At the waterfall we met another friend, Michael, who had started the hike from the other (Saga) side. He joined us on our way down, after we had taken a group photo. After about one hour we were back at our car, where cold beer was waiting for us..:-)
When my friend Inez and I decided to make a day trip to an interesting town in the Netherlands, the original plan was to visit Dordrecht. Then other friends told me about a nice way to travel from Rotterdam to Dordrecht, by Waterbus ! Public transport by boat. Twice an hour between Rotterdam and Dordrecht.
So we changed our plan a bit and combined Dordrecht and Rotterdam. That is actually too much for one day, both historical Dordrecht and modernistic Rotterdam deserve more time. So in this report only some impressions…:-)
We arrived at the impressive Central Station of Rotterdam, finished last year. Not easy to take good pictures. Next to it the skyscraper complex of the Delftse Poort. We took the metro to the iconic Markthal, a combination of residences with a shopping center. The interior is spectacular, but unfortunately we were too early, as it opens on Sunday at noon only. Nearby are the famous Cube houses of Dutch architect Blom, built already in 1977. From there we walked to the Erasmus bridge, passing on our way many other interesting buildings. The picture of the Erasmus bridge shows at the other side of the river the fascinating building of De Rotterdam by architect Rem Koolhaas.
Central Station (2014)
Delftse Poort (1998-1991)
Cube houses (1977)
The Pencil (1984)
Blaak 31 (2007-2011)
Office tower (2005)
Erasmus bridge (1996)
As an Amsterdam guy I am supposed to be negative about arch-rival Rotterdam, but honestly, I was impressed and will come again.
The boat ride was fun, although the weather was not very favorable. Big container ships and other boats on the river, several ship docks, this is the heart of maritime Holland. Several stops between Rotterdam and Dordrecht, you can take your bicycle with you. It took about one hour to reach Dordrecht and the Waterbus took us right to the old historical center.
Waiting for the boat
Another iconic bridge
Going quite fast
Here is a video clip of the Waterbus
It was almost lunchtime when we arrived in Dordrecht, so first we walked around to find a place to have food and a drink. It had started to drizzle, we could not use one of the many cafe terrace, but had to go inside. I had an Uitsmijter and a glass of karnemelk, both delicious. An Uitsmijter is a very Dutch lunch dish, here is a recipe . Karnemelk is a kind of buttermilk and also very Dutch..:-)
For Dordrecht the same holds as for Rotterdam, you could spend days, exploring the many gems in this historical town. Also here a few impressions only
View from the boat
Market square in the rain
Walking to the Town Hall
We were lucky, the Town Hall is still used by the council, but on the first Sunday of a month it is open to the public for a couple of hours…:-). Interesting architecture, mixture of Renaissance and Neoclassic style, many restorations.
The town council meets here
Used for weddings
At the end of our walk we visited the Museum of Dordrecht. There was an interesting exhibition of the Haagse School and one with paintings by Breitner, one of my favourite painters. We spent quite a long time there
What could be a better way to end this pleasant day than with a Lente Bok beer…:-)? Especially when it carries my name…:-)
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.
Start of the trip
The route is 4.7 km long
One of the tea houses
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.
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.
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival, celebrated, mostly by the Tamil community, on the full moon day in January/February. The festival is dedicated to Lord Murugan, the son of Shiva and Parvati and it commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave her son a spear (the Vel) to vanquish the evil demons. Years ago I had attended the celebration at the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. This time I decided to go to Penang where Thaipusam yearly attracts hundred thousands of visitors.
Here is a characteristic Thaipusam picture. The devotee has pierced his cheeks and tongue with a miniature Vel and is carrying a Kavadi on his shoulders
Other devotees attach fruits or small milk pots with metal hooks to their body. Most of them are Indian, but also some Chinese take part in the ceremony.
Many devotees carry pots with milk on their head. They carry this up the more than 500 steps to the Hilltop Temple.
Quite a few devotees have their head shaved by barbers at the foot of the hill, as a sign of submission to Lord Murugan and in the hope that it will bring them good luck.
We were prepared for massive traffic jams in Penang, so on Thaipusam day we left our car at the hotel car park and took the bus. It was well organised, buses went on and off to Gottlieb road, dropping thousands of visitors. From there we had to walk, past numerous stalls, it was quite a carnivalesque atmosphere, more than I remembered from the Batu Caves in KL (but that was many years ago). Kavadi bearers, often carrying really elaborate (and heavy) contraptions on their shoulders, devotees carrying pots with milk for offering in the temple later.
Along the road there were also many places where you could have free (vegetarian) food. Near the start of the stairs there was a place where barbers where shaving heads. Kavadi bearers can not climb up until the temple, compared with the Batu Caves where there is a special “lane” for them. Climbing up the more than 500 steps was a slow process, step by step, it took us more than two(!) hours to reach the temple. But not boring there was a lot to see. And the festival is a photographer’s heaven…:-) Here is a gallery of pictures
Sitting down for a moment
Must be so painful
Ganesha, my favourite god
Brother of Murugan
The barber at work
More than 500 steps!
Shall we do it?
Looking down to the crowd
Still far to go
A massive crowd
The Waterfall Hilltop temple
No shoes in the temple
Inside the temple
A lonely tourist..:-)
Where are my shoes?
Free food as reward
It was a nice experience, but when I compare it with (my memories of) the Batu Caves ceremony, I prefer that one, as I felt it had a more “sacred” atmosphere.