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120. Going Home

Mon, 03 Dec 2012 01:05:00 +0000

Returning from taking photos of the dawn, I had toast and tea (breakfast doesn't start until 8.00 and I would be gone before then). The pre-ordered taxi came just a few minutes late - I was almost hyper ventilating at the thought if the taxi missed the bus, I'd miss my plane! Well it didn't happen I did catch the bus and I did catch the plane.There are people who say it's cheaper to get the bus to Melaka Sentral, but me? If I had to scrimp and scrimp to save a few ringgit it'd be a pretty deplorable situation. No - I'd rather travel in comfort and go by taxi.  Above: Melaka SentralThe taxi arrived here and for all my worrying, the bus didn't leave on time anyway! The bus terminal is quite large with good facilities - banking, food stalls, clothing and a host of other items - it is in fact a small shopping mall and inside a bus station! How neat is that eh?  Above: Plaza TollOne of the toll booths that are prevalent on Malaysian roads. As you can see, there are many lanes.  Above: KL AirportOn the way we passed an army truck complete with soldiers and weaponry, but the photos all came out very blurry so I haven't put them up. After around two hours, we arrived at KL LCCT airport. I like this airport - it's my favourite. I like the way you can just step outside, go for a gander, there's greenery outside, to the left is a very large eatery and the Air Asia kiosk has some good souvenir items. I like too, Marrybrown's - their fish is really good. (I am not a McDonald's person - yuk, dreadful stuff). Above: T 18 - Waiting for the flight home waiting for Flight D7 2722Well now, here we are - waiting for our flight in the departure lounge. People were going up to the counter to go through, but were told not yet. And every time an Air Asia person came along, up would jump several people. Above: No, the door is still locked!This lady tried to open the door. It was still locked!  Above: Our plane - 30 minutes later!Finally, the doors opened, and we are walking on the tarmac. The time was around 12.30pm and the weather was very hot.  Above: Watching movies - MASHAs this was a daytime flight, I paid the $10 to watch movies for the flight. Watching the re-run of M*A*S*H. Soon it was meal time - eating always helps pass the time doesn't it? It breaks up the journey. I fell asleep later to find it was dark outside - night had fallen. Remember, Melbourne is two hours ahead of Malaysia, but being daylight saving time, it's three hours ahead. Above: Tullamarine Airport Back home, and it's 12.15am (9.15pm in Malaysia). I walked outside, lit up a smoke and shivered in the cool air. Had to ring my son who was supposed to be here to pick me up. I had to catch a taxi. I came back with wonderful memories of my time in both Cambodia and Malaysia. This was my first overseas trip to Asia and it was a wonderful experience. Since then, I have been back to Kuala Lumpur, but the memory of this first trip stands out in my memory. Below are two poems, one is a Khmer poem called "Angkor Wat II" written by Dan Haag which was inspired by Vikram Prakash's 4-15-03 Angkor Wat lecture. The second is a Malaysian poem called "Fairytale" by Malaysian poet Xin jo Ng. ANGKOR WAT IIby Jan HaagNo matter how you succeedin pushing back time and oblivionNo matter what new knowledgeyou may find circulating about the universeNo matter what exquisite perfectionsthe architecture of your civilizations may obtainThe jungle lush and green stealing carbonpumping oxygen comes back for Angkor Wat's splendorUntil the sun in her omnivorous beneficence and warmth,in her perpetual greed for growth, for incineration swallows up the earth.FAIRYTALEby Xin jo NgTurn around and walk awayIt’s nothing but a dream far awayThe laughter and the tears and the memoriesThe truths and the lies and the fantasiesWhen all mistakes were done and madeLoosen your grip and let it fadeWhat was never yours will never beOpen your eyes wide and seeThere is no beginning there is no endOnly a fairytale woven by handfinis[...]



119. Sunrise in Melaka

Sat, 01 Dec 2012 09:31:00 +0000

It is my last day, I rose early to catch a last glimpse of the city I had come to love. As the dawn was starting to come, I waited silently in the early morning watching the sky gradually lighten and the sun rise heralding the start of a new day. Below are some of the photos - I have tried to choose ones which show the differing light from first to last.

Pagi tidak Sunrise sahaja, tetapi satu keajaiban yang indah alam yang kekalahan kegelapan dan merebak Cahaya




Morning is not only Sunrise, but a beautiful miracle of nature that defeats darkness and spreads Light




118. Last Night in Melaka

Sat, 01 Dec 2012 08:52:00 +0000

WEll It's my last night in Malacca and my last night in Malaysia and I am a little sad - I wish it could go on forever. I wish it was three weeks ago and my time was just about to begin and I could relive it all over again. But of course that doesn't happen, except in fairy tales. Above: Jonker WalkThis is my last photo of Jonker Street and I walked along thinking of all I had seen and experienced. I found a little hole in the wall operation somewhere on the left hand side and went in to order a meal. I chose the chicken and rice. There was an old grandmother, her iron grey hair tied in a bun, coming down in wisps about her face, holding this huge ladle as she stirred the large pot. A young girl (her granddaughter?) stood to her right helping with other foods. There was a fridge on the wall opposite with round tables and stools. It wasn't a pretentious place, just a very ordinary little eating house. All the other customers kept staring at me and I wondered if there was something wrong with my appearance. Did I have dirt on my nose? Am I doing something wrong? Then the penny dropped - I was the only westerner there - everyone else was a local. I'd found one of the places where the locals go to eat not the tourists. I must say it was rather pleasant sitting there, no loud mouthed tourists, no flashy looking foreigners, just me. And the locals. (Not by a long shot is there anything flashy about me at all - some tourists even look down their elegant noses a little!), just my usual clothes and hiking sandals. And no, I didn't think to take a photo. Wish I had.  Above: Lagenda AntikThis building caught my eye - the startling white decorated with red, yellow and green. Red roses, leafy foliage and yellow urns. The three colours are repeated at the top of the columns. There are also some salmon pink designs as well - on the upper right hand side is a pink lion, on the left what looks like a flamingo. Lagenda Antik is an antique shop in Jonker Street and is decorated in the style of a Straits Chinese house. Behind the hall is an inner courtyard and a collection of knick-knacks, porcelains and furniture of the era. Over the RiverIt is time to cross over the river again and do something I promised myself I was going to do - ride in one of those colourful trishaws. Above: Clocktower at nightHere I passed the clock tower again. For this photo, I turned the dial to dusk or sunset and this is the result - a warm orange glow, the colours are warm. The only downside is the photos come out a little blurry. I have included it to show the difference in camera setting. Above: 7.30PMSame subject, same time, but in this photo, I had the camera set at the normal setting. You can see the difference between this photo and the previous one - here the colours are darker and are cool colours and the photo does not have the blurriness - it is sharper.  Above: Trishaw rideAnd now - it is rickshaw time! Which one shall I choose? That one there with the blue and yellow? Or that one over there decorated in blues and greens? Hmmm...so many to choose from. ...I think ..... this one. I like the glorious pinks and reds. Yes, I'll choose this one. The trishaw driver and I discussed price - 40 myr for an hour, but due to the lateness of the evening, I wanted only half an hour. So that was settled and off we went. I wish I had done this in the daytime and been taken around - I'd have stayed for the whole hour. And it is such a pleasant way to travel. I could have save myself a lot of hot huffing and puffing and walking in the heat. Then again, I would have missed a lot - some of the best things are just walking around getting lost and finding yourself seeing things you otherwise wouldn't have.  Above: My trishaw has the best flowersThis is the full view picture - check out the other trishaws towards the right - none of them can hold a candle to "my" trishaw. About TrishawsIn the old days, trishaw was one of the main methods of transportation in Malacca, but today with modern [...]



117. Chinese Funeral

Sat, 01 Dec 2012 06:42:00 +0000

As I was walking here, I saw a Chinese funeral. It was the music which alerted me and I headed over. I took some photos, but not wishing to be disrespectful, didn't go too close and zoomed the lens. I found it wasn't easy finding information about Chinese funeral processions and what some of the symbols are - e.g. two large paper lanterns carried on long poles. What do they mean, what is the significance? At the head of the procession, a man carries something that looks like the shape of a fancy bird cage with white, pink and red ribbons/bows on it but that too, I have not found what it is. If anyone reading this can answer this, I would welcome comments so I may increase my knowledge. (Thank you)Chinese funeral procession is pictured here.Traditionally, the procession starts from the house of the deceased to the cemetery. According to custom, the route follows the normal route the deceased used to take in his or her life. For example, where he/she used to go to the market, shopping, to work or to visit friends. It is the last farewell to this life. Above: Drummer and musiciansThe procession is accompanied by live (or recorded) music, sometimes the tune is lively and upbeat but in some cases it is sad. From my research, the time for this procession is usually done either at around 10.30 a.m. or 2.30 pm. It was around 2.30pm when I was here.  Above: Undertaker's vehicleSin Hock Siew Undertaker Above: Family PhotoChinese traditionally wore white clothes at funerals. Grandchildren wear blue clothes and great grandchildren, if there are any, wear light blue clothes. Two of the men wear red sashes and three are holding sticks with red handkerchiefs. I have yet to find the reason for this.  Above: PhotoA photo of the deceased is placed at the front of the hearse.  Above: Inside the undertaker's truckMusicians stand behind the undertaker's truck in which can be seen yellow and white floral wreaths and a mock sedan chair.  Above: Chinese funeralOccasionally paper models of objects such as cars, statues ships etc. are carried with the procession symbolising the wealth of the deceased's family.  Above: ProcessionVertical banner bearer in the front. This banner is known as "Teik". Normally the color of the banner is white, but since the man died after reaching 80 years old, the colour is red. It bears the eulogy of the deceased man. Above: DrummerMusicians follow.  Above: Funeral processionNext come men carrying large Chinese paper lanterns. Above: Funeral processionTwo of the men are holding what looks like a tambourine, the man on the left beats his with a stick.  Above: Hearse Mourners follow the hearse. Yellow and white “holy” paper is placed on coffin to protect the body from dangerous spirits. A yellow cloth is draped over the coffin. Above: ProcessionMourners place a cloth over their heads. Some have a cloth draped over their shoulders. Ancestor WorshipA funeral is not the end of the journey. The deceased will always be remembered, especially during the Qing Ming festival (Tomb Sweeping Day). It is the old custom of the Chinese people to honour their ancestors. They believe that the spirits of their ancestors will look after them in this life, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Therefore, offering of joss sticks, sometimes food like fruits or cakes are always present on the main altar in their houses, accompanied by daily prayers. Next: Last night in Malacca[...]



116. Chinatown

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 02:16:00 +0000

After leaving the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. I made my way further into Chinatown with the intention of seeing several "sites". I do find Chinatown(s) fascinating, no matter where they are. Home here in Melbourne, we have a wonderful Chinatown right in the middle of the city in the Little Bourke Street area from Swanston Street all the way up to Spring Street. It's the oldest Chinatown in Australia (1851).As I wandered around I was immersed in the sights and sounds and gaiety and hubub. I was so enjoying myself, that I did have to retrace my steps not a few times and the many tombs etc I had intended to see and photograph went unseen. I did however, manage to see a few. Masjid Kampung KlingThis is one of the oldest mosques in the country with Sumatran architectural features. It has a three-tiered pyramid-shape rood and a pagoda like minaret, portraying a mixture of East-West architectural influences. It is the site of the Mandi safar or bathing festival celebrated by Indian moslems during the moslem month of safar. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, safar changes throughout the seasons. (From tourist brochure)The mosque is in Goldsmith Road (Malay, Jalan Tukang Emas) and is also known as "Harmony Street" because it's near the Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple. With so many religious buildings it's no wonder the street is nicknamed "Harmony" Street.  Above: Masjid Kampung Kling mosqueI quite liked the roof architecture, the pyramidal type roof has white sculptured joinery and blue and white lacework around the rooflines is decorative and pleasing to the eye. As far as photos go, this was the best I could do - trying to capture the roofline in one section. I'd have liked to be able to get a shot of the roof plus the pagoda (minaret) but it wasn't possible. Now if we could just get all the people milling about with their cameras and other paraphernalia out of the way I might have stood a better chance. But alas, as often happens, it was not to be.  Above: Entrance detailThe entrance arch which is quite unique, was built at the same time as the main building. Above: Kampung Kling MosqueIt is a minaret but resembles a pagoda. This too, has a matching green roof which I couldn't get in the shot. There are a couple of loud speakers up high in the top windows. Minarets are used for the call to prayer and provide a visual focal point. I liked the smooth straight lines of this - quite plain with unfussy detail it is the simplicity which draws the eye. At least in my opinion. There is a place for fancy artwork and carving and there is a place for understated simplicity. Cheng Hoon Teng TempleThis beautiful old temple is at 25 Temple street (Jalan Tokong) and is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Malaysia, being built in 1645 and was was founded by the Kapitan China Tay Kie Ki aka Tay Hong Yong. It is also the most venerable of Malaysia's temples. Known too as "Temple of Clear Clouds", the main shrine hall has no nails whatsoever - nails are unlucky in Chinese culture - which makes the stateliness and dignity of Cheng Hoon Teng's structure even more impressive.  Above: Cheng Hoon Teng Temple GatesCheng Hoon Teng Temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, Quan Yin and was constructed by skilled workers from China - master craftsmen, artisans and carpenters and with its curved roof ridge, chien nien decoration, and gable design, reflects the architectural style and craftmanship of Southern China, mainly from the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong.The roof of the temple, in Chinese tradition, has beautiful carvings. All the building materials were imported from China.  Above: Chien Nien ~ decorative sculptures Above: Chien NienThe term Chien Nien literally means "cut and glue," and is a centuries old art which is one of the most outstanding visual characteristics of Chinese temples. It is the art of turning ceramic bowls [...]



115.The Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 12:20:00 +0000

The Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum here is a must see. There are two ladies who do guided tours (the slimmer lady was really fun) and tours run for about 30-40 minutes. The museum is right in the middle of Chinatown and runs parallel to Jonker StreetAbout the Baba Nyonya MuseumThe house was built in 1896, and was the family home of the Baba Chan family known as Rumah Abu. Chan Kim Lay, aged 83, is the fourth generation of his family. It is in a well-preserved traditional Peranakan town house, built in 1896 by millionaire rubber planter Chan Cheng Siew. Today it is owned by William Chan and his family, who conduct tours of their ancestral home. The interior is that of a typical 19th-century residence and all the rooms are still as they would have been 100 years ago. The house contains family heirlooms and antiques, including Nyonyaware porcelain and blackwood furniture with marble or mother-of-pearl inlay, and silverware. There is also a collection of traditional wedding costumes, photographs and kitchen utensils. The kitchen sink has the name of William Chan's great grandfather carved on it. The information-packed tours are run regularly throughout the day. Above: Baba and NyonyaThis cut out is to the left of the entrance door. You can see here the beautiful clothes that were worn at the time. Sunday 21st MarchToday's "sightseeing" was on the Chinatown side of the Malacca River. I asked Liz (part owner of Heeren House) the best route to take to avoid backtracking and the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum was first on my "list" seeing as it was in Heeren Street, only just up the road from where I was staying. The metal security door was locked and you had to press the bell. A lady came, asked did I want to do a tour, the next one was starting in about 15 minutes and let me in. Price was a few ringitts. She said no photos were allowed inside the museum (you can take as many pics as you like of the outside though) This (she said) was because people came, took photos and made copies of the furnishings. At the end of the tour you can buy souvenirs. (I bought postcards and took photos of the postcards.)  Above: Baba Nyonya Heritage MuseumWe learnt the fascinating history of the Baba Nyonyas who are descendants of the Chinese who came to Malaysia and married Malays. The offspring were the Baba (male) Nyonya (female). They are also known as ‘Straits-born Chinese’ or ‘Peranakans’. The Straits Chinese were of noble descent and adopted much of the Malay culture as their own. Elderly Chinese ladies were very conservative and would peek through the holes in the fancy carved timber to see who was in the room where the master of the house conducted his business affairs.  Above: Jee HoThe Chinese signboard above the main door way is called a Jee Ho. Above: Baba Nyonya EntranceAs we walked through the middle door (see in photo above), we learnt that the present owner who is the grandson (or the great grandson?) of the original owner had turned his family home into a museum some years ago and was about 70 or 80 years old, and though he might be "old" his brain is as sharp as a tack. The Chinese man who originally bought the house, bought one house first, then the second then the third and turned them into one house. Originally the entrance was the door of the house to the right but that has now been locked and the middle house has the entrance.  Above: The First Lady of the HouseAfter walking in, we moved to the room on the right which is where business was conducted. Chinese ladies never took part in this and the wives of the business men sat in another room and played card games. The table had drink holders which could be pulled out from the table to hold cups/glasses. They must have been very bored playing cards and eating sweetmeats. A far different lifestyle than today.Moving back into the centre and walking towards the back is a very large area with a sunken tiled area. [...]



114. Water Wheels and Bandir Hilir

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 19:21:00 +0000

 Above: Palm Above: People's Museum TriptychQuite a handsome building - yes? I smiled when I saw it was the People's Museum and also the Museum of Enduring Beauty. Museum of Enduring Beauty? Now what, I wondered. could that be? Beautiful ladies with smiling faces of incredible beauty dressed in soft silks, their dark hair flowing loosely? Or make-up and hair products? This, I decided, needed some investigation. So - to work. The Museum of Enduring BeautyThe Museum of Enduring Beauty which was opened in 1996, is to create awareness of the different viewpoints held by different cultures and different periods of time on what constitutes "beauty". It is also to display exhibits to show how different cultures worldwide interpret "beauty". The exhibition ranges from very early periods in human history to the modern era. The pictures and other exhibits reveal the differing concepts of "beauty" as practised by different cultures. Some of the exhibits reveal the pain and agony some people would have to endure to achieve the concept of beauty as visualised by their community and culture.Among the different concepts of beauty exhibited are skin tattooing, stretching lips by the insertion of round discs, moulding heads into oval shapes and restricting the growth of feet. Ouch! Sounds painful. Tattoos, yes well, people get tattooed today, and bound feet I know was practised in China until not all that long ago. (How those poor women ever walked with their little stubs of feet I'll never know) But ladies with brass rings around their necks to elongate them and stretched ear lobes with plates.You know something? When I look in the mirror, I don't think I look to bad after all. Melaka Water Wheel Above: Water WheelThe Malacca River is the site that witnessed the birth of the Malacca port during the Malacca Sultanate. It serves as an international port for both the East and the West including South East Asia, China, India and Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries.It was recorded that as many as 84 languages and dialects were spoken in Malacca with four harbourmasters responsible for the welfare of the foreign traders. AT its peak, some 2,000 trading ships docked at the ancient port. Traders from the lands of Arab, Persia, India, China Ryukyu, Philippines and Thailand gathered at the port owing to its natural strategic location. The port was located at the narrowest point of the Straits of Malacca, which was meeting point for the changing monsoon trade winds while offering protection from the typhoons from Sumatra. The Malacca River once again witnesses history being created with the construction of the 13 metre tall water wheel of the Malacca Sultanate. The water wheel usually located in fast moving waters, was used to channel water for the large number of traders. Such water wheel technology can be found in Hama, Syria, China, India and Europe. The construction of the replica Water Wheel of the Malacca Sultanate represents the greatness of Malacca and its technological feat for tourists to view up close. The turning of the water wheel symbolises the wheel of life and evolution of man's civilisation. Its continuous revolution represents the quest for discovery of knowledge with history to be viewed as a guide and lesson for all times.  Above: Water Wheel infoThe Malacca FortThe Malacca Fort, built in the 15th century, was a prominent landmark during the Malacca Sultanate. This was where the administrative complex and royal residences were located. The complex, guarded by armed warriors, also housed the palace, mosque and sentry towers. Laterite red stone was the main material available then and used to build and integrate the buildings in the complex. The bulk of the building material was sourced from Pulau Lupeh, Pulau Melaka, Tanjung Kling, Sebatu and Bukit Piatu. Above: Malacca FortMalacca was subject to change with each successive colonial [...]



113. The Forbidden Garden of the Palace of the Malay Sultanate of Melaka

Sun, 11 Nov 2012 00:33:00 +0000

About the Forbidden GardenThe Palace of the Malay Sultanate of Melaka was constructed together with a botanical garden known as the Forbidden Garden. The Forbidden Garden has the same concept of the play area of the royal princesses during the era of the Malacca Sultanate. Although, it has never been clearly recorded that the garden actually existed at the palace, by comparison with other palaces of the Malay world, it can be visualised that such a garden did exist in Malacca too.As was related by a Chinese traveller, there were various types of trees that grew luxuriantly. In the said garden various types of vegetation are grown, including flowering plants such as jasmine, frangipani, "Kenanga", (fragrant greenish yellow flower), as well as herbal plants such as lemon grass 'Tongkat Ali' and others. Above: Garden collageThere were waterfalls and little bridges and it was a delightful place to linger. Below are some of the photos I took. I hope you enjoy their simple, yet well planned beauty. Above: Facing the Palace Above: A worker cleans the pathwayNot a leaf out of place - everywhere is beautifully maintained.  Above: Facing away from the Palace Above: The "Avenue"This I have called the "Avenue" because of the long(ish) walk along the stoned path to the monument at the end. There is a commemorative design at the beginning of the walk. (See last photograph) Above: Hidden cornerI really liked the semi-circular shape and sat on the wooden seat there. It was quiet and I remember inhaling the aroma of the flowering plants. Bougainvillea in the front - there's a variegated one on the left, with Juniperus Chinensis Pyramidalis behind (I have two of these in pots at home, they're prickly) - they are a lovely blue/green colour and smell fragrant on a cool day, Cypress to the left, and a pine in the background. Pines, junipers and cypress all had colour and fragrance.  Above: Dated 15th April 1989On here is written Melaka Bandaraya Bersayarah which translated is English is Malacca City Berseyarah. This commemorative design is at the beginning of the "Avenue". [...]



112. Palace of the Malay Sultanate of Melaka

Sat, 10 Nov 2012 00:24:00 +0000

The Palace was something I really, really wanted to see. Silly me, I thought it was the actual palace where the sultans lived. It wasn't till I got here that I found out it's a replica. A brilliantly done replica too. AboutOkay now, it was built in 1984 and is a wooden replica of Sultan Mansur Shah's palace, he's the Sultan who ruled Melaka from 1456 to 1477. This building is built of only two types of hardwood, 'chengal' and 'rasak', and the roof is made of 'belian' wood. And ... no nails were used in the construction of the building, only wooden pegs. That's amazing. To think that they built this huge palace and only used wooden pegs. Wow! Bet there wouldn't be too many able to do that! The museum cost the Malaccan government RM2.5million to build and was officially opened to the public on 17th July, 1986 by Malaysia's Prime Minister Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. There's over 1,350 items including prints, photographs, drawings, and artefacts representing the history and cultural heritage of the Malay Sultanate of Malacca and the various communities who came to settle here during that period.The palace has a ground floor (well obviously) and two upper floors and is divided into eight chambers and three galleries including chambers of the Royal band, weaponry, decorative arts, emissaries and gifts, a recreation hall, an audience hall and an Islamic hall. IN some of the galleries, you learn about the famous clash between the legendary warriors Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat, there's these beautiful traditional costumes and the pièce de résistance - the royal bedchamber! There are a lot of exhibits - prints and photographs of the Malacca Sultanate, a model of the Sultan Mansur Shah Palace (I took a photo of that), Malay weapons, Malay traditional wedding dress, jewellery and brass ware. I remember reading about those warriors and there were models of them but my camera isn't all that good when I take indoor shots and the light is poor, so I restricted myself to taking just a few photos which I knew would come out alright.  Above: Entrance gateYou walk through this gate, the entrance fee is 2 ringgit and you get given a plastic bag for your shoes. You aren't allowed to wear shoes when you go inside (the building). I can understand that, because if you have hundreds of people all going through, the floor would get damaged. From here it's just a short walk to the palace itself. Above: Palace of the Malay Sultanate of MalaccaI just adore the steep roof and gables - not only are they appealing to look at, the steepness aids in deflecting heat and helps in keeping the indoors cool. Above: Front entranceAt the top of the stairs is a wooden verandah and these two fearsome warriors standing guard. I wouldn't like to upset them - those spears look awfully sharp! You can see the beautiful detail surrounding the doorway - hand crafted designs, fancy gold leaf surround the entrance. It truly is a work of at. I wonder how many hours and how many artisans it took to create this?  Above: Scale modelFor this photo, I have cropped it and chosen a wide width to better show the model. There is a sign in front with information, but unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of it. Above: BoardgameThese two young lasses are playing a game, the name of which I do not know. It obviously isn't draughts, don't think it's chess (not that I know how to play chess). If any of you reading this know the name of the game, could you please leave a comment and let me know? It'd be really good to find out what it's called and much appreciated. (Thanks) Above: Audience HallThis is what is known as a diorama which is a three-dimensional full-size or miniature model. It shows the audience hall of the Sultan. In Malay, this hall is called Balairong Ser. Above: Explanation of hallAs you can see, I've taken a p[...]



111. Dataran Pahlawan Heroes Square

Thu, 08 Nov 2012 16:33:00 +0000

Dataran Pahlawan Mega Mall is in the Bandar Hilir area, facing Jalan Merdeka (South Gate) at the front and Jalan Kota at the back (North Gate). Dataran is the bahasa word for square and Pahlawan means heroes, therefore the name translates as Heroes Square.It's built on the actual battle ground of the war-time days and was then turned into a field in front of the A'Famosa fort. There's an interesting "time-capsule" corner with a fountain and wall sculptures depicting Malacca's history. I read somewhere that it's the biggest mall in Southern Malaysia.I didn't come here to shop, it was a matter of life or death - literally. It was a race against time to find the ladies loo. Well, what do you expect, after drinking all that water. That's the only downside to keeping one's fluids up - what goes in must come out! (It's worse sitting in a tuk-tuk travelling over a bumpy road full of potholes. Believe me I know what I'm talking about)☺ Above: Former bullock wagonThis cute wagon was outside and to the right of where I entered Dataran Pahlawan - you can see the steps I went up to the left of the wagon. Above: Mosaic stepsI was really taken with these steps. The design was great and the colours bright and cheerful. Looks like a great deal of work has gone into creating this mosaic by some very talented people. Alas, I haven't been able to find out any information about them. I'd love to know whose idea it was and who created them.  Above: Dataran Pahlawan - Dome and Sculpture WallSculpture wall at the fountain. The Fountain Wall and Sculpture tell Malacca's history from the time of Parameswara to Tunku Abdul Rahman.  Above: FountainRelaxing at the fountain - it's a great place to cool down. Above: DomeThe red section looks like an upturned Lotus flower and if you enlarge the picture, you can see the detail - it isn't just red, it has a raised pattern with little bits of black and red. Each "petal" is fluted with three wavy lines running down. Atop this are nine metal curved supports holding a light. It's quite a brilliant design. Next I went and had lunch, but for the sake of continuity, I've put the two outdoor photos of the history wall which were taken after lunch, here.  Above: History wallIn this section, you can see the Melaka River (there are several boats on the river), surrounded by buildings. There is a palm to the left of the river. The lower frontispiece shows a bridge spanning the width with people crossing over.  Above: History wall - Independence Ceremony at Merdeka Stadium, August 31, 1957 There are nine seated and two standing gents. The other men standing are perhaps servants - they are holding large umbrellas over the heads of those seated. The seated gentleman fifth from the right is in army uniform and has a sword - the Queen’s representative, the Duke of Gloucester. The figure to his left (Or right when looking at the picture) sports a safari helmet. The other chaps are in traditional costume. The main standing figure has his right hand raised and wears glasses. I'm guessing he is Tunku Abdul Rahman. The rest of the sculpture is filled with hundreds of people watching the proceedings. Always check your workI wanted to make sure that what I had written was correct, so did a bit of searching on the computer and found the above history wall was depicting what I thought it was - a re-creation of Independence Day, 1957. Below is the photograph I found confirming this. As a result, I have tweaked a bit of the above. (Because I know the answers now). Above: Tunku Abdul Rahmam chanted "Merdeka" (Independence) August 31,1957As you can see, the artwork of the sculpture work is an identical likeness of the photo that bears witness. See it on YoutubeFor those who are interested - I did a search on Youtube and found a video of the [...]



110. Bandar Hilir Walk

Tue, 06 Nov 2012 07:12:00 +0000

Saturday 20th MarchWoke up at 5AM went back to sleep, then woke at 7 (AM). Had breakfast at 8.00AM - scrambled egg, sausage which was a chicken hot dog, small in size, (had I realised how tasty they were, I'd have had them when I was in Georgetown!), half a hash brown, baked beans, sliced tomato and 2 pieces of toast with butter and jam. Tea and coffee.Tried to start a conversation with other guests but not much happened on that front. People (the guests) seemed rather stuffy - like they had a poker up their Khyber Pass! Hmmm. Nuf said. Anyway, sitting at the table, I wrote a list in order of things to see. Dutch cemetery, Cultural Museum (Melaka Sultanate Palace), Port De Santiago (A'Formosa), the People's Museum and the Proclamation of Independence. I managed to find them all, but not in that order. I was so close and hadn't realised it - went the long way round, up, up, up all those ruddy steps to St. Paul's. Found the Memorial by accident. Shopping complex - Dataran Pahlawan, Digital Domain North West. Went to loo (urgent) then had lunch. So readeth my diary. Anyway......Bandar Hilir (Lower City)I set out, camera at hand and bottle of water in tow. Even though it was still earlyish, it was on the humid side so drinking plenty of water is necessary. I came across this lovely park.The park was originally named Taman Merdeka and was officiated by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia after the Declaration of Independence Date of Malaya on his return from London on 20th February, 1956.  Bullock cartIn the early 20th century, bullocks carts were a common site in Malaysian streets - before the advent of the motor car, people used them for travel and for transporting goods. The driver and passengers sat in the front section of the two-wheeled vehicle and goods were placed in the back. These carts had a woven attap roof, and it's thought they were introduced by Indian traders during the Melaka Sultanate.In Malacca, tourists can have a ride in a traditional bullock cart (kereta lembu)for RM10 and covers a distance of one kilometre. The carts hold up to five people. I think it'd be rather fun riding in one of these - it's something that isn't around anymore and being able to experience something of the past is always fun, although it probably wasn't considered "fun" in the old days. What is it about things that are no longer used or around that we love to see them, sit on it, ride in it, dress up in it, walk around it? There's something wistful about it all.Note: The cart is real, the bullock are not! ☺Taman Bunga Merdeka Bandaraya Melaka Above: Independence Park (Taman Bunga Merdeka Bandaraya Melaka)After a bit of hunting around, I find it is called Independence Park in English. I liked the way it was set out and it was a nice find to see the greenery and plants in a city area. Sitting under the trees was restful and being in the shade you feel a little cooler. Out comes the water bottle, I close my eyes and inhale the smell of nature on the breeze. I could sit here forever, it's just so peaceful and relaxing. But - time waits for no man and I, well I am on a schedule, a mission, to see all the things Malacca has to offer, so off I go, strength renewed.  Above: TreesI think the topiary is quite stunning, don't you? I like the way they fit in with their surroundings. Topiary is the art of trimming and shaping trees into an interesting array of shapes and sizes to add an artistic touch. The tops of the trees look a bit like an umbrella. I like them.  Above: Red and gold pillarsThese look like an entrance to a different section of the gardens. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll be able to see how it is laid out and get a more detailed view of the different plantings. I shall pause here for a[...]



109. Heeren House

Mon, 29 Oct 2012 08:57:00 +0000

Accommodation in the Old QuarterHeeren House which is where I stayed, is a quaint building overlooking the river in an excellent location. The room was very clean, bathroom basic but clean and wonderful atmosphere and the rooms are furnished with colonial and Peranakan furniture. I think it was a bit overpriced and the cooked breakfast was not very generous - 1 egg, 2 slices of cooked tomato, 1 small sausage (hot dog) and half a hash brown. Serving half a hash brown (you could see it had been cut in half) was incredibly stingy and considering the price per night, the meal could have been a lot larger. Downstairs room 5 was MYR119 per night but MYR139 for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They shouldn't charge a higher rate, it's high enough already. There are some fine old Dutch houses of 17th century along Heeren Street and Heeren House is about 300 years old and was once an old warehouse, since then it has been a typical Chinese coffee shop, a family home and now a guesthouse.  Above: Heeren House Heeren House is at the beginnin of well-known Heeren Street, once called "Millionaire's Row" or Gentlemen’s Street. This is where the rich families and notables of Malacca lived, and today stands along a street of traditional shop houses whose architectural features are unique to Malacca. Today, like Jonker Street, Heeren Street has also had its named changed - it's now called Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock - although most people still call it Heeren Street.  Above: Heeren House gift shopWhen you walk in the front door, there's a lovely gift shop area with many beautiful items and hand crafts from Malaysia and other countries in the region - Thailand, Laos, Indonesia and India. Most of the stuff is made from natural materials like wood, coconut shell, bamboo and rattan and there are hand woven textile products such as shawls, scarves, table dressings and ethnic wall hangings. They also have some jewellery, silver rings, bracelets from Bali and pearls from Sabah. I longed to buy some of the things on sale but they were outside my price range. That's the problem with travelling on a shoestring - you have to make wise decisions. Ah well, better to forgo stuff you don't really need which will probably just end up sitting in your drawer or wardrobe at home anyway and have the ability to be able to go away on more trips.  Above: Dining roomThis is where breakfast is served. The chiffonier holds cups and saucers and is where the tea and coffee was each morning. Although you were only given one glass of juice, tea and coffee were refillable. It's a nice, airy place to sit while having the first meal of the day. One of the most noticeable things was the absence of fun and laughter. I usually stay in hostels (dorm room) or small guesthouse/hotel where the other guests are the sort who'll sit and have a chat. You know what I mean - a different kind of tourist/traveller. Here there were either families or older people with a staid, conservative mien. They weren't any fun. (Sigh) Now had I stayed at the Discovery Cafe across the river further up, there'd have been plenty of fun and life! Above: Sideboard menuThis was the menu with "house specials" - they had "Hi tea and dessert" although really it's just tea and cake (high tea consists of tea or coffee and a selection of sandwiches, scones, petite fours, and small cakes) - This is High Tea.Everything was 7 ringgit - one scone with jam and cream, chocolate brownie and cream, apple crumble and custard, carrot cake, assorted fresh fruits. The fancy coffees were between 5 and 6.50 ringgit.  Above: Stairwell and Office areaThis is the section behind the chiffonier. See the desk in the bottom right hand corner at the front? That's the desk where Bernard or Liz sat. Bernard [...]



108. Jonker Street

Wed, 24 Oct 2012 15:33:00 +0000

New Found FriendsWhen I was at St. Paul's I met an English lady called Joanne and she said she was travelling with two people whom she'd met. We arranged to meet in half an hour and she brought her friends, Isa who was 22 from Hong Kong and Andanna who was Spanish and 30. We all went to the night market in Jonker Street and that first night in Malacca was a night of magic, fun and friendship. I remember we went to this bar in a street off Jonker Street (can't remember the name and my camera doesn't take good photos at night. Unless I can rest it on something like a table or carry a tripod - one of those ones that are 4 foot tall and weigh a ton - most of my night photos come out terribly blurry and very dark. Editing doesn't help - all it does is lighten it and have coloured dots/spots everywhere.)The residential heart of Old MalaccaIs Jonker Street - once famous for its antique shops, now is filled with clothing shops, craft shops, eating places, antiques and quirky little spots. But its real charm is at night - the Jonker Street nightmarket is famous and anyone who visits Malacca, simply must come here. For at night, the street comes alive with the sound of music and a hubbub of contained excitement. Stalls line the street - the street vendors selling their homemade goodies, Portuguese tarts - a little like the English egg custard tarts, only better. Joanne bought 6 of them and they were oh so scrumdiddlyumptious. I fell in love with them and just writing about them brings back the aroma and taste - I can almost taste them on my tongue. Mmm mmm.  Above: Jonker WalkJonker Street, or Jonker Walk - photo taken during daylight hours. Today, Jonker Street has been renamed Jalan Hang Jebat, but people still refer to it as Jonker Street. I should imagine there'd be an outcry if the government took down this (and other) famous signs.  Above: Local street between Jonker & Heeren StreetsYou can see an old Chinese building at the end of the street (Jonker is after all in Chinatown), there's Nancy's Kitchen (I wonder who Nancy was?), Sorvana Spa (just the place for a relaxing massage), the Karabau Rock Bar, stall holders setting up their wares and there's even a satellite dish perched precariously to the red brick wall! Above: D'Arts CafeAh - D'Arts Cafe while I didn't go in here, I thought their sign was excellent - Save water! Drink Beer.Eminently suitable advice if there's a drought! Above: Jonker Street night marketHere is where the fun begins - Joanne, Isa, Andanna and I worked our way through the crowds, stopping here to look at this, and there to look at that. And ay look - over there, those cute little thingies; so many things to see, so much to experience. We finished off the Portuguese tarts and decided to go for a drink. Remember that bar I spoke of? Yes, well we turned up a street on the left hand side and found this rather cute place. I remember I had sour plum and lime juice (3.50MYR) and coffee (disgusting) 4.00MYR. There was ice in the drink Andanna ordered the same sans ice (we swapped). Asked for an ashtray - it came with ice in it. We all laughed our heads off. We just couldn't get over an ashtray "with ice"!!!OH we did have fun - we sat and talked about our adventures, where we'd been, where we were going next. Alas my friends were leaving the next day. Andanna told me here was flying to Australia (Perth the capital city of WA) and he had no money, no WHV (working holiday visa) because he couldn't get one, but intended to work "cash in hand." The moon is made of green cheese Above: Smile!See that little round green ball in the sky? Well - that's the moon. The saying "The moon is made of green cheese" comes to mind. (The Proverbs of John Heywood 1546)Jonker Stre[...]



107. Sunset over Malacca

Mon, 22 Oct 2012 17:11:00 +0000

I love watching the sunset and each one is more beautiful than the last. It brings with it a calmness and serenity that cannot be equaled.

The best place to see the sunset is at the top of St. Paul's Hill. You get a magnificent view and the colours are just superb.




Sunsets are so beautiful that they almost seem as if we were looking through the gates of Heaven. ~ John Lubbock



106. Malacca Walking Map and Town Map

Mon, 22 Oct 2012 06:00:00 +0000


Above: Malacca Walking Map





Above: Malacca Town Map

PLACES OF INTEREST
1. Stadthuys, 2. Christ Church, 3. St. Francis Xavier's Church, 4. St. Paul's Church
5. A'Famosa, 6. Malacca Sultanate Palace, 7. Dutch Graveyard, 8. Independece Memorial
9. Jonker Street, 10. Nyona & Baba Heritage, 11. Hang Kasturi Mausoleum
12. Kampung Hulu Mosque, 13. Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, 14. Kampung Kling Mosque
15. Sri Poyatha Temple, 16. Hang Jebat Mausoleum, 17. Hang Li Poh's well
18. Sam Poh Kong Temple, 19. Bukit China Hill, 20. St. Peter's Church

IMPORTANT PLACES
A. State Development Corp., B. Toursit Information Centre, C. Immigration Department
D. Central Police Station, E. Express Bus Terminal, F. Bus Terminal
G. Malacca Government office, H. Public Library, I. Telecoms Department
J. Customs Department, K. Tourist Police Station, L. Mahkota Parade







105. Melaka Walking Tour

Mon, 22 Oct 2012 05:49:00 +0000

How Long and What To SeeI stayed here for three nights. The "best" time to stay in Malacca is Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the Jonker Street night markets are held then and are still going on until midnight or so. The market closes earlier on a Sunday night. I tend to disagree with going to Malacca for a day trip. When I was planning my itinerary, I'd originally planned on doing a day trip (public buses) or a day tour. Several people had advised me if you see Penang you don't really need to go to Malacca as they're pretty much the same. They were wrong. I found that Malacca was nothing like Penang - it was completely different. A friend stayed there recently and said two nights would be best. (I had three nights, it was the end of my trip and caught the bus straight to LCCT on the Monday morning). I arrived there around 4.30pm, Friday, went to Christ Church, Stadthuys, and the area around there. If you go to St. Paul's Church you get a magnificant view of the sunset (I found this out by accident - it's the best place to watch the sunset)Next day saw me seeing the other "sights" on that side - the Malacca Sultanate Palace (cultural museum) is a replica of Sultan Mansur Shah's palace, the famous Sultan who ruled Malacca from 1456 -1477 and is awesome - you need at least an hour there. Cost is MYR2 and they give you a plastic bag for your shoes. Most of the next day was spent in Chinatown and seeing the "attractions" there.My Walking TourArmed with a map, lots of scribbled notes which I couldn't read (I'm a shocking writer - I'd never win a prize for Penmanship!) and a bottle of water, I set out on my tour to discover the delights of old Malacca. From my accommodation (Heeren House in Heeren Street), I started out with Jonker Walk. Above: Jonker WalkIf you enlarge the photo, you can see Heeren House at the end - it has a red and white striped roof. Luckily for me, the street was pretty empty at this time so I was able to get a clear, unimpeded view. Located in the heart of Old Malacca just west of the Malacca River, Jonker Street comes alive at night.  Above: Malacca River CruiseIt is necessary to cross over the river and as I crossed, this river boat cruise went past. Dutch SquareI was so excited to actually be here - I've seen many photos of this area and was like a big kid in a toy shop! It was so thrilling to see these beautiful old buildings with their red brickwork and there were people everywhere milling about. Sometimes it was difficult to take a photo without everybody and his maiden aunt in the picture. But perseverance is the name of the game and the results are below.  Above: Dutch SquareWhoever is Lord in Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice. (Duarte Barbosa, 16th century writer and trader). Malacca's famous Dutch Square is in the centre of the city. Having a wonderful display of many unique Dutch mansonry and architectural skills, Dutch Square is famous for its red-painted buildings and is also known as the "Red Square." Above: Dutch SquareMajor structures in / surrounding the Dutch Sqaure include Christ Church Melaka, Studhuys, and the Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower. This is a close up of an animal sculpture - rather pretty don't you think? Above: Tang Beng Swee Clock TowerThe Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower outside the Stadthuys was given to the people of Malacca in 1886 by Mr Tan Jiak Kim to fulfil the wishes of his father, Tan Beng Swee, who was a third generation of a Chinese philantrophic millionaire family. Tan Beng Swee, was the son of Tan Kim Seng who donated both the bridge adjacent to the clocktower and land for the Chinese cemetery. The original clock was imported from[...]



104. Malacca

Sun, 21 Oct 2012 11:07:00 +0000

Arrival in Malacca
Having left the town of Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands early in the morning, we arrived in Kuala Lumpur around 1.00PM - it was hot, humid and smelly. (All those buses emitting exdaust fumes). A far cry from the Highlands. The bus to Melaka left at 1.30PM and arrived at 4.00PM. I caught a taxi from Melaka Sentral for the final leg. After checking into my accommodation, I did a "walking tour."

About Malacca
Like Georgetown in Penang, Malacca is also included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites under the category “Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca.” (Malacca city centre was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 July 2008.) Some five hundred years ago, both Georgetown and Malacca were major trading ports which linked the east with the west and the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, and European influences still survives to this day - you can see this in the beautiful colonial buildings and architecture.

While Georgetown symbolises the British-colonial era from the late 18th century, Malacca represents the characteristics of the Dutch and Portuguese eras from the 15th-century Malay Sultanate. Known for its historical prominence and cultural appeal, Malacca of the 16th century was the foremost maritime trading centre in the region and was so desirously sought after by the European powers that is was successively ruled by the Portuguese (1511 - 1641), the Dutch (1641 - 1824), and British until the Federation of Malaysia was formed on 31st August, 1957 when it gained independence.


What's In a Name ~ Malacca or Melaka?
Malacca is the name I have always known (the city is commonly known as Malacca in English) - Melaka is the Malay name, and was known as Malaqua to the Europeans in the 1500's. An English woman married to a Malaysian man for many years whom I met in Malacca, to my question, "Which is correct - Malacca or Melaka?", replied that when she first came to live there it was known as Malacca and the Malaysian government changed it to Melaka because "it sounded more Malaysian" but she disagrees with this and still spells it Malacca.

When researching online, I have found that the place is spelled as "Malacca" more often than as "Melaka" - even in Wikipedia it is referred to as "Malacca." Which is correct or more correct? I should think it would depend on your point of view wouldn't it? There will be those who will always refer to this place as Malacca just as there are no doubt those who refer to it as Melaka. To satisfy both camps, under "labels" in the sidebar, I have listed it as Malacca/Melaka.









103. Goodbye to the Cameron Highlands

Fri, 19 Oct 2012 21:36:00 +0000

We arrived back in Tanah Rata after visiting the tea plantation and I went straight into town to ask (again) for a refund. Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!You may recall the trouble I had in getting a refund, I wrote about it here (post 96). Well, the so called boss "Karen" still wasn't there (why am I not surprised?) and some rude bloke - stupid git, lied. He said, "According to the International Law for tourists when you have paid there is no refund." What a load of bulltish - the idiot even argued there was such a law. Had he said he spoke with his boss, but they don't refund, it would have at least been honest. The giving of refunds is up to the owner/boss - were they concerned about the quality and good name they'd refund as a good PR policy. Above: Kangs HotelMy advice - stay away from them. If I'm lucky enough to return to Malaysia, I wouldn't stay with Kangs - I wouldn't trust them with a ten foot barge pole. They have two places - the hotel which is in the main street and the lodge which is in a side street. There are a lot nicer places to stay which are clean. Time for CoffeeI fortified myself with a cappuccino from Starbucks (personally I loathe Starbucks and don't buy my coffee from them back home ever, but here in Malaysia, it's the only place you can get a cappuccino) and sat outside sipping it. At 10 MYR it's not really cheap - about the same price as back home, but hey! I'm not complaining.After this I walked back to the Inn and had tea. Sitting outside at the outdoor tables and chairs, I met a very interesting fellow called Greg, a Canadian who collects (and works with) butterflies. He did have lots of interesting tales about the CIA ("Central Idiots Agency"), Bush, 911 etc. Ordered tea at 8.00 - I still haven't had a shower, meant to have one about 5 while it was still warm. Must have one after dinner and pack my suitcase. Dinner was fried noodles with egg and vegetables. And "French fries". The noodles looked and tasted like 2 minute noodles - disappointing really - the "French fries" were frozen crinkle cut chips. I wished I hadn't ordered either - should have gone for the rice. Total cost 9.50 MYR. Ganesh, the owner said go to Room 7 to order (the two girls working sleep there) - they didn't look too pleased - one was in pj's, the other just had a towel wrapped around her. But the menu list says 1PM to 9PM. Perhaps they couldn't tell the time or their watches were fast. It's funny what comes back to you when you start reading what you'd written two years ago isn't it? If I hadn't written all this down, I never would have been making this post like this that's for sure. So the moral is - Write it Down! Write it Down! Above: Datura - Angels TrumpetI took this photo that evening while sitting outside my room. They are a most beautiful flower with velvety looking petals and large, shiny dark green leaves but beware - for all their beauty, they are deadly. Along with Deadly Nightshade, Mandrake and Henbane, Datura belongs to the classic "witches' weeds." Most parts of the plants contain toxic hallucinogens, and datura has a long history of use for causing delirious states and death. It was well known as an essential ingredient of love potions and witches' brews! Above: One very big mossie!And there was this humungous mosquito - she looks like a bomber getting ready for attack! I remember when I saw it, thinking of the Australian song "Little Aussie Mossie" - we have songs about just about anything and this one is one of my favourites. (The song, not the mossie)There's a little Ausse mossie in her little Ausse cossie,And she's lookin' for [...]



102. Sungei Palas Tea Plantation

Fri, 29 Apr 2011 14:31:00 +0000

Above: Billy GoatWe passed a few goats on the way to our next stop. This fellow was munching away on the grass on a hill. Above: Three Billy Goats GruffA little further on were these kids. The same family perhaps? Above: InformationAt an altitude of 1500 metres above sea-level and covering around 235 hectares, the Sungei Palas tea factory is one of the most popular attractions with tourists and visitors. The air is clean and fresh and the grounds extensive.Did you know?Tea used to be plucked by hand as the workers move laboriously through the long rows of low tea bushes. Today, the most common plucking method used is the two-man hand-held machine which is assisted by winches. These machines can harvest up to 300 kgs of green leaf per man per day, 10 times more than traditional hand plucking.On the steepest slopes where access is limited, shears are used and can bring in about 120kgs per man per day. After the harvest day is over, the leaf is first checked for quality, packed into sacks and weighed before being transported to the factory for processing. The Manufacturing Process of TeaWe were taken on a tour of the factory and our guide explained the fascinating details of tea - from plant to packed in boxes for sale. HarvestingTea bushes are harvested approximately every three weeks. The leaves are picked in the morning and immediately transported to the factory. Tea leaves are plucked only after two years from planting. Once the plant is mature, tea is plucked approximately every three weeks. The plucked leaves are checked for quality and are then transferred to the factory where they go through five main processing stages. Each stage brings out the distinctive fragrance and aroma from the tea leaves.WitheringDuring this first step, the green leaf is withered to reduce moisture and allow natural chemical reactions to take place by putting them in troughs or bins with warm dry air running through them for about 12 to 20 hours. This is usually done overnight.RollingThe withered leaves are rolled to crush the leaf cells and process them into smaller particles. It also exposes the cells to oxygen. The rollers used at the factory date back to 1935.FermentationAlso known as oxidation, fermentation is the natural chemical process in which enzymes in the leaf are exposed to oxygen. This is the stage that determines the flavour, aroma and colour of the tea. The leaves are spread onto trays and the humidity, temperature and timing are carefully controlled. After fermentation, the tea leaves change from green to copper. This process takes from two to three hours. Above: Drying the leaves DryingDrying stops the fermentation process and reduces the moisture in the leaf to 3%. The fermented leaf is fed into machines through which blasts of hot air heated to almost 120º Celsius is passed through the leaves. The tea leaf then emerges into the familiar crisp black curled form we see and is known as "made tea." The process is completed in around 10 - 20 minutes. The furnace uses wood from the rubber trees to produce the hot air. SortingAfter drying, the "made tea" is graded according to size. This is done by passing the leaves through several sieves known as vibroscreens. The fibres, stalks and off-grades are removed during this stage and each grade of tea has its own flavour, characteristics and density. Tea TastingTea tasting is a vital and essential part of the tea making process and is very specialised and requires years of training - like a wine taster. The taster examines each sample of dry tea leaves for texture, colour, amount of twis[...]



101. Mossy Forest

Sat, 23 Apr 2011 16:32:00 +0000

Above: Ginger plantAfter seeing Mt. Brinchang, we walked a short way down the hill and entered the mossy forest on the left which is approx. 2,000 metres above sea level. This little ginger plant Above: Nick, our guideNick was very good at showing us leaves and plants and explaining what their use was. Alas, I misremember the name of many, including this one, other than it is some sort of palm. Above: Pitcher plant (Nepenthes alba)One of the many pitcher plants. These plants live off insects in the forest attracting them in with a sweet nectar. Above: Pitcher plant (Tolong Jangan Sentuh)Once the insect is trapped then it's Kbang! - the lid (trap) closes shut and its prey is caught. More information about these plants can be found here. Above: Fatimah's plant - (Labisia Pumila)In Malaysia, Labisia pumila is popularly known locally as Selusuh Fatimah Labisia pumila (Myrsinaceae), popularly known as "Kacip Fatimah", has been used by many generation of the Malay women to induce and facilitate childbirth as well as a post-partum medicine Kacip Fatimah has been traditionally used by the Malay women for many generations in childbirth in inducing and eases delivery, as a post partum medication to help contract the birth channel, to regain body strength, regulate menstrual cycle and avoid painful or difficult menstration, and to alleviate menopausal symptoms. The plant is traditionally boiled and the water extraction is taken as a drink. Other traditional uses include treating dysentery, rheumatism, and gennoehoea. It is also used as antiflatulence by helping to drive away and prevent the formation of gas. The plant will also help to firm and tone the abdominal muscles. Scientific studies have established that the medicinal properties and biological activities of Kacip Fatimah are due to the presence of phyto-estrogen (plant estrogen) that is naturally found in the plant. Above: Boundary marker Pahang/PerakIt was fun to stand here with a foot on both sides of the border. Above: Gazebo?This charming little gazebo was down the hill a bit after we exited the forest.[...]



100. Mt. Brinchang

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 10:56:00 +0000

I had booked a tour the night before and had wanted to do a full day tour which incorporated a tea plantation, Mt. Brinchang, forest walk and an Orang Asli village. Cameronian Inn book tours so I spoke with Ganesh (the owner) saying I'd like to book the full day tour with Cameron Secrets. He informed me that the full day tours weren't running because it was school holidays and said to book a half day tour instead, so I did, making it clear which tour company I wanted. A tour by any other name?Anyway, the next morning, waiting outside for the CS van, another van pulled up, the driver went inside and came out with a couple of peoiple. I was surprised to see he was still looking for someone. He spoke with me and I told him I was waiting for the Cameron Secrets people. Time marched on and it turned out that Ganesh had booked me with this tour company. I was not best pleased and was rather annoyed - turned out they were kind of friends. And I found out later that the full day tour going to the Orang Asli Village was running because I met some people who were doing that. I still enjoyed the tour anyway but the point was it wasn't the one I had asked for. My advice - if booking a tour through your accommodation, make sure it is the one you want.Below is a map showing the places we went to. Above: Map of where we wentWe started out, picked up a few more people and from memory there was around 10 or 12 of us all told. Nick, our tour guide said we would be going to Mt. Brinchang but as we drove along, he said we'd go to the insect farm first instead of last as the day was a little cloudy still and you get a much better view from the summit when it's sunny. Above: Brinchang NurseryThe entry fee for the insect farm was not included and I had no intention of paying to see a bunch of bugs and insects. Yewk! Definitely not my scene - animals and birds alright but creepy crawlies - no. So I took myself off for a look around. There weren't really that many shops but I espied a nursery across the road with some lovely plants and flowers.They also had a strawberry farm attached - pick your own. This was happiness indeed. I just love fresh strawberries and spent a very pleasant time pottering around. Came out with strawberries and three small packets of lollies to give to the kiddies back home.I tried to buy a cup of coffee from the place next to the insect farm and after over-coming the language barrier we did alright. Coffee wasn't bad either.☺ Above: Tea plantationsThe others came back and we piled into the van once more and were off. As we climbed higher round and round a very winding road, the rolling hills were covered with tea plants - it seemed everywhere you looked were tea plantations. Mt. BrinchangMt. Brinchang (Gunung Brinchang in Malay), 2032 metres above sea level, is the highest mountain in the Cameron Highlands and is on the Perak-Pahang border. The road leading to the summit of this mountain is also the highest road in Peninsular Malaysia. Above: Lookout Tower Mt. BrinchangThe lookout tower which is 15 metres high, offers breathtaking views of the Titiwangsa Ranges from the summit. We all took turns climbing up the steps (carefully) to the top and our hair blew in all directions - it was very windy and a bit cool. Climbing up them there steps - they're quite steep, so watch your knees! - there wasn't room for everyone at the same time, and those standing at the top were buffeted by the wind. Great views though. Above: From the Lookout TowerA panoramic view of the peak of Mt. Brinchan[...]



99. Hiking Chart

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 13:41:00 +0000

There are a number of walks and hikes to do around Tanah Rata. Below is a map showing the different trails.


Above: Walks & Hikes Map



98. Tanah Rata Walk

Thu, 27 Jan 2011 15:51:00 +0000

About Tanah RataTanah Rata is the major town in the Cameron Highlands, with Brinchang to the north and Ringlet to the south. It is a lovely town for strolling around down the main street with quaint shops on either side and lots of lively action filled with tourists and locals alike. The best thing about this place is the cool mountain air - I felt just like I was back in Melbourne! The air is fresh and clear and there's no humidity like the rest of Malaysia. There are still old buildings around which haven't yet been torn down by the Malaysian government in the name of progress.Out and aboutAs the bus arrived around noon and given the kerfuffle of before (see #96 Kang Traveller's Lodge - Warning) it was well past my lunch time and with rumbling tummy I set off to investigate the town and find somewhere to eat. Above: ButterflySpotted this poor butterfly on the ground. As you can see, its right wing is damaged and it was having difficulty flying so I gently picked it up and palced it on the grass. Above: The Dreaded DurianAh here at last were the durians I had heard so much about. And no, I wasn't game to try one. Above: Street CafesWalking further down the street, this is the high side btw - the steps are raised and as I walked along it was up, walk, down, walk, up, walk etc. The whole side is raised it really was quite pretty. The other side of the street is the "low" side. Above: The "low" side of the streetFor some reason I didn't find this side as interesting as the high side. Perhaps it had something to do with light and dark - the high side was light filled.I had lunch (not in the main street) at a place called Nonga Fern, or it could be Nonga Ferm (can't read my own writing), the meal was so-so, coffee awful and the cup very dirty with a big chip. This is from my notes of that day. I ate ouside the cafe/restaurant at their tables and chairs and spent a very pleasant half hour or so writing in my travel diary. Above: Food stallsGoing back up the way I had come there are many food and market type stalls here. I also noticed quite a number of white plastic tables and chairs and a lot of people were eating - there were several families gathered around and plenty of cooking going on too. Above: S K Convent Primary SchoolThis beautiful old building was built in the 1930's and is sited on a hillside overlooking the township of Tanah Rata. The Convent Primary School, (or Sekolah Kebangsaan Convent (SK Convent) is one of the oldest buildings in Tanah Rata and has lovely elegant lines. It was once used as a British hospital (as were a number of the old buildings here) as this was where people came to escape the heat and for those who were recovering from malaria. It became a fully-fledged Roman Catholic school in 1971. Above: Funky foneI thought the public telephones here were cute - much nicer than ours back home. Above: Town ClockFurther down (think it was south but can't be sure as one's sense of direction gets a little hay wire) is the town clock which is situated in the Botanic Gardens which are on the right hand side of the main street. I've not been able to find any information about the clock so don't know when it was built. The time on the clock is wrong btw. Above: Botanic Gardens, Tanah RataThe gardens were were a lovely surprise and the flowers! Beautiful, bold, bright colours and the layout was well thought out. I spotted several seats where you could sit in the shade and the paths were clean and well kept. Above: B[...]



97. Cameronian Inn

Sun, 16 Jan 2011 06:20:00 +0000

We arrived back at Cameronian Inn which didn't take very long at all. Above: Cameronian InnThe Inn is in Mentigi Utama Street/Road and to get into the township, you just turn right, walk down a few minutes and turn left at Camelia Street and you come to the main road. The Tourist Info/Bus Station is sort of in the centre of the road. Above: Front entranceWhen you walk through the front door, the dining area is to your right. There is self service tea and coffee available - but it's not free. Tea is 1.20 ringgit and coffee 1.60. They do have fresh milk which is good. You can also order a cup of tea or coffee but the price is higher. They work on the honour system here - you make your tea/coffee and write it on a piece of paper - name, room no, date, item and price and but it in the basket. There were also some delicious looking home made shortbread as well. Above: Room 21This was my room, as I said it was very basic but is was also clean. It was quiet here and when you went out the door there was a huge undercover area with pot plants and other paraphernalia lying around and you just went in the back door to enter in. The shower had a good supply of hot water and there were fresh towels on the bed. Above: Sitting roomThis was the sitting room which I only discovered not long before I left. Don't know how often it gets used. Above: Cameronian Inn gardensThis section is at right angles from the front door and there was a family with three or four children staying here. Above: AlfrescoThis is in the "front yard" of the place.[...]



96. Kang Traveller's Lodge - Warning

Fri, 14 Jan 2011 09:02:00 +0000

I had pre-booked two nights accommodation at Kang Traveller's Lodge (formerly Daniel's Lodge). The bus dropped me off in the main street, I asked directions and walked up the hilly slope. From the street, the outside looks like an old house with an overgrown garden. On entering, I was shocked to meet the man in charge - he was naked except for a pair of jeans - bare chested and bare foot. I should have realised then and turned tail. Alas, stupidly I didn't. (Yes, we all know things with hindsight don't we?)Dirty and disgustingThe room which was "reserved" - there were two he said, had no bathroom facilities. Walking through the place there were open drains/sewers for the water and the whole place looked (and smelt) disgusting. The toilets were dirty and disgusting - a hole in the ground, a bucket and not much else. Plenty of water all over the floors though. The first room he showed me was terrible, never in my life had I seen such a hovel. I told him no, was there anything else? He took me outside and we turned right (from the street, the room is on the left) there were a couple of rooms made of flimsy panelboard. He opened the door and my heart sank - the room stank, the window didn't close properly, there was a one inch gap under the door, there was barely enough room to walk around the bed and there was no power point. As this was all there was and not having been in a situation like this before, I took it. Mildew on the beddingI handed over my credit card and he said no credit card, cash only. Now, had I been smart, I should have said I didn't have any cash on me and would need to go to a bank. Then gone and looked for alternative accommodation. Foolishly I handed over 25 MYR. I went back to the room to unpack and discovered the bedding and mattress were mouldy and had mildew on them.This was worse than I thought. I went and found the tourist information counter (It's where the buses pick you up) and explained what had happened and asked the lady could she recommend a place. She said "We never recommend Kang to anybody, it is very dirty and disgusting." They were her words. She suggested Cameronian Inn - 40 MYR for single room with share toilet, 65 MYR for single room with private toilet/shower. I chose the private one. I was given Room 21, you have to go outside out the back door which is all under cover, the room was on the right. Very basic, but clean. Ran my fingers along the bedside table - no dust. The owner Ganesh had his driver come and drive me back to Kangs to get my suitcase. No refundThe bare chested fellow looked at me and I apologised and said I wasn't going to be staying here, the bed had mildew etc. Never have I seen a face change so quickly. I wondered later if this had happened before. Anyway, we collected my suitcase and I asked politely for my money back. No he snarled, no refund. Why asks I? Because it has already gone through. I knew he was lying - there was no computer, just a piece of paper. Look I reasoned, my suitcase was only here for less than half and hour etc. but no salada. Nothing doing. You want refund - you go see boss. I did try the "boss" who is at their hotel in the main street. The fellow there was even ruder and the "boss lady" was always conveniently "in Ipoh."[...]