Visiting Penang, 2018

A very belated report!

In April 2018 we met LCK at a friend’s dinner. We had an interesting conversation and a few days later he visited us in our condo in Damansara Perdana. He told about a few of his projects, a colonial hotel up Penang Hill and his private botanical garden Suriana. When we showed interest, he invited us to visit him in Penang, where he is living.

On our way to Penang, we stopped for lunch in Ipoh. Aric is an Assam Laksa lover and maintains a website: Assam Laksa List where he has collected many assam laksa shops. His verdict about Kee Poh: so so.

Around 3 pm we arrived in Penang, where we had booked a room in the YMCA, next door to where LCK is living

A clean hostel-like hotel.

After we met LCK, he took us up Penang Hill, to have dinner in “his” Bellevue Hotel

The next morning we drove around Penang. Another project of Aric is to take drone images and videos of fishing villages. This is Kuala Pulau Betong in the South-West corner of the island.

For lunch we went to another laksa stall, only known as Laksa Stall Under The Tree in the Sungei Ara region. Aric’s verdict: Very good.

After lunch we went to LCK’s house, where transport to Bellevue was waiting for us. The house is an impressive colonial style mansion.

LCK’s driver brought us to the Bellevue Hotel where we checked in. Spectacular location with impressive views of Georgetown and Butterworth. Notice the geodesic dome at the right, more about that later.

We had a very pleasant room. Colonial atmosphere. Writing this blog more than four year later, I am not sure about details, but I think we had no TV in the room. What a blessing.!

The garden is well kept.

We went for a walk. The hotel is surrounded by other heritage. Left the monumental entrance of the Bel Retiro bungalow, founded in 1789 and still exclusive government property. Right the Penang Hill Mosque, much more recent (1966)

Left the attractive police station (1929). Penang Hill has become a major tourist attraction, which is spoiling the character of the place. Transport is basically via the cable car, bringing up crowds of day-trippers. We walked around and had a snack before returning to Bellevue.

Even Bellevue must take care not to succumb to modern developments. Buggy tours, Segway rides? Why? Sedan chair trips would be more appropriate ;-). Just promote the Garden Terrace, the Panoramic View Restaurant and the Nostalgic Charm of the past.

A collection of prehistoric animals might be fun for kids, but also doesn’t fit in the colonial charm of the place.

And lots of charm Bellevue has. Waiting for our dinner, we enjoyed the views, changing all the time.

Dinner was steamboat, well prepared. A few more visitors were also having their dinner.

The next morning around 8 am. Georgetown is still covered with clouds. Pure magic.

Enjoying an (almost) English breakfast. (No bacon because halal)

And slowly Georgetown appears through the cloud cover

Aric did some droning. A staff member is interested and watching closely ;-). View of Bellevue in the right picture.

General view of the hill. Bellevue is bottom right.

Before leaving, we took more photos of the interior. It is clear that LCK is interested in art and music.

He is a friend and admirer of the American architect and philosopher Richard Buckminster Fuller. The garden of Bellevue has a geodesic dome, a structure popularised by Fuller.

Buckminster Fuller passed away in 1983 and a room in the hotel serves as a kind of memorial. If you are interested to know more about “Bucky” and his relation with the Bellevue Hotel , have a look at this website : Buckyworld Confluence @ Bellevue

At 10am LCK’s driver came to bring us back to Georgetown. It is a winding road, no public access.

Our next destination was the Suriana Botanical Garden. LCK is an architect (Komtar , Jurong Town Hall) but also a trained botanist who has collected in this private garden many rare pants. Waiting for him, we walked in the garden around his house and had a look at a new building, still under construction.

The garden is located between Balik Pulau and Air Hitam.

We had a drink and duriasn at a small house in the garden. Very peaceful surroundings.

Also here a geodesic dome. LCK is very knowledgeable about ginger and banana species.

We walked around with LCK as our guide.

Of course I took many picture Here is an Orgy of Red

And Shades of White

Black & White

After an interesting walk in the garden, we drove back home, with flowers and fruits produce of the Suriana garden. A very pleasant trip, thanks a lot to our host..

Taiping, June 2022

In my blog Penang & Taiping, 2022 I reported about a 4D3N trip with friends to Penang and Taiping. I decided to stay a few days more in Taiping, my 2nd home town. I had lunch with my friends in the Old Railway Station and decided to walk back from there to the Furama hotel, where I had dropped my luggage already. An easy walk, about 2km, less than half an hour. The Central Market is under restoration and I wanted to have a look.

As I would pass on my way the house of my friend Ms Long in Barack Road, I called her and asked if I could pay her a visit. I was welcome and we had a nice chat.

In March, during my last visit to Taiping, I also visited the market, Click here for my blog. Left picture shows the main market in March, the right picture was taken this time. I could not see any sign of recent activity.

But progress has been made on the wet market (better known as Siang Malam). Left the situation in March, right this time.

Some details of the restoration.

Of course I also had to have a look at what I have named the Shame of Taiping, the sad remains of the heritage Rest House (1894).

After checking in at Furama I took a rest before going out later to walk in the Lake Gardens and watch the egrets coming back to roost at the bamboo bushes.

After the food orgy in Penang, I was more thirsty than hungry 😉 I bought some chips and had satay in the Taman Tasik food court. A quiet evening.

During my last trip Halim and I had visited a few Indian temples in the Matang region. See my blog for the pictures I took during that trip. I talked about these temples with Muthu Pillai, a member of the Taiping Heritage Society, who knows a lot about Hindu religion. He was willing to accompany me on a trip to several Hindu temples..

Our first visit was to the Vinayagar Temple, dedicated to Ganesha, my favourite Hindu deity, son of Shiva and Parvati. If you are interested to know why he has an elephant head, you should read this: Short story for kids: How Ganesha got his elephant head

Muthu told me that many temples have a place, dedicated to the nine planets, the Navagraha. Nine planets? Actually it is better to call them the nine heavenly bodies. Sun, Moon and the five planets, known in antiquity: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Plus two demons, Rahu and Ketu, related to the moon. All nine play a role in Hindu astrology.

Next we visited the Sivan Temple, dedicated to Shiva. Here some pictures of a few deities.

The left image show Shiva as the cosmic dancer. The right image shows Murugan again, this without his spear, but with his characteristic mode of transport, the peacock.

Muthu helped me to put a pottu on my forhead ;-). While we visiting this temple, we were invited to have vegetarian food. Very friendly atmosphere.

The third temple was the Mariamman Temple on Jalan Kota. Mariamman is an incarnation of Parvati. This temple I had visited already during an earlier visit

Finally we went to the Muniswaran temple at Simpang Halt. When we arrived, the temple was closed already for lunch, but the friendly lady caretaker let us in, through a backdoor of her shop. During my earlier visit with Halim I was captivated by the beauty and serenity of this temple, although the weather was too hot to enjoy everything. The weather was milder now, I walked around and took numerous pictures. It confirmed my earlier impression, that this is one of the most beautiful temples I have seen.

Hanuman

Inside the temple. Right the shrine of Muniswaran

Some of the statues are colorful, as is common Hindu temples.

But I was very impressed with the many “uncolored” statues.

On the Internet I have found colored pictures of this temple, for example in this blog, written by my friend Liz Price in 2014. Are the statues painted for special occasions?

The temple has a romantic, relaxing garden. I was pleasantly surprised to find a Buddha statue in the garden.

A monumental angsana tree on the temple grounds is very old, you can see it on a photo of the Simpang Halt railway station. The temple itself is actually very new.

After our visit we had lunch in the small shop at the entrance of the temple. Really a very rewarding visit.

In the afternoon I visited the Perak Museum. Of course I had been there before, but this time there was a special exhibition about Taiping and its history.

The exhibition was interesting, mostly photos, but not spectacular.

I liked the photo of Captain Speedy, dressed as an Englishman, because mostly you see him in his exotic Ethiopian outfit. The map of Larut should have come with a comment from the museum staff 😉 The map was published in 1883 and shows the Port Weld-Taiping railway, , but this line was not opened until 1885!

A real mistake from the museum staff concerns the landing of Amelia Earhart on 7 June 1937 at Tekah Airport. As I have shown in my blog Amelia Earhart and Taiping, this American aviator flew on 7 June 1937 from Brazil to Africa! And actually she never landed at the Tekah airport.

I walked around in the rest of the museum. Well organised, worth a visit

On my way back to my hotel, I passed the All Saints’ Church, the first church in the Federated Malay States, founded in1886.

A cemetery next to the church has interesting tombstones.

Muthu had suggested to meet again for dinner that evening, after first attending a meeting of the Taiping Toastmasters of which he intends to become a member.. Some of my friends are Toastmasters, with some hesitation I accepted his invitation. It was an interesting experience. Members were asked to give a short, unprepared speech on a given topic. Memories surfaced of my college days as a member of a sorority ;-). Of course I was asked to participate, but i politely declined.

A nice group of friendly people. This photo was taken by Lawren, the outgoing president of the club

After the meeting we adjourned to a nearby restaurant for supper.

The next day I had my usual chee cheong fun breakfast in the stall of my friend Tong.

In the afternoon I was going back by train to KL. My friend Halim often brings me to the station where we have lunch together.. This time he had organised a durian party at his house. Would I mind joining the party, he asked. Of course I accepted his invitation. The durians came from Batu Kurau and were first class. For the first time I tried them together with pulut (glutinous rice) and santen (coconut milk), A delicious combination.

There were lots of other food as well. Nice Malay atmosphere.

As Halim was busy, being the host of the party, one of his friends took me to the station.

A short visit, but full of variety!

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 café..

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 😉

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 😉 ) 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 Café 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 😉 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.

Yolanda & Utrecht

I went by train to Utrecht where I met my friend Yolanda at the station. The plan was to have lunch and then walk around in the town a bit. Yolanda had chosen a nice place for lunch, the Landhuis in de Stad (Country house in Town). From the station we walked about twenty minutes, passed a windmill and a nice bridge. It was a beautiful day.

It was a pleasant restaurant with good food and a friendly service. Many people had their food outside in the garden, but I preferred with my “tropical blood” to sit inside.

After our lunch we walked back to the town center. We passed an impressive building, the former location of the Royal Dutch Mint and again the windmill, actually a sawmill, Houtzaagmolen De Ster ..It was a peaceful walk

To reach the center of the old town, we had to pass the Hoog Catherijne shopping center.. The left photo shows this center with the Catherijnesingel. In 1970 this waterway was filled in to create a motorway, but recently it has been restored. The right photo is taken inside the shopping center, the water of the singel is flowing under it, and part of the floor is glass. Very nice design.

When I mentioned to my ex-colleague Rene that I would visit Utrecht, he told me that I must visit the Public Library, housed in the former Main Post office of Utrecht. So that is what we did. Utrecht is an attractive town, I visited the town a few years ago: Utrecht, 2019 .Notice the original way of building a canal-bike 😉

Passing the Oude Gracht (left), we reached the Neude square in the town center. with the Public Library. The Main Post Office was completed in 1924 and designed in Amsterdam School style by architect Crouwel. The post office was closed in 2011.

The central hall of what is now the Public Library is breathtaking. On one wall a gigantic clock, on the other wall the Royal Coat of Arms

Beautiful statues and decorations.

Free access, you can just pick a book from the shelves, sit down and read or study

You can charge your mobile by cycling ;-). Right a collection of old phones.

After spending quite some time in the library. Yolanda brought me back to the station. Here are some very typical Dutch pictures. Bicycles everywhere and a public urinal

We said goodbye at the station. A nice meeting

The Gang of Four at Kampar

In a recent blog, The Gang of Four, I wrote about the fellowship of Khong, Stephen, George and me, and the many trips we made during the past 15 years. At the end of that blog I wrote that we had not organised any activity during the Covid-19 pandemic and that we were hoping to continue the tradition soon.

Although the pandemic is not over, the situation in Malaysia became better during the last months and in November we organised our first outing since 2019. We had planned to visit a colonial mansion in Rasa, but unfortunately it was closed..

However, we had a sumptuous lunch at the WK restaurant in Ulu Yam.

Our next outing was on 20 January and our destination was Kampar. A two hour drive from KL, so we left early . First we had breakfast in the huge Kampar Medan Selera. I had a very tasty Chee Cheong Fun, Hong Kong style.

After our breakfast we visited the Kinta Tin Mining Museum. I had visited the museum in 2018, see my album Versatile Perak, for my friends it was new. It is an attractive museum dedicated to open tin mining, using gravel pumps. Lots of old machinery, many dioramas.

Recently I had come in contact with Jacky Chew, the curator of the museum regarding some heritage issues. It was nice to meet him now in person. He is very knowledgeable about the history of tin mining.

Our next destination was the Battle of Kampar Heritage trail. The Battle of Kampar was a valiant attempt of the British Commonwealth forces to slow down the advance of the Japanese Imperial army in December 1941. Jacky Chew told us that the trail started next to a factory, north of Kampar old town. We found the factory and asked for further directions.

Mr Chee, the owner of the plant, pointed out where the trail started and also explained to us what they were doing in the factory. Basically it is a mineral processing industry. More info here. Very interesting and an unexpected bonus of our trip.

The trail starts next to the factory and was doable for us seniors ;-). Clearly signposted.

There is a memorial with info about the battle.

The wreaths in front of the memorial were put there a few weeks ago, at the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Kampar.

From the memorial a trail leads to a few remains of the battle field, a bunker, a trench and the location of the former command post.

Here is a view from the Green Ridge. Not easy to imagine that this was a battlefield where hundreds of soldiers died, eighty years ago.

We went back to the old town for our last destination. After the success of the mural art of Zacharevic in Penang, mural art has been mushrooming all over Malaysia. KL, Ipoh, Gopeng to name a few. And now Kampar as well. The works of art are concentrated in a small lorong (alley) between the two main roads of old town. The quality is not always very good, but at least it is colorful.

Here is a collection of pictures.

Kampar has also quite a lot of heritage architecture, but there was no time to explore as we were getting hungry. Our plan was to have lunch in Sungkai , at the Choy Kee restaurant, but we found it closed, maybe we were too late. So we continued to Slim River, the Fook Seng restaurant, a favourite of Stephen.

We had pork knuckle, herbal chicken, tofu and bean sprouts. With drinks and rice the bill was RM 102. Value for Money VMF), one of the tenets of the Gang of Four 😉

We are already looking forward to our next outing!

The Gang of Four

Probably everybody knows about the Gang of Four who became (in)famous during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. There are more Gang of Four’s in the world, Wikipedia has a list of them. There are political groups, industrial ones, there is even a rock band with that name.

There is also a Gang of Four in Malaysia 😉 ! Here they are. From left to right: Khong Tuck Koon, Jan Stuivenberg (me), Stephen Boey and George Tan.

When I settled down in Malaysia around the turn of the century, I got interested in waterfalls. That’s how I came into contact with Khong, who had created a waterfall website. Stephen was a friend of him and George his brother-in-law. Soon we became friends, as we shared many interests, waterfalls, birds, and not in the last place food. As we were all retired. we had time to make trips together. Often daytrips, where we first visited a waterfall or watched birds, always ending with a nice lunch.

In August 2005 Khong suggested a longer trip to Southern Thailand and it was during this trip that the name Gang of Four was coined for our fellowship. The picture above is from this trip. .A travelogue and many pictures can be found in this report: South Thailand. We visited a number of nature parks.

Of course we enjoyed the Thai food, we visited waterfalls and George kept track of our expenses meticulously 😉

In those days, my camera was not good enough to take suitable bird pictures, so mostly I took food pictures. Here is an example of a birding trip to the Selangor Coast, a few weeks after our Thailand trip. In between breakfast and lunch there was bird watching, Khong and Stephen being the real birders, George and I the “accidental” birders, as we jokingly called ourselves.

In those days there was a social media site, called Multiply, where you could publish pictures and share them with family and friends.. I had my own account, and we decided to create a shared account “gangoffour” for our trips. Multiply was quite popular, but not profitable enough and after a couple of years they announced that the service. would be discontinued. I managed to download the content of all albums and wrote a script for my own Multiply website .Here is the first Gang of Four album: Trip up North, (13-16)-7-2006 We stayed two nights in Kulim and visited several birding locations in the region. One evening we went owling in Air Hitam Dalam with Dr Neoh and his wife. We also visited the canopy walkway at Sg Sedim and met more Penang birders at Ulu Paip. On our way back we visited Chan Ah Lak in Taiping. More details in the album.

A few weeks later we made a daytrip to Lagong. Joined this time by Gilbert and Yoke Sim, two birder friends. I had just bought a new camera, a Canon Powershot S3 with 12x zoom and image stabilising. Finally I could take bird pictures myself 😉

Our next adventure was a 3D2N trip to Taiping and the Cameron Highlands in August 2006. When I searched in my collection of photo albums for a report about this trip, I discovered that I had never written one, although I had taken almost 200 photos! Of course memories had become a bit vague but with the help of the other GoF members I managed to write a rather belated report: Taiping & CH, August 2006. The album contains 60 photos of birds, flowers, food etc. Our friend Henry Hor joined us on this trip. As I was the photographer, I am not in many photos myself. Here are a few.

With my new compact camera I managed to take this picture of a Black-crowned Night-heron. I was so happy with it that I published it on my Birding in Malaysia website, one of the few bird photos I contributed 😉 .

Sometimes the Gang of Four invited guests for a trip. It also happened that not all four of us were free, like on this day trip to Sekinchan, 22-1- 2007. Khong could not join, but as our “sifu” he provided us with a map of suitable birding locations. A few of the photos were taken by Stephen who also wrote some of the captions.

Several times the Gang of Four attended the Raptor Watch in Tanjung Tuan. Here is a report Raptor Watch 2007, This time we went with Gilbert and Yoke Sim, not sure if George was present. We hardly saw any raptors this time.

In May 2007 we went to Merapoh, where we stayed two nights in the Sg Relau visitor center. I didn’t take many pictures during this trip and forgot details. We were hoping to see the Pitta, but I don’t remember if we did. We had to prepare our own breakfast and lunch, for dinner we probably went to Gua Musang. But I still remember the pictures of two monitor lizards I took. Making love, I thought, until my friends explained that they were actually fighting for supremacy 😉 . .

In September we made a 3D2N trip to Langkawi. We were joined by Gilbert and Yoke Sim and this time also by Aric. We took a flight to Langkawi and rented a car there. Aric and I visited mainly waterfalls while the others went birding. Of course we enjoyed the food and the fellowship. Here is a report Langkawi (11-13)-9-2007.

Two more day trips in 2007. On 25 October we went to the coast, Jeram and Kuala Selangor. George did not join this time. .

On 7 November we went to Fraser’s Hill. this time without Khong. The smelly rubbish dump is a favourite location for bird watching! But even with my 12x zoom, taking bird pictures is not that easy.

Much easier to take pictures of flowers 😉 .

It was an active year for the Gang of Four with six events . Collecting data for this compilation, I noticed that Gilbert and Yoke Sim often joined, and that sometimes only three gang members were present. Stephen was always there, because he had a Pajero with enough space for even six pax!

The first trip in 2008 was to Taman Negara., 3D2N, and this time only Stephen and I represented the GoF . Richard, a hiking friend joined us. The trip is included here , because Stephen contributed quite a few photos to the report Taman Negara (7-9)-4-08. We did the canopy walk, visited a waterfall and had a very pleasant time. Here a few pictures, many more in the album.

A few weeks later a daytrip to Merlimau. I managed to take a few bird pictures.

In May we made an interesting trip to the Cameron Highlands via a new, still partly unfinished road. A detailed report here: New Road to the Cameron Highlands. George did not join, but Gilbert, Yoke Sim and Aric did. The new road was easily passable, and a nice adventure. We stayed overnight in Brinchang, had a traditional steamboat dinner and visited the Mossy Forest the next day before driving back home.

In August a daytrip to Sg Buloh with the complete Gang of Four. It was my lucky day, I took these pictures.

One month later an excursion to the Chiling waterfall, with Stephen, Khong and Robert, a Kiara friend. Stephen and Khong went birding while Robert and I explored the waterfall. Lunch in the WK restaurant in Batang Kali

On 23 November 2008 the Gang of Four attended the wedding of George’s daughter. It was a festive event, where we met many friends. Have a look at the album . Here is the Gang of Four in festive attire.

A few days later we made a trip to Kedah, staying overnight in Kuala Gula. Without George , but with Gilbert and Yoke Sim and this time our friend Zen joined us. I don’t remember if we did any birding, we had a rather dismal lunch in Tanjung Tualang, stayed in a kind of Airbnb and visited the Hua Seng Keng Temple, located in the middle of nowhere near Kuala Gula. Quite interesting, especially the depiction of the Underworld. I got sick on the way back home.

January 2009 we made another trip to Taiping, 3D2N. When I looked for a report, I discovered that I had never written one, same as in 2006. So I wrote a belated report, using a selction of the pictures, without much text, because I forgot details. We visited the Tanjung Tualang tin dredge, Papan, the SBS Buddhist Sanctuary, the Wild Boar temple in Kamunting., the Lake gardens and probably we did some birding. Here is the report, Taiping, January 2009.

In December that year we made a trip to Parit Jawa. Again without George, but with Gilbert and Yoke Sim. I had just bought a new camera, a Nikon D5000. Here is the album: Parit Jawa (2-3)-12-2009. Some of the bird photos taken during the trip, , S= Stephen, K=Khong, J=Jan.

The yearly number of GoF trips was getting less. On 14 March 2010 we made a short trip to Genting. You may wonder what Khong, Stephen and Gilbert are looking at in this photo.

I don’t remember if we have seen birds during this trip. I took only pictures of a crowd of beetles. The main reason to go to Genting was probably that there was a buffet promotion 😉

In that year we went to Taiping with Kiara friends: Mostly Makan, August 2010 , and we were invited for the wedding of Zen’s daughter, Zen’s wedding party 23-10-2010 , but those were not really GoF activities.

In December 2011 we had a “real” GoF trip, again to Taiping. Khong did not join. There is no album about this 2D1N trip, I don’t remember where we stayed overnight and where we had our food.

But we went birding. although I forgot the location

The last “official” GoF trip took place in May 2012. Again I discovered that I had never written a report about this trip. But I was able to reconstruct more or less what we did, using my pictures and also emails we exchanged after the trip. Here is the report: Taiping, May 2012. It was a 3D2N trip to Taiping, we stayed one night in the Beringin bungalow on Maxwell Hill.

Of course we met each other after this, but no more trips, as far as I remember. You will have noticed that after our maiden trip Gilbert and Yoke Sim were often taking part, making it more a Gang of Six. They were real birders, compared to the accidental birders George and me. The four real birders may have made more birding trips after 2012.

Around 2018, 6(!) years later, we decided that it would be nice to have lunch meetings every now and then. Khong, always the organiser, created a WhatsApp chat group GoF Classic, with the original Gang of Four as members. As one of our mottos was : Value For Money (VFM), the venues for our meetings were restaurants with attractive promotions.

Our first GoF-VFM lunch meeting was 16 November 2018 in the Skaters Cafe in the Royale Chulan hotel in Damansara. Notice how Stephen looks like a patriarch.

It was nice to meet and talk, so a few weeks later we had a second meeting, this time in the OUG Jade restaurant.

Our next meeting was in my condo in Damansara Perdana. I had promised my friends a lunch with traditional Dutch Pancakes.

In October 2019 we had a buffet lunch in the Kampung Kitchen, a restaurant in the Ibis Hotel, near KLCC.

And that was our latest meeting until now, a couple of months later Malaysia went into lockdown because of Covid-19.

Hopefully we can continue this tradition soon.

Melbourne 2015

In February 2015 Aric and I visited our friends Pat and Roger in Melbourne. We had a wonderful time, I took almost 800 pictures, but I never wrote a report about it. It is now six years later, details about our trip have become vague. Here is a belated blog about that visit.

They are living in a nice bungalow in the Dandenong hills, not far from Melbourne.

The first day we relaxed, did some shopping for the dinner. All of us love food and Roger is a good cook. He knows that we are addicted to oysters, look at his face as he is watching how Aric is enjoying one 😉 .

The next day we went to Melbourne, to the Prahran Market, a historical market, founded in the 1860s and relocated to its present location in 1881. Lots of fresh produce and also many cafes. Roger did some shopping for the dinner.

We had coffee with cake and later lunch with mussels.

Aric had discovered on the Internet a colorful beach “village”, Brighton Beach, and in the afternoon we visited it. A perfect location for photographers.

That evening again an exquisite seafood dinner.

The next day we started a 5D4N trip to the region in Victoria north of Melbourne. We visited a goldmine in Bendigo, made a paddle steamer trip in Echuca, had lost of nice food and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. I wrote a separate blog about this trip, Victoria Trip 2015. Here is a sketch of our itinerary.

After we returned from this trip, we visited the RSL Club of Upwey-Belgrave. Roger is a member and regular visitor of this typical Australian phenomenon. Although the background is military, it now functions primarily as a pub.

The restaurant in the RSL was leased to a chef who prepared an exquisite dinner.

After the busy trip we relaxed the next day. They have a nice garden and Roger prepared the jacuzzi, where we spent a lazy afternoon. They have now become Australians and are clearly proud of it 😉

We had dinner at home. Host and hostess busy in the kitchen and decanting the wine.

We started with oysters

Main course were lamb cutlets. Because Roger knew that lamb was not Aric’s favourite, he prepared fish especially for him!

The next day we went on our own to Melbourne, using public transport. This is the iconic Victoria station (1888)

We started with coffee and cake at Brunetti’s a well-known patisserie in Melbourne. One of their specialities is the Baba Rum and of course Aric had to try it.

Yarn Bombing , also know as Graffiti Knitting, where trees and street objects are decorated with knitted or crocheted yarn, was quite popular in Melbourne during our visit. It gave the street a friendly atmosphere.

We had a look at two churches , the St. Michael’s Uniting Church (1866)

And St Paul’s Cathedral (1891)

This is the former State Theatre, built 1929 in Moorish Revival style.

We were actually looking for another kind of graffiti. Hosier Lane is a landmark of Melbourne, famous for its Street Art.

We kept taking pictures, here is a selection.

Of course not everything is high-quality.

When you are a tourist, you can use a romantic horse-drawn carriage to explore the town, or take a river cruise. We just walked, crossing the Yarra river to the Southbank.

Our destination was the Eureka Tower, a 300 m tall skyscraper, completed in 2006. It is a residential building, but the 88th floor, the Eureka Skydeck, can be visited.

The view of Melbourne and surroundings is of course outstanding.

A very special attraction is the Edge, a glass cube which can be moved 3 m outside the building. Visitors must cover their shoes with protective clothing, because the floor of the cube is also glass. It is opaque, but becomes transparent when the cube is outside, so you can look 300 meter down. Not for the faint-hearted! You can not take cameras inside but an official photo is taken.

With our ticket we were allowed to come back again later, to have a night view, so we had to spend some time 🙂

We walked to the Shrine of Remembrance, the war memorial of Melbourne. Very impressive, especially when you realise that Australia never had a war on its own territory, but, as part of the Commonwealth, has taken part in many wars all over the world.

A view of downtown Melbourne from the memorial. The Eureka tower at the left.

We decided to have dinner at the Pure South Dining restaurant and that turned out to be a good choice. In the menu you can see what we ordered.

After dinner we went up again to the Skydeck. We arrived just after sunset and stayed until it was really dark. We came back home late, after a nice full day.

The next day was already our last day. A relaxing day at home. Pat and Roger’s daughter Sarah came for a visit with her son Nathan, we had lunch together and enjoyed the jacuzzi. Roger showed Aric his new car and we had dinner.

In the evening we walked in the fields near their house. Nice flowers, lit by the setting sun. Peaceful evening

It was a wonderful holiday.

Twenty year friendship

In 2000 Aric and I were living in Goodyear Court 7 in USJ and it was around September/October of that year that we met Pat and Roger, an English couple, who had also rented a condo there. At the swimming pool! We quickly became friends and we still are.

Besides meeting each other for dinners, birthdays etc, we also have made numerous trips together. About many of these trips I have written reports. Here is a chronological list . For the trips with an album, I have selected only two pictures, mostly of dinners, because we all love food. For the trips without an album, I show a few more pictures.

2001

The first trip took place in June 2001, to Kuala Selangor. Here is a report in the diary that I kept in those days.

In those days I was still working part-time in Amsterdam and Pat & Roger were still living in Basildon, UK, so we could meet in Malaysia only irregularly. But we met a few times in Europe!

2003

They visited me in Amsterdam in June 2003, and a few weeks later I visited them in Basildon with my friend Inez. About this second visit I created an album , here are a few photos.

2004

The next year I celebrated my 60th birthday in Taiping with them and a few other friends. This is the album My 60th Birthday 17-4-2004 and here are a few photos

xxxxx

In September I visited them again in Basildon Trip to England.

2005

In November 2005 I took them to Ulu Langat, to visit the Gabai waterfall. Crossing the hills from Ampang you have a nice view of the KL skyline. There were some leeches, from the way Pat is walking you can see that she was a bit scared of them. The waterfall was a deserved reward.

2006

March 2006, the traditional Raptor Watch in Tanjung Tuan. A trip with my birding friends, Khong, Stephen and George, the Gang of Four.

xxxxx

A few days later another waterfall trip, this time to the Sendat waterfall near Ulu Yam.

xxxxx

Still in the same month, I joined Pat and Roger for a 5D4N a trip to Macau. During our stay we made a daytrip to Hong Kong. Here is the report Macau & Hong Kong

xxxxx

In June they visited me in Amsterdam. We made a daytrip to Delft and visited the famous flower auction in Aalsmeer. Roger tried to eat herring in the traditional way and we had dinner at home.

xxxxx

In December Aric and I invited them for a trip to Serendah where we stayed in a beautiful glass house with its own swimming pool. . The album Sepeking Serendah has more photos.

2007

Pat and Roger were planning to move to Australia and in preparation for their emigration stayed in a rented house near Melbourne, where I visited them in February. I took hundreds of photos but never created an album about this trip. I forgot the details, we visited Melbourne, Ballarat, the Dandenong hills and of course we went to see the kangaroos.