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.

The Netherlands 2022

My last visit to the Netherlands was in 2019. In March 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic started, making (international) travel almost impossible. Only in spring 2022 countries started to reopen their borders and I booked a six-week trip to the Netherlands. In this post I will report about my activities during my stay in the Netherlands. I have been very (too?) busy , here is a chronology of my agenda. To keep this blog readable, I will often refer to separate blogs about specific activities.

31 March

Arrival in a very cold Amsterdam. Detailed report here: Perdana View => Backershagen

3 April

My friend Yolanda is singing in a choir and had invited me to attend a performance of Bach’s St John Passion in de beautiful Dominicus Church. Afterwards, we had a drink with her and friends at a nearby cafΓ©..

5 April

Invited by my friend Nico for a mussel dinner. My friends know that I like to have “Dutch” food when I am back πŸ˜‰

6 April

Same when I visited my soulmate Inez the next day. What would you like to eat, she asked me. I chose “hutspot met draadjesvlees”.as main dish. A stew of potatoes, carrots and onions with braised beef. Very traditional Dutch.

7 April

The next day my brother Pim came to Backershagen and I was the cook. Herring as starter, meatballs with chicory as main dish, and a fruit salad as dessert

10 April

On Sunday I visited my ex-colleague Rene in Nieuwegein. His wife Caroline prepared asparagus for us, a seasonal delicacy. Ice cream as dessert. Writing this report I realise that I did a lot of eating ;-).

11 April

I visited the Stedelijk Museum. In the evening I went to the St Matthew Passion in the Concertgebouw with friend Lambert. No photos of the concert but about the Stedelijk I wrote a separate report, click here.

12 April

In 2019 we did not organise a family reunion, instead I visited all my siblings: Family Visits. This time I did the same. My first visit was to Arie and Ineke in Alkmaar. Before I met them for dinner, I spent some time in the town of Alkmaar, looking for Art Nouveau architecture. It resulted in this report : Alkmaar 2022 .I arrived at their place around 4pm, we had a drink, a lot of chit chat and a nice dinner.

13 April

Raoul is a former student of mine. In 2010 he married Aunn, from Thailand, and in 2011 Aric and I went to Thailand to celebrate their wedding with Aunn’s family and friends, We keep in contact and this time they invited me for dinner. It was a pleasant meeting. There was a beautiful sunset when I took public transport back to Backershagen.

14 April

The next day another former student came to Backershagen to have lunch with me. Wim is one of my earliest students, we are friends for more than forty years.

16 April

Yolanda is another student from the same batch as Wim. I visited her in Utrecht, where she lives. We had lunch together and visited the Public Library, beautifully housed in the former main Post Office. More photos in the album Yolanda & Utrecht .

17 April

I celebrated my 78th birthday in Alphen with my brother Otto and his family. In the morning Otto picked me up from Backershagen and via flower fields we drove back to Alphen, where we had lunch. In the afternoon we drove around in Alphen. Detailed report: Otto & Alphen ..

19 April

A busy day. In the morning I met my friend Nellie at the Amsterdam Zuid station. The original plan was to visit the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen, but, as we had only a few hours, we decided to go to the Stedelijk Museum again. I had been there on my own, one week earlier, this time I was in a better mood. I added the photos I took to the album Stedelijk 2022.

In the evening I had my usual “special” dinner with Yolanda. A yearly tradition where she selects a new/trendy restaurant. . Because of the pandemic three years had passed since our last dinner meeting! This time we went to the Juwelier, a new restaurant with rave reviews in several newspapers. It was a bit of a disappointment. The food was ok, the service mediocre and the pricing was too high. Read some reviews by others here.

21-22 April

A 3D2N trip to Ruud and Jur in Groningen, a tradition when I am back in the Netherlands. We visited the new Forum and made a trip to a nature reserve in Drenthe. Of course we had nice food as well. Detailed report here: Ruud & Groningen

..24 April

Another busy day ( I call it busy when I have two “events on the same day πŸ˜‰ ) I had lunch with my friends Marjan and Mike. who live now in Huizen in a very nice apartment. First I went by train to the Naarden-Bussum station (1924) an interesting building. From there I oontinued by bus. Mike and Marjan were waiting at the bus stop, we had a nice walk to their apartment.

A nice apartment and a delicious lunch

I could not stay long because that evening I had a concert in the Concertgebouw, a performance of Bach’s Hohe Messe. During my dinner with Yolanda in the Juwelier we found out that we both had bought tickets for the same concert! So of course we had to have a beer after the concert. and talk about it. It was a wonderful performance, of course you are not allowed to record it, but here is a YouTube video of the same ensemble and conductor Philippe Herreweghe) recorded in 2017 in the Concertgebouw: Heavenly music, Bach at his best.

25 April

Dinner with ex-colleague Dick Jurriaans, He suggested restaurant Elements and it was a very good choice. The waiters and cooks are students of a Hotel School and work here as part of their training. We started with oysters, after that smoked eel, duck breast fillet and panna cotta as dessert. Finally coffee with Armagnac. Nice atmosphere, very reasonable prices.

27 April

Koningsdag! The King’s birthday. The biggest celebration in the Netherlands, but not possible the last two years because of Corona. I went to the Vondelpark, here is the report : Koningsdag.

28-29 April

A 3D2N visit to Lous and Arend in Valkkoog. Another tradition when I am back in the Netherlands. Detailed report here.

30 APril

Last year around October my friend Inez messaged me that she had bought two tickets for a concert on 30 April by two countertenors, Andreas Scholl and Maarten Engeltjes. At that time the COVID pandemic was still in full swing, I was locked up in Malaysia. But in the beginning of 2022 the situation improved and I decided to take the risk t and book a ticket for a period which included 30 April. We were both so happy that it worked out well.

We met at the Muziekgebouw and had dinner in the Grand CafΓ© there before the concert started. If you are interested in what we ate, here is the menu (pdf file) Delicious.

It was a very nice concert, the two countertenors sang duets by the English composer Purcell.

2 May

A day trip with Inez to the windmills of Kinderdijk. We visited our ex-colleague Piet and his wfe Helma in Slikkerveer. In the afternoon we went with them to Rotterdam for an architectural walk. A full, interesting day. Here is the report: Day trip with Inez.

4 May

A lunch at home with ex-colleague Hans, his wife Annabella and Atie, the wife of my good friend Dick, who passed away a few years ago. Perfect guests, not only did they give me presents, they also helped washing the dishes and even cleaning the stove! They will be more than welcome next time I am back in the Netherlands.

The fourth of May is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands. In the past I went to the Dam Square, where a massive crowd kept two minutes silence at 8 pm. But there is a smaller, more intimate ceremony opposite my apartment, which I attended.

5 May

As my visit was coming to an end, I decided not to prepare complicated food at home, I needed to clear and switch off the fridge. Therefore I invited my friend Lambert for a simple meal of soup and bread with herring, cheese and salad.

6 May

The next day I had dinner with my friend Roald in the restaurant Scheepskameel , located on the former Marineterrein. Roald is another former student who became a good friend, we know each other for more than forty years. To say that it was a pleasant evening is an understatement πŸ˜‰ We chatted a lot about our shared past, had very nice food (and quite a lot to drink). We left the restaurant after 11 pm.

8 May

Discussing with my friend Gerrit how and where to meet, he suggested a walk in the parks not far from my apartment. A splendid idea. The weather was perfect, he had planned an interesting hike of about 10 km. Detailed report here: A Hike with Gerrit

Dinner that evening with my brother Pim.

9 May

And the next evening With Inez

10 May

My last evening in Amsterdam I invited Nico for another dinner in restaurants Elements, where I had eaten two weeks earlier with my ex-colleague Dick,. .Basically the same menu, only pity there were no oysters this time. Instead we had a cheese platter.

11 May

Cleaning the house. Around 6 pm Pim picked me up from my apartment to bring me to Schiphol Airport. Here is a report: Backershagen => Perdana View.

Lous & Valkkoog

I was planning to take the 10:09 train to Schagen, where Lous would pick me up from the station. But that train was cancelled, because of a logistics limitation. Did the driver oversleep, haha? Not the first time I had problems with the Dutch Railways. The delay gave me time to buy a coffee and a cookie.

My plan was to invite Lous and Arend for a nice dinner, but she suggested to have an asparagus dinner at home, where I would pay for the ingredients. We went to a countryside shop, where surprisingly I found a self-service section, where you put money in a slot, to open a compartment and take the contents. For Dutch readers: similar to the FEBO fast food automats.

On our way back to their bungalow, we already passed the first tulip fields

The bungalow, where Lous and Arend have been living already for decades is located in Valkkoog, a small village. The bungalow has a beautiful garden

After lunch Lous and I visited the Poldertuin in Anna Paulowna, a kind of miniature Keukenhof. Free access, not many people know about it. I have been there several times and every time is is sensational.

The Poldertuin in all its glory.

An orgy of colours.

The varieties in form and color are amazing

During our visit the tulips were in full bloom, but there were other flowers too, We liked these grape hyacinths

After our visit of the Poldertuin, we drove around a bit in the Kop van Noord-Holland, a region famous for its tulip farms. Personally I I like these geometric patterns even more than the arranged compositions in de Poldertuin and the Keukenhof..

Actually in these flower farms, the flowers are not important. The farmers are interested in the flower bulbs! That is why the tulips are “beheaded” when they are in full bloom, so all energy will go to the bulbs. In these two photos you can see that in some plots the tulips were “kopped” (beheaded). Notice the beheaded tulips in the paths between the plots.

It was time for a drink. We went to beach cafΓ© Nogal Wiedus near Huisduinen. A famous lighthouse is located there, nicknamed the Lange Jaap (tall Jacob) It is one of the tallest lighthouses in the world. The authorities are worried that it might topple over, so access is not allowed.

On our way back home, we passed more tulip fields. By climbing a dune, I could get almost an aerial view. A drone would have been even better.

Arend had prepared a nice dinner with the ingredients we had bought earlier. Strawberries and blueberries as dessert

We had seen enough tulips, so the next morning we visited a small nature reserve, Wildrijk. Originally part of a country estate, established in 1630 by a rich Amsterdam Merchant. The mansion is no more, only the park remains. On our way we passed several stalls where people could buy flowers or bulbs. Unattended, prices are indicated and you just put the required amount in a cash box. People still trust each other in the countryside πŸ˜‰

We had a relaxed walk in the park, which is well known for its wild hyacinths (a.k.a bluebells)

Blue-violet is the most common color

But you can also find other colors. white and pink

During WWII German soldiers were housed here in underground bunkers. Quite a few remain, but you can not enter them

More photos. I had never heard about this place, a real gem, it was worth our visit.

For our lunch we went to Schagen,, the Peper en Goud cafe, where we met my nephew Jeroen, a nice, unexpected surprise. Jeroen’s son Teun also joined with his girlfriend, so it became a family reunion. I had my favourite lunch,a broodje kroket πŸ˜‰

On our way back home, not far from Valkkoog, one last tulip field.

A tasty Korean dish , Dak Bokum, for dinner. And a beautiful sunset

The next morning I took the train back to Amsterdam As usual a very nice visit.

Here is a Google Earth map of the region, where I have marked some locations we have visited

Otto & Alphen

When I told Otto that I wanted to celebrate my 78th birthday in Alphen with him and his family, he said, ok then I will pick you up from Backershagen and we can visit some flower fields on our way to Alphen. First we had a cup of coffee in my apartment and we exchanged (alcoholic) birthday presents, as his birthday had been one week earlier. He gave me a nice Glen Talloch whisky glass with my nickname Kwai Loh Stuivenberg engraved in it. Click on the right photo. The glass should be filled with whisky to make the inscription better readable, but tt was too early to start drinking ;-_)

We made a detour through the “Bollenstreek” on our way to Alphen, and saw quite a few hyacinth and tulip fields, although the main season had not yet arrived. It was Easter holiday, quite a few tourists. Officially it is not allowed the walk inside the flower fields, but not everybody followed this rule.

We arrived in Alphen around lunchtime. Here are two pictures of the family house, front and back. I was not born in this house but spent my youth there, until I went to Amsterdam to study. Many memories.

Of course the interior has changed over the years. We had a festive Easter brunch with Nina and two of their sons, Aswin and Xander..

The garden in front of the house in a kind of Japanese style is beautiful and often admired by passersby

After lunch Otto and I drove and walked around in Alphen. We visited the cemetery, where our parents have been buried We took some time to clean their grave and plant some new shrubs.

Just a few snapshots of places in Aphen. Left the Hefbrug, right a view of the Old Rhine river

Left the Nutsgebouw,(1894), during my school days I have watched my first movies there. Right the modern city hall (2003)

From 1955 until 1961 I was a student at the Christelijk Lyceum in Alphen. The school has moved to another location long ago, but the building is still there. Right the entrance through which I must have passed numerous time. Nostalgia.

Some more pictures. I don’t know the background of the artwork at the left. The right statue is the war memorial for WWII. It was a beautiful spring day.

Finally we had a look at the countryside around Alphen. The countryside of my youth, I still find it quite attractive.

Back home Nina had prepared a delicious meal. Xander, one of my nephews, has recently started playing the flute and showed us the progress he had made.

Just before I left, Pascal, the oldest son, arrived and of course a picture had to be taken of me with my three nephews. Aswin (left) and Xander (right) are identical twins, for many years I could not distinguish between them. Now slowly there are some differences.

I went back to Backershagen by train. A very nice day.

Langkawi, Christmas 2019

A few months ago, Aei Yong, one of Aric’s sisters, came with the idea to celebrate Christmas with the family in Langkawi! She asked Aric to plan the trip, as she knows that he is a good organiser. He booked an Airbnb in Kuah, 23-25 December.

It turned out that not everybody was available, so finally we went with the two sisters and their family, ten people in total. The ferry to Langkawi leaves Kuala Perlis at 1 pm and it is about a 6-7 hour drive from KL, so he decided that we would leave one day earlier and stay overnight in Kangar on the 22nd.

We went in two cars and met in Tanjung Malim for breakfast. I had my favourite eggs on toast, creatively prepared πŸ™‚

Chinese names are not easy for me to memorise πŸ˜‰ . Left Aric’s nephews
Zhen Ee and Chun Yee. , right his two sisters Aei Ling and Aei Yong and in the middle a Kwai Loh, my nickname.

Around 4 pm we arrived in Kangar, the capital of Perlis, where Aric had booked comfortable rooms in Federal Hotel Kangar.

After a short rest we went to Kuala Perlis for our dinner in the Hai Thien seafood restaurant. Aric and I had been here a few times before and we liked the (Thai style) food very much. It was crowded, we had to wait a bit for a free table.

The food was delicious as usual. The advantage of eating with a larger group is that you can order many different dishes!

The next morning we had time to explore Kuala Perlis. There is not much to see, but there is a nice pedestrian bridge, crossing the Perlis river, with good views of the surroundings.

The Al Hussain mosque is quite attractive, and sometimes nicknamed Floating Mosque.

The ferry is relatively small, it was interesting to see how the experienced crew managed to fit so many cars and lorries.

The crossing to Langkawi takes a few hours. The weather was perfect and there was a small canteen where you could buy drinks and snacks.

Around 4 pm we arrived at our Airbnb, a nice, modern house, located in the outskirts of Kuah.

Spacious, many rooms to accommodate our group.

Usually we decorate our condo in Damansara Perdana during Christmas and this time we had taken all the Xmas stuff with us.

The plan was to have our Christmas Eve dinner in Western style. There are not that many restaurants in Kuah that serve Western food, but Aric had found one, the ARTS Cafe. He called them to make a reservation and they asked us to come over already to select what we would like to eat the next day.

After we had made our choice, we looked for a suitable restaurant for our dinner. Our original choice , the Wonderland Food Store , was too crowded, we found a good alternative in seafood restaurant TEO.

Another elaborate selection of tasty food

The next day, after our breakfast we first visited the Durian Perangin waterfall on the slopes of Gunung Raya, Langkai’s highest mountain. I had visited this waterfall in September 2007. Now there was a lot less water, but still enough to enjoy a nice bath.

I took a lot of pictures. It was a good place to frolic around.

The waterfall was a very suitable background for modelling photos πŸ™‚

After spending almost two hours at the fall, we drove to the top of the Gunung Raya, at 881 m the highest point of Langkawi. There is a view tower from where you are supposed to have a 360Β° view of the island. We were also expecting a cafe there for lunch. But everything was closed, already since February 2018!

Next we drove to Cenang Beach for KFC(!) lunch and the tax-free shopping malls. After that back to our Airbnb for a short rest.

Before we left for our Christmas Eve dinner, there was time to take an official family picture.

The ARTS cafe had prepared all the food we had ordered, I forgot to take pictures of all dishes, some people had ordered pasta, others pie, grilled salmon, lamb shank, fish and chips, etc. Nice food.

Many paintings on the walls of this cafe, another occasion for some more modelling photography.

Back home, it was time to wish each other a Merry Christmas.

On Christmas day we visited the Langkawi Sky Bridge and of course we were not the only ones. First we had to use the Cable Car. Well organised, we had to stand ready for the gondola, which doesn’t stop, not much time to jump in πŸ™‚

The cable car has a station halfway, where you get out and can view the surroundings. In the picture you can see behind us the summit station and the sky bridge.

Another gondola brings you to the top.

There is a viewing platform, from where you have a good view of the sky bridge. Notice that the sky bridge is quite a bit lower than the cable car station. It is possible to use the so-called Sky Glide, a short funicular railway, but you have to buy tickets separately for it and there was a long queue. Here is a negative comment of a visitor: Don’t use the SkyGlide.

We decided to walk down, in about 20 minutes. A much better option, although it was rather hot :-). Walking on the sky bridge was a worthwhile experience, for me the first time, because during an earlier visit it was closed for maintenance.

We spent considerable time at this major tourist attraction, so it was almost 5 pm when we arrived at the second destination for the day, the beach at Tanjung Rhu. Crystal clear water, a sandy beach, casuarina trees for some shade, a nice place to relax and take a sea bath.

We had read that at low tide it was possible to walk from the beach to one of the rocky islands (the middle one in the picture below). It was low tide and indeed, you could walk quite far out, as you can see, and on the Internet I have seen pictures that there was even a dry “sand road”, leading far out. But when we were there this was impossible.

We could walk quite far, shallow water, swimming was not easy.

Almost sunset. A romantic beach. This picture was taken at 6:30 pm

Aric had planned our last dinner at Laman Padi Langkawi , a Malay restaurant, surrounded by rice fields. We arrived a bit too late, it was dark already, but we could still see the nice surroundings.

The next day we took the ferry back to Kuala Perlis.

From Kuala Perlis it was a long drive back, we stopped in Bukit Mertajam for lunch in the Sentosa Corner, a very popular eatery, famous for its yam rice.

A relative of the family was living nearby, we paid the couple a short visit.

It was a very successful, but also exhausting trip πŸ™‚

Journal Dutch trip 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few more of my favourites.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the view north from my apartment.

And here the view west during sunset.

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

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

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

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

Family Visits

During my visits to the Netherlands, my siblings and I often organise a reunion, see for example my blogs De Nollen and Family Gathering .

This time it was not possible to find a date that was suitable for everybody, so instead I met my siblings separately. My sister Lous and brother Pim, I had met already with Aei Ling and Aric, see my earlier report.

On 16 May I visited my brother Arie, who is living in Alkmaar. During an earlier visit in 2015 he had guided me around in this historical town: Alkmaar. This time we visited the Broeker Veiling, north of Alkmaar.

Here is a Google Earth image of what has been called the Realm of the Thousand Islands. From the 13th century farmers have created these small islands to cultivate vegetables, like onions, potatoes, cabbages.

In 1887 the first vegetable auction took place, in the open air! In 1912 an auction building was constructed, built over the water, so the boats could sail through it.

The real auctions do not take place here anymore, but the building has been beautifully preserved and is now part of the Museum Broekerveiling.

The walls of the modern main building have been decorated with photos of the thousand islands and the giant cabbage in front of the museum is of course an obvious photo object πŸ™‚

The museum gives an interesting history of vegetable farming in the region. There are interactive displays and videos of people telling about their experiences when they were kids. It must have been a harsh life.

The auction building is surrounded by “lighallen” (mooring halls) where the farmers could wait until it was their turn, to sail through and have their cargo auctioned.

Although the real auctions don’t take place here anymore, the atmosphere is still very authentic. The blackboards mention the name of the farmer, the weight and other specifics about the cargo.

No real auctions, but regularly demonstrations are given in the auction hall. For me it was the highlight of our visit.

First the auctioneer explained the procedure. The starting price for a load is high, then the clock is going down and down to lower prices, until one of the buyers pushes a button in front of his seat. He will pay that price, so he must take care not to push too early :-). On the other hand, if he waits too long, another buyer will have pushed his button!

The Dutch expression is “veiling bij afslag”, when I searched for the English translation, I was quite surprised to find that it is : Dutch Auction !

We, the visitors, could bid ourselves! Of course not on huge quantities of onions etc, but on small bags of carrots, apples, strawberries, etc. I bought two pears, for 1.35 Euro, probably more expensive than in the supermarket. Big fun!

The lady auctioneer and the couple that played the role of farmers, gave a perfect, entertaining performance. She didn’t mind to have her photo taken with us, probably she will be in thousands of pictures..:-)

Back home, Ineke had prepared a Dutch meal, not with cabbage, but with asparagus. Delicious.

A few days later Otto, my youngest brother, visited me in my apartment in Amsterdam. We had dinner and, as usual, a long, interesting conversation about many different topics, like the universe for example πŸ™‚

He stayed overnight and the next morning, after breakfast, we drove back to Alphen a/d Rijn, our hometown. We had lunch in the family house. The weather was nice, so in the afternoon we decided to go for a walk through the polders. When I was a teenager, it was my playground, a lot has been changed since then. Here is a Google Earth image with our walk in green.