I had so much fun today. I met up with Lindsay (of yearofthedurian.com fame) and we went to two organic durians orchards, where we ate a lot of durians. I even tried a new one today – the D144 Durian (a hybrid of D2 and D24). I have 10 (!!!) durians (mixture of D24 and D88) and 1 cempedak in the boot of my car, courtesy of the kind people at the durian orchards. Lindsay is flying back to Oregon at 2 am so the fruits all went to me.
Funny story: I was in Penang with my better half over the weekend and went to eat some durians. There was a couple who walked past me while I was sitting there enjoying my Susu Durian and I overheard them talking loudly in Hokkien about an ang mo (Caucasian) who knows a lot about durians and blogs about it while they were inspecting the stall. Haha.
I just came back from sending her to the airport – it’s been quite a long day, I picked her up at 9 am. It was a blast and although we couldn’t visit the third durian orchard that we planned to go to due to time constraints, I actually learned more than a few things about durians today. I also found out that the Bentong/Karak area has a lot of durian stalls by the roadside, all fully stocked in the morning (since the orchards are nearby).
I’ll write more tomorrow, I have to finish some work. We were also on BFM 89.9 just now (the segment isn’t live and wouldn’t be aired yet) to talk about durians. Thanks for organizing everything Lindsay, and for the wheelbarrow lift. :)
This is the first place we stopped on the way up to Penang. We, in this case, was a bus-load of 25 people, all related, going on the largest family trip I’ve ever participated in (or seen, for that matter). Restaurant Pun Chun is famous for their wonton noodles – the huge wontons are made with a little bit of pork mince and a HUGE prawn.
Their wonton noodles has been hyped up way in advance by the rather dodgy looking tour guide (provided with the bus, don’t look at me). I’ve actually eaten here before, not here as in Bidor, but at a branch of this particular café. They’ve expanded to Klang Valley and their franchise in Kota Damansara is very close to where I live.
Restaurant Pun Chun is also famous for their duck leg noodles, which is what we usually eat in Kota Damansara. It’s a soup based dish (although the noodles are served separately) but since we went so early in the morning, they didn’t have drumsticks/leg. The only cuts were breast and thigh so I passed on this. The soup is pretty good though, it’s what we call pek tin yok – a combination of 8 different herbs.
We had both the dry and soup version of wonton mee (RM 6.30 per bowl/plate) which comes with four (4) wontons per serving. The dry version has noodles tossed in soy sauce while I thought was nicer. The large prawn inside each wonton is a treat to behold – juicy and succulent, truly delicious when paired with some of their pickled green chillis.
It looks like a bit of a tourist trap with the aisles of chicken biscuit snacks and other popular munchies from Bidor but their wonton noodles are really quite enchanting. I would stop here again next time I drive up this way.
I went on a road trip to Kuala Gandah in Pahang over the long weekend to check out National Elephant Conservation Center. I didn’t even know there was an elephant sanctuary in Malaysia!
We had planned to go to Chiling Falls, but that was nixed due to the closure of the route. Thus, on the night before, the four of us – Suanie, Marco, Joyce and yours truly drove down on one of our impromptu road trips. Well, to be precise, Suanie drove.
I was quite intrigued to find an emophant in the elephant conservatory.
What is an emophant?
Emophant is emo.
The elephants in this sanctuary are all rescued from the wild – from poachers of their prized tusks. Thus, you can see that all of them don’t have tasks. This place saves elephants but sometimes, quite a few die coz they’re beyond salvation after running into illegal poachers wielding sharp instruments for cutting off their lucrative tusks.
I heard this from one of the rangers in the park. There are actually quite a lot of deaths before they could be saved but what they’re doing is admirable.
Naturally, after a nasty experience of being cornered by men with the intent on separating them from their appendages, the wild pachyderms takes a while to recover.
Some are more resilient, and it’s good to feel the sensitive elephant’s trunk around your hands – they can be fed peanuts or sugar cane (all sold at the premises).
Others, like the emophant, takes a while to recover and it’s a little sad to see that poor huge beast standing by itself in the corner. :x
I have to say that I’m no saint though, I felt really sorry for the emophant but given a chance to try out elephant meat, I would. I don’t see why dead carcasses cannot be butchered and sold with profits going to the care of the ones that are alive (they’re dead anyway).
I’m no stranger to eating dogs – I’ve done so twice, once in Hanoi (where there’s an entire street dedicated to it) and once in Korea. I’ve also eaten a huge rat in China. I do like exotic game meat and I’ll try everything once.
No point in bashing me for it, there’s plenty of that on my YouTube video of the dog meat trade – just do what you feel is right and you’re good. I don’t get pressured not to eat certain stuff, my personal stance is that while education about brutality is good and all, it’s really a personal choice – cows are sacred to the Hindus, yet people all around eat steaks with abandon and on the secular side of things, there’s horrendous egg farms for chickens but yet a lot of people eat eggs.
I do not judge and my policy is simple – education for the future generation and personal choice. Getting your panties all in a twist about it is kinda like the War on Drugs – pointless. It benefits some people (keeps the DEA and the likes in their jobs) and afford a holier-than-thou podium for people who wants be in the limelight but ultimately the mantra of “When the demand drops, the supply would too” is a slippery slope.
I have already quit that particular chapter in my life and I can piss as clean as a whistle now. I don’t want any part of it anymore, but that’s just my choice. I won’t look at you askance if you enjoy a toke or two on the weekends.
Anyway, back on the subject of elephants – I heard you can also take a bath with them beside a nearby stream. It sounds like a fun thing to do, but it seems like the place has become a tad commercialized according to Suanie – it used to be quite rustic, but that is the way of the world.
The next stop on our trip was Deerland Park.
I found a really cute cat that really made my day. She looks a lot like Champagne (a cat I had when I was in my early teens – would cuddle her for hours each night and she drinks from the same glass of milk as I do, something which horrifies my parents).
The cat is very affectionate and I picked it up and walked with it for a bit. I like the warmth and the soft purr of a feline in my arms. I’m a sucker for cats like this. :)
There are a lot of other animals in Deerland Park, like this ferret. I thought this was a hilarious pose (geddit?).
However, the main thing to see there are the deer. It looks a lot like goats to me, especially this Satanic looking specimen:
You get a bowl of carrots and other mixed vegetables and you can feed them. It’s fun!
I reckon the bigger ones were getting really aggressive and snagging all the food so the trick is to take multiple carrots with both hands and make sure the smaller deer are fed while ensuring the larger ones gets distracted.
It’s fun to feel their lips and it’s remarkable how they can sense what to bite and what not to, like the elephants.
I did get bitten by a couple of red ants though. It turns out there’s a nest of the nasty little things nearby.
Deerland Park is also where I took a photo with a very huge python. I’ve been to the Snake Temple in Penang and I found it apt that I kissed and was blessed by this snake before the Chinese Year of the Snake. :D
I like snakes. I used to own a ball python. I’ve also eaten snake before, including a cobra that I haven’t posted yet.
There’s a story about epicureans who managed to eat a phoenix in a story by master storyteller Jeffrey Archers. I highly recommend that book, bought it in London one of my trips there.
It’s a fun place to go to and just a short drive away from KL – both places are listed in Google Maps. I really liked the emophant – entrance fee to the National Elephant Conservation Center is free (donations are encouraged) and Deerland Park cost RM 28 for the four of us. It’s a good find and a fun place to spend a couple of hours during the long weekend.
There’s actually nothing much to do in both places, just a chance to pet and see the animals that makes up the name of the places. I guess that’s the appeal of the place, plus I haven’t been to both places before and I have been wanting to take a road trip for a while. :)
Restaurant Peranakan is the aptly named place known for it’s Peranakan cuisine. It’s often been cited as the #1 place to go for Nyonya food in Melaka. Peranakan (or Straits Chinese) is a distinctive racial group in Melaka – it comes from Chinese settlers marrying locals and is an entire culture unto itself, the hotbed of which lies in Melaka.
Nyonya food is conglomeration of Chinese and Malay food, but there are some really unique dishes they call their own. I had lunch here while on a road trip to Melaka.
Peranakan Restaurant has a really nice décor which reflects the heydays of the Baba Nyonya clan.
Ayam Buah Keluak
This is perhaps the most well known Nyonya dish. It’s chicken cooked with kepayang tree nuts. Buah keluak is actually poisonous before being prepared for cooking. It prompted a lot of Googling when I mentioned that coz someone ate the inside of the nut.
I like this dish – it’s a very rich and flavorful one due to the buah keluak. I ate some of the insides of the nuts too – it’s sourish and contributes to the flavor of the chicken. Peranakan Restaurant makes the best ayam buah keluak I’ve had.
This is a really good and spicy fish dish that I found worthy of mention – it’s cooked with brinjals, tomatos, and ladyfingers and has a sweet, spicy and sour (more towards the latter) gravy that goes very well with rice.
Udang Lemak Nanas
This is a very rich dish of shrimp cooked with pineapples and lots of oil. I set the camera to Vivid and it almost hurts my eye to look at it.
Here’s one that’s easier on the ocular devices. ;) It’s also one of the dishes I’ll recommend at Peranakan Restaurant.
Nyonya Chap Choy
It’s mixed vegetables, nothing special here.
This dish has strayed into mainstream Chinese cooking that a lot of people forget it’s Nyonya origins. If you want the most authentic version, I guess here’s where you go.
I’m not a huge fan of tofu but it disappeared pretty quickly so I’ll hazard a guess and say it’s pretty good if you like the stuff. ;)
Fo Yong Tan
I think this is the egg omelet unless I’ve completely messed up my bearings. Forgettable.
Okra with a splash of sambal on top. Simple, but good.
I spent the whole time piling my plate with all the different stuff so I could take a photo. Their flagship dishes are really good, while some are mediocre, but IMHO, Peranakan Restaurant is the place to go for authentic Nyonya food if you’re in Melaka.
I was there on a the Eat, Play, Drive road trip with a bunch of other bloggers. We drove down on several Nissan Alameras. I had the opportunity to drive the IMPUL tuned one (which is my main ride, with a very auspicious plate too – WXN 6330). Simon, Joshua and Kelly (another group) was kind enough to let me drive the stock Nissan Alamara for a stretch.
I prefered the Nissan Alamera tuned by IMPUL that was issued to my group – there’s keyless ignition and the specs are pretty decent. I found the acceleration to be a bit lacking, but as they say, it’s not a sports car, but a sedan that’s surprisingly affordable for its class. I was quite impressed by the price of the car for it’s specs.
Thanks for the invite Hui Ping! :)
This was also where I had the famous Klebang Original Coconut Shake and while we were driving there, we also stopped by Aunty Koh’s Cendol. This place churns out really good cendol – perfect for a hot day!
It’s primarily manned by a single woman – the aforementioned Aunty Koh. Cendol is a shaved ice dessert with squiggly green jelly and kidney beans (we use red beans in Sarawak).
Gula Melaka (caramelized palm sugar) gives it that distinctive sugary sweet taste, which is tempered by santan (coconut milk).
You’ll be amazed by how many people come here for the RM 3.50 (large) cendol.
I was tempted to have two (and I think I did have two) but I also heard that this place is famous for it’s taibak (RM 1.50) – which is a very simple shaved ice dessert made with red and white flour squiggles. I found the taste very similar to something we have in Sibu called “wu wei tang” (5 taste soup) which is another shaved ice dessert that has dried apples and other misc ingredients among it.
It’s simple but refreshing.
However, I still prefered the cendol at Aunty Koh Cendol. They claim to be Melaka’s best cendol and I’m inclined to agree. I’ve had cendol in lots of places from Penang to Kuantan (click on the tag cendol) and this is among the top ones I’ve had the pleasure of eating. :D
I’ve even driven down to Singapore before. What makes road trips enjoyable is always the company but the car you drive makes a whole lot of difference too. I’ll say it can even make or break a road trip. I’m somewhat experienced in these things and comfort also plays a huge part.
You want to be in a car that can accommodate everyone with enough space to stretch their legs to reduce driving fatigue. Even minor things like heat from the sun can ruin a perfectly good road trip – I’ve even come back sunburned coz of I took off all the tinting on my car when I shipped it from Sarawak to comply with JPJ regulations. A more powerful engine can also make a lot of difference in driver comfort.
I’ve been looking around for a new car for a while now. I’m planning to get another one after I buy my condo. I love long road trips so I have to factor that in when I purchase my car. I want one with a small turning radius coz I *have* gotten stuck in rural unpaved dirt roads and not being able to turn back while exploring a new area. Cruise control is one of the essential features that I’ll need to have. I’m also looking for more horsepower so it’ll have to be a 2.0 liter engine.
I was talking about all that with Cindy when we passed by a Proton Edar Showroom. I have been thinking about test driving the Inspira 2.0 Premium since it fits all my requirements…now it’s time to see if it lives up to the expectations.
I’ll be honest – I was pretty impressed. The car performs well on the road. The 2.0 liter engine really makes a difference when I took it for a spin, the Inspira is responsive and energetic – it’ll make road trips so much easier if you’re driving a car with some good ol’ horsepower under the hood.
I also tested the other important feature I was considering – cruise control. I took it on an extended drive down relatively secluded parts of the highway and engaged it. The Inspira 2.0 Premium’s cruise control kicked in perfectly and worked like a charm.
Cruise control really helps with driving comfort during long road trips as you can pretty much maintain the speed you set in steady road conditions – like long distance driving.
I have also verified that the turning radius of the Inspira is indeed just 5 meters. Well, I didn’t go out and measure it, but if you’ve been driving for 14 years, you have a good idea of whether it’s on the mark.
I swear this would get me out of trouble one of these days. Like I mentioned, I have a propensity of going into narrow, unpaved rural roads in search of a shortcut or just to explore during my road trips.
The Inspira is tinted not only to provide UV protection but also get rid of excessive solar heat. It doesn’t affect visibility at all – it looks perfectly clear from the inside I noticed that it filters out the sun very well. It was a hot afternoon when I drove the Inspira and with the air-conditioning blowing and the good tinting, it seems positively chilly inside. Perfection. This is just the kind of car conditions you need if you love going for road trips in our tropical climate.
The Inspira 2.0 Premium also comes with fog lamps and rain sensors to trigger the wipers and adjust their speed according to rain conditions – again, useful stuff on road trips, since you don’t have to engage them yourself. I’m telling you, it’s all about automating things man, that way the driver feels more like a passenger. Heh.
Proton has definitely outdone themselves with this model. The generous amount of space inside the car allows you to stretch your legs and lean back while driving. Your fellow passengers are apt to thank you for the additional room and space to chuck all their overnight bags too. The Inspira 2.0CVT Premium retails from RM 91,549 (OTR with insurance) for solid colors, while for metallic is RM 91,999 (OTR with insurance). It’s great value for money when you consider all the features it has…and you can get it in the 80k range!
Proton is currently having a Incredible Deals on Wheels promotion where you can get savings up to RM 5,000 when you book selected models from 15th November to 31st December. Surf over to www.proton-edar.com.my for more information. If you’re looking to purchase a new car, you might as well get it when a good deal is on.
I just came back from a road trip to Bukit Tinggi (also called Berjaya Hills) with Christy, Hollie, Nic and Patricia. We headed up Monday morning and spent the night at the French medieval themed resort.
It seems that Colmar Tropicale has been around for quite a while and the last time I came here was during my birthday.
This time around it was supposed to be a very chill and relaxing trip and I think we spent the most time fishing for ducks (and eating). Heh.
Christy booked one of the regular rooms and I was bunking with her while the other 3 squeezed into another room.
Some of them went to sleep as soon as we got there but me and Christy started watching TV and talking instead.
Lunch at Ryo Zantei @ Japanese Gardens. Most of us had the Ten Zaru Soba (RM 29) coz the weather was rather hot. It’s cold soba with tempura and soy dressing topped with…
…a raw quail egg.
Walking around the Japanese Gardens. A lot of people come up here to rent kimonos and have the Japanese tea ceremony that it’s become a bit of a cliché.
Tea time pastries at La Boulangerie.
There was this duck pond full of yellow ducks with hooks which you “fish” with a pole. We spent the better part of an hour and about RM 50 trying to get a duck with a winning number on it.
The fruits of our labor. One tiny stuffed toy.
It was a lot of fun though and it’s surprisingly hypnotizing to watch the fake ducks swirl around the plastic inflatable pond.
Dinner at La Flamme.
Drinks at Le Vin. Notice all the French names? We ordered a bottle of wine to share before finally retiring to the room.
I think me and Christy was the last ones to sleep – we spent the night in bed talking about all sorts of stuff…like long distance relationships back in your grandparent’s days where they had no technology. Heh.
It all started on Friday night at Brussels Beer Cafe. It was during this inspiring round of drinks that the impromptu trip hatched. I was supposed to meet Bonnie there and truth to be told I don’t even remember how I got to know her and inquiring minds want to know. I also had half a mind to FFK the drinks on Friday thing coz I was really sick but I’m glad I didn’t coz it turned out to be one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. :)
We were having drinks in Jaya One when I finally got around to around to asking her how we know each other. It turns out that we don’t. She reads my blog, added me on Facebook and it was a random and casual “Okay, let’s have drinks sometime” that led to this particular day. Bonnie turns out to be 22 (!!!) and she’s a student at Monash. She also acts part time in local productions.
Anyway, it seems that we have something in common so we were just talking and suddenly I thought about going on a road trip. It was 12 am at the time and the plan was to head down to Ipoh for the dim sum.
I’ll follow her car back, pick her up, and then head down to Ipoh and stay the night at a hotel before waking up for breakfast.
Losing my wallet
The first thing that went wrong was losing my wallet. I think what happened is that I took it out and used my credit card to pump gas. I remember leaving the wallet on the boot of the car and taking the receipt but I did not remember taking the wallet back into the car. I suspect my wallet was still on the boot when I drove off. FML.
I had about 1-2k inside but what’s worse is the MyKad, driver’s license (!!!) and credit cards which I have to replace.
I only realized it when I got to Ipoh coz when it came to the toll, Bonnie paid for it but I was puzzled as to where my wallet was – it was supposed to be on the dashboard. However, after a prolonged search when we arrived there, it was nowhere to be found. My car can be a black hole sometimes, but it’s still a confined space so after looking into every nook and cranny, the most plausible explaination is that I left it on the boot and drove off.
Naturally, without any money, Bonnie had to withdraw from an ATM and we went in search of a hotel.
She also took over the driving.
I think we went to 5-6 hotels but all of them were full. It was insane! There’s apparently some kind of military function going on there and it was about 5 am when we finally drove up to this dodgy looking place called Shanghai Hotel.
They had one room left and it was RM 40. I guess some would call it rustic and charming and maybe even full of character but it’s the kind of place where you’re afraid you’ll get syphilis, gonorrhea AND herpes just from sleeping on the sheets. >.<
This is what the hotel room looks like.
Anyway, my pillow had this really weird smell to it so I shared Bonnie’s pillow and we slept, fulling intending to wake up at 8 am in the morning.
It was 11 am when I woke up.
Foh San dim sum
This is what we were down in Ipoh for. Bonnie swears by the lam mei pau. It’s a bun that’s filled with fatty pork and it’s absolutely fabulous. It was well worth the drive down.
We also had some other stuff – my usual har kao (prawn dumplings) and a memorable dim sum made with juicy succulent prawns and salted egg yolk.
However, the lam mei pau was every bit as good as Bonnie said it was. We were afraid we’ve missed it but apparently even though the dim sim place tells you it’s no longer available, you can get it by going to the take away counter and ordering it.
Try it, and thank Bonnie (or rather, her mom) if it works. We even got a box to tapau back home.
Caption: Why drink canned Ipoh white coffee in Ipoh?
Anyway, since I didn’t have a license and Bonnie was rushing for her class, she drove down instead. It was an interesting experience to have someone else drive you car at 160 km/h and swerving through lanes to avoid traffic. It’s like a roller-coaster, without the safety features. ;)
Oh, and I also lost my rear bumper somewhere during the drive to Ipoh.
It’s not an epic weekend unless you’ve lost a car bumper, your wallet and all the identification in it, slept in a dodgy hotel and sped back to KL…and the weekend is still not over. Bonnie crashed at my place last night and helped me out with something I had to get done during the weekend.
I know it sounds like a tragic weekend, but it’s really an awesome one. Seriously, it’s not a havoc weekend unless you’ve lost something and now I’m driving with no driver’s license, MyKad and with a missing bumper.
Cop magnet much? This illegal PRC immigrant says yes. I’ve been diligently avoiding roadblocks so let’s hope I can keep up with that until Monday.
Ipoh is a small town (but one with city status) about 2 hours away from KL. I drove down to spend CNY with the Lim sisters – Eiling, Ziling and Yiling. Ipoh is surrounded by limestone hills and the “hard” water is said to contribute to the famed Ipoh leng luis. It’s commonly said that Ipoh is a leng lui (beautiful girl) manufacturing factory so I think I made the right decision to spend CNY there instead of back home. ;)
I was made to feel very welcome in Ipoh, thanks to the entire Lim clan.
I ate a lot of food – this here is the famed Ipoh roasted duck. Besides eating…
…much of the time was spent in…er, diversifying my portfolio to include liquidity based assets.
We also hit a couple of houses, do the CNY visiting thing.
I also consumed quite a bit of ethanol-based drinks considering its CNY and all. No, don’t ask, think about how many people have asked me already before you do that. ;)
It has gone Pharaoh-nuff! Get it? Egyptian pharaoh with Ziling, my camwhoring buddy. =D
It was quite fun actually, visiting the Lim sister’s relatives and friends. I even met a couple of people who reads my blog. Greetings!
We had planned to spend a night there but ended up spending three days and two nights in Ipoh. There are just too many photos to post up so the next post would be about places and food in Ipoh.
Thanks to the EZY sisters for having me in Ipoh! =D
Happy CNY everyone!
P/S – Did you know that Ipoh is also famous for their leng zai? ;)