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. :)

Sarikei

I went out at 8 am this morning to get some breakfast with Diana. Picked up Daniel too and headed off to Sugarbun to get something to eat, partly because it’s air-conditioned and partly because we haven’t eaten there in a while.

Me and Diana

Hung around there for an hour before Ah Chan joined us. We had to leave at 10 am though, to meet up with Yi Ching and Justina to go to Sarikei. We went to the city bus terminal to catch the bus, but the buses leaves in 2 hour intervals and we just missed the 10 am bus. We decided to take the express boat to Paradom and catch a bus from there. The bus fare from Paradom to Sarikei is RM 5.40, the most I’ve paid for a bus ticket in Sibu. Heh.

Me and Daniel

An hour later, we were in Sarikei and got some lunch while waiting for Jonas to pick us up.

Lunch at Sarikei

Obligatory picture with Sarikei signboard to show I was there

The pineapple replica in Sarikei town

After lunch, we walked to the tallest building in Sarikei (some government building) because it was air-conditioned. It was really hot today. We walked to Courts Mammoth after that to pretend to try the couches there. Another thinly veiled attempt to enjoy their air-conditioned premises, of course. I saw this interestingly named coffee shop besides Courts Mammoth. It’s named Ma Li Cafe which cracked me up.

Ma Li

If you speak Foochow, the words “ma li” will no doubt elicit chuckles. For those of you who don’t, it sounds like a mild profanity in Foochow. After that, we walked to SMB St Anthony (a high school), who seems to produce several individuals of high caliber.

St Anthony High School

Jonas picked us up from St Anthony’s and we headed to get some ABC special to cool down and headed off to Ngiu Kee to get a large bottle of cold mineral water.

Eating ABC special (an iced dessert)

We went to this new park in Sarikei after that, it’s called the Water Tower Park, if I’m not mistaken. The main feature is an old water tower.

Water Tower Park

The Water Tower

Jonas dropped us off at the government building again after that and we got visitor’s passes to go to the top floor. The top floor is the 10th floor (what did you expect?) and there is nothing much there, except a good view of the river and some exceptionally cool air conditioning.

View of the river with ferry in dock

A friend of Justina’s picked us up after that and took us to Sebangkoi, a nature reserve about 30 minutes away from Sarikei town. Took heaps of pics there and Yi Ching had cramps and was trailing us all through the reserve. =D

Bridge over a waterfall

Rapids

Arrrggghhhhh…the croc got me!!!!!!!!!!!

We headed to Daniel’s uncle’s orchard after that, where I was promptly bitten 1000 times by 1000 mosquitoes.

The orchard

Managed to walk though most of the orchard, which contains ‘landmines’ in the form of holes (some going down as far as 1 feet) which are covered by shrubbery.

Landmine

Tr navigation. I also managed to drive this mini tractor thing, which has no gas pedal, but only a lever to move faster. The gear shift is in between the legs too, and the tractor jittered all the time, which makes an interesting experience.

Mini tractor

We drove Daniel’s uncle’s car to Jakar (har har…sounds like penis in Malay) to get something to eat. Headed back to the orchard after that and hi uncle drove us back to Sibu at around 8:15 pm. Interesting day, but I managed to get mild heat stroke from the obscene heat. Poor Yi Ching was struck by heat stroke too, we’re both sensitive that way. Now where did I put my Poh Chi Kit pills?

all.jpg

From left: Huai Bin (me), Yi Ching, Justina, Daniel

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