Devonshire tea and Welsh rarebit @ Ye Olde Smokehouse

me at ye olde smokehouse having devonshire tea

A rather dignified looking gentleman who looks remarkably like me having a civilized tea session at Ye Olde Smokehouse, Fraser’s Hill.

menu

It is almost certainly a sin (or at least it should be if it’s not) to go up to a British colonial hillside resort and not have Devonshire tea. The cool highlands breeze caressing your senses as you enjoy the scenic misty view while eating hot scones with clotted cream. Divine!

devonshire tea frasers hill

*record scratching sound*

Of course, it goes without saying that your food gets cold REALLY FAST. *potong stim

devonshire tea

My friend went for the Devonshire tea, which comes with scones, strawberry preserve and clotted cream. It’s RM 18 for the entire set.

tea

I was craving for something savory so I opted for the Elegant Highland Rarebit (RM 20), a fancy name for Welsh rarebit. The Welsh rarebit is served with a side of fries and my monthly quota of vegetables. I really liked it as it used real streaky bacon instead of that beef bacon nonsense.

welsh rarebit

Welsh rarebit is usually made with beer or ale, but I don’t know if they do that over here since I couldn’t detect it. However, this concoction of bacon and hot melted cheese on top of toasted bread tasted delicious!

cream

All photos taken using the Sony Cyber-shot TX-5.

Fraser’s Hill – nothing like a nice little accident to make your day!

Incident report:

car damage

We were driving down to get some dinner at Hillview Restaurant at Puncak Inn (recommended by Wikitravel for their good hot soup) when we passed by the Fraser’s Hill food court. I made a sudden decision to go there instead and drove into the what I thought was the entrance.

diagram

Please refer to the diagram above. I actually drove half way in – both my front tires were down that cursed curb and I couldn’t reverse out despite a concerted attempt to do so. It was about a FOOT high. It just made a great deal of noise and smoke.

gas tank

Fuck it, you’re either in or you’re out so I drove all the way in, which resulted in a detachment of my rear left bumper. I can see a lot of indecent exposure in there – wires and something which I hope is not my gas tank (it’s on the same side).

driving

People were starting to gather around to look at the idiot who literally drove INTO the food court instead of using the entrance so I nonchalantly opened my door, walked up to them and asked – “Excuse me, how do I get out of here?”

foot long

A lady pointed me in the right direction and I’m glad to report that I didn’t need the car to be towed or anything – I just drove out of the pedestrian path, following it till it merges with the road, which luckily didn’t have a foot high curb on that side.

…and we ate at the very same food court, using the proper entrance this time. smirk

Parasailing @ Pulau Sapi, KK

parasailing me jerine

Parasailing! KK is well known for its water sports and we took a trip by boat to Pulau Sapi. The first thing we did was parasailing.

parasailing setup

It costs RM 180 for two people – tandem on a single chute. Jerine paid for the parasailing experience – cheers! I wanted to go diving but she doesn’t have a PADI license so I figured we might as well do something together since we’re on vacation.

parasailing boat

Anyway, back to parasailing – it involves the boat driving out to open water and the operators setting up the chute. You strap yourself into this harness and the entire trip gives you 15 minutes of pure pleasure.

parasailing the kiss

Eh, wrong photo – this is supposed not what it seems okay. It was decided that in the interests of science, we would see if it’s possible to express affection while the boat speeds along and you’re up in the skies! Just a friendly…er, peck on the lips. ;)

parasailing tandem

You can ask the operator to customize the experience to your tastes – we went for full speed, full height and a full dip into the water until the shoulders.

parasailing dipping in water

It’s a lot of fun – unfortunately, we couldn’t go full throttle coz of the winds (parachute = wind resistance) but it was damn enjoyable.

parasailing tandem jerine

The experience is like nothing else – you just need to trust the harness and let go while being up, up, up in the air before dipping into the open waters of the seas.

However, being adrenaline junkies, we felt that it would be better if the boat had gone faster but with the wind conditions it’s perfectly understandable. One last note:

BEWARE OF JELLYFISH!!!!!111

Lost World of Tambun

sunway lost world of tambun ipoh

The Lost World of Tambun is a hot springs cum water theme park (just don’t read that sentence wrong ;)) operated by none other than Sunway. I headed down with Suanie and Carol over the long weekend for some R&R (and to soak my poor creaky joints in the hot springs). 

sunway city ipoh

There were a couple of false starts – I woke up at 8:30 am when we were due to depart 8 am, said “Shit!” and called Suanie. It turns out that she just woke up as well – Carol was the only one who was on time. Heh! After a quick breakfast of dim sum (where I ordered beer, much to the chagrin of my fellow road trip buddies – apparently dim sum places here don’t serve the amber fluid) we were off to Ipoh! 

sunway lost world of tambun

The Lost World of Tambun is in Tambun, Ipoh and it’s about a 2 ½ hour drive from KL. It is based on a Mayan (though official brochures calls it Malayana, whatever that means) lost city water theme park concept and built around natural hot springs. There is another public hot spring facility in Tambun about 2 km down from Sunway’s empire, but after a quick discussion of whether to go to the public one or the commercial one, we headed down to the latter.

Actually, it was Suanie who made the decree – since she was the one driving; we decided it would be a good idea to listen. ;) 

lost world of tambun entrance fee

The theme park costs RM 30 per person to enter, which I paid using my credit card since I was short on cash thanks to my spectacular vehicular mishap that set me back 11k (out of pocket, no insurance claims). The girls paid me back with cold, hard paper bills which I desperately needed since this is the precarious Credit Card Month (TM) where I charge everything to plastic. 

lost world of tambun wave pool

The RM 30 covers the entrance to the wet park and the dry park. It should be noted right now that the terms are used very liberally here – don’t expect a Sunway Lagoon setup coz the Lost World of Tambun is much smaller, with very few rides. Think David and Goliath. Or Lilliputian and Gulliver. 

lost world of tambun pool

The wet park consists of the standard wading pool with waves, which is pretty relaxing and much larger than your average swimming pool. There are various water slides around the park, which won’t exactly give you an adrenaline rush, but is fun for a couple of rides.

beach volleyball

It also has a sandy beach where you can play beach volleyball or lounge around.

lost world of tambun hot springs

However, the main attraction at Lost World of Tambun is their natural hot springs. It comes bubbling up from the bottom and the pool is quite hot – my guesstimate is 40+ degrees Celsius.

Not hot enough? I’ve got great news (and a challenge). The hot springs pool has this rock cover where boiling water dribbles down into blocks of stone where you can sit. 

tambun hot springs

I’m telling you, this water is fucking scalding hot! You can see the steam literally rise off the top and people flinch when they touch the water. Hell, I flinched when I touched the boiling hot water.

However, being a sucker for pain (and also to show the damn inanimate object that I won’t let it get the better of me) I sat on the hot stone blocks and let the searing water flow over me while I gasped for breath and my skin turned the proverbial color of red usually reserved for lobsters.

I’ll cut off my left testicle if the water isn’t at least 80 or 90 degrees Celsius. Int3nse.

uncle

Anyway, after showing the hot springs who the boss is and getting it to say “Uncle” (actually it was more like I was red and peeling after Carol dared me to stand under a particularly heavy torrent of skin cooking water), we proceeded to the dry park. 

pirate ship

It was quite a disappointment. I counted a grand total of two rides. There is a pirate ship (which doesn’t go 360)… 

carousel

…and a carousel ride where you get spun around. 

suanie

Suanie discovered her inner child on that ride though. 

lost world of tambun ipoh

The Lost World of Tambun is reasonably entertaining if you’re from Ipoh but I won’t drive all the way down from KL for it.

lost world of tambun limestone hills

The primary attraction is their hot springs and the great view of the limestone hills surrounding it, but this is marred by one very significant theme park policy that prevents proper enjoyment of the facilities…

lost world of tambun group 

It should be noted that there are no alcoholic beverages sold inside the theme park, unlike its Sunway counterpart. You’re not allowed to bring food and water in too. :(

Melaka

“Who goes to Melaka to eat chicken satay?”

christ church

I headed down to Melaka last weekend with Jennifer and Michael. Jennifer is from Melaka and kindly offered to bring me around the place so I picked her and Mike up from Ampang and drove down really early on Saturday.

farmosa

Melaka is not very far from KL actually, it takes about 2 hours if you maintain a decent cruising speed. You might be able to reach there in an hour if you have very little regard for life and limb though. ;)

coconut

We headed straight for the old market to grab a cold glass of coconut juice as soon as we got there (the heat is oppressive in Melaka)…

durian

…and indulge in some durians (from a roadside stall). It just tastes better that way. :)

lunch

It was around lunchtime by the time we were done so we headed to Jenn’s favorite place for Melaka style char siew rice. I like this place – the patrons come in and either sit on makeshift tables and chairs, or place their plates down on an empty stall nearby and start eating. It’s a very unpretentious and homely environment.

char siew rice

We checked into the hotel after that – we actually went to several hotels before finding one which is not fully booked. Our first choice was Baba House, an authentic Baba/Nyonya (Peranakan) hotel which is set in a converted shop house that harks back to the days where they roamed the streets.

eat us

Melaka is the Peranakan capital of Malaysia, due to some convoluted history of intermarriage between Chinese traders (from China) and local Malays. Unfortunately, Melaka seems to attract a lot of Singaporeans over the weekends so it was full.

cannon

Actually, on hindsight (only saw this later that evening), if you’re just heading there for an overnight stay and you want to try something different, check out the Maritime Museum. There’s an activity packed tour (river cruise, night hiking etc) and you get to spend a night on board the ship for just RM 95. I’m so going for this option on my next trip.

us

Anyway, after checking in and dumping our bags, we headed out to try the pork satay in Melaka.

pork satay

This place is called Ming Sate Hut and it serves satay and satay only. They have pork satay, intestine satay and liver satay (as well as the usual fare, but like Jenn said, who goes to Melaka to eat chicken satay?). The strange thing (strange to me ok :p) is that you order what you want and they serve it up. You eat the amount you want (you don’t have to finish everything) and they just count the sticks when you’re done.

view

The leftovers are probably reheated and served again. ;)

baba

I also went for a crash course in Peranakan culture at Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. The tour was fascinating, mostly coz I’ve forgotten most things I learned about Malaysian history in high school. Heh! Apparently Straits Chinese eat with their hands, so they have small soup bowls with individual soup spoons for the obligatory soup dish at meals (coz you can’t very well drink soup with your hands).

cc me

We headed to Christ Church after that. It’s affectionately dubbed the Red Church due to its fire engine red façade and is probably the most photographed structure in Melaka after A Farmosa.

red square

Christ Church, Melaka is actually a still functional place of worship (of the Anglican denomination) and comes with a beautiful square (not the shape, the place people gather) complete with an antique clock circa 1886. The Red Square was teeming with tourists when I was there, which contributes to the gaiety-charged atmosphere. It looked like almost every other person was lugging a dSLR around!

journey

Next stop: St. Paul’s Church!

st paul

The pilgrimage to the top…

paul

St. Paul’s Church is not a cathedral per se, but rather grim looking ruins used as a burial ground for the Dutch. There are a lot of tombstones, so if you’re into stuff like that, you’ll feel right at home!

tomb

The path we went through is actually a walk that brings you to the Big 3 in Melaka – Christ Church, St. Paul and Fort A Farmosa. Our journey ends right at A Farmosa, which is not as impressive as I had imagined…

a farmosa

Fort A Farmosa looks exactly like what a fort built in 1511 should look like – crumbly and worn. It’s nice to stand beside this ½ millennia structure though…and you can’t say you’ve been to Melaka until you’ve been to A Farmosa.

squat

Come to think of it, you’ve probably seen A Farmosa in Melaka…but you’ve never experienced it until you’ve done the Ah Beng squat in front of A Farmosa! ;)

excavation

You can opt to take a scenic stroll to the many excavation sites after that…there’s a huge excavation going on around the city to unearth the old fortress walls around Melaka. Take a peek.

Other not-to-be-missed stuff:

jonker

Jonker Street. Jonker Walk is only open on the weekends and it’s like a huge pasar malam (bazaar) on the streets. It’s festive, it’s crowded, and it’s a lot of fun!
 

satay celup

Satay celup

rice balls

Chicken rice balls

portuguese

Portuguese settlement

menara

Menara Taming Sari

gyro

This gyro tower ride is much better than the overrated Eye On Malaysia. Enjoy the 360 degree view of Melaka from 80 meters up for just RM 10.

dodol

The Tan Kim Hock dodol shop – just so you can get some souvenirs home. ;)

Yin Yang Steamboat @ Cameron Highlands

mountain house hotel

A trip to Cameron Highlands would not be complete without the obligatory yin yang steamboat dinner, since the ambient temperature and wind chill factor can be pretty cold at night. We went southbound to Brinchang instead of Tanah Rata but it turns out that both towns were equally packed with tourists.

organic steamboat

There are a lot of places offering steamboat dinners, most of them yin yang style – so called due to the two different broths and the similarity to the symbol of good and evil. We went to Restaurant Mountain House Hotel, which offers “organic” steamboat priced at RM 16 per head.

yin yang

The yin yang steamboat comes with seafood, tofu (urgh…), noodles, rice vermicelli, assorted super processed food, and homegrown vegetables. Cameron Highlands produces a huge amount of fresh, organically grown vegetables, so it’s really cheap there…which is probably why we got an ultra generous portion of veggies.

noodle trick

The yin yang steamboat consists of a chicken broth and a tom yam broth – it’s usually a mild broth with a spicy broth, keeping with the themes of absolute good and absolute evil. Exhibit A above shows the patented sixthseal.com method of ensuring your noodles are cooked.

1. Use your chopsticks to snag some noodles.
2. Apply pressure to the noodles with your fingernails.
3. It needs to be slightly soggier than al dente – you’ll get a feel for it (pun not intended) the more you do it.

It was originally invented a good 17 years ago by yours truly, intended to gauge whether instant noodles are ready to eat when I started cooking Maggi at 10. :)

me doris steamboat

This photo is making the post look dated – I went to Cameron Highlands with my ex last month, but never got around to posting it until today due to a massive backlog of posts. Quickly switching subjects, the vegetables in Cameron Highlands comes in the most vibrant shade of green I have ever seen!

no veggies

Nooooo….no more veggies!

Cactus Point @ Cameron Highlands

cacti

Cameron Highlands is known for its strawberries and roses but it also has a relatively obscure but healthy cactus industry going on.

cactus point

Cactus Point is a popular tourist attraction, and why not? Cacti are easy to take care of – they don’t need watering or any other affectionate gestures.

cactus spine

A cactus is a very lovable plant, with sharp spines protruding from every inch of its surface. I have a few sharp protuberances as well, so perhaps that’s where my affinity for cacti stems from. Pardon the lame pun.

cactus eat

You can break it open in times of dire need for water if your office or house is lacking. Or so I heard.

cactus camwhore

You can even camwhore with it.

cactus sale

Cactus Point has a wide range of cacti for sale…

cactus nfs

…and some marked NFS (Not For Sale).

cactus buy

Cactus Point has almost every species of cacti, according to the brochure. There are miniature versions as well – I bought some to bring back home. I’ll probably bring one to the office too.

I am now the proud owner of an evil looking cactus.

Big Red Strawberry Café

big red strawberry cafe

Big Red Strawberry Café is located in the renowned Big Red Strawberry Farm in Brinchang, Cameron Highlands. The place was packed full of tourists during the long weekend. We went on Sunday afternoon and I couldn’t even take a decent shot without at least two tourists armed with cameras blocking my view. ;)

cafe montage

We headed straight for the Big Red Strawberry Café (the official café of Big Red Strawberry Farm) coz I was famished – we woke up late after sleeping in until 10 am and haven’t had anything to eat since the previous night. The Big Red Strawberry Café mainly concentrates on strawberry products but they also serve a very fresh salad due to vegetables being one of the main produce of Cameron Highlands.

big red indulgence

Behold! The strawberry indulgence (overdose?).
The actual food looks nothing like the photos – this is after all, a tourist trap and they make do with disposable forks and spoons and paper plates instead of the well presented menu pictures.

big red drinks

I had the Strawberry Juice (RM 3.90) while my girlfriend went for the Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie (RM 5.90). The strawberry juice is very sour – Cameron Highland strawberries tend to be small and a bit on the acidic side, but it tasted very fresh. The Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie was better, since the tanginess is diffused by the yogurt.

big red strawberry waffle

The Fresh Strawberry Waffle (RM 5) is a mass produced item made with a waffle iron (I stand witness) and strawberry preserve and jam. It still tasted pretty good though due to the rather frigid temperatures up there. Big Red Strawberry Farm is located on the highlands and the wind chill factor can be quite cold. It’s topped with ice cream AND whipped cream.

big red fried ice cream

This is the Strawberry Fried Ice Cream (RM 3.90) adorned with two Cameron Highlands strawberries. The strawberries they serve in the Big Red Strawberry Café is a bit on the minute side, the big and juicy ones are in the farm, where you can pick your own. It’s good nevertheless, I like fried ice cream – despite knowing my physics and heat transfer it still amazes the inner child in me that the ice cream does not melt while being fried. :)

big red yoghurt

My girlfriend had the healthy Strawberries with Honey and Yogurt (RM 3.90) for dessert. Big Red Strawberry Café uses real yogurt (e.g. the very sour kind) and it goes well with the honey (from a bee farm in Cameron Highlands) and strawberries. I pronounce it Heart Healthy (TM).

big red sundae

I, being no stranger to cardiac arrests and strokes, opted for the Strawberry Sundae (RM 5.90) topped with whipped cream. In my defense, it has a plethora of fresh strawberries at the bottom of the sundae…at least a quarter of the dessert consists of fresh strawberries.

big red strawberry cafe us

I think we both felt nauseous after the strawberry themed brunch – I had to eat a healthy plate of Maggie Mee Goreng with a Heart Healthy (TM) cholesterol laden sunny side up egg to counter the fructose and glucose intake.

picking strawberries

The best part about Big Red Strawberry Farm? You get to stroll through the strawberry farm and pick your own big and juicy strawberries. :)

Driving to Cameron Highlands

arrive

I drove up to Cameron Highlands over the long weekend with my girlfriend at 6 am in the morning. I consulted Google Maps and wrote down the directions from my place to Tapah. It wasn’t very difficult once we got on the PLUS highway but we still managed to get lost coz we didn’t realize the NKVE highway is part of the PLUS expressway.

speed
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (of the accelerator)

I managed to clock a decent speed once I got on PLUS, managed to hit nearly 180 km/h driving on the fast lane before switching from D to 2 and maintained about 190 km/h. My girlfriend wouldn’t take any photos of the speedometer after that, preferring to hold on to the passenger side handle with one hand braced against the glove box.

fail
Tourist destination peace of mind for travelers – FAIL

The toll costs a cool RM 19.20 so it’s about RM 40 for a return trip – make sure your Touch ‘n Go card is loaded with the appropriate amount coz we had to reverse (much to the annoyance of the cars behind us) and switch to the cash lane due to a lack of credit in the card.

lata iskandar

We managed to reach the Lata Iskandar waterfall after about an hour of driving. The Lata Iskandar waterfall is a popular rest stop for people driving up to Cameron Highlands.

lata iskandar waterfall

The Lata Iskandar waterfall is a magnificent sight with (very cold) water from the highlands rushing down a steep cliff. People can be seen frolicking in the water and generally chilling out before heading towards Tanah Rata (the main strip of Cameron Highlands).

lata iskandar us

It’s a great spot for vacation photography too – the “I was here” type shots. ;)

fake strawberry

I didn’t get to eat a real strawberry then but the next post will be on the Big Red Strawberry Farm where we picked our own strawberries. :)

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