Friday, January 31, 2014

Day Three (Up to the Highlands): Ipoh - Cameron Highlands - Kuala Lumpur Trip 2013

The third day started peacefully with a relaxing walk past the historically important Kinta River to our breakfast destination; which, in my dad's words, was thankfully not another dim sum restaurant! 

Eu Tong Sen - a street many in Singapore would identify as a main ingress to Chinatown was the name of a Penang-born magnate who had many businesses in Ipoh! On a side note, he was the same man who expanded Eu Yan Sang into a chain of traditional Chinese medicine stores in this region. You may read his wikipedia page here

Remember i was sharing the enormous amount of bird poos found outside the shophouses in Ipoh? Some shop owners solved the problem by planting steel wires on high platforms where the birds would likely roost for the night. 

Breakfast at Sin Yoon Loong, said to be the innovator for the popular white coffee! You may read my review here although i have to warn you i wasn't satisfied with the caffeinated beverage!

So much so that I had to source for another place to satisfy my caffeine addiction. I could have gone back to Nam Heong but i figured it would be great to check out the less famous shops. 

That brought me to Lim Kopi - in the Hokkien dialect, this means "drink coffee". In the future, if i ever wanted to setup a food business, i would name it as aptly, somewhere along the line of "Jiak Png", "Jiak Cai" or "Jiak Ba". 

The white coffee was so much better in Lim Kopi (please disregard the soggy Chinese crullers) with a thicker, smoother consistency and a much richer fragrance! 

Do keep in mind that the prices were much higher compared to the two other traditional coffee-shops we went to although the premium can be justified by the nicer decor. I would have loved to try their special fried rice (one was said to be very very eggy on the menu) but was too full!!!

Renovation work to spruce up the dilapidated shophouses; Ipoh was said to be the next one (the first two were Penang and Malacca) that might be awarded the UNESCO heritage status which means it would be an opportune time to purchase some of these properties! 

It was only 8.30 am and this shop was already selling roast delights?!?! Anyway, it was listed on the food trail map for popiah and satay. 

Another colonial building. Singapore has had such buildings. Unfortunately, development takes precedence over history given the limited land we had, and many of them were torn down in the past few decades. 

Memory Lane - a flea market would take over the road every Sunday! It's a pity i didn't plan for a weekend stay in Ipoh and hence, am unable to share more on what to expect. By the way, memory lane is very near to French Hotel.

10 am - the private car with a chauffeur arrived to bring us up to the highlands!

Drove past this cliff that was part of the larger limestone cluster that housed the numerous cave temples we visited on day two. I must have passed by this landmark no less than three times the day before! 

Guanyin Cave Temple! Navigation in Ipoh wasn't very difficult in my memory and i am seriously contemplating driving up to Ipoh (from Singapore) the next time. I want to visit the Lost World theme park!! 

Wah, an old school theme park! *like*

There are quite a number of ways to Cameron Highlands and the one from Singapore has many sharp turns and abrupt corners; often resulting in a terrible motion sickness coupled with a few bags of puke!

This new route from Ipoh was said to be safer with wider roads and it was the first time i didn't experience a single bout of motion sickness! Furthermore, not once did i feel that i am about to say goodbye to this world. 

Aboriginal huts along the road - we didn't stop but if you do, you could get supplies of wild honey (mom was so regretting not getting any) and even tongkat ali (a herb valued for its aphrodisiac value! 

I thought we would be reaching in no time at all when i saw farms with plastic canvases! Truth was, we were only halfway through. 

Kampong Raja, the town nearest to Ipoh was still three kilometers! Brinchang, the place where we would rest our feet, was over twenty kilometers away!

I got the feeling that Kampong Raja was a major wholesale centre with many plantations and farms sighted along the scenic way. 

Unlike the other route from Singapore, it appeared to have limited places of attraction for visitors to stop by. 

The imposing words "Lavender Garden" were hard to miss! From the outside, this flower plantation at Tringkap (another town before Brinchang) looked interesting even though we didn't stop over. :(

Kea Valley - the moment i reached this place, i know it would not be long before we reached Brinchang! For those who are unaware, Kea Valley houses the ever-popular-with-Singaporeans resort; Equatorial hotel.

After close to a hundred and ten minutes of travelling on the road, we finally arrived in the super cooling Brinchang! The one-way private transport in an air-conditioned sedan was arranged with Jammy from My Ipoh Holiday. You may email her at myipohholiday@gmail.com for the rate! 

Checking in to Rosa Passadena! Kindly check out this link for my review of this hotel. 

As we still have about two hours before the start of Agro Delight Tour, it's time to roam around the area and see if there has been any change since my last visit two years ago!

Honestly, nothing much has changed.

Even Kavy Hotel was still operating its business, albeit with a larger ground presence after taking over the space of what used to be Strawberry Moment Dessert Cafe. For my less than stellar review of Kavy Boutique Hotel, please click here

Wanted to bring my parents to Oldies and Goodies restaurant for lunch but it had already closed down! Hence, lunch was fulfilled in a coffee shop further down the road; the chicken rice i had was pretty good with the exception of the rather bland rice. 

Time checked; 1 pm. We still have ample time to trek up to the nearby Big Red Strawberry Farm!

Small hillside cabbage plantation spotted along the way! Hm..... there wasn't any clear demarcation and i wonder if the huge, leafy cabbages were free for anyone to pluck. 

Before reaching the said entrance of Big Red Strawberry Farm, there were quite a number of shops selling food and accessories like the cheery windmills in the above picture. 

I bought a strawberry Popsicle that wasn't as good as i remember it to be. Perhaps because i had the commercialized brand this time. The brand-less one was way better!

Freshly steamed sweet potatoes could be better if they were sweeter! 

Many visitors were crowding around this adorable little girl who was selling sticks of strawberries coated in chocolate (fondue style)! I had the suspicion it was the girl who was the main attraction. 

Big Red Strawberry Farm - many tours would actually make a stopover at this attraction so i would recommend that you make a separate visit after the tour where you can make your purchases less hurriedly. 

For example, you can freely pick the type of cacti (out of the thousands on display) you want for your office cubicle or a pot of flora for your house in a more relaxed manner. 

In addition, the tour guide would also be dispensing education information that are actually quite interesting but would likely be disregarded if your mind is perpetually pre-occupied on what to buy. Of course, my recommendation is only applicable if you stay in Brinchang! 

A retail shop in the Big Red Strawberry Farm has what was arguably the biggest range of strawberry related products and accessories in Cameron Highlands; marshmallows with strawberry fillings, shower gel with strawberry fragrances etc! 

Time to walk back to our hotel where we were supposed to be picked up for the highlight of this trip; the Agro Delight Tour that was arranged online with Titiwangsa Tours! 

You may check out the following links for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the Tour. 

After putting our barang barang in the hotel after the tour, we took to the street again! Walking would help to digest the food we had over the Halal steamboat dinner at Hotel Titiwangsa. 

Despite the full stomach, it was so hard to resist the temptation of drinking hot soup and munching warm chocolate coated strawberries in such cool weather! 

Nevertheless, i succeeded in not getting anything! Not even the delicious aroma of food sold in the night market can break my determination! For an update on the pasar malam, please click here

End of Day Three! 

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For Day One, click HERE
For Day Two, click HERE

For an overview of my trip, 
Click HERE.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chinatown Street Bazaar 2014 Part Two & the Light-Up for the Year of Horse!

Let's continue with part two! 

The street decor for 2014 was obviously horse-themed, given that the zodiac sign for the coming lunar year is the horse. Since the horse seldom deviates in shape, i guess it's hard to impress visitors except to throw us many, many horses and win in terms of "overwhelming numbers"! 

Disregard the wires using your imagination and you see many of them galloping in the air right above the historic South Bridge Road! Ironically, horses used to traverse upon the same road a century ago! 

It's a pity that the food street cannot open in time to coincide with the festive bazaar. I am not sure if i am the only one but don't you think many construction sites are facing delays nowadays? What has happened to the efficiency Singapore is well known for?

Another picture of the horses which appeared as if it's just a matter of time before they are strangled to death by the red-yellow ribbons! 

Back to the bazaar again - as you can see, there were way more people and it was a little past 6pm! I can bet with you that the crowd would have been much large in the past two days with people taking leave and time off to prepare for the new year. 

More clothes! I actually walked upon the same street thirty minutes ago although there were just way too many things for me to lock my camera on! Sometimes, revisiting allows you to look at the same spot with a different angle, different perspective. 

Traditional Nyonya attire - i thought my mom would be a very pretty bibik if she takes to wearing Peranakan clothes but she insisted it would make her look fat!! 

Tiny, decorative figurines that served no other purpose.

Above were the bigger versions. For me, i have stopped buying such items as they would likely be collecting dust on my table! I still prefer my practical piggy banks!

Minions ang pow! 

Like aromatherapy!? Buy the essence and solution from this stall as they are having promotion! A shop in Northpoint selling the same brand was selling the air+ solution at S$15.90 per bottle! 

Horse-related decorations. Could you come up with auspicious wishes and greetings in Chinese that contain the Chinese character of "horse"? I can think of 龙马精神 (blessed with vitality), 马到成功 (succeed in whatever you do) etc. 

Horse plushies in various colours! Look closer at those at the back and you would realise this stall was still offering past zodiac animals for sale; for example, snake and dragon soft toys! 

Sampling for the Taiwanese yam mochi! 

Once again the Taiwanese products section; it's interesting that other countries products were gaining popularity and prominence when local products seemingly appeared to be taking a backseat in such big scale bazaars. Oh well, Singaporeans are fickle-minded when it comes to food!

I unintentionally overlooked the fact that besides the king of peanut, there was also the king of gua zi (melon seeds)! Honestly you cannot blame me when both concepts were so similar!

The dirty floor as a result of unstoppable sampling from almost everyone who walked past the shop! I think i should be able to satisfy my calorie count if i walk around the bazaar purely for sampling.

In Singapore where selling, keeping and/or letting off fireworks without a proper permit is considered as a serious offence, we can only seek solace in pathetic products like sparklers and party poppers. Well, you lose some, you gain some. 

2 new pieces of T-shirt for S$5?!?!?! 

New year couplets for the house? I am always very envious whenever i see how beautiful the characters were written as my handwriting, regardless of whether it is English or Chinese, is simply horrible. They're so bad; i could not even recognise what i wrote at times. 

More clothing! Doubt they would be as cheap as 2 for S$5.

Foreign children being taken on a tour of Chinatown! Maybe local school should also do the same since kids nowadays seem to be overly occupied with electronic devices like iPad and iPhone.

The lanterns lining the streets might not appear much from far although i would suggest you take a closer look; they were definitely not as plain as you initially thought they were. 

Aren't these Japanese good luck charms?! I should hang a few right outside my room window. Hm... on second thought, i guess not since the wind can be pretty strong in my area. 

Maybe i should invest my money on these vacuum containers instead! At the very least, it means i can cut down my expenses by bringing home cooked meals to work.

The main decorative display the Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2014! More on this impressive stallion later even though i believe you can read most of the background information online. 

Frankly, i found these coin-shaped lanterns to be relatively ugly and wondered if insufficient time has resulted in such unimpressive design. I spoke too soon of course. 

Queue for bak kwa was still manageable when i visited last Wednesday. 

The queue for Lim Chee Guan was much longer, as it has consistently been for as long as i remember. My sister's record was eight hours!

Unlike the past, the store would now station someone along the queue to notify prospective customers that certain range of their products was already sold out. 

Maybe because the famous sliced pork bak kwa was already out of stock, the queue was not as long as i remember it could be a few years ago. 

These massive horses between New Bridge road and Eu Tong Sen street were more realistically placed; giving motorists the impression that they are running alongside the galloping horses. 

I simply could not resist going up to the high floors of Chinatown Complex housing block to take some photographs! I believe many avid photographers would reserve a spot along the corridor before midnight tomorrow. For all you know, i might be one of them!

This gentleman drew damn well! 

The street was bustling with more and more people as day turned to night! The weather helped a lot as well since it was relatively cooling with a gentle breeze. 

I think mom bought something like this for the house. Sadly, the adhesive wasn't very strong and the bloody thing kept dropping off the wall!

Small tangerines for sale at 5 for S$2; a bit too expensive i think.

Dancing dragons and lions puppets! One of the pictures shall be my facebook cover page on the very first day of Chinese New Year! 

Yet another Chinese tradition; paper cutting! If i remember correctly, you can see a similar picture of this in past years' blog postings.

Blur looking horses! Since Chinese New Year is a joyous occasion, i would love to have the horses with a smile that flashes their two rows of herbivorous teeth!

Durians "tied" to a fake tree! A clever marketing ploy as it does attract a lot of attention! 

An alternative way to attract attention is to use a loudhailer or microphone to project your voice as far as you could to get customers to sample your products; in this instance, this man was asking people to try out his bird's nest jelly or something! 

Sampling is a must to get business! Even for me, i would not buy if i cannot sample. The only two exceptions to this rule are: someone asks me to buy for me and the products are priced much lower than what i perceived. 

Gigantic fortune cats! For now, my focus is still on pigs! Should you see one featuring pigs, please do not hesitate to let me know the location!

Kopi Hock - my parents like this brand for its very nice aroma! 

More photographs of the streets when the sky was still pretty bright. Honestly, i personally feel that the lighting at this time was quite good for photo taking; there isn't any shadow and i don't need to compromise my ISO to speed up the camera's shutter speed. 

The illuminated horses looked so much better at night! 

Once again, let me present to you the star of Chinatown for the new lunar year; the stunning beauty which is gearing up for the arrival of 31st January 2014.

For the third year running, students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) were given the task to design the street light-up for Chinatown. 

I could not quite remember the total number of horses that were crafted but it could likely be more than a hundred and seventy! This enormity might not be so apparent in the daytime so you might want to consider paying Chinatown a visit at night.

A panoramic picture which has not been appearing much in recent weeks. 

Remember my remark i made just now about the coins being ugly? I am taking my words back as they did give many the image of golden coins dropping from the sky! 

No wonder so many people would taking pictures of them at night!

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Location of Bazaar
Pagoda Street, Smith Street, Sago Street, Temple Street and Trengganu Street

Open Till When?
Till night of 30 January 2014 [Or 12.30 am of 31 January 2014]


For Part One, Click HERE.





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