EMCO!

In May 2020 I published a blog post Lockdown!, about our experiences during the first Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia. More than one year has passed since then. THe MCO was extended several times, then replaced by the CMCO (Conditional) and later by the RMCO (Recovery), Confusing? There is also an FMCO (Full) and an EMCO (Enhanced). For a detailed review of all the MCO variations, with timetable, see the Wikipedia article Malaysian movement control order.

In the beginning of the pandemic there were hardly any cases in Malaysia, but from October 2020 onwards the situation deteriorated. We are now in the 5th “wave”.

During the Recovery MCO, starting in May 2020, international borders remained closed, but interstate travel was allowed. We visited the Cameron Highlands in July 2020, and Taiping twice, in August and October. When the situation worsened, we could not travel interstate anymore, but inter-district travel (within a state) was still allowed. I visited the Batang Kali waterfall in March 2021 and the Rawang Bypass in the first week of May, a few days before even inter-district travel was no longer allowed. We could still walk, but only in our own neighbourhood. I was very fortunate because from my doorstep i could explore the many trails in Bukit Lanjan. In May and June I walked with friends a few times a week, here is one of those hikes, A Backyard Hike.

Then, on 1 July, the backdoor government announced an EMCO from 3 to 16 July in the Klang Valley (most of Selangor and parts of Kuala Lumpur). .Enhanced or Extreme? Physical outdoor exercise, considered by experts to be safe and healthy, was banned. Everybody had to stay at home, only one person in a household could go out for essential shopping (food, pharmacy).

During those two weeks we have been staying at home almost permanently, blogging, listening to music, playing games. We decided to spend more time to prepare food ourselves and only occasionally order delivery food. Every day we took a picture of our dinner. The original plan was that Aric and I would share the cooking duties, but it turned out that he did most of the cooking, often very creatively. Here is a report.

2 July

On our last day of freedom, I hiked with friends to a viewpoint at Bukit Lanjan. We had a beer and enjoyed the nice weather.

3 July

Durian season was starting, we bought online a few containers of Red Prawn and Musang King. Expensive but delicious. We still had Tau Fu Fa in the fridge and for dinner I prepared Spaghetti Carbonara with salad and a glass of wine.

5 & 6 July

The next two days Aric was the cook, the first day Chinese food, the second day Western style.

Tom Yam Stir-fried Chicken with Veggies (Broccoli, Eggplant, Shiitake)

BBQ Cuttlefish with mashed potatoes and veggies.

Shopping

To get some physical exercise, I decided to go shopping on foot, not to the nearby Jaya grocer but to the TESCO, a roundtrip of about 4 km ;-). I did the same during the first lockdown, carrying a shopping bag to show the police that I was not hiking, haha. The TESCO car park was almost empty, the shops closed. Parts of TESCO also blocked, only a few customers. Eerie.

7 & 8 July

Two more dinners prepared by Aric. One Chinese and one Western cuisine.

Red Snapper with fermented bean paste & Chinese cabbage with fried dried Shrimp and Cuttlefish.

Baked Salmon with Lemon Sauce, Cheese-baked potato and salad.

8 July

Dutch food for a change. Pancakes. Two versions, an apple pancake and a spekpannekoek with bacon, traditionally served with syrup. A glass of beer was a good accompaniment.

9 & 10 July

Although dine-in was not allowed, many restaurants still prepared take-away food. We ordered a meal from our favourite restaurant: fried rice, sotong, tofu soup and veggies. The following day I decorated a frozen pizza from the Jaya grocer with extra mushrooms and cheese.

11 July

Aric’s birthday. Of course no visitors, but he was spoiled with three birthday cakes!

We had a traditional steamboat dinner, ordered online. It included the cooking pot, the soup and a variety of ingredients.

Vaccination

I got my 2nd Covid-19 dose (AstraZeneca) on 12 July at the PWTC in Kuala Lumpur. That is a different state (Federal Territory), but for vaccination you could cross the state border without a permit. No police check on our way. The organisation was very professional, separate stations for dose 1 and dose 2. No queue at all for dose 2, I was in and out in 35 minutes and that included the compulsory 15 minute wait after being injected.(right picture)

12 & 13 July

The steamboat dinner was so copious that we could not finish everything, there was enough for another meal. The next day Aric prepared Tom Yam chicken with green veggies

14 & 15 July

My turn, two Dutch meals. Pancakes again, but now prepared by me, the dough a bit thinner. I managed to turn the pancakes in the traditional way, by lifting he frying pan upward, so the pancake will turn over in the air. The next day I prepared Hutspot, a traditional winter stew in the Netherlands. Very simple recipe, carrots, onions and potatoes. Could not find the smoked sausage, but the sliced pork (from a can) was a good alternative. The pickled onions and gherkins are essential ūüėČ

16 & 17 July

The last EMCO day, Aric surpassed himself with a fabulous meal of Giant Prawns in a Creamy Tom Yam sauce. The next day we ordered food, a Poké Bowl (Fish Bowl), healthy food, getting more and more popular in the Klang Valley.

End of EMCO

The EMCO was announced from 3 to 16 July, what would happen next? Looking at the daily number of new Covid-19 cases, I expected that it would be extended. On 3 July it was 6658 and on 16 July it had increased to 12541. But the government decided otherwise. EMCO was not extended, probably because it had no effect on the virus, only damaged the economy more.

So we went back to another MCO, actually not that much different. A few more shops could reopen (Aric’s laundry shop for example), two people from a household could go shopping instead of only one. Still no inter-district travel.

But for me a very important difference: Hiking around your house was allowed again. I waited a few days , because this government has a reputation of flip-flopping.

19 July

What a pleasure it was to hike again. For the time being I will hike on my own, keeping a safe distance to everybody. It is clear that they virus is endemic now, everybody can be a carrier, I am fully vaccinated now, but even that gives no 100% protection.

I had made myself a thermos with coffee and enjoyed my cuppa at the Hard Rock. I had to use the timer of my phone, that’s why I look so serious ūüėČ

Two weeks of extreme lockdown. Of course we did more than eat, eat, eat. I listened to a lot of music, click on the image to listen to my favourite composer.

I re-discovered the films of Buster Keaton Here is his hilarious movie Our Hospitality (1923). Click on the image to watch the movie.

And I spent much time at my laptop. Here is a blog I published about the French painter Jean-L√©on G√©r√īme and his painting the Naked Truth (1896). Click on the image to read why I wrote a blog about the painting.

I did a lot of gaming too, for my mental health. Here are two of my favourite games, Hay Day and Homescapes.

The Covid-19 situation in Malaysia is still getting worse every day.

Journal 1-1-2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015-11-30 06.27.20

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

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

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

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

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

I wish all my followers a happy and prosperous 2016!

Journal 1-10-2015

It’s a long time ago that I wrote my last regular journal!¬†Time for an update, in chronological order.

25 July

Durian trip with Joe Yap. Joe has a relative in Kg Chetang¬†(near Raub) who has a durian farm. When she told me that she would go there and if I would like to join, I could not say no, of course..:-) ¬†After a dim sum breakfast in PJ we went to the farm. It was high season,¬†we had a lot of Musang King and Joe’s friends bought a lot to bring home. After having (too) many durians we used¬†the traditional way to remove¬†the smell¬†. ¬†Wash your hands with water flowing over the husk, and drink water from¬†the husk. Does it really work? Not sure, but it was fun.

8 August

Trip to the Chiling waterfall with Edwin, Janine and¬†friends. I must have visited this waterfall more than a dozen times in the past decade, the hike with its many river crossings never gets boring…:-) This time our target was the remote top Chiling fall, also¬†known as the Jewel of Selangor. As the friends of Janine were newbie hikers, they decided to stop at the main fall. Edwin, Rani and I continued, ignoring a¬†recently placed signboard…:-)The reason for this signboard is apparently that accidents have happened at the upper falls. It’s another hour hike to this top fall. Beautiful pool.

15-17 August

More waterfalls the next weekend. Through my waterfall website I had come in contact with Ibrahim, a waterfall explorer from Perak. He suggested a waterfall recce in the Sg Siput region. I have reported about this trip in a separate post: Sg Siput Waterfall Recce Here pictures of the waterfalls we visited.

25 August

Another waterfall visit, this time with our British friends Pat and Roger. We went to the Chamang waterfall near Bentong. On our way back, we took the old road, passing a hot spring that has recently been renovated. We decided to have a bath here and as usual we ended the day with a nice dinner.

29-30 August

The following weekend ¬†for a change not a waterfall but a mountain!¬†My friend Rani had organised¬†a weekend trip for his (teacher) colleagues with their families to¬†the Cameron Highlands. Plan was to climb Gunung Irau, would i like to join? I am not really a mountain climber, but Gunung Irau, with its mossy forest, interested me, so I accepted his invitation. They¬†had rented two apartments in a Brinchang hotel, for twelve adults and numerous kids. I was a bit shy in the beginning, as probably were Rani’s colleagues too…:-). But what a nice group! ¬†And I was poplar with the kids, one of them immediately¬†ran to me and called me “apek”, grandfather!

The ladies, many of them teachers too, did not join in the hike, but prepared delicious Malay food. And of course went shopping..:-)

The next morning we drove to the trail head and started our hike, together with numerous other climbers, because Gunung Irau is a popular destination. Here is our group, at the start and at the summit. Small detail: as you have to grab trees often during the climb, Rani had bought gloves for me. They were useful, although, as my friends pointed out, I was using them inside out…:-)

The trail head is at 2000 m, the summit at 2110 m. Distance 2.4 km. Easy hike?¬† Forget about it. You have to follow a¬†ridge which goes uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill and so on…Here is a collage of my struggle with Gunung Irau. As you can see, much of the mossy forest has been destroyed because of¬†too many visitors, causing the trail to become extremely muddy.

Gunung Irau and me

But I reached the peak! Many people there congratulating me that I, a senior citizen, had made it…:-). ¬†Then it started to rain. The hike back was very tiring. Happy that I made it, but this was a once in a lifetime experience for me.

Latest news: The Gunung Irau trail has now been closed to the public, effective Oct 1 until mid-2016. I hope it will help.

6-19 September

Good that I¬†had a few days to recover before Aric and I¬†left for China with Pat and Roger..:-) The 14-day trip¬†was the result of a promise made by Aric, a few years ago already, to show them China. We started in Xi’an, followed by Suzhou, Zhouzhuang and finally Shanghai. I took more than 1500 pictures and it will take time to write a detailed report about this fascinating¬†trip. ¬†Here an impression.

26 September

We celebrated the Mid-Autumn (mooncake) festival in Kepong, where Aric’s uncle lives. The family had booked a lok lok car. Lok lok is a Malaysian specialty, a bit similat to steamboat. It was a happy celebration, because Aric’s mother after suffering¬†a stroke¬†in August¬†and being¬†in hospital for some time, now¬†had recovered, so she could attend the celebration.

 

I will do my best to update this blog more regularly…:-)

Journal of my Dutch trip 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

agenda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journal 21-3-2015

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

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

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

Putrajaya

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

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

CNY Parit Baru

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journal 2-1-2015

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

Kanching

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

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

Chair

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

Chuan Christmas Caroling

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

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

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

Here is the official picture

Family gathering

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

dinner

From left to right and top to bottom:

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

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

Wine

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

Happy New Year

Journal 30-11-2014

Another journal. Starting with sad news.

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

Family dinner

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

Cremation

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

Zen Garden

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

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

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

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

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

View from our balcony Bukit Lanjan now

Here are two more pictures, Google Earth screenshots, to show clearly how Mustapha Kamal (the big boss of MK Land) has created his own paradise on top of Bukit Lanjan, in the meantime destroying the hill. Like Saruman in Lord Of The Rings… 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 5-10-2014

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

Leaning tower

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

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

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

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

Dinner withCaroline

Handing over the flute

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

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

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

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

Bukit Kiara Bukit Kiara

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

 

Journal 12-7-2014

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

Yolanda My friends

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

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

 

 

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

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

Preikestolen Preikestolen

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

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

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

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

Heiligenbergerbeek wandeling

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

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

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

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

Rain Hokkien Mee IMG_9011

Journal 30-12-2013

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

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

Ceremonial meal

Burning of gifts

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

cemetery

Here are a few more pics

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

Family picture

Nine courses

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

Meeting Khong and George

Dinner with Denise and Faresh

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

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

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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.