What a Weekend!

On Sunday 3 December there were two major events in Aric’s family. His maternal uncle, David, who lives in Singapore, had come to Malaysia to celebrate his 80th birthday. He had invited the family for a birthday lunch. And the youngest daughter of Aric’s paternal uncle no 6 was going to get married and we were invited for the wedding dinner on Sunday evening. How to survive two sumptuous meals on one day?

The weekend started on Saturday evening with a pre-wedding party in Cheras where Aric’s uncle lives. Buffet style. It was a pleasant evening. As usual, I was the only Kwai Loh in the group, but by now I know most of the family members.

The birthday lunch took place in the Tropicana Garden Mall. Four tables. Sumptuous is an apt description of the lunch. Look at the menu, ten (!) dishes .

To survive, I decided to take only minuscule portions of the various dishes. And I also refused to have any alcohol, telling that I don’t drink before 6 pm, which actually is generally true πŸ˜‰ . In the food collage only the Longevity Birthday Peach Bun is missing.

There was karaoke singing. Aric is a good singer, but rarely sings nowadays. I recorded his song, but he doesn’t allow me to share it here. Pity, click here for the original song, it was a popular 1959 movie, The Kingdom and the Beauty.

Of course there was a birthday cake and the singing of Happy Birthday To You.

David in the center with various combinations of family, relatives and friends.

And the usual group photo.

Then finally the cake was cut. A very nice birthday celebration

We came home and had a few hours to rest and recover before we went out again to the Hee Lai Ton Ballroom & Restaurant in Puchong. The wedding dinner took place in a big hall on the first floor, twenty tables.

Left the parents of the bride, right the entrance of the couple.

The food was delicious. but again I took only very small portions. And as it was after 6 pm, I had a few glasses of wine. This time I took picture of the dishes, not of what I put on my plate.

It was a pleasant , traditional gathering with a lot of Yam Seng toasting.

Here we are posing with bride and groom. One of the traditions is that the groom has to uncork a bottle of sparkling wine. A modern element was that here both bride and groom uncorked a bottle πŸ˜‰

After filling the glasses they call the close relatives to the stage for a toast. That is basically the end of the dinner.

It was the end of a busy food-filled Sunday. But not yet the end of the weekend. David and his family had come from Singapore to Malaysia for the birthday celebration, but were also eager to have a look at our new penthouse. So we invited them for a get together on Monday evening. We had prepared drinks and snack food and they brought even more. It resulted in an animated party with a lot of wine πŸ˜‰

A group photo at the end of the evening. The next few days we were recovering.

What a Weekend !

Netherlands trip, 2023 week 4

Here is the report about my fourth week in the Netherlands in 2023. For earlier reports see: week 1, week 2, week 3

In this fourth (and last) week I had to prepare the Backershagen apartment for my departure. Do some cleaning and laundry. Main task to empty the fridge.

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Thursday 15 June

Visit from Henk and his wife Marian. I know Henk for many years, since my university time. First we had coffee with vlaai. In the shopping center near my aprtment there is a popular shop that sells this Limburg delicacy. I had bought three slices.

To make it easier to choose, Henk and Marian helped to cut he slices in half πŸ˜‰ .We continued with lunch. It was a kind of heatwave in the Netherlands, I decided that a bowl of gazpacho (cold Spanish soup) would be a good start of our lunch. But in the supermarket there was no more stock, so I chose the “unknown vegetable soup”. They liked it.

That evening I visited Nico, Paul’s brother for dinner and a chat. He had prepared poussin (young chicken) stuffed with Boursin (French cheese), a Belgian recipe. Excellent dinner.

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Friday 16 June

A day without commitments, so I could relax after three hectic weeks. For dinner and wine I had not much choice, just finishing what was left, some of my meatballs in this case.

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Saturday 17 June

As my first meeting with Lambert, in the Amsterdam public library, had been rather short, I decided to visit him again, this time going to Purmerend, where he lives. Forgot to take pictures.

I am very happy with the public transport in the Netherlands. I have been using train, metro, bus many times, using my so-called public-transport card, With this card you can access any kind of transport in the country. You don’t have to worry about enough balance on the card, it will be topped up automatically from your bank account.

Here a bus to my hometown and the train to Arnhem.

The bus has special seats for senior citizens, and in the Amsterdam metro you are allowed to take your bicycle with you.

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Sunday 18 June

I was lucky that during the last few days, friends invited me for dinner, so I didn’t have to cook myself. In this case Johan and Edmund, living in Vinkeveen in a nice house. They are proud of their beautiful garden and rightly so.

Johan and Edmund had invited Theo, another friend, for dinner. As the weather was good we had dinner in their garden.

Edmund had prepared delicious Surinam food. Theo, also living in Amsterdam, took me back in his car to the town. Nice evening.

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Monday 19 June

Dinner with Dick Jurriaans, former colleage at the Snellius school, in the Elements restaurant in Amsterdam. The kitchen and restaurant are staffed by students from the hotel school, connected to the ROC of Amsterdam. The result is perfect service, a creative menu and a very affordable price.

Almost the Summer Solstice. Compare the two photos, left on 28 May, right on 19 June

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Tuesday 20 June

During this Netherlands trip I had been extremely fortunate with the weather. But for this day there was a warning voor extreme weather with lots of rain in the afternoon and evening. I was invited by Roald, a former student and a close friend for many years, to have dinner at his apartment in Amsterdam, but we deicded to cancel it.

Left a screenshot of the rain radar website, in the center the actual downpour. So I had to prepare some food myself. Vegetarian, I still had some potatoes and cucumber. With a glass of wine, quite acceptable πŸ˜‰ .

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Wednesday 21 June

It has become a tradition that I have dinner with Inez, the day before I fly back. What would you like to eat, she asked. Real Dutch food, I told her, but I had already tasted many typical Dutch dishes. What about zuurkool stamppot met spek en rookworst? (sauerkraut stew with pork belly and sausage) Great, that was still missing on my list πŸ˜‰ Actually this stew is really winter fare, but we enjoyed it a lot..

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Thursday 22 June

Departure day. Packing my stuff, switching off the fridge, last minute checking of the apartment. My brother Otto brought me to Schiphol airport.

..This was the fourth week. During my four week stay, I had 25 meetings!

Netherlands trip, 2023 week 3Β 

Here is the report about my third week in the Netherlands in 2023. Click here for the first week and here for the second week.

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Thursday 8 June

A visit from Wim, one of my first students and now a long-time friend. We had lunch in Backershagen and chatted a lot. Sunset is still moving (slowly) northwards, two more weeks to go until the summer solstice,

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Friday 9 June

A 3D2N visit to Ruud and Jur in Groningen is usually part of my program when I am back in the Netherlands. This time I combined it with a visit to Gerrit, another former student, who became a good friend. I started teaching in 1976, when I was 32 years old and I still am in contact with a few of my first students, who are now more than 60 years old πŸ˜‰ .

Gerrit moved a couple of months ago from Amsterdam to Dokkum, a town in the Friesland province. First I took a train to Leeuwarden and from there a bus to Dokkum, where Gerrit was waiting for me. After coffee and cake, we walked to the historical center of Dokkum.

Dokkum has a rich history, in the past it had a harbour, and there are many heritage buildings. Many more photos can be found in my blog A Dutch Trip up North .

It was an enjoyable walk, worthwhile to come back another time. In the left photo I am standing in front of a historical map of Dokkum, in the right picture I am lighting a candle in one of the Dokkumer churches. I may be a staunch atheist, but I like to do this, while wishing something for a loved one.

In the afternoon I continued my travel, by bus and train, to Groningen, where Ruud was waiting for me at the station. We enjoyed a beer in their garden. Actually two beers ;-). Left Affligem alcohol-free beer, which is getting quite popular these days. Followed by a “real” beer, a Belgian tripel, very strong, 8.5 %.

Jur had prepared a nice dinner.

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Saturday 10 June

We made a trip to the northern part of the Friesland province. For me an unknown part of the Netherlands. Perfect weather.

Many more pictures and info in the album A Dutch Trip up North. The right picture is taken at the small village of Moddergat. I had never heard about it, Interesting history and really worth a visit.

For our dinner we went to Lauwersoog, where we had a sumptuous seafood dinner. I started with oysters

Jur and I shared a seafood platter. So much variety of seafood that we couldn’t even finish it. Ruud is not a fan of seafood, but enjoyed his dinner too. I will come back to this restaurant with Aric!

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Sunday 11 June

On my way back to Amsterdam, I stopped in Leeuwarden to meet my university friend Nellie, who is living in Friesland. Talking about long lasting friendship, we met in 1961 as freshmen at the Free University of Amsterdam.

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Monday 12 June

Rene and I were both physics teachers at the Snellius school, many years ago. When he started teaching in Utrecht, we kept in touch. Either I visit him and his wife Caroline in Nieuwegein, where they live, or they visit me in Backerhagen, like this year.

Caroline is always fascinated by the view from my apartment.

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Tuesday 13 June

I started the day with another walk from my apartment. This time part nature, part architecture. Here is a report with many photos: De Zuidas.

The right photo shows the Science Faculty of the Free University where I have been working from 1969 until 1976 for my Ph.D degree.

The Zuidas (South Axis) is a rapidly developing business district in Amsterdam, also nicknamed the Financial Mile. Lots of interesting modern architecture.

In the evening my brother Pim visited me for a mussel dinner. Nowadays mussels are available in the supermarkets even when there is no r in the name of the month (May-August). During this stay the dinner with Pim was the only time that I prepared dinner for a guest, the other guests came for lunch. Easier for me πŸ˜‰ .

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Intermezzo

Not only did I enjoy the Dutch food, also the variety of fruits was very pleasant. When I am back in spring there are strawberries, now they were there too, even Dutch ones, But there were now also cherries, blueberries, raspberries, red berries and blackberries. Delicious.

And there was rhubarb. Cooked with raisins and sugar, with yoghurt a perfect dessert.

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Wednesday 14 June

A day trip to visit Carel Poeder and his wife Joanne. Carel was the principal of the Snellius school when I started teaching there in 1976. I kept in touch with them and in 2018 Aric and I visited them in France where they have a house. See my blog France 2018, part II. When back in the Netherlands they stay in a house on a campsite near Gaanderen. Nice rural environment.

Joanne picked me up from the Gaanderen station and drove me to the camping.

Originally two caravans, but it has the atmosphere of a real, nice house. A pleasant surprise. It was a short visit, we had coffee and lunch, then they dropped me at the station in Doetinchem.

This was the third week.

Netherlands trip, 2023 week 2Β 

Here is the report about my second week in the Netherlands in 2023. Click here for the first week.

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Thursday 1 June

A traditional part of my trip to the Netherlands is a 3D2N visit to my sister Lous in Valkkoog. On my way, by train, I stopped in Alkmaar to visit Ineke, the wife of my brother Arie who passed away last year October. Last time I met him was in April 2022 (left photo). I could not be present at his funeral. It was good to meet Ineke, we talked a lot and she had prepared a nice lunch.

In the afternoon Lous picked me up from Alkmaar, we drove to Valkkoog where we met her husband Arend and had a Korean dinner. For someone with tropical blood, they are quite spartan with temperatures below 20Β° Celsius inside their bungalow πŸ˜‰

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Friday 2 June

We made a day trip to Den Helder where Lous and Arend had found two interesting places, a former school, transformed into a library and a botanical garden in a residential area. I wrote a separate blog about it, with info and more photos, A Dutch Trip up North .

We visited the school in the morning and the botanical garden in the afternoon. For our lunch we went to restaurant Lands End , I had kroketten, a typical Dutch delicacy.

This is the most northern point on the mainland of the Province North Holland. At the horizon left the island Texel.

We will keep the Maritime Museum for a next visit.

Instead we went back to Valkkoog where we enjoyed the weather, the beautiful garden and a nice BBQ.

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Saturday 3 June

Before traveling back to Amsterdam I walked around in the village and took some photos. Left a view of the agricultural land at the back of the garden. Right beuatiful Akelei flowers.

The church of Valkkoog and its cemetery.

Right Lous and I in the garden of a neighbour, under a Goudenregen (Golden Rain) tree.

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Sunday 4 June

Lunch with Atie, Annabella and Hans, another tradition. Hans is a former colleague at the Snellius school, Annabella his wife and Atie the wife of Dick Schuursma, vice-principal at Snellius , a good friend, sadly deceased some years ago. Last year they came to my condo, this time we met in the apartment of Hans and Annabella. As a present I had brought two of my cardboard polyhedra, many years ago one of my hobbies, see my blog Beautiful Shapes.

In the afternoon my nephew Aswin (right) visited me with his boyfriend Cedric (left). The weather was still very good, the sunset was shifting every day a bit further to the north (until the summer solstice on 21 June)

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Monday 5 June

As I had no commitments this day, I decided to take a walk to the Amstelpark. During the walk I took numerous photos, whcih you can see in my report Walk in the Park. Left the route I followed.

One of the attractions of the park is the Rhododendron Valley. The season was over, but there were still enough flowers to enjoy. The windmill near the river Amstel is a popular tourist attraction, specially for Asian visitors. But I was early, so it was still quiet.

Left some Highland Cattle, unusual to see them here. On my walk back I passed the Jewish Maimonides school, built like a fortress as protection against antisemitic attacks. Sad that this is needed.

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Tuesday 6 June

Another tradition: an outing with Inez. Last year we visited Kinderdijk, click here for my blog. This time we went to Bergen in the province Noord-Holland. We started with Park Meerwijk where in the period 1915-1918 a number of villas was built in the style of the Amsterdamse School. Beautifil villas with their thatched roofs.

Museum Kranenburgh is not far away, we had coffee there and visited the museum. Bergen is an artist village and there was an exhibition with works of local artists. Some of them were present to tell more about their work.

The museum has a nice sculpture garden.

We went to the beach for a short while. The wind was strong and quite chilly

But we found a sheltered spot in a beach cafe, where we had our lunch. I had an “uitsmijter”, two fried eggs with ham and cheese on bread. Another very Dutch dish.

Inez has a caravan on a camping near the beach, we went there for another coffee before going back to Amsterdam.

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Wednesday 7 June

A day without commitments πŸ˜‰ Here is a screenshot of my digital calendar.

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Intermezzo

More (mostly) Dutch food. From left to right my signature meatballs, Boerenkool met Rookworst and Seafood Spaghetti. Boerenkool (Kale) stew is a typical winter dish, I was surprised that the supermarket still had fresh kale.

This was the second week.

Netherlands trip, 2023 week 1

Our plan was to visit Iceland this year but Aric was very busy with his laundry shop and could not take leave. So I decided to go to the Netherlands on my own, four weeks. When I checked ticket prices, I found that the KLM tickets were very expensive and not even a direct flight. Emirates and Qatar also had a stopover, but were more affordable. I booked with Qatar and had a transit in Doha. A very modern airport, similar to Changi airport in Singapore. Easy to spend a few hours there. Here are some pictures

The first half of the flight was a night flight, leaving KLIA at 3 am (!), the second half was a day flight, leaving Doha at 8 am and arriving at Schiphol at 2 pm. Nice food for lunch, chili con carne.

I arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday 25 May and left four weeks later, on Thursday 22 June. To keep the blog readable, I will split it in four parts, one for each week, and each part subdivided in days.

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Thursday 25 May

I was lucky on arrival, the plane landed not far from the gate, immigration was fast and my suitcase arrived quickly on the carousel. I took the train to Amsterdam Zuid and walked to Backershagen, where I arrived in my apartment around 3 pm, about one hour after landing, a record! A vase of roses was waiting for me, a sweet gesture from Yolanda, Paul’s sister. But there my luck ended. My mobile phone was not working and I could not connect to the Internet.

It took me a few hours to solve the problems. I went out to buy a new sim card for my smartphone and (blurry after the long flight) I had not put the telephone plug back in the wall socket!

Finally I could relax in my apartment and enjoy my favourite Dutch food (cheese, herring, strawberries etc.).

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Friday 26 May

Beautiful weather, although the wind was still chilly. Usually I am back in the Netherlands during spring, when the trees are still bare and gradually are turning green. Now it was getting summer, everything green. Very nice. Here is a view of the Zuidas from my apartment.

Later I visited Pim and Nanda for a nice asparagus dinner.

Sunset very late, at 9:40 pm. It is setting behind the buildings of my alma mater and will still move a bit more North in the next weeks.

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Saturday 27 May

A lunch meeting with my friend Lambert in the OBA, the Amsterdam public library. I used public transport and arrived at the Central Station (left), The town was busy with tourists. Right the St Nicolas church.

The OBA is at walking distance from the Central Station. It is a nice modern building, opened in 2007.

The top floor has a cafe where I met Lambert. The view of the Amsterdam skyline is impressive.

We had a short meeting with coffee and cake. I stayed a bit longer and had my lunch there.

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Intermezzo

I enjoy de diversity of food in Malaysia, but when I am back in the Netherlands I am craving for traditional Dutch food πŸ˜‰ . From left to right (using Dutch names), Schoudercarbonade met snijbonen, Bloemkool met worst and Witlof met een speklapje. All with my favourite potatoes, Opperdoezer Ronde .

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Sunday 28 May

Whitsun. A day trip with my former student and now long time friend, Yolanda. She was my student in the late 70s at the Snellius school, located at the Startbaan in Amstelveen. The school has been demolished many years ago and is now a residential area. The Startbaan is still there but only the Snelliuslaan reminds of the school.

We decided to walk around the Poel, a lake in Amstelveen. There were yellow irises everywhere. I used the Komoot app to record our walk. Here is a report about the hike, with more photos.

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Monday 29 May

The next day I visited Alphen a/d Rijn, where I was born and where my youngest brother Otto now is living in the family house.

It has become a tradition to visit my parents’ grave with Otto. We bought some plants to decorate the grave.

For lunch we went to McDonalds, where Otto’s eldest son Pascal is manager. He was busy but joined us for a while. We had something very Dutch, a McKroket, never seen that elsewhere in the world. Not bad at all.

During spring there are tulips, daffodils, hyacinths. Now there was a variety of wild flowers like klaprozen (poppies) and margrieten (ox-eye daisies).

I went for another walk with Otto in the region of the Bedelaarsbos. Beautiful Dutch polder landscape. Click on this Komoot report for more photos

One reason to (re)visit this region is that many years ago we put a so-called geocache here: Bedelaarsbos . We archived the cache in 2015 and were curious if we could still find its location. Here Otto is standing on the remains of a tree trunk where we thought the cache was hidden. While we were walking there, I logged another geocache, Tuf-Tuf.

Back home, Otto proudly showed his (first) grandchild and of course I had to take her in my arms as well.

Here Aswin, Xander (his twin sons) and I have pancakes for dinner, skilfully prepared by Otto. Spekpannekoek met stroop (bacon pancake with syrup), can it be more Dutch?

A very nice day. But unfortunate that my bicycle was missing from the (guarded!) bicycle shed where I had parked it that morning.

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Tuesday 30 May

When I am back in Amsterdam. Yolanda and I always have a “luxury” dinner in a restaurant selected by her. This time her choice was Visaandeschelde, a seafood restaurant in Amsterdam-Zuid. The food was so delicious, that I forgot to take a selfie of the two of us. I also forgot what were the many ingredients of the various dishes. They looked likes works of art. Very pleasant service.

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Wednesday 31 May

My “soulmate” Inez visited me in Backershagen for lunch. I told her about my missing bicycle, that I had tried to find it back, but in vain. That it was anyway an old barrel and that I wanted to buy another second-hand one. She said that there was a good bicycle shop near where she lived. After lunch I went with her to this shop, where I bought a “new” second-hand bike for 179 Euro. Left the happy owner, right how I will lock my bike from now on πŸ˜‰ .

This was the first week.

A Dutch Trip up North

In 2015 I published a blog Trip up North and two years later another one, both about trips to the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia. During my present stay in the Netherlands I have made two trips to northern provinces, so here is a report about my Dutch Trip up North πŸ˜‰ .

During my stay in Valkkoog with my sister Lous and brother-in-law Arend we made a day trip to Den Helder, the most northern town of the province North Holland. It is the main naval base of the Netherlands. There is a maritime museum which I may visit another time, because Lous and Arend wanted to show me two other attractions of the town.

The first one was unusual, a public library: School 7. From the outside it looks like a modern.building.

But look at the facade on the onther side and you will see something different. The modern library is an extension of a primary school, built in 1905. The structure of the old building has been cleverly preserved and is visble everywhere inside the library.

Originally the school had two floors , each with six classrooms and toilets for the pupils. The former toilets are now places where you can read a book, listen to a poem or watch a video.

Here are a few pictures of the modern extension. Not suprisingly the library has won prizes, both in the Netherlands and internationally. More info about the awards here (in Dutch).

The library has a friendly atmosphere, you can sit down and read a book or enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack.

We had lunch at Lands End, the most northern (mainland) point of North Holland.

Two seals are watching the Wadden Sea. At the horizon you can see the Wadden island of Texel.

Another surprise in the afternoon, the Hortus Overzee, a botanical garden in the center of Den Helder town, in a residential area. Started in 1939 as the City Nursery, but around 2000 transformed into a tropical botanical garden, with for example a Japanese garden, a waterfall etc. Amazing.

The Bird of Paradise flowers (center) are quite common in Malaysia, but it was a surprise to see them here.

There are several greenhouses, where tropical plants are kept.

It was a real pleasure to walk around in these gardens.

One week later I visited my brother Ruud and his partner Jur in Groningen. On my way I first stopped in Dokkum, to visit my friend Gerrit, who was my student when I started teaching in 1976. So we know each other more than 45 years!

We walked around in Dokkum, a nice historical town.

In the past Dokkum had as harbour, ships could use the Dokkumer Diep to reach what in those old days was called the Lauwerszee.

Left the city hall (1610), right the windmill Zeldenrust.

Left the public weigh house of Dokkum (1593).

The St Boniface church (1871) built in Neogothic style by Cuypers (Rijksmuseum and Central Station in Amsterdam). In 754 Bonifacius was murdered in Dokkum, I learnt in primary school πŸ˜‰ .

This is one of the 11 fountains , a series of art works, created in Friesland in 2018. This fountain is cooled inside, so the outside is often covered with hoar frost, but during my visit it was too hot πŸ˜‰ .

A nice town, worth a more detailed visit in the future.

I continued my trip to Groningen where Ruud picked me up from the station. Beautiful weather, time for a refreshing beer. 0.0% beer, getting more and more popular these days.

The next day we visited the northern part of Friesland. Right the Keersluis Munnikezijl, built in 1882 to improve water drainage in northeast Friesland.

Flooding was always a problem in this part of Friesland. After the devastating Christmas Flood of 1717 it was decided to block the Dokumer Diep. The Dokumer Nieuwe Zijlen were completed in 1729 and are now National Heritage.

Left the monument that was erected in 1729 after completion of the works. The right picture shows a monument to remember the resitance fighters who lost their lives against the Germans at the end of WWII.

Our next stop was at the small village of Moddergat (~ Mud Hole). It was a fishing village where in 1883 17 of the 22 ships were lost at sea during a storm, killing 83 fishermen. A few of the fishermen houses have been restored and are now an interesting museum.

In one of the houses the interior can be admired. Often two families lived in one house.

It was another day with beautiful weather. The right picture shows a monument to the women who, especially after the disaster, must have had a tough life.

Our last stop was at Wierum, in the past another fishing village. Built on a terp, a man-made hill. Originally the church was the center of the village, now it is close to the dike, because part of the village has been swallowed by the sea.

More monuments, left a memorial for the 22 fishermen who perished during another severe storm in 1893. Right a statue of a fishermen’s wive who had to walk across the mud flats to stab sea worms, which were used as bait by her husband, What a life! More info about Wierum here (in Dutch)

This part of Friesland was virtually unknown to me. . Here is a Google map of the region, where I have marked the places I have visited.

The next day, on my way back to Amsterdam, I stopped for a while in Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland, to have lunch which my friend Nellie. We know each other since 1961, when we both were freshmen at the Free University of Amsterdam. The work of art near the station is another one of the 11 fountains, mentioned above.

A tiring, but rewarding 3D2N trip up north in the Netherlands.

First ‘party’ in our penthouse

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 πŸ˜‰ . 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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰

It was a very successful CNY gathering.

Family trip to Kanching

For a long time there has been a plan to visit a waterfall with Aric’s family, but it was not easy to find a suitable date. As 10 October was a holiday, we decided to make a trip to the Kanching waterfall between Selayang and Rawang. When we arrived at the carpark, it became clear that we would not be the only visitors, it was full, we had to drive a bit further to an additional parking. Here we are ready to go, notice the many bags with food for the picnic πŸ˜‰

There are 7 waterfalls (and 2 more far upstream). Here are the first and the second fall.

The third fall, the Kapor fall, is the most popular waterfall. Too crowded, so we walked further up.

Where the cemented steps end, a trail continues, we expected that less people would hike that far. And that was the case, but there were still many people at my favorite fall no 5. I managed to take a picture of the fall without people!

We found a suitable, more quiet place between fall 4 and 5, a big rock where we could enjoy our lunch.

There was a small cascade next to our rock, a perfect place to enjoy the cooling water.

A few of us went for a while to fall no 5 to take a shower.

During my waterfall hikes I always liked to leave a stone marker at the waterfall. Here there was no need to do that because another visitor had already built two ones. In the right picture Zhi Le is blowing bubbles..

Ready to walk back.

Two views from the bridge. Left the rock where we had our picnic ( of course we left no rubbish) and the small cascade . Right looking down to fall number 4.

The Kapor fall was even more crowded now. Near the entrance we met an ice cream seller, I could not resist the temptation to have a roti ice cream πŸ˜‰

We were still hungry and decided to go to Restoran Tom Yam Serendah, where we had enjoyed nice food several times in the past. Then it was a small basic restaurant near the main road, but now it had moved to a new location, very clean but less atmosphere.

The food was ok, although the tom yam not as nice as before. Still cheap, RM 180 for 11 pax!

After our lunch we were in the mood for coffee, we decided to visit the World of Phalaenopsis , which not only has orchids, but also a nice cafΓ©. However, here there was again a massive crowd, so we only walked around and bought an orchid to take home.

Driving back we looked for a kopi tiam, but we were not lucky. Finally we ended, almost home, in the DIB restaurant in Damansara Perdana. DIB stands for Deaf In Business, it is a relaxed, very friendly place, where we come regularly.

We had coffee, I was not yet hungry, had only a waffle with ice cream

it was a very nice outing, worth repeating (but preferably on a weekday)

A Family Visit, part 2

From 8 until 25 August 2022 my brother Otto and his family visited us in Malaysia. A report of what we did, can be found here. Part of our program was a 8D7N trip to a few of our favorite “haunts” and here is a report about this trip.

We decided to limit ourselves to the West Coast of (Peninsular) Malaysia. Below is the route we followed. Our first destination was the Suka Suka Lake Retreat, next we stayed two nights in Georgetown. One night in Kuala Kurau and in Taiping, finally two nights in the Cameron Highlands.

It is a three hour drive from our condo to Suka Suka, we travelled in two cars. .Using the highway we stopped only for some snacks at the Tapah R&R. The Suka Suja lake retreat is located on the bords of the Chenderoh reservoir, one of the oldest in Malaysia. Left a drone picture of the reservoir, right Suka Suka, marked with an X.

When you enter the resort, it feels like going back in time. Traditional Malay houses, built on pillars. Here the main building with some pictures of the interior..

The resort is managed by a family, Aziz, his wife Asiah and their son Azam. I have stayed in the resort many times and they have become friends. Very friendly and hospitable. We were welcomed with a drink and some fried chempedak.

Aziz has bought old Malay houses from various locations in the country, taken them apart and rebuilt them in his resort. Original design, he only added modern bathrooms. Here are the two houses where we stayed.

Suka Suka is a place to relax, for example in one of the gazebo’s

But of course you can also explore the resort.

Staying there is not cheap, but meals are included and Asiah is a very good cook, eager to explain the various Malay dishes she prepares. She lent us sarongs and asked us to wear them during dinner. Actually we should have eaten, sitting on the floor, but looking at the seniors among us, she suggested that we could sit on chairs πŸ˜‰

After the dinner she explained to my nephews how to play congkak, a traditional Malay game. Here are the rules, if you are interested. Of course a photo had to be taken with all of us wearing our sarongs.

The next morning Asiah prepared breakfast for us.

The resort has kayaks which can be used by the guests. Aric and I had done that during an earlier visit and we nearly got lost, orientation is not easy with all those small islands. So we left the exercise to Otto and Nina, and to the twins. They found their way back without problems

Then it was time to say goodbye and continue our trip. Azam used a tripod to take this nice farewell picture.

Our next destination was Georgetown in Penang, in 2008 declared a World Heritage Site, because of its historical past. You could spend weeks to explore everything, but we stayed only two nights.

On our way, we passed Kuala Kangsar, the Royal town of the Perak state. Two landmarks, the impressive Ubudiah mosque, a masterpiece by colonial architect A.B. Hubback, completed in 1917 And the Istana Kenangan, the former Royal Palace.

Aric did some droning, here is an aerial view of the mosque. with the present Royal palace in the background and the Royal mausoleum in the left foreground

We had some snacks in an R&R and arrived in the afternoon at the Airbnb booked by Aric. Located in the historical center of Georgetown, it was a nice house in Peranakan style. Left the façade, right the (very) steep stairs, leading to the bedrooms. Notice the traditional screen shielding the ground floor rooms from the entrance

Left the screen as seen from the entrance, and two pictures of the bedrooms. The house was well furnished and comfortable.

Having some refreshments before going out.

During our last stay in Penang, Aric and I had visited the top floors of the Komtar tower, where you can look down 250 meter, through a glass floor. We liked it so much that we wanted to show it to our guests. Here are Xander and Aswin, sitting relaxed on the (very) transparent glass.

Nina had said that she would scream, but she did not. Bravo ;-). I took a photo of our group.

The top floor has a skywalk. Here Aric took a picture of us. I found this a lot less scary. We stayed until after sunset, to take some night pictures.

Dinner at the New World food court. Aric ordered a selection of dished. Without him we should have been at a loss what to order. From top left clockwise: popiah, lobak, vegetarian spaghetti and dumplings.

The next morning. Two brothers having a relaxed cup of coffee in the front yard of their temporary home.

We did a lot of walking that day. First we had a look at some of the famous Zacharevic murals. If you are interested, I wrote several blogs about Penang Mural Art. A lot of copycatting, I am not sure about the top right one, and the lower right is definitely not Zacharevic.

Then we walked to the clan jetties, another landmark of Penang. We selected the Tan Jetty and were a bit disappointed that we could not proceed until the end, from where you have a fantastic view of the harbor front. I could only take a shot through an opening in the gate.

We had a refreshing coconut there

On our way back we passed the famous Khoo Kongsi, the most impressive clan house of Georgetown. We entered and walked around. I have visited this place so many times, I did not take many photos.

After some rest in our Airbnb, we discussed what to do the rest of the day. We decided to take the cable car up Penang Hill and walk around a bit there, having a drink at the Bellevue hotel. This colonial style hotel is owned by a friend of mine and has a spectacular view of Georgetown and Butterworth on the mainland. We stayed until after sunset before taking the cable car down.

The next morning we first had breakfast in the famous Toh Soon cafe. We had tried the day before but found it was closed. Now it was open with a long queue of people waiting. It is famous for its coffee and its toast. I had my favorite eggs on toast.

A trip to Penang is not complete without a visit to the Kek Lok Si temple in Air Hitam. The Buddhist temple is dominated by the huge statue of Guan Yin, the goddess of mercy.. You can only take a photo of the whole building when you are far away πŸ˜‰

The construction is not yet complete, you can donate roof tiles. The family bought a tile and wrote NOPAX on it (Nina, Otto, Pascal, Aswin and Xander)

Nina also bought a candle.

There are many temples in the complex. This is the main one.

You can climb the beautiful pagoda, but I had done that already in the past. So I waited at the bottom while the others climbed up.

Before crossing over to the mainland, we visited another temple, the snake temple. Inside(!) the temple and outside in the trees many Wagler’s pit vipers live. When you don’t disturb them, they are harmless (although venomous). During our visit there were only a few snakes inside the temple, sleeping. But many in the trees of the courtyard.

After a simple lunch opposite the snake temple, we crossed the bridge and drove to Kuala Kurau, a fishing village at the mouth (= kuala) of the Kurau river. Years ago we had discovered in this village a nice homestay, located right on the river with a terrace from where we could observe the many activities on the river.

The owner of the homestay, a young man, studied and worked in the UK, but came back to his hometown, missing the rural life. Nicely renovated house.

For dinner the owner suggested a restaurant from where we could enjoy the sunset. In this kind of seafood restaurant you start with looking at the fish tanks to select what you like to eat, Can not be more fresh. The food picture, from top left clockwise: seaweed soup, stingray, mantis shrimps and crab. The bottom right picture shows how people here leave the table after a nice dinner πŸ˜‰

The restaurant was about1 km from our homestay, as the crow flies, but to reach it by car we had to take a long detour. Crossing the Kurau river we saw the numerous fish farms in the river.

Back in our homestay it was time to relax.

The next morning Aric woke up early to take drone pictures of the river and our homestay (marked with a yellow x). Notice another fish farm in the river.

We had breakfast in the village and walked around. Of course there was a fish market.

On our way to the Hua Seng Kong Temple near Kuala Gula, Aric got a flat tyre, which he changed superfast . The temple is located in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by plantations. We were the only visitors.

This Buddhist temple has strong Mahayana and Taoist influences. It has a rustic atmosphere, no exquisite art here. Left the family at one of the entrances. When you kneel on the metal plate, as Nina does, the statue starts pouring holy(?) water.

Very interesting is the depiction of “Hell”, where people are punished for the sins they have committed in their life. A small scale version of the famous Haw Par villa in Singapore.

Here Xander and Aswin are waiting for their judgment. After the punishment everybody gets a cup with the tea of forgetfulness, so they have no memories after being reborn.

It was not far to Taiping where we had lunch in the Old Railway Station. Finally we had Assam Laksa, Aric’s favorite food. He has a special Assam Laksa website. Try to find his verdict about this assam laksa (hint: there are three assam laksa entries for Taiping)

We had booked rooms in the modern Flemington hotel, next to the Taiping :Lake Gardens. After some rest we walked around, we were lucky, Taiping is named the rain town of Malaysia, it rains often in the afternoon, but we had nice weather,

At sunset we watched the colony of egrets, roosting every night at the Lake Gardens. Thousands of them. We also had a look at the rain trees that in recent years have fallen down on the road. The town council took the smart decision to leave them there and make part of the road pedestrian: the Raintree Walk. Now a tourist attraction.

Dinner in the Double Tap, a modern fusion-style restaurant near the Lake Gardens. I had spaghetti with smoked duck, curry leaves and salted egg! Very eatable.

A special feature of Flemington is the infinity swimming pool on the top floor. I had told my family to bring swimwear, they did, but I was actually the only one using the pool haha. We had a buffet breakfast the next morning.

Here is the Raintree Walk during daytime. During evenings and weekends teher can be a happy crowd.

As the “godfather of Malaysian waterfalls”, of course I had to bring my family to a waterfall North of Taiping there is a nice waterfall, not yet discovered by the general public, although easily accessible on a clear trail

The Air Hitam waterfall is an attractive one, from where I took the photo, you can still continue to the bottom of the falls, but that is more tough going. Aric took a drone picture of us.

We could not stay long, because we had a (late) checkout before 1 pm. We had lunch in the Lighthouse restaurant in Matang. The famous Teochew fish porridge (Aric is Teochew himself).

Our last stay was in the Cameron Highlands, two nights in the Lutheran Mission Bungalow. A lot of the Cameron Highlands has lost its charm because of agricultural (over)development, but this bungalow is still relatively unspoilt. Left a drone picture, the ugly gray plastic roofs are approaching. Right the bungalow, built in the 1950s as a retreat for Lutheran missionaries.

How I discovered this bungalow (12 years ago) is too complicated to tell here. Read my blog What Happened to Jim Thompson. I have been there many times and booked three rooms in the main bungalow this time.

For our dinner we went to the Jin Jin Steamboat restaurant in Brinchang. Steamboat is popular in Malaysia and specially in the Cameron Highlands. You get a bowl with hot broth and plates with meat, fish, veggies, mee etc. You prepare your own food. Although it was a weekday, it was very busy, we had to wait for a table. But it was worth it.

Traditional breakfast the next morning..

The view from the garden is still very nice. and there are lots of flowers.

One of the attractions of the Cameron Highlands are the tea plantations.

We visited the BOH Tea Centre Sungai Palas and we were not the only ones. The tea house has a spectacular location, overlooking the tea fields.

Of course we had BOH tea and cakes. I had scones

Pity that the tea factory, where they process the tea leaves, was closed for renovation. Of course we took many pictures of the tea fields.

Another attraction of the Cameron’s are the strawberries, strawberry farms everywhere (with the ugly gray plastic roofs) When you buy Cameron strawberries in the supermarket, they are very sour, but the ones we bought here, were surprisingly sweet.

In the afternoon we hiked to another waterfall, the Parit fall. On the way back it started to rain a bit. We have been very lucky with the weather during the whole trip.

Back in the bungalow Otto and I enjoyed a glass of whisky on the balcony. You have to book for dinner and breakfast in advance. The food was not bad, colonial style: fish and chips for Nina and chicken chop for the others.

The next day we took another route from the CH back to KL. Passing through Raub, a famous place for durians, we stopped at a stall and Aric bought one. For RM 132 , yes durians can be very expensive. But we just had to let our guests taste the “King of Fruits”

I am addicted to durians, judge for yourself what the others though about it.

Our last stop was at the Chamang waterfall, until recently always open without paying tickets, but now closed. It is called development :-(. But at least we saw a nice group of long-tailed macaques along the road.

We did a lot during our 8 days trip ;-). and came back quite exhausted.

A Family Visit, part 1

During my time in Malaysia, several of my siblings have visited me. The first one was my brother Pim in 2000 and again in 2006; Beautiful Malaysia (16-27)-9-2006. One year later my sister Lous visited me, Beautiful Malaysia II (11-23)-5-2007. In 2011 we had visits of Pim and Nanda in February and three months later of Lous and Arend, Family visit, May 2011. Of course my other brothers were welcome too, but it never resulted in a plan.

Until this year. During my stay in the Netherlands in April, I visited my youngest brother Otto, Otto & Alphen, and we talked about a trip to Malaysia, either by Otto himself, or with his wife Nina and sons Aswin and Xander. We had moved in December to our new penthouse, but our old condo was not yet sold or rented out. So they could stay there during their visit!

On 27 May Otto whatsapped me that they had booked tickets, from 4 August until 25 August. First a few days in Singapore, the other days in Malaysia. More than two months to make plans and prepare the old condo for our guests. Here are some pictures of our former condo, ready for them.

On 8 August, late in the evening they arrived from Singapore by Aeroline bus. We picked them up from 1 Utama and drove home, where we had a nightcap in our roof garden before calling it a day.

The next day was a rest day, we did some shopping and in the afternoon I walked with Otto in the Orang Asli village below our condo. In the left picture our penthouse is marked with a yellow x, the right picture shows one Mat Salleh (Caucasian) and four Temuan (orang asli) kids πŸ˜‰

What about our first dinner with them? We got the impression that they were slightly overwhelmed by the Singaporean food courts. And Nina was pescatarian. But we had also to show them that Aric and I are foodies. So we decided for a Japanese (!) restaurant in 1 Utama. Aric ordered a large selection of dishes. It was quite a success.

The next day we started with a hike in Bukit Lanjan, my local playground. Not too difficult, we walked to the “Sunset Boulevard” viewpoint, there were ropes on the steep parts.

In the afternoon we went into town, using public transport. We visited KLCC with the iconic twin towers and walked around in the park. We had coffee and cake in the cafe of Kinokuniya, my favorite bookstore.

We had dinner that night in the Seapark food court. Aric selected a variety of food, taking into account that Nina liked veggies and fish. Clockwise from top left: otak otak, popiah, Hokkien mee, cuttlefish, BBQ stingray and Cantonese mee,

The Hokkien mee is a specialty of this food court, prepared on a charcoal fire. I am tasting the cuttlefish. Everybody enjoyed the food.

The next morning Otto told me that they had not slept well, because during the night they had been bitten by tiny critters. Bed bugs? The condo had not been used for several months, could they have been come from the Singapore hotel, in their suitcases? Anyway, a thorough cleaning operations was needed.

In the afternoon we drove to a viewpoint, from where you can see the KL metropolis. During the whole trip. we used our two cars. Otto and I in my Axia, Aric and the others in his Subaru. I don’t like driving, fortunately Otto does and he had no problem with driving at the “wrong” side of the road, while I was his guide, using Waze.

It was a bit hazy that day, so the view of the town was not perfect. The tall buildings in the center are the TRX building (right) and the Merdeka 118 skyscraper (left, still under construction)..

Aric used his drone to take pictures.

Not far from the viewpoint there is a restaurant where Aric and I have been several times, the Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant. Location is nice, next to the fish ponds and the food is good.

Here is a collage of the food Aric ordered. In the center me with a glass of toddy (coconut wine). Starting from top left, clockwise: kerang (cockles), mango salad, fried rice, cuttlefish, dessert, deep fried spinach, fish (tilapia) and okra (lady fingers)

On our way back to KL, we stopped again at the viewpoint for a night view

We also stopped for a while at the historical town center, where we walked around a bit. The former colonial government offices are impressive. The confluence of the Gombak en Klang rivers has been beautified recently. A bit too blueish in my opinion ;-).

The following day we went to the Batu Caves.. . You have to climb many steps to reach the Hindu temples in the caves. The temples are dedicated to Lord Murugan, the son of Shiva and Parvathi and the brother of the elephant god Ganesh, my favorite Hindu deity.

From the cave entrance you have a view of the city.

There are several temples in the cave. Very scenic. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, and already a “tourist” attraction in 1890, when Kuala Lumpur was still a small village..

All deities have their own transport animal, for Lord Murugan it is the peacock, so you see many peacocks in and around the Batu caves, real ones and artificial ones.

There are also lots of monkeys around, trying to steal your food, for example your ice-cream !

Hindu temples are always very colorful, it is easy to keep taking pictures. Here is a collection.

We had lunch in an Indian restaurant near the caves. Roti canai and thosai.

Back home we started preparing for our trip up North the next day. We went out for a simple dinner in a nearby restaurant and had a drink later in our roof garden.

About our trip I will write a separate report.. Here is an appetizer. Our route in the center. Top row, from left to right: Suka Suka, Komtar tower, Penang Hill. Middle row: Kuala Kurau, Taiping Bottom row: Air Hitam waterfall, Cameron Highlands, Boh Tea plantation.

After we came back, our guests went to KL a few times on their own. They visited the Aquarium, the Bird Park, Chinatown and several shopping centers.

Our kitchen was not yet fully operational, so we did not cook for them. But one evening we ordered delivery food. It is called a fishbowl. We had dinner in our garden.

One afternoon we brought them to Kuala Selangor. Bukit Melawati is of historical interest, the lighthouse was originally built in 1794 by the Dutch. Aric used his drone to take pictures.

The hill houses a group of Silvery Langurs, a very beautiful and friendly monkey species. Notice the orange colored baby in the left picture. And notice how contented my brother Otto looks πŸ˜‰

Kuala Selangor is famous for its seafood restaurants, from where you have a nice view of the Selangor river.

General rule for this kind of local restaurants: the more basic they look, the better the food is.

From top left, clockwise: Stingray, Oat prawns, Seaweed soup, Cuttlefish , Bitter gourd omelet , Salty egg crab. Total cost RM 245. Value for money.

The plan was to visit the fireflies at Kampung Kuantan, but it started to rain heavily, so we had to skip this excursion.

Their stay was coming to an end. Nina was interested to go to an Indian restaurant, so one evening we went to a mamak restaurant in Kota Damansara, the Original Nasi Kandar Penang

More than 20 years ago a picture was taken of me with my two nephews. I asked Aric to take another picture, as similar as possible.

For our farewell dinner, the last evening, we went to the May Chixuan Restaurant near our home, where we are regulars. Their signature dish is curried prawns, served in a coconut. The other dish is tofu in a thick pumpkin sauce.

The next morning, at the ungodly hour of 6 am, they left for the airport. It was a memorable visit.