Monday, October 31, 2016

Cameron Highlands - The Two Days, One Night Itinerary for Singaporeans In Need of a Cool, Relaxed Getaway!

It's a respectable count of less than 800 picture files in my folder for the just-concluded short journey to Cameron Highlands and i believe they could probably sustain a number of postings until my next trip in December!

Anyway, it was a last-minute decision to venture to the cool highlands in Malaysia although it was pretty straightforward to just buy the coach tickets and book the hotel room given that i have been there umpteenth times.

This shall be a summarised itinerary, as usual, and more details are available via the hyperlinks (for example, the heading for Day One). If you require clarification or any advice, please feel free to leave a comment. :) 

[10 pm on 27 October 2016] Travelling to Cameron Highlands via the coach mode requires an overnight journey and here we were at Golden Mile Tower along Beach Road to catch the coach! 

[1.00 am] Arrival at a familiar place; Ming Ang Kopitiam at Yong Peng! As it was already the wee hours, i generally wouldn't eat anything and treated the place as a mere stopover where i can release the tension in my bladder.

[8.00 am] Sleeping is a luxury nowadays and i took the opportunity to sleep as much as i could during the journey on the coach and we reached the main town of Cameron Highlands; Brinchang! Weird though as i thought we entered through Ipoh and geographically speaking, Copthorne Hotel should be the first stop.

[8.15 am] A person entered the coach and announced that it's breakfast time! 45 minutes were given and as Brinchang is the main hub of activity for Cameron Highlands, there is no lack of options! We fulfilled our breakfast by having Assam Laksa at Restoran Hui Wei that's next to Rosa Passadena

[9.00 am] Now i know why we were brought to Brinchang first; the guy who stepped into the coach earlier belonged to a tour agency and we were given an introduction of what to do in Cameron Highlands and the packages available for us to sign up! Frankly, i just want to get back to the hotel where i can dump my bags and start my free and easy trip!

[9.50 am] If you work back the timing, we should have arrived at Copthorne Cameron Highlands about two hours earlier if the coach had adhered strictly to its basic offering to send us from point A to point B.

[10.30 am] Bags were left with the hotel as check-in was officially at 3 pm and we opted to WALK to the BOH Sungei Palas Tea Centre; a distance of about 3.5 kilometers from the main road. We gamely walked because the tour counter staff at the hotel told us it should take us only about 35 minutes.

[11.30 am] In reality, we spent about an hour and at the end of it, we were totally in need to replenish our energy! Rescue came in the form of the Nasi Lemak Cheesecake, Chocolate Roll and BOH Ice Tea from the iconic cafe as above. Calling for transport (as in taxi) would take about 35 minutes and we figured walking would be exhilarating in the fabulously cool weather (sarcasm intended).

[1.14 pm] Another hour was henceforth spent sweating out and even though the hotel reception had called me at about 11.00 am that the room was ready to check in, i was in no hurry as it's more convenient for me to drop by 188 Vegetable Garden to buy a few ears of deliciously sweet corn that can be eaten raw!

[1.23 pm] Unsatisfactory grilled chicken chop and rice at Josephine Eatery & Bar which was located in Cameron Highland's only modern shopping mall; the Cameron Square!

[2.01 pm] Checked in to the deluxe room of Copthorne Cameron Highlands where i can finally do something about the stickiness of the body and the pungency of a sweat-soaked shirt. A review on the rather dated hotel can be found here.

[3.30 pm] A short stroll from the hotel was the EQ Strawberry Farm; you can pick your own strawberries but according to the sign at the entrance, the activity had ceased for the day as all ripe strawberries had already been harvested.

[3.50 pm] Next stop: the neighbouring Butterfly Farm! It had started pouring by then and we were thankful to have purchased the raincoats earlier at Cameron Square. p.s.. the butterfly was already dead.

[4.35 pm] The rain had made it harder for us to revisit the Ee Feng Gu apiary, which was just a short a distance away, as i figured the floor would be muddier. For my visit to the bee farm in 2011, please click here.  

[5.00 pm] Like me, Alex was disappointed with lunch and needed another energy push at Old Town White Coffee (also at Cameron Square). Aside from the soft boiled eggs and garlic toast, we rejoiced in super fast WiFi (8 Mbps) provided for free with any purchase!

[6.40 pm] Back to hotel for a short gym session and i stepped out to the surprising sight of a rainbow at the room's balcony after my shower! Don't you think rainbows have that mystical effect on one's happiness?

[7.00 pm] What should we have for dinner? In Cameron Highlands, you would be sorry if you don't try their steamboat as it's so shiok to have something hot in the cool temperature and the area is also famed for fresh vegetables! Our steamboat meal took place at Restoran Chef Weng!

[8.05 pm] I clocked in more than 30,000 steps that day and with sore, aching thighs, we couldn't resist jumping into the massage parlour two doors away for an hour long foot reflexology!

[9.30 pm] Night was still early and we indulged in hot chocolate, green tea latte and a slice of marble crumbled chocolate cake before retiring for the day.

[5.40 am] Remember the introduction given the day before by the tour agent? We actually signed up for the Sunrise Spectacular Tour as that was the last major package i had yet to embark from the tour agency; hence, the wakeup call at this ungodly hour. Verdict: the sunrise eluded us as it did to us at Taiwan Hehuanshan.

[9.10 am] After our last gym session at the hotel, we checked out the room, left our bags with the hotel's baggage service and proceeded for wanton noodles breakfast at Restoran Yao Yat!

[9.40 am] Order summary from EasyBook.com mentioned to wait at the pickup location 30 minutes before the scheduled boarding time and we cheated a bit by arriving 10 minutes later. Want to know what time did the bus reach? 11.40 am and by the time we left, it was noon.

[12.00 pm] I was obviously pissed as i strongly believe unnecessary time was spent on the introductory talk for the incoming tourists and when i took it up with the company via an overseas call; the curt reply was that i could raise my feedback with the bus agent! Bloody hell, my purchase was made with you, Konsortium, not with the bus agent you collaborated with!

[12.30 pm] On our way down the mountain range and we stopped for a while at a petrol station near Ipoh as we needed to change bus. According to the bus driver, there was something wrong with the original bus earlier and this had also resulted in some delay, in addition to the festive jam going up to the highlands.

[7.00 pm] I was in such a deep sleep; i didn't realise the coach stopped for passengers to have a short meal at about 2.30 pm. Poor us had to endure the hunger until we reached Ming Ang @ Yong Peng where i literally wolfed down a Ramly Burger that tasted so heavenly

[9.00 pm] About to reach Second Link although bad luck continued to strike us. The computer system at immigration was facing some problem and by the time all passengers were done, it was about 30 - 45 minutes later! 

=====

Expenses
Konsortium Coach Tickets (2-way) - S$101.00 per person
Deluxe Room (Twin Sharing) @ Copthorne Hotel - S$86.71 per room
Sunrise Tour - RM 65.00 per person
Other Expenses - RM 300.00 per person

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Little Topy Grilled Pork Belly (Liempo) @ Yishun Block 732 KopiWu Coffee Shop [Singapore]

Now that the epic ayam penyet had moved out of KopiWu coffee shop, it frees up my tummy to check out other stalls within the food arena but the question has always been, "which one first"?

A reader of this blog, a young Filipino living in Singapore, had tried the Little Topy stall and claimed that the food was authentic and tasted the way they are back in Philippines! Guess that's the answer to my question. 

I am picky when it comes to food and with so many items on the menu, i picked the one i felt more familiar with; the grilled pork belly (known as liempo) even though waiting time was informed to be about 30 minutes (given it was a one-person managed stall and i can see she still had two big tables to serve)! 

Presentation wise - it's just the plain essentials. I added the garlic rice as i thought the grilled pork belly might be a bit too overwhelming on its own. The last minute decision wasn't regretted and i totally enjoyed the simplicity of the fragrant yet appetising rice. p.s. it didn't appear too difficult to make and i should be able to replicate as it was just white rice mixed with garlic bits.

This wasn't my first time trying grilled liempo and there was a notable difference from those i had in the past; the savoriness, rather the sweetness, was the key takeover. Dip the pork in the chilli padi concoction for that extra kick! 

The pork belly was well marinated with maybe a higher concentration of light soy sauce but the grilling brought out the flavour in an intense yet subtle way that tasted so good. With a light crisp on the edges, my only complaint was that i would very much prefer a crunchier skin! 

=====

Location 
Block 732, Yishun Ring Road,
 Corner Coffee Shop, Kopi Wu, 
Singapore 760732

Map
As above

Menu
As above

Pricing

Garlic Rice - S$1
Grilled Pork Belly S$8

Additional Information
There could be special items not on the menu! I don't know what am i going to have next time but i sure am bringing my family so that i can order more to share! There are also Barkada meals catered for 4 persons! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Last Day of My Short Three Days, Two Nights Penang Trip 2016



Don't you just wish to wake up to the above sight every single morning!? A sea view is available for those who prefer the water at Bayview Hotel (Georgetown) but i guess the rooms would be priced slightly higher.

As this was our last day in Penang and we had a noon flight to catch, time wasn't on our side as we needed to leave the hotel at 9.30 am and i wasn't done with my shopping! Hence, we had to chop chop finished our breakfast!

I very much liked my nasi lemak breakfast whereas Alex was satisfied with his sunny side up with baked beans. Friends who had travelled with me would be aware i am not a fan of baked beans.

Little Penang Street Market - open only on Sundays which was good as i was leaving on Sunday. The only problem was it opens only from 10 am and i obviously didn't have time as i still needed to pack my luggage!

Restoration in progress - this reminded me of a similar scenario in Singapore where the facade remained whereas everything else was demolished! Click here for the post.

Notice the humongous street art mural by the side of the building?

Homeless sleeping on the streets wasn't that uncommon, even in Singapore although the same couldn't be said for those who reside in countries that face the four seasons.

Trishaws in Penang are structurally different from the ones in Singapore; the rider is at the back where Singapore's version is on the side of the passenger(s). Honestly, the passengers on Penang's trishaws appeared to be in greater danger!

Nasi Kandar is a renowned Penang dish similar to nasi briyani that i didn't manage to try on my trip. There were a few reputable ones and if i am not wrong, the one popular with tourists is  known as Line or something.

A busy weekend morning with cars hogging up the street - i was curious yet couldn't explore further due to the tight schedule i had self imposed.

A quieter market - the same one i mentioned in day one where you can get many types of preserved fruits. I always feel that the preserved fruits market would die one day as they don't seem to be well-liked by many nowadays. Even for my mom, she wouldn't purposely buy them unless she has to use them as offerings to the deities.

Main reason why i was out so early - to get a box of signature trishaw egg tarts from Ming Xiang Tai as i know my mum and sister would love them! Note: eat them on the same day as the texture wasn't as good once you put them in the fridge.

I couldn't resist and bought a few boxes of Six Prosperity Pastries too even though there wasn't any sample. Verdict: the pastry was a bit too heavy for me.

By the time i was back at Bayview Hotel, it was almost 9 am! Took a bath, packed my luggage and i finally had to say goodbye to the view in front of me.

Before then, let me indulge in crystal osmanthus jelly cake purchased from Ming Xiang Tai at RM 7.80! Not too bad but can do with more osmanthus flowers! Anyway, i am nitpicking here as my version of home cooked osmanthus jelly is damn power!

Finally leaving at 10 am as the arrangement we had with the driver who sent us to the hotel on the first day fell through and we had to engage the service of the tour counter in Bayview Hotel instead. You know what's the funny part? We were charged cheaper! Whatever the case, above is KOMTAR tower and i can see a transparent sky walk on the top! Why didn't i know about it earlier...?

What does this building look like to you? It bears some resemblance to the beautiful Petronas twin towers, without the pinnacles!

Arrival at Penang International Airport; twenty minutes were all the van took and i believed then that there should be sufficient time for me to roam around the departure lounge.

Picture of the van that came to our rescue back in Bayview Hotel!

My tour mates right ahead of me as they were in a rush to clear check in as soon as possible! Like me, they just wanted to get the process cleared as soon as possible so that there's sufficient time to rest and relax in the departure lounge.

Luck wasn't on our side as there was a snaking long queue and it took us more than an hour! By the time we were done and cleared immigration, we had only about 30 minutes to go before the plane took off the runway. :(

Announcement had come in for us to board the plane and with a heavy heart, i lugged myself to the gate. There was a souvenir shop within the gate where i spent the last few moments of my time in Penang and it's time to go.

Given the "hot seat" once again with plenty of leg room! Maybe i shouldn't pay for preferred seats in the future since there's a chance i might be "upgraded" at no cost! 

Goodbye to Penang; i swear i will be back soon! 

Flying past Penang first bridge with a blurry glimpse of KOMTAR on the left. 

For someone who doesn't fly (like all humans) and is afraid of heights, i am totally mesmerised by the view up in the sky where cottony clouds float around us! Therefore, there is that insatiable urge to take millions of pictures; the above is just three carefully selected ones.

Some Singaporean men would know this island very well.

Ring a bell? This is Tekong Island lah where many of us were dragged from the comforts of our early adult life and thrown into an abyss of discipline! I can identify the building for Viper Company from the above photo even though i was there for only a week! 

The reclamation for Singapore's biggest island never seems to stop... 


Home sweet home at Singapore's beloved Changi International Airport which continued to win prestigious awards and accolades! 


Participating at the "Be a Changi Millionaire" lucky draw! The draw ends on 31 October 2016 and we still have a few more days before you congratulate me on my winnings. 

The brats came to pick us up and i don't know why; Jovyn kept asking me to take pictures for her! Must be her Elsa's dress and the glittery shoes. 

Ending the last Penang posting with photographs of Jovyn's expression! I think she will be suited for the acting class, given her rubber face, her cheerfulness and of course, her utter cuteness! 

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