Backershagen => Perdana View

On 30 March I flew from Malaysia to the Netherlands, I wrote a report about it: Perdana View => Backershagen I stayed in the Netherlands six weeks in which I visited family and friends and took more than 1000 photos. It will take time to write posts about the trip, the first one in three years! On 11 May I flew back and I decided to write a (short) post about it, mainly about the rules and regulations related to COVID-19.

When I booked my trip in February, Malaysia was planning to reopen its borders, which they did on 1 April. The new rules were: a negative PCR test, less than 48 hours before departure, a negative Antigen test within 24 hours after arrival and 5 days in home quarantine. Acceptable for me, although of course I was not happy with the PCR condition, as it meant that I could only be sure that I could fly, one day before departure.

So I was really relieved when the Malaysian government announced that from 1 May, the two tests and the quarantine were no longer needed. Only proof of full vaccination and you needed to have the Mysejathera app installed on your mobile. This app contains all your vaccination details and for my flight I had to create a Traveller Card in the app. Which I did.

Of course I still had to limit my luggage to less than 12 kg. And I had to clean the flat (and the fridge) in Backershagen, as it would be empty for many months. Left picture, doing the last laundry, right picture, collecting my stuff.

KLM advised to come to the airport at least three hours before departure, because of extra COVID checks. As usual my brother Pim brings me to the airport and after checking in we have coffee and a snack. But not this time. At the check-in counter I was told that I had to proceed through security check and passport control to gate E1 where they would check my Covid documents and issue a sticker. Also they only could give me a boarding pass for the flight to Singapore. There I had to go to a transit counter and get a boarding pass for the connecting flight to KL. Fortunately they were willing, after some discussion, to check in my cabin bag and take it straightaway to KL. Flying is no more what it was before πŸ˜‰

So I had to wave goodbye to Pim from a distance. At the E1 counter officials were checking whether I was fully vaccinated and had a Traveller Card. As I was early, there were only a few people queueing. I got my sticker and they told me the departure gate, E9. Finally I could relax with a Cappuccino and a brownie.

When I passed E1 again on my way to the gate, there was a big queue with slow processing. Good that I had been so early πŸ˜‰

It was a full flight, continuing to Indonesia after Singapore. At the airport and in the plane face masks were still compulsory.

After take off at 9:45 pm, dinner was served. No first round of drinks anymore, and no cognac with the coffee. One ridiculous detail, there was an announcement asking passengers to remove their masks only after everyone in a row had been served.

New for me was that passengers had access to WIFI during the flight. Full access for a fee, but one hour texting was free. So I used WhatsApp to text a friend, I am now flying over Rumania!

I was worrying a bit how to get the boarding card for the connecting flight. But when we exited the plane in Singapore, a lady was waiting with this paper in her hand. She guided us to the terminal and transit counter where again my documents were checked and a second sticker was put on my passport.

The flight to KL takes only about 45 minutes.

I was wondering what kind of COVID-control Malaysia would have at the KLIA airport. The answer: nothing at all. Apparently the checking in Amsterdam and Singapore, resulting in two sticker, were enough. Surprising.

There were long queues at Immigration, but there was a special counter for Diplomats and MM2H passengers, with only a few people waiting.. And I didn’t have to wait long for my luggage!

KLIA arrival hall was rather desolate looking.

The whole procedure was so fast, that I had to wait a few minutes for Aric. On our way back we stopped for food, my favourite hokkien mee. In the middle my passport wit the two stickers. And to the right a photo that shows me, tired but happy: Back home.

Altogether a smooth flight back

Perdana View => Backershagen

There are two places I call home, Perdana View in Petaling Jaya and Backershagen in Amsterdam. Most of the time I live in Malaysia, once or twice a year I stay for a couple of weeks in the Netherlands. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic it was almost three years ago that I visited the Netherlands. In the picture below the apartments are indicated with an X, left Perdana View, right Backershagen.

In February I decided to book a trip to the Netherlands from 30 March until 11 May. I was fully vaccinated, including a booster shot. The Netherlands were opening their borders and Malaysia was planning to do the same. I only needed a negative PCR-test, taken less than 48 hours before my planned departure.

The weekend of 20 March I had visited Taiping, see my report Taiping, March 2022. On the last day of my visit I had been in close contact with a Covid-infected friend and although I should be immune, I was a bit worried, so I did an antigen self test, which was negative. Still I was nervous when on 28 March I went to my GP for the PCR test. Relieved when I received the negative result the next morning. Left the antigen test, right the PCR test

Because of the uncertainty, I only started packing after I received the negative test result, one day before departure! When I booked my ticket, I expected that, being a KLM frequent flyer, I was entitled to one piece of cargo luggage (23 kg) free of charge. But my level was too low, so I could only bring 12 kg cabin luggage. I managed to take only essential stuff, of course I had warm clothes in Amsterdam. The last evening I could relax in our roof garden πŸ˜‰

In the past KLM had a direct flight from KLIA to Schiphol airport, but nowadays I first had to fly to Singapore. When I booked my ticket, I had a Singapore Airline flight to Singapore (20:40-21:50) with a connecting KLM flight (23:35 – 06:50). Perfect, less than a 2 hour transit in Singapore.

But a few days before departure KLM rescheduled my flight “for operational reasons” Departure from KL at 2pm with Jetstar Asia and from Singapore with KLM at 23:05, resulting in about 8 hours transit in Singapore. How to spend that time? The departure of the KLM flight half an hour earlier was probably the reason, to change the connecting flight from KLIA.

We left Perdana View early at 10 am and that was a good decision because KLM had not notified me that the Jetstar Asia flight would not depart from KLIA but from KLIA2, the former Low Cost Terminal. Nearby KLIA, but still a hassle for us and a bad move of KLM.

I was pleasantly surprised by the service of Jetstar. I think they were not used yet to KLM travelers. They decided to accept my cabin bag as cargo luggage and directly transfer it to Schiphol, so I didn’t have to carry it around in Singapore. I had to show my negative PCR test, that was all. There was time enough for a nasi lemak πŸ˜‰ Passing Malaysian immigration was smooth.

When boarding started, they invited me to came forward first, for the first time in my life I entered an empty plane. And during the short flight (less than one hour) I was one of the few passengers who got a muffin and a bottle of water. Kudos for Jetstar

Thorough fogging of the plane and not a full flight.

In Changi airport I noticed the departure time of 23:05. Eight hours to spend. I had visited Changi Airport in 2019, admired the famous Jewel, but now I was in transit. However there are an amazing lot of things to do while in transit. You can even make trips to the city while staying in transit! I only visited the gardens in Terminal 1. There are three of them.

From left to right the Artifical Tree garden, the Waterlily garden and the Cactus garden.

I bought a book and found a quiet place to read.

I had dinner at the Burger King, quite good quality.

Many shops were still closed

Shock! The KLM flight was retimed to 23:35, the original departure time! So I could have taken the 20:40 SQ flight and saved 8 hours of time. The flight (from Jakarta) was unpleasantly full, but fortunately i had an empty seat next to me.

Usually the KLM flies from KL to the Netherlands over the Ukraine. Of course they did not because of the war in Ukraine, the plane went far south. As usual I could not sleep well. We landed early at 6:05 am, the pilot announced that the temperature was 1Β° Celsius with a chance of show.

Immigration was surprisingly smooth, no Covid checking at all. Nobody was wearing mouth masks. Because of the cold I considered taking a taxi, but finally decided to go the usual way, a ten minute train to Amsterdam-Zuid and from there a 15 minute walk home. I survived the walk, but it was bitterly cold.

Here I am standing in the lift to my apartment. Yolanda, Paul’s sister who has a key of the apartment, had bought flowers, a nice welcome.

As the apartment had not been inhabited for more than two years, I had to go shopping at the nearby AH. And have my first lunch, with cheese, herring and strawberries, of course.

It was a cold night, with snow.

Here are some pictures I took the next day.. Some daffodils were trying to survive. Real winter atmosphere.

I had to solve several problems that day. The prepaid sim card of my mobile had expired, I needed to buy a new one. My laptop had problems, I had to buy a new keyboard/mouse. And the central heating was not working properly. Not a nice start of my visit. But still I could enjoy a pre-dinner drink

And prepare my first, very Dutch dinner.

Saturday a guy came to repair the central heating. And a bicycle pump was deliverd after an online order. Because of course the tyres of my bike were completely flat after three years.

That Saturday evening, three days after coming home, I could finally relax and enjoy the tulips.

Sunset and view from my apartment Sunday morning. At least a bit of blue sky. But still unpleasantly cold.

More blogs about this trip to the Netherlands will follow

Taiping, March 2022

The last time I visited Taiping was in October 2020, one and a half year ago. High time to visit my 2nd hometown again. I used public transport, first the MRT, then the ETS. The MRT was pleasantly quiet and in the ETC waiting lounge people kept distance.

Ticketing and boarding is very modern these days, the train was also not crowded and left punctually on time. There is a canteen on board, but I had prepared coffee and biscuits.

I managed to take two heritage pictures during the trip. Left the interior of the Kuala Lumpur station, one of Hubback’s masterworks, and right the Victoria bridge over the Perak river, near Kuala Kangsar.

It has become a nice tradition that Tung Lay Chun picks me up from the station and that we have lunch together, this time also with her husband Kar Seng. They suggested the 266 Kim Hai restaurant in Aulong, where they had been several times.

Delicious food, from left to right bitter gourd omelet, asam pedas fish curry and pork fried in fermented bean curd..

After lunch they dropped me at my usual Furama hotel, where I always have the same room.

After a long nap, I went out to the Lake Gardens, around the corner from Furama.

It was a Friday afternoon, no rain, many families and friends were enjoying the Raintree Walk, on foot or on a rented bicycle. Very pleasant atmosphere. I am often critical of MPT (the Taiping town council), but their decision to make a part of the Circular Road a pedestrian area has worked well.

The actual reason to create the Raintree Walk was that one of the magnificent raintrees had fallen down and blocked the road. Instead of removing it, the tree was left there with some support. It became a tourist attraction, but recently it was discovered that the tree trunk was rotting, so a big part had to be removed (left picture). The middle picture shows the second toppled tree. It is still doing well. And a few weeks ago a third raintree fell down (right pic). Here they have erected it again, with a lot of support. Will be interesting to see if it can survive..

The Chinese Pagoda bridge

After such a long absence I kept taking pictures. The picture to the right shows the Cannonball Tree, the Lake gardens have a few of these interesting trees. No flowers this time.

Last year there was a lot of excitement in Taiping because a pair of Hoopoes had landed and nested in the Lake Gardens. To control the stream of visitors, traffic had to be regulated. These signboards remain, hopefully the birds will come again.

Evening is falling, time to return to my hotel.

On my way back I passed the remains of the historic Lake View Hotel. A heritage food court has been opened in front of it. And I had a look at the bungalow which I had discovered in February 2020 and visited in August 2020. Then it was empty, now one guy was living there.

After my sumptuous lunch I didn’t feel hungry, I decided to have a look at the food stalls of Siang Malam, temporarily relocated from the pasar to the dobi line. I had a Chee Cheong Fun, not very special.

The next morning I had CCF again, now at Mr Tong’s stall, according to many the best in Taiping. While having my breakfast I accidentally met Foo Kok Heng, who used to work in Furama hotel. It was he who told me about the bungalow πŸ˜‰

My “assignment” for that Saturday was to have a look at many of the heritage buildings in Taiping and see if there had been any changes after my last visit. I used a rental bicycle of the hotel. Be prepared for a mixture of positive and negative observations!

First I had a look at the Taiping Tourist Office. I was not surprised to find it closed, it often was during earlier visits. Now apparently some renovation was going on. My friend Halim told me later that the roof was leaking (already for many years). The Tourism Office in Taiping is run by a NGO, which I find surprising, it should be run by MPT.

Positive news about the restoration of the famous Pasar. A start has been made, the stall holders have been relocated to a temporary market, the plan is that they will come back after the project is finished. That may take a long time.

At the moment they are working on the reconstruction of Siang Malam, the wet market and a popular eatery. Let’s hope for the best.

A few weeks ago it was in the news that fire had destroyed part of an old bazar, the Tsen Loong Bazar. I had a look. Fortunately only a few stalls along Main Road had been affected, mostly flower shops. Left picture shows the Main Road façade, right picture the Pasar Road stalls, still operational. The middle picture shows the entrance of the impressive Tsen Loong Hakka Association opposite the bazar on Pasar Road..

Next on my list was the Amelia Earhart mural, commemorating her landing at the Taiping aerodrome on 20 June 1937. A beautiful mural, only a pity that Amelia never landed in Taiping as I convincingly proved in my two blogs about Amelia Earhart and Taiping , part 1 and part 2. Sigh.

Opposite one of the ruined buildings in Taiping, for years already nothing has happened.

A short break at Ansari’s Famous Chendol. No visit to Taiping is complete without a cendol at this iconic place. I paid RM 2

Taiping is a town of contrasts. Nicely restored heritage buildings and pathetic ruins. I don’t want to offend anybody, but for me it is part of Taiping’s charm, compared with vibrant towns like Ipoh and Georgetown.

Left the Ceylon Association, beautifully renovated. Right the town Rest House, left to rot.

Although the Rest House is fenced off, it is still easy to enter. I walked up to the first floor. The structure is still solid, with immediate action it could still be saved, I think.

The building next to it, the former Perak Railway building, has finally been solidly fenced off, no jalan tikus anymore, But years too late, all valuable stuff has been stolen already, Have a look at my 2019 report Taiping Bandar Warisan

Last stop before going back to Furama were the Pillars of the former Residence. The cleaning operation by THS and other NGO’s was successful. The VIP chalets of the former Casuarina Inn are ruimes, but again, that is the charm of Taiping.

Graffiti at the entrance. On my way back I had an accident with my bike, I overlooked one of the many potholes. I could easily have broken bones, but fortunately I only had some scratches and bruises. The Furama staff was very helpful in applying a bandage.

In the afternoon I went out to visit Mrs Long in Barack Road. Another tradition, we had a long chat. I came on my bike, as you can see in the picture, where Mrs Long is standing in front of the beautifully renovated house.

That evening I Had dinner with Anand Pillai in what used to be the Pusat Makanan Taman Tasik, but now has been upgraded to Medan Selera Tai Hu. Nice atmosphere. Just around the corner of Furama, I had food there so many times..

The next day I went out with Halim to explore the region around Matang. We started with a breakfast of thosai. .

In this Google Earth map I have marked the locations we visited. The other map is a topo map from 1942. It is interesting to compare the two . The Port Weld railway has gone but you can still drive along the tracks, now a minor road (marked in red).

Our first destination was a cemetery, already indicated on the topo map. Just beside the road from Simpang to Port Weld. At one side a huge Chinese cemetery, In a few weeks time it will look much better kept, after Cheng Beng. At the other side there is a Hindu cemetery. Interesting for me, I thought that Hindus usually cremated the bodies and scatter the ashes.

I took several pictures of tombstones.

Two more pictures, the left structure one looks very Indian, but the right one looks almost Chinese.

We continued to Kota Ngah Ibrahiim, now renamed Matang Museum. As both of us had visited the (interesting!) museum, we didn’t stop, I just took a picture of Ngah Ibrahim’s tomb. After the murder of Birch in 1875, Ngah Ibrahim was exiled to the Seychelles. In 1887 he died in Singapore and only in 2006 his remains were transferred to the Kota.

Next to the Kota an attractive mansion is called Speedy’s bungalow. Not yet open to the public. In the same grounds a few nice Malay houses.

Our following stop was at Teluk Kertang, where Isabella Bird landed in 1879. I am a fan of her, read my blog Isabella Bird and Taiping for more info about this intrepid British traveler.

In those days, before Port Weld and the railway was built, Teluk Kertang was the main port of Taiping. The region is famous for its high-quality charcoal, made from mangrove wood.

I have visited the charcoal kilns several times, when they not yet had become a popular tourist attraction. We only had a quick look, to observe that it is quite commercial now..

Time for lunch. Halim brought me to a Malay Mee Udang restaurant in Port Weld. Tasty, fresh prawns in a nice gravy.

Then it was time for “new” discoveries. On Google Earth I had found three Indian temples in the region between Matang and Taiping. Two of them, next to each other, can only be reached from the small road that has replaced the former railroad tracks. On the topo map there is a short railroad track, splitting off to where these temples now stand. No idea why.

The first temple is dedicated to Puchai Amman, the Green Mother, an incarnation of Parvati, Shiva’s wife, And green the temple is. A grand building, it looks very new.

Quite a crowd of devotees. Nice statues everywhere

The statue of Pachai Amman was covered with a veil. I don’t know much about Hindu religion, so it was not clear to me if this covering had a religious meaning.

Next to it another huge temple dedicated to Lord Murugan. Full of intricate details. It was a burning hot day, the lighting was not suitable for photography, I will come back another time, with an Indian friend, who can explain more about the religious background.

The third temple is just beside the no 1 trunk road, at Simpang Halt. In the past Simpang Halt was a small railway station on the Port Weld line. This temple is dedicated to Lord Muniswaran, a minor Hindu deity.

I have to study more, here is an interesting blog about Muniswaran worship. It was still very hot, with blinding sunlight not easy to take photos

Intriguing statues.

From the three temple we visited, this one is my favourite. Surrounded by a nice garden. Smaller scale than the other two.

Mission accomplished. On our way back to Taiping we crossed the New Village of Aulong and had a look at the remains of the Taiping Aerodrome. Not much is left of the control tower

This may have been a hangar. Halim still felts young enough to play some football.

After some rest in Furama I went back to the lake gardens around 7 pm, to watch the roosting of the egrets. Within 15 minutes flight after flight of egrets arrived at the bamboo bushes near the Jubilee jetty. Impressive.

Later Halim picked me up from my hotel for dinner. We went to the FMS restaurant, a new building on the location of the former Raja Rest House. Popular Malay meeting place.

First time I had Sop Tulang. Delicious. The satay was also not bad.

View of the Lake Gardens by night. ON this kind of photo even the monstrous Novotel hotel gets some charm.

It was a rewarding, very pleasant outing.

The next day, before going back by ETS, I had breakfast with my friend Yeap in the Lian Thong restaurant, another tradition for me. I love roti goyang (eggs on toast).It was nice to see back Mr Teoh, the owner, after one and a half year ;-).

My train trip back went smooth and was again punctual. Here I am waiting at the station.

Train and MRT not crowded.

It was good to be back in Taiping.

CNY 2022

On 1 February the Chinese year of the Tiger started. As a preparation for a New Year, Chinese buy new clothes and have a haircut. We did the same, in the left picture I am standing in a shopping center next to my own zodiac sign.

A 29 January the management of our condo had organised a simple Lion Dance.at our swimming pool. Fun for the kids.

The traditional wish for CNY is Gong Xi Fa Cai (in Mandarin, “Congratulations and may you be prosperous”). Here is my CNY wish, from our new penthouse.

On CNY-eve, 31 January, we went back to Parit Baru, Aric’s hometown. That is a yearly tradition, but last year it was impossible because of the Covid 19 pandemic and travel was very limited. Click here for a report about CNY 2020. .

This year travel was allowed again and we were fully vaccinated, but it was still advised anyway to take a Covid antigen test. Already on our way, we heard that one of Aric’s brothers had tested positive, although vaccinated. So we decided also to take a test and started looking for a pharmacy. Many were closed, but we found one in Tanjung Karang. Aric bought two test kits and we took the test in our parked car. ;-). Fortunately we were both negative.

We arrived in Parit Baru in the afternoon.. Here is a Google Earh map of the village and its location in the most northern part of Selangor. . The Bernam River forms the boundary with Perak. Parit Baru is surrounded by fishing villages.

There was time to take some photos of the surroundings. Nothing spectacular, just quiet agricultural countryside.

Then it was time for the CNY-eve dinner, traditional steamboat. Three families live in the kampung house, so dinner was in several sessions.

.Here is the kampong house. It may be about 70 years old. The families run a successful hardware and timber store. It is basically a wooden house, only the front façade and a few other parts are in stone.

Posing in front of the house. Alone and with the children of one of Aric’s cousins. Notice how they hold puppies, the one held by the girl has just opened it eyes.

The three families have their own rooms, but share the common living room and the kitchen. Even after Aric’s parents passed away, a couple of years ago, the setup is still the same.

Although the families share the kitchen, they have their own sink, fridge, washing machine. It might be a unique construction. In this photo, Aric’s aunties to the left and Aei Ling, his sister to the right.

The house is surrounded by a big garden, with fruit trees and flower bushes.

It is a tradition that people give ang pow to relatives and friends. This time we also did it. I received myself several red envelopes with money inside πŸ˜‰ The picture at the right shows that I am getting old. Sunglasses to protect my eyes and clip-on reading glasses.

In the afternoon we drove around a bit, to take pictures

Another steamboat dinner, this time with Ong (Aric’s brother in law) and nephews and nieces. Seafood can not be more fresh than here!

A curious visitor.

A few of my waterfall friends go back with CNY to their hometown Teluk Intan and several times we have used day three of the CNY to make a trip to a new/remote waterfall in the region. I decided not to join this year, feeling less confident in the jungle nowadays. Our last trip was in 2017 and not successful, here is the report : An unsuccessful waterfall trip so it was decided to give this Lata Jala another try. This time my gang reached the fall.

The first picture shows my “gang”, from left to right Siang Hui, Teoh, Nick and Joshua (a new member). Lata Jala,, in the middle, is an impressive unspoiled waterfall. The right picture shows an aerial photo of the fall, taken by Joshua’s drone.

Aric and I explore a bit more the countryside around Parit Baru. This is the Bernam river. Across the river is Perak.

Left a Taoist temple in Sg Lang, one of the Chinese fishing villages. Right a young mangrove seedling, trying to survive. Notice the numerous holes, made by tiny crabs

Back in Parit Baru, a few more family photos. A group of young ladies, Aei Ling with two cute young kids and Ong teaching his son how to ride a bike.

In the evening there was a party with yee sang and a lucky draw,

And of course there were lots of firework.

The next morning I went to the village with Ong for breakfast with Roti Tampal. I knew about Roti Telur but this was new for me. Egg on top, not inside

Before we left there was another praying session..

A few days later, there was another celebration, in Puchong with Ong and his family, He is Hokkien and for the Hokkien community day 9 of the CNY is an important date. It is the birthday of the Jade Emperor, the God of Heaven. Again there was yee sang.

And there were drinks too πŸ˜‰ Ong and have a drink of the (in)famous Timah whisky and the younger generation shares a bottle of wine. Playing cards, singing karaoke, a very nice evening.

An offering table is prepared for the God of Heaven, and joss sticks are lit.

At midnight there is a lot of firework. Note how I am protecting my ears.

The ceremony ends with the burning of Joss papers.

My waterfalls

During the past 20 years I have visited over 200 waterfalls in Malaysia. Most of them have been included in my Waterfalls of Malaysia website. But not all of them, for various reasons. Here is a list of those waterfalls. When you click on a picture or on the caption below it, a page will open about that waterfall with more details, with whom I visited the fall, on which date(s), etc.

About the counting of waterfalls, there are 48 pages, but the actual number of waterfalls is larger. When rivers have more than one waterfall, I have in general combined them in one page.

About the title of this blog, of course the waterfalls are not mine, I have not even discovered them. But as MY also stands for Malaysia, I like this playful title.

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2007

Ulu Yam fall (Selangor)

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2008

Kerling fall (Selangor)

Secret fall (Pahang)

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2009

Sg Dipang falls (Perak)

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2010

Lata Jala (Perak)

Jeram Pelangi (Kelantan)

Chenor Cascades (Kelantan

Air Terjun Renyok (Kelantan)

Lata Pinang (S-fall) (Pahang)

Bojong fall (RIP) (Sarawak)

Pain and Susung falls (Sarawak)

Sg Liam falls (Selangor)’

Pangsun Falls (Selangor)

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2011

Sg Weh falls (Pahang)

Wong Geruntum (Sarawak)

Belihoi fall (Negeri Sembilan)

Pantai fall (Negeri Sembilan)

Mantin fall (Negeri Sembilan)

Sg Mahang fall (Negeri Sembilan)

Nyior fall (Perak)

Jeram Berembun (Perak)

Tiga Lapis & Jeram Enggang (Negeri Sembilan)

Serai falls (Perak)

Jeram Batu Bertengkek (Selangor)

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2012

Sg Mertar falls (Pahang)

Gerehang falls (Perak)

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2013

Secret fall (Sekiau) (Selangor)

Lubuk Tupai (Selangor)

Jeram Berdebu (Terengganu)

Gumut fall (Selangor)

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2014

Sg Rinting falls (Selangor)

Jeram Berungut (Negeri Sembilan)

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2015

Bukit Kiara falls (Wilayah Persekutuan)

Lata Bubu (Perak)

Sg Buloh fall (Perak)

Sereiyang fall (Perak)

Lata Enggang (Perak)

Lata Berangin (Selangor)

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2016

Bukit Ayer fall (Perlis)

Lata Ulu Damak (Perak)

Lata Debu (Perak)

Air Hitam falls (Selangor)

Rumput fall (Selangor)

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2017

Sri Kampar fall (Perak)

Changkat Tembaga fall (Pulau Pinang)

Lata Guan (Pahang)

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2021

Batang Kali fall (Selangor)

Lata Pencheras (Pahang)

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 πŸ˜‰

We are already looking forward to our next outing!

Topo Maps and Taiping

I love topographic maps. For my hiking trips I have bought a few from JUPEM, ,the Malaysian Survey Department. These are modern topo maps, scale 1:50000. Here is an example, a small part of sheet 126, the Hulu Langat Map, printed in 1994. I have marked some of my hikes in red and a few waterfalls in blue.

Probably JUPEM will have an archive of old topo maps, but there is nothing online. Actually I was unable to find any Malaysian site with historic map material.

Surprisingly the National Archive of Singapore has quite a lot of historic map material about the F.M.S and Malaya. I was very excited when I found a detailed map of Taiping, printed in 1928. It consists of four sheets, with Taiping in the center.

The scale of these maps is 4 Chains to an Inch. I had to Google to find the meaning of this colonial expression! A chain is a measuring device for surveying, with a length of 22 yards = 22 x 3 = 66 foot = 66 x 12 = 792 inches. Therefore 4 chains equals 4 x 792 = 3168 inches and the scale of the map in modern notation is 1:3168.

To create the map of Taiping town, I had to “glue’ the four map corners digitally together. Here is the result, not 100% accurate, but acceptable. I have used parts of this map in an earlier blog Meeting of Old-Timers . .

Recently a waterfall friend told me that he had found topo maps of Malaya in the National Library of Australia! A total of 379 maps, printed in the 1940s. Below I show two map details, the actual survey data go back to 1913. Notice the scale, one inch to a mile, 1:63360 in modern notation, 20 times the scale of the Taiping town map. The second detail explains why these maps are in the Australian National Library. Australian soldiers were fighting in Malaya against the Japanese and later against the communists during the Emergency.

The maps are very detailed with an extensive legend.

Here is the same part of the Ulu Langat map as above. If you enlarge the two maps and compare them carefully, you will see that the two waterfalls in Sg Ampang are indicated in the 1940 map (and a few more, smaller ones). To be honest, I doubt if those numerous small tributaries in the old map have been really surveyed.

It is a real treasure trove of information. But mow back to Taiping! Here are the two maps, containing Taiping, images 94 and 96 in the NLA collection.

Again Taiping is on the side of the map, so I had to “glue” the two maps together. Here is the result. Notice how Taiping is bordered on the West side by dredging locations, North Taiping dredging, Asam Kunbang dredging and South Taiping dredging

Here is a detail with the Port Weld Railway. Two stations between Port Weld and Taiping: Matang Road Halt and Simpang Halt. Port Weld had a Police station (PS), a Post & Telegraph Office (PTO) , a Customs station (CS) and a Forest checking station (FCS) . Teluk Kertang is where Isabella Bird landed in 1879. It still had a Customs station and a Forest checking station.

And here is a detail with the winding road up Maxwell Hill, ending at the Cottage. A few of the bungalows are marked, the Nest and the Box. Birch hill, Caulfield’s hill and Gunung Hijau are marked. There is a Post & Telegraph office at the 6th mile. And, a surprise for me, a hill near the Lake Gardens (lower left corner of the map) is called Speedy’s hill. For comparison I have also taken a GE screenshot of the same region.

The NLA topo map collection has often several editions of a specific map. The Taiping map is available in a 2nd edition, printed in September 1943 and a third edition, printed in May 1945. I noticed only one interesting difference, the access road to the Taiping Aerodrome. See the two screenshots. The third edition has a note : With additions and corrections from intelligence operations .In that period Malaya was still occupied by the Japanese!

Here is a Google Earth screenshot of the same region. To make comparison easier I have marked the old access road in red. I have also indicated Aulong, a New Village, built during the Emergency. Notice the many lakes in the upper left, remains of past dredging activity.

When you find other interesting features in these maps, you are welcome to write a comment.

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 πŸ˜‰ ! 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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰ .

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 πŸ˜‰ . .

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 πŸ˜‰ .

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 πŸ˜‰

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.

A Backyard Hike

About two months ago I wrote a blog about Bukit Lanjan. Although these days Bukit Kiara is open again, I still hike regularly in my “backyard”. A group of active hikers living in Damansara Perdana is maintaining the trails and exploring new ones. One of their recent discoveries is a rocky outcrop, from where you have a nice view of the surroundings. It is becoming popular now, a nice place to relax and have a coffee or a beer. Aptly named the Hard Rock CafΓ©. The red track in the GE screenshot below is a short and interesting route to the Hard Rock.

Yesterday I went again, with my friend Bee. We started from my condo and met a group of Armanee Condo parents with their kids, also going for a hike. Good initiative, in Dutch we have an expression: Jong geleerd is oud gedaan. (Google for a translation)

We started with the pink trail (see map). Last week I had noticed that parts of it were almost overgrown. I had mentioned it in the chat group and the trailblazers replied that they would take care of it. They did, here is the amazing result. Left the situation one week ago.

I like the pink trail, the few steep parts are provided with ropes.

On the rocky outcrop we met the parents and their kids again. Really nice!

A tarp is under construction for shelter in case of rain. I noticed some nice flowers

When I visited the Hard Rock two weeks ago with my friend Rahim, he constructed a nice rock cairn. They are not meant for eternity, rain or strong wind can make them collapse. One week later, a new smaller one had been created, and this time nothing was left.

Here Bee is creating a new one.

And here is the result. Mother and child. When I visited a waterfall , I always left a cairn. Here is a blog about it: Rock Balancing.

After the Hard Rock CafΓ© we did not yet go back, but continued to the maroon traill (see map). A hiker friend had spotted hanging bird nests along the trail at two locations. It was no problem to find them.

These nests have been created by Baya Weaver birds. Fascinating. The nests were not used at the moment.

The maroon trail is longer with many steep parts.. A disadvantage is that part of it runs quite close to the highway, therefore very noisy. Ropes are helpful and we found numerous ginger flowers this time.

We also found a nice jackfruit tree.. Bee spotted more fruits high up in the tree

The second location of weaver nests had only one nest, high up in a tree. To get back home we got lost for a while, finally we found the trail, completely overgrown..

We finished our hike at the Datuk Shrine next to Perdana View condo. For reasons unknown to me, MK Land had blocked the exit with barbed wire, but you can still pass without problems.

Total hiking distance and time 5 km. 3 hours (including many stops)

The Rawang Bypass

The Rawang Bypass is a highway opened in 2017 to avoid the frequent traffic congestion in Rawang. It contains the highest roadway viaduct of Malaysia, with pillars up to 58 meter above ground level. It is possible to hike from Rawang to a viewpoint high above the viaduct. Deco Diver, a friend of mine, has written a blog about this hike with a clear description of the route to follow.

We started with breakfast in Rawang. Not easy to find a shop that was open, because of Ramadan, but after some driving around we managed to find a place where we had an acceptable mee goreng.

Looking for the trailhead we overlooked the one suggested by my friend, but found another one nearby. Apparently the location is popular with Rawang hikers, signs indicate the various trails. A nice, easy walk.

The trail passes a few shrines, an Indian Hindu shrine and next to it a Chinese Datok Kong one.

After a little more than 1 km we reached the highway, which is still at ground level here. You can cross to the other side by a drain, but we continued on a maintenance road next to the highway. Easy walking, although not very interesting.

After about about 600 meter, the viaduct starts and you can cross under the highway to the other side. Mind your head πŸ˜‰ .

The view of the supporting pillars is quite spectacular, we met another group who was coming back from the viewpoint and also stopped here to take pictures.

After crossing a drain on a flimsy bridge, the climb to the viewpoint starts. There are steps and ropes to help you.

Halfway you have already a nice view of the viaduct.

The climb becomes more challenging because you have to follow the drains. and they are constructed to guide the water down, with slanting steps. Care is needed, fortunately there are ropes attached to give you support.

The steep stretch is only a few hundred meter long, you have to climb about 60 meter to reach the viewpoint. A big tree gives shade, it is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the view.

Of course we took pictures to prove that we have been there.

Aric had brought his drone.

In this drone picture you see how the highway has been cut into the rocks. Notice the yellow marker, top right. That’s the viewpoint. It is often called Bukit Matt (Matt hill), although it is not a Bukit at all.

The viaduct. The main reason to build an (expensive!) elevated viaduct was to save more forest.

After a coffee break we climbed down the same way. Going down you must be even more careful! Not suitable after rain. We saw some nice pitcher plants.

We walked back on the maintenance road until we reached the drain. Beware! Before you reach this wide drain, you will pass two very narrow ones.

There was not much water, it will be different after a downpour.

Swiftlets have built their nests inside the drain, Aric managed to take pictures of them.

Walking back to the car we noticed these markings . Physical distancing according to the SOP! A reminder that the Covid pandemic was still around. No idea if anyone would follow these rules in this natural environment.

Another Hindu shrine near were our car was parked.

The whole trip took about 3 hours. We were hungry and our friend Jennifer, who lives in the region, knew about a Hakka eatery in Rawang, where they serve Lei Cha as a specialty. We went there and it was a good choice.

They also prepare healthy juices and even Lei Cha pizza! The owner is very friendly. We will come back.

It was a nice excursion. Here is a Google Earth screenshot, where I have marked a few locations. The yellow line marks the shorter, but less interesting route.