Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival 2011

bukit layang layang

I went on this trip to Pasir Gudang in Johor to catch the World Kite Festival 2011 a few weeks ago. It’s called Festival Layang-Layang Sedunia 2011 in Malay and I was surprised to see a lot of international participants. I also witnessed an awesome 400 meter long kite being deployed (that’s almost half a kilometer) which is pretty impressive.

kite fest

It seems that the Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival is a big thing amongst kite enthusiasts around the world. I’m amazed that people actually travel to Johor just to fly kites for a couple of days. I used to play with kites as a kid too but never really got into it.

kite assembly

These people however are serious kite enthusiasts. I saw gravity defying contraptions being flown over the weekend and got a lesson on kites around the world while at it.

Here’s a video of the action at Bukit Layang-Layang.

flying kites

The passion of the international teams is infectious. I ended up talking to some of them, trying to understand their love for the sport. These are people who lug their kites from various countries to Malaysia just for a few days of fraternizing with like minded people and showing off their carefully made kites.

japanese

The Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival is held at the appropriately named Bukit Layang-Layang (Kite Hill) and it’s a tourist attraction which the government has capitalized on. A lot of hotels have promotions for this and there’s even a kite museum at the venue.

kite array

The kites come in every shape and size. I saw everything from giant alligators to statue sized clowns being flown.

german

The larger kites require a small “pilot kite” to be raised before the actual kite can fly.

The pilot kite is a small parachute that gives enough lift to enable the main kite – in this case a gigantic squid by the team from Germany – to fly. It takes a lot of skill and effort to get this one afloat.

line kite

I found this one particularly impressive too – it’s a dragon kite that measures over 250 meters (!!!). This is from a team in Taiwan and there was a bit of controversy over which category in the competition it can go into.

I don’t know enough about the technicalities of kite classifications to comment, but based on the video, the organizers put them in the “line kite” instead of the “dragon kite” category due to some small design feature which violates the dragon kite specifications.

dragon kite

These type of kites takes a long time to setup and fly – it needs to be packed in a box and guided slowly out before the entire kite is sky bound. The longest one measures over 400 meters (!!!). That’s almost ½ a kilometer and it’s a wonder how they managed to get it up. It must be quite a task to retrieve it in one piece too.

flying kite

Here are some of the other kites that I liked:

box kite

This is a box kite from Australia.

box

It’s hexagonal shape seem to go against every law of aerodynamics but they actually flew it quite easily.

starfruit

Our very own country also came out with a starfruit shaped kite.

spinner

This is called a spinner – it doesn’t fly per se but floats and spins clockwise, thus the name.

eagle kite

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s…well, it’s not Superman, but an eagle kite that flies like a real bird.

jump

I saw this YouTube video of a dog totally owning a cat and now I can’t get that image out of my head. I had originally thought of this as a tiger pouncing on a shark but now it looks more like the large cat is about to forcibly initiate some inter-species coitus with the shark. It doesn’t help that the shark kite has a shocked expression on its face too. smirk

guitar

Look! A flying acoustic guitar shaped kite!

cupid

An anatomically correct Cupid kite. ;)

rose

One of the girls in the China team has a rather improbable kite – it’s the tiniest one in the festival and it really flies. Yes, it’s the rose she’s holding in her hand. That’s actually a very small flower kite. Nifty! A rose by any other name is a kite. :D

museum

I went with Khairie and Mohd Zaid and got really sunburned over the weekend, but it was fun experiencing something I normally wouldn’t and talking to the kite enthusiasts around the world. It’s an insightful look into the kite flying subculture, one where even 86-year-old grandmothers fly all the way from Japan to participate in.

kites

The Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival is an annual affair in Johor. They have a website with more information here. This is the 16th incarnation of the festival-cum-competition and it’s interesting to see people who are really serious about it gather from all over the world to indulge in their mutual passion.

Here’s another video of the scene at Bukit Layang-Layang during the event.

me

It has a very vibrant ambience and everyone was friendly and eager to help each other out. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the nature of the activity practically begs for a quote from the bestselling book by Khaled Hosseini:

…for you, a thousand times over. smirk

Polly’s wedding in Tangkak, Johor

polly

Polly had her wedding last Sunday and I drove 1 ½ hours (yes, it really is that near) down from KL with my girlfriend, Cherry and Susan in tow to get to Tangkak, Johor on Saturday to attend the festivities.

prep

My girlfriend was one of the sisters (ji mui) and after a night’s rest at a guesthouse the bride was kind enough to arrange for us, we arrived at Polly’s place at around 7 am to eat breakfast and start the preparations.

breakfast

There was chicken rice, buns and other stuff and we had to eat rather quickly since the groom’s delegation was due to arrive soon.

stuff

Padlocks galore to prevent entry.

water

There was also this drink of prayer paper being burnt into water – it’s supposed to bring peace and harmony and I took a sip, despite being agnostic in my beliefs. It’s a Buddhist custom.

arrival

As tradition goes, the groom and his entourage of cars came amidst a lot of honking to announce their presence.

sisters

They disembarked at the front gate for the “sisters” (female friends of the bride) to grill the “brothers” (male friends of the groom) – this usually involves various stages which the brothers will have to go through in order for the groom to get to the bride.

gate

The sisters act as a gatekeeper of sorts – asking the brothers to perform a multitude of tasks before being allowed deeper and deeper into the house.

panties

This is a Hong Kong custom and I’m told it’s supposed to make the groom more appreciative of the bride due to the obstacles he has to go through to get her.

soybean

I remember faces being painted with makeup, drinks of Guinness with a raw egg inside (which is pretty delicious actually), and panties being put on by the groom’s band of brothers before they get into the house.

It was all in good fun…

…for all parties involved.

yoga

There was also a lot of interesting yoga poses that they have to perform before being allowed entry.

makeup

The brothers got back at the sisters after that by hiding all their shoes. smirk

bride

The groom finally gets to the bride! *applause

tea

Anyway, the customary tea giving ceremony to the elders were performed at the bride’s place and at the groom’s place.

siesta

This took quite a while and sent us to three different places and we convened back at the groom’s place where the bride throws the flowers.

bouquet throwing

The bouquet of flowers somehow landed in Cherry’s hands.

cherry

Heh!

flowers

I also appropriated the flowers for a bit of camwhoring.

I like this mish mash of Eastern and Western traditions though when it comes to my wedding, I think I’ll forgo most of it in lieu of a more private ceremony at a beach or the highlands with an outdoor wedding ceremony.

us

There was a break after that before the lunch wedding reception so we took the opportunity to go back and take a 1 hour nap before showering and heading out again.

reception

I was quite sleep deprived and needed the shut eye since we’re driving down straight after the wedding reception.

guests

The lunch wedding reception was held at Bangunan Persatuan Eng Choon – a meeting halls of sorts. There’s a lack of restaurants with the capacity to fit the people invited in Tangkak since it’s a small town.

group

The bride and groom already had another wedding in Penang prior to this. It’s not uncommon to have multiple weddings due to relatives – my sister had 3 – one in New Zealand, one in KL and one in Sibu.

table

We were seated at a table labelled “Diploma Friends”. I don’t know Polly personally, she’s Jeanie’s friend and I guess that makes me the chauffeur cum +1 in this entire shebang. ;)

fruits

The first dish was refreshingly different. I mean that literally. It was a hot afternoon and the lychee, grapes and pineapple chunks on a bed of ice inside a hollowed out pineapple really did the trick.

sampler

There is also the more traditional “sampler” first dish. I think there’s a name to it, usually “Four Seasons” or something to that effect but I like to call it a sampler dish coz it comes in a smorgasbord of small servings. I like the unorthodox century eggs and peanuts in this dish. The satay was good and so was the cuttlefish.

pork

The next dish is a combination of pork, yam and sea cucumber braised in dark sauce. It’s really good as well.

shark fin soup

Of course, there’s the customary shark fin’s soup after that. I like the generous servings of shark’s fin inside – you can literally see the huge chunks in each bowl.

sharks fin

Here you go! I know a lot of people are against shark’s fin, but I’m neither a tree hugger or an environmentalist wannabe, I eat just about anything – my previous culinary adventures can be a testament to that. ;)

billionare

Polly works at a records company and she got this famous local singer to come and perform at the wedding reception. I don’t know his name but my girlfriend told me he’s the one who sang the Hokkien song “If I had a billion dollars”. No, not the “I wanna be a billionaire” song currently on the airwaves, this is old skool stuff.

He did a parody of other well known Chinese artists and I can’t get most of his references coz I don’t listen to that genre of music but it was quite entertaining.

prawns

During the interlude, there came a dish of prawns – it’s done in a yin yang presentation, with half of it being deep fried butter prawns topped with mayo and the other fried in hot sauce.

cheers

I preferred the butter prawns and it was so crunchy that you can eat the entire thing, head and tail. At least that’s how I eat my prawns. A lot of people are surprised that I can eat the entire thing without shelling. I guess it’s equal part laziness and having a taste for the shell – I think it tastes better whole.

fish

Another must have dish during weddings is fish – this is a steamed fish which I can’t identify. However, I really liked the soft texture and the sauce that it was done with. I like this kind of fish, I don’t know when I started liking fish, since I never used to as a kid, same with vegetables.

suckling pig

…then came the best dish of the wedding reception. This is hands down is the most delicious thing that I had that day. It’s roasted suckling pig.

pig

I like the thinly sliced crispy skin and the BBQ sauce served under it. The presentation is really awesome too – you can clearly see that the entire pig has been served.

tongue

The tongue of the sucking pig was something I had to work very hard to get. I like the taste of tongue – you can find canned versions of it but the best thing is to eat it fresh in England or Australia.

chicken

There were a lot of dishes that day – this is paper wrapped chicken. It’s cooked inside wrapping to produce meat that literally melts in your mouth. It’s tender and all the flavors are preserved due to the cooking method.

ham

I couldn’t eat very much after that but there was a serving of sliced abalone, ham, broccoli, mushrooms and a rare (and expensive) type of seafood that I don’t know the name of. It’s chewy and it tastes like clams.

ice cream

The final dish was rather unique as well – it’s ice cream! I found that it suits the weather rather well. We saw one person eating it with chopsticks and another eating it with a soup spoon at another table. Jeanie thought it was pretty funny and I took several photos of me doing it as well.

chopsticks

When in Tangkak…

spoon

…do as the Tangkak-ians do.

newlyweds

Cheers to the newlyweds!

grooms

All the best in all your future endeavors! :)

couple

I really enjoyed this experience and though I was just about nodding off on the drive back, a quick pit stop and an energy drink resolved that.

wedding

It was a really fun weekend and a good opportunity to meet the girlfriend’s friends. :D

An interesting wedding at Tangkak, Johor

tangkak

I just made a 1 ½ hour drive down from KL to Tangkak in Johor to attend a wedding with Jeanie and two of her friends. It’s a very small town and we spent most of the day in Muar before heading over here.

wedding tent

The groom’s house has been decked out with an outdoor canopy catering to numerous guests during the night before the wedding. There’s food and beer under the tent, it’s a midnight vigil of sorts. :D

groom house

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this in a Chinese wedding. I’ve seen this sort of setup in Malay weddings but never in Chinese ones. I’m told it’s quite common in the smaller towns in rural areas. Imagine the logistics of having to block off an entire residential street with the permission of all the neighbours!

bunking

Anyway, the soon-to-be-wed couple were kind enough to provide accomodations for us. We’re bunking in a room inside a guest house just opposite the groom’s place for the night.

driving

The pre-wedding rituals (Jeanie is the “sister” – ji mui) is going to start early tomorrow morning and we’re heading home to KL straight after the lunch wedding reception so it’s time to grab some shut eye coz I nearly fell sleep driving today. :x

Rempeyek making and recipe

rempeyek

I was at Johor during the past weekend and managed to participate in a traditional kueh making workshops of sorts during my time there. This kueh is called rempeyek and it’s made with batter and then deep fried.

rempeyek deep fry

There is a contraption where you pour in the batter, add peanuts and ikan bilis (anchovies) before you dunk it into boiling hot oil.

rempeyek done

I shot a video of the rempeyek making process with the help of Iza a.k.a. Bulb. I made mine with extra peanuts and made sure to keep track of the floating bits of kueh so I can eat the one that I made with my own hands. :)

The recipe for rempeyek goes like this:

Batter
200 grams rice flour
100 gram corn flour
2 cups of santan (coconut milk)
½ teaspoon jintan manis (pounded)
½ teaspoon jintan putih (diced)
½ teaspoon ketumbar (grated)
4 red onions – finely diced
2 onions – finely diced
Salt to taste

Condiments
300 grams peanuts
Ikan bilis (anchovies)

my rempeyek

I managed to get the recipe from the kind folks at the place. It should be noted that the peanuts should be fried beforehand. The rempeyek will float to the top once it’s cooked and once that’s done, you put it on serviettes to soak up the excess oil.

rempeyek me

This is the rempeyek that I made. I like the taste of this classic kueh. It’s a traditional savory local delicacy of Malay origin and I’m glad I had the chance to try and make some. :)

Fraser’s Hill travel report

frasers clock tower

It took me this long to finally write the full Fraser’s Hill trip report (not that kind of trip) but I swear to God, I’m going to get it done today! Fraser’s Hill has a very interesting history behind it. It was named after a Scotsman who had dealings with opium but after falling off the face of the Earth it was turned into a colonial hill resort.

ye olde smokehouse frasers hill

There are basically three hill resorts within reasonable driving distance in Klang Valley. The most popular one would be Genting Highlands, where fortunes are won or lost at a roll of a dice (as the saying goes). I got rather bored of the place, I can’t remember how often I’m been to the Amusement Park alone. Also, I’m still sore about the RM 35k loss. hmph

Cameron Highlands is more family friendly with it’s strawberry plucking and tea plantations but I’ve been there about a year or so back and found it crowded and over commercialized while I’ve never been to Fraser’s Hill.

(or so I thought)

charles suite

My dad told me that we went to Fraser’s Hill on one of our family vacations when I was a kid and even stayed at the same place – Ye Olde Smokehouse!

bed

I had doubts about Ye Old Smokehouse at Fraser’s Hill due to reports about noise (true), ants (didn’t see any) and general non-maintenance (not sure about this one). I found the place nice, rustic with an old English charm. The room we got is spacious, with a living room, a large bed and even a fake electric fireplace.

fireplace

Charming!

There is not much to do in Fraser’s Hill – it’s a chill out place for sure, but make sure you:

1. Visit the Fraser’s Hill Clock Tower
2. Take a dip in the freezing Jeriau Waterfalls
3. Have Devonshire tea

tea frasers

It’s primarily a destination for people into hiking and bird-watching. We managed to see several (old) Caucasian people with binoculars and books titled “Species of birds” at the resort we stayed at.

ye old smokehouse frasers hill

I went there primarily to chill and get some R&R. We went up quite late and Ye Old Smokehouse was kind enough to let us check out very late too (5 pm). You’ll need your own car and food is quite limited around Fraser’s Hill. We ate at Puncak Restaurant where the food courts are.

restauran puncak

The food is alright but nothing to write home about. Be careful of the puzzling entrance to the food courts!

frasers breakfast

Ye Olde Smokehouse serves a complimentary breakfast which is pretty good. However the best part of the trip for me is soaking in the tub for hours and hours until our skin shrivelled while talking, drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes with my friend.

manual censorship

I don’t think Dr M would approve though. smirk

suites

The reports about Ye Olde Smokehouse not having soundproofing is true. We woke up the second day hearing soft conversations and spoons being dropped in the dining room. Imagine how many families we kept awake with our excessively loud and raucous lovemaking at 3 am in the morning! FOL. smirk

frasers panoramic

Fraser’s Hill is awesome if you want a place that isn’t crowded or over commercialized – a cool, relaxing weekend break in an old English style hilltop resort. Go there if you want to get away from the stress in the city and take in the cool weather and slow pace of life.

Jeriau Waterfalls @ Fraser’s Hill

jeriau waterfalls

Jeriau Waterfalls is an incredible experience – imagine the cold hill resort temperature combined with the wind chill factor and a natural waterfall that isn’t heated (obviously). Intense. I couldn’t stop shivering. :)

jeriau waterfalls runoff

It’s on the GPS but don’t follow that – ask your resort concierge instead. I brought my Sony Cyber-shot TX-5 along coz it’s waterproof. It’s just a 15 minute drive from Ye Olde Smokehouse where we stayed and the GPS will attempt to take you down a road that you shouldn’t access. It’s a feeder road.

jeriau waterfall

Stop at the Jeriau Waterfalls gate (there are lots of cars parked so you won’t miss it) and it’s a 5 minute walk to the falls. Wikitravel says it’ a 15 minute walk but by my account it’s 5 minutes and we stopped to take interesting photos…

jeriau waterfalls house

…like this hut which has an ecosystem of itself on top of the roof. My travel companion spotted this one. Perhaps the company was good so it seemed shorter so YMMV (pun intended) but be careful coz some spots are slippery. >.<

jeriau waterfalls path

Jeriau Waterfalls is fucking cold. There is no other adjective to describe it. It’s as cold as a frigid bitch brimming with hatred, carrying enough emotional baggage that would cause even AirAsia to decline her wishes to pay 100 times the excess baggage fee.

Did I put you off? smirk

Don’t be, coz it’s worth the trip. Sure, the water isn’t clean. FML I swallowed a mouthful of water and I nearly puked. The spray from the waterfall, the wind chill and the mist at Fraser’s Hill – it’s unforgettable.

jeriau waterfalls frasers

It’s tonic for the soul!

jeriau waterfall me

Yup, I just had to do the traditional sixthseal.com pose. I can’t help myself, my psychiatrist says I need therapy. smirk

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

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