Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tree Top Walk @ Sungai Sedim

Vertigo much? The walkway spans 925m for a complete rectangular clock-wise loop which is some 30m above river level. Admission is RM10 per adult (2014).

Located within Gunung Inas Forest Reserve, this attraction is located some 30km from Kulim @ N5° 24.799' E100° 46.972'. For weekenders this place is packed with picknickers as they pitch their mats along the crystal clear and icy cold waters of Sungai Sedim.

This POI is already in our maps since time immemorial.

If this place is packed, there is the other alternative of Lubok Jong - also along the same river further downstream.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Snub for the Ipad Generation

Anyone recall your wild carefree days as a boy or girl growing up in the days when there were no PCs, Ipads and the internet?  For these boys, those days still exist ..

Pandalela would be proud

Just land between the 2 life threatening boulders and you'll be alright

Tahukah di mana anak anak anda berada hari ini?

Head first works too

Wow. An Ipad! Such fun!

Nasi Lemak Bukit Doraemon - Taiping

If you are a Nasi Lemak buff and happen to be in Taiping, you cannot miss this. We have tried Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa, Nasi Lemak Tanglin, Nasi Lemak Makcik .. and this by far beats all of them! And that is no mean feat!

Located at N4° 52.332' E100° 44.792', this stall sells nasi lemak tetek (small packets). A bare bones packet (without the extra dishes) costs RM1.20. You have some 20 odd side dishes to accompany your nasi lemak. More on that later.

The nasi lemak itself.

Wonderful, fragrant and tasty. With your first gingerly spoonful, you know you are on to something fabulous. It is light and flavorful. The sambal is mild. If Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa is known for its hot and sweet sambal, this takes it several notches lower. We were pleasantly surprised that the sambal was very mild yet very delicious. The owner says that the sambal is made that way to cater for the young and old - not too spicy for everyone yet packing maximum punch on the flavor scale.

They do not offer fried anchovies and peanuts on the side as most nasi lemak stations do. Instead, the anchovies come cooked in the sambal. Just the way we like it!

So a spoon of rice with a liberal dash of sambal gives your tastebuds a delightful experience. Truth be told, this stall was really discovering interesting out of nothing - we did not know of its existence prior to this from social media or whatever - and just happened to stumble by this stall by accident. So imagine our surprise when this stall bowled us over with their marvelous nasi lemak.

2 packs with side dishes : daging merah, fried egg, paru goreng, sotong sambal, teh ais and ice water
You have more than 20 side dishes to choose from.

Factoids :
On weekdays this stall serves some 20-30kg of nasi lemak. On weekends, the volume bumps up to 70kg! By 930 am on a weekend, some 50kg would have already been sold.

This stall opens from early morning till noon only. They close 1 day per week - the day varies, usually Mondays. They open on weekends and public holidays.

This is no regret nasi lemak at its finest. Personally, I have never tasted nasi lemak this good.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Summerset Colonial Hotels and Villa - Ghost Hotel 2014 Part 1

Finding interesting out of nothing indeed ..

I came here with a car club many many years ago - Summerset has had 257 hotel rooms and 51 private chalets .. and as far as I can recall, it was not cheap either. Located not far from the town of Kuala Rompin, it is about 220km away from Kuala Lumpur. Elegant, with romantic incan lighting throughout the resort, this place was posh in its heyday and truly lived up to its colonial aspirations : main building with a fabulous dome, ornate furnishings, marble table lamps, french windows and doors, solid wood furniture all sprawled along the coast of South China Sea. This is one resort built with passion and a flair for design.

That was some 10 years ago.

In 2014, I was making my way from Pekan - Kuala Rompin on a decidedly long detour back to KL. Kuala Rompin has grown - it has KFC now - the barometer determining how modern a town is :). But what struck me was I didn't recall passing by Summerset ... a quick search on the Garmin and I was routing back to where it used to be ..

Hidden amongst the undrgrowth

"Eh surely cannot be!", i exclaimed. No way can this place bungkus. You can expect the Generic Budget Beach Resorts to fold but surely not a resort of this scale, size and grandeur. The owners would be stark raving mad to allow it to be foreclosed!

The tarmac road is clean - I can explain to you why NOW but I shall leave it for another blog entry involving a mysterious couple dwelling within these abandoned grounds ....

The Lobby

The paint job is holding on well in 2014 - definitely not cheap plaster paint. This is was a quality development.

One of the last few entries by the security guard
Part of the hotel block being reclaimed by the sea

The chalets look like a scene after Hurricane Katrina

Everything was left behind when the hotel was closed : furnishings, beds, TV, lamps, telephones, linen : most of them have been scavenged by looters but you can still find the odd CRT TV lying around (this was in the days when LCD was not even on the market), some of the bedsheets are still pure white after years of being abandoned, divans and mattresses are scattered all over. The office was left as is - documents, files, folders all left behind - printers, even staff shoes and not least the security logs, staff claim logbooks.

The paint job is holding up amazingly well - underscoring what I suspect has always been the mantra of the developer : build quality build posh, Everything just reeks quality - when most hotels go for simple windows and sliding doors, Summerset opted for French doors and windows. When resorts opt for cheaper carpets, Summerset went the country mile and used expensive wood flooring. The selection of paint too would not have escaped the attention to detail of the developers and it shows till today.
My guess is that one day all the staff turned up and found that the resort was locked up by Receivers and Managers. The R&M probably paid for security for awhile before it too ran out of funds - before the looters came swarming in.

Ok finding this place was a mini-discovery in itself - but what made the entire experience surreal was my close encounter with inhabitants of this resort .... next entry!

This entry would not have been possible without pics from the following blogs. I do not claim or own the copyright of the pre-2014 images taken therein.

alvinchew @ panoramio

Further reads can be found here :


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

POI : Thai Sabye Sabye Restaurant @ Kelana Jaya

When I saw Rashid Sidek at the door, I knew I found the long lost Thai Sabye Sabye restaurant.

TSS used to be located at a dinghy long forgotten shopping complex along Old Klang Road. It had illustrious neighbours : Ace Hardware, Econsave and a  questionable looking karaoke shop. But best of all it had covered underground carpark which charges RM0.50 per hour. That's cheaper than DBKL parking at street level above! One day the TSS owner lamented that a Singaporean buyer had bought the complex and all tenants have 30 days to go for the new owners have lavish plans for it. That was one year ago. And the building is still as decrepit today as it has always been.

So it was a nice surprise to stumble upon TSS at Kelana Jaya. No other Thai retaurant has a badminton player beckoning you over.

Its Thai food. Reasonably priced. The food is savory for sure. Can't go wrong with the ala carte menu like belacan fried rice (RM8.90) or rice with minced chicken with basil leave. It doesnt have the ambience of the SEA Cuisine chain like Flying Chillies or Absolute Thai : think budget Thai with for the masses kind of serving. Simple melamine plates. What it skimps on plates, it makes up on garnishing. All the ala carte meals come with generous garnish: depending on order it varies from salad to udang kering to savoury chicken to kerabu mangga.  Nothing fanciful but decent Thai fare for the typical salary men. This new outlet is now far bigger (2 storeys) and now offers Thai Steamboat BBQ Buffet as well.

For comparison, we'd rate De'Chiengmai as the leading tasty Thai restuarant, followed by SEA Cuisine chain and Sri Thai. So TSS falls firmly in the middling pecking order. Tasty but not great, tasty enough without being expensive.

But they have a specialty which most Thai restuarant does not offer : Honey Squid! This is a must try dish as we've been sufficiently around doing many other Thai eateries and have never found it on menu. It's RM15 per plate and well worth your time. This dish is LIMA BINTANG !! 
Eat like a badminton champion! And why not!
Honey squid

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

10 Most Spectacular Bridges You Must Cross

Langkawi Skybridge is in the list and featured the video made by us. Awesome!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gua Tempurung 2014

After 44 years, I finally set foot in Gua Tempurung. As is often the case, we tend to miss a lot of our local attractions and end up paying thousands of dollars visiting far flung places overseas instead. We  often hear of Mulu Caves or Batu Caves but Gua Tempurung's name never really struck a chord with potential visitors. Quite why so I can never tell, except that it is one heckuva cave worth your time. Well, better late than never I say.

Get ready for some 1,300 steps along metal ladders that will take you to the far end of the cave. Legend has it, the cave has 2 magical white pythons resident within Peninsular Malaysia's largest cave system. This is a thoroughly entrancing cave, complete with whistling wind corridors, amazing stalactite stalagmite formations and crystal clear underwater river.

KRU filmed Vikingdom to take advantage of of this stunning cave, but unfortunately it was not enough to save the movie :p

The main entrance to the cave - visitors will descend into its belly before ascending to the end of the cave

Steps galore - some 1300 worth
What does this look like to you?

Every Malaysian should go!

Tracking Langkawi Island : Langkawi Sky Bridge Aerial Video

This is a world class suspended sky bridge that is 410 feet long and located high up in Gunung MatCincang at 700+ m above sea level.

Although the video looked serene, the flying conditions were atrocious with really high winds and clouds constantly rolling in. This is one of those places where recovery of fallen gear would be nigh impossible!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Flashback 2011 : Town of Manong, Perak

Nuvi owner wrote to us asking for his town of Manong to be mapped. And we obliged. :thumbsup:

Manong is situated along the Perak River and is shielded by a mountain range. The name is taken from a girl named Sarbanom who rebelled ("derhaka") against her mother.

A hamlet called Manong
Manong is famous for being close to Pulau Semat - an islet on the Perak River itself. Legend has it that before the Sultan of Perak can take the throne, he has to wet his feet at 7 rivers found all over Perak. Pulau Semat is one such location and the ascending Sultan would make his way from Manong to the little islet.

The island itself is mythical for another reason: Makam (grave) Sultan Tajol Ariffin is located on this island and tradition requires his grave to face where the sun sets. Instead it faces the rising sun. As such, this islet is known by locals as "pulau keramat" or a mystical island where 4D punters would flock in search for lucky numbers to buy. Mapio anyone ..

Further up the road, there is Laksa Pak Ngah, a favourite eatery amongst the locals. Next time you travel to Perak, take a trek along unusual roads and you may find an interesting village steeped with mystery and intrigue :wink:

Manong map and all POIs along the way was mapped in MSM NT 5.21 back in 2011.

Upping the Stakes - mini review

If you had dabbled with your Dad's tent when you were young, you'd be acquainted with the traditional steel tent pegs. They are sturdy and heavy that the joke was it can be used to nail a vampire behind its head to kill it. Tents found at Tesco, Aeon invariably come packed with these. And they are fine - long, robust and heavy. They do the job, you can hammer them in any kind of soil, even tough, rocked filled hard packed soil. Just bang it in! Sometimes they bend but it's steel - can always bend it back like Beckham.

Weight : >20grams per generic piece. In each tent bundle, they will often give you 10 stakes (10x20gm = 200gms), but for this comparo I will use 8 = 160gms

In Malaysia, there are some alternatives for those wanting to shave weight off their backpacks. Introducing the MSR Mini Groundhogs (RM11.00/pc), MSR Carbon (RM20/pc) and generic aluminium (RM7/pc) (2013 prices).

From top to bottom : MSR Mini Groundhog, MSR Carbon, Generic aluminium
As expected the carbon stake weighs in at only 5gm per piece
MSR Mini Groundhogs is not too shabby clocking in at 9gms
Generic aluminium @ 13gms including cordage.

Weigh-In (8 stakes)
Using steel pegs as the benchmark @ 160gms (RM0.00 - they come free)

1. MSR Carbon = 40gms (less 120gms, 75% weight savings) @RM160.00
2. MSR Mini Hedgehog = 72gms (less 88gms, 55% savings)  @RM88.00
3. Generic aluminium = 104 gms (less 56gms, 35% savings)  @RM64.00

I have used the carbon stakes and honestly, I do not like them. By their very design, you need to stake it in at an acute angle to prevent your guy lines from slipping. You could make a simple knot but that's just too much work.

The Hedgehog and generic aluminium : honestly not much in between them. They are strong, sturdy and can be pegged into any soil. Hedgehog has a 3 fin design vs 2 of the generic. The only problem these two have is when staking into soil that has pebbles or rock underneath. Whereas the traditional steel pegs can easily circumnavigate around the rocks with a little bit of force, it is not so easy with these two. You may have to adjust your staking points a few times.

Both have notches, so your guy lines can be snared by them easily. Unlike the carbon stakes.

My choice? The hedgehog, for its 3 fin design, ultralight and being super strong. The generic is fine but you don't really need a peg that big or long in most cases. At least I havent personally found a need to have a stake as long. When you are going for ultralight, the minimalist design of hedgehog fits the bill and does the job with aplomb.

Note! The hedgehogs are shiny beautiful out of showroom - but after first use, they become smudgy and scratchy. The hedgehogs comes standard with any MSR tents - they will give you 6. You really need 8 to be safe, so buy another two separately.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

OP Series Mininet - expand your backpack storage by 18 L!

There will be times when you need more space out of your backpack to stow more gear and supplies. One common way is to make use of straps or bungee cords - often this is limited to the location and number of anchor points on the backpack that you can use.

When it's full, it means Full Stop
OP Series Mininet hopes to solve this very problem. It's simple yet ingenious solution. You can attach the hooking points ANYWHERE on your backpack without causing any damage or tearing the fabric of the bag - and create an additional 18L of space.

The magic lies in the custom center ring - sufficient for fabric to pass through

Insert the custom center ring anywhere INSIDE the backpack

Attach the carabiner on the OUTSIDE

The results? This. You can even use this for any imaginable bag possible and not limited to just backpacks. The net adds 12in x 12in coverage on the bag and yields an additional 18L space with cords that have a tensile strength of 300lbs.

Price paid RM90 (2014).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tracking Perlis : Gua Kelam

Sure, I have heard of Gua Kelam the name - but never been here myself until recently.  I ended up wishing I knew of it much much earlier. This is a beautiful park - it has 2 cave systems and the park at the OTHER end of the caves is a park worthy of your time and visit : you will be amazed that this is in Malaysia but not much is publicised about it.

Picnic spot at the Cave entrance

Pack snacks and budget time to spend on the other side of the cave
Cave system 1# is now closed - a tram used to run and enables the visitor to punch out on the other side of the limestone hill. The tram is now broken down and some millions obviously wasted. So we're left with cave system 2# which is an elevated gangway that cuts through the hill whilst being suspended above the underground river. All lighted up with railings so it is safe for little children as well - this facility and the park spaces will cost you a princely sum of RM1.00 (2014) only. It is a short walk through the cave which opens up to this :

One of the many wakafs you can set down for a picnic

Like a little hidden paradise

Pack lunch, a hammock with an afternoon to spare - and you're all set. There are toilets and changing facilities should you decide to swim in one of the creek network. There's a deer farm and the mystical Sintok Tree (Pokok Ajaib Sintok). At last count (we literally lost count), this single tree has it roots creeping up to more than 32 other adjacent trees! You could say it is a spineless tree. Indeed.

Get your kids to count how many trees that this parasitic tree has decided to creep upon.

DISCLAIMER - please DO NOT do the following:

Fully equipped with proper gear, supplies and torches - we sought out the second cave system. It was not difficult to find and the egress was located somewhere higher up against the limestone hill wall. Inside - there is absolutely zero light so reliance is solely on your (hopefully very reliable) torchlights. What's inside is a network of caves - complete with concrete paths, steps, rest areas, railings, multiple junctions and lightings which leads you to the end of the line of the tram. Of course none of the lights work now. As we moved further into the cave, it got warmer and before long we were sweating buckets. The trek ends where the tram rail meets. We were tempted to trek out along the tram rail but decided to backtrack to avoid tangling with the Park Rangers.

now disused pathways

secret stairway to the underground river

If you're in Perlis - don't brush off a visit to Gua Kelam : you must go!!

Is it far? In Perlis, everywhere is just "15 mins away". So wherever you are in Perlis, it will take you no longer than 15 minutes to get to Gua Kelam. Really!

History has it that Gua Kelam was previously used a rice trail or a smuggler's run where supplies made its way to and from across the Siamese border.