Friday, March 4, 2011

Short Trip to Kellie's Castle, Ipoh 怡保

On one boring November afternoon, we suddenly decided to have a short trip to Ipoh.

Around 3pm, we reached our first destination - Kellie's Castle, probably the only one castle in Penisular Malaysia. It has a mystery legend behind, like all the leftover castles did. You can click on the link for more details.

We take away the Ipoh's famous Aun Kheng Lim salted chicken (宴琼林盐焗鸡). 4 of us, finish the chicken in less than 15mins. Feel so 狂野 to eat with hands... :p

Salted chicken
Next, we were plan to have a dinner and back home already. However, we determined for a detour to temple after the visit of the haunted castle. One of the cave temple caught our attention because we saw a staircase leading up to a hill while we were driving on the old road from Kellie's Castle to Ipoh town. I can't remember the exactly location. But it's on the same trunk road where there are lots of pamelo selling on road-side.

The staircase we saw from the main road
The cave is named as Guan Yin Cave (觀音洞). The temple itself was closed when we arrived at 6pm ++. However, the other sections for this place still open for public. As we walk deeper to the temple's compound, we found that this place is actually a combination of multi-national and multi-races wishing altar.

Write down your 甜言蜜語and hang it there
It looks like a themepark that presents wishing ritual or method as their theme. From conventional to cultural, from spiritual to modernization. You get too see what's the wishing process and try it on your own! There are explaination notes for each wishing section.

Wish Making stepping stones

We could not finish all the sections as the sky was getting darker. We went to Lou Wong Nga Choi Gai (老黃芽菜雞) for dinner. Its tender chicken and kuey teow soup used to be very very tasty. However, this is the second time it disappointed me. Some says, the boss had handover his shop to those foreign workers for daily operation. It just wouldn't work man... Guess we will try out other sprout bean chicken next time we are here.

芽菜雞 & 沙河粉

How To Go Kellie's Castle:
1. Drive along North-South Highway. If you coming from North (Penang), exit at Simpang Pulai Toll. If from South (Kuala Lumpur), exit at Gopeng Toll. Around 2 hours drive from both way.
3. Exit at Simpang Pulai Toll, turn left towards Gopeng. 
4. Look for a main junction to make a right turn that leads you to Batu Gajah/Kellie's Castle. Take note on signboard.
2. Probably there's no clear and specific signboard around. Keep looking for signboard in this priority sequence:
- Kellie's Castle
- Batu Gajah
- Gopeng
3. If you are from north Penisular, and you found yourself in Gopeng town, you are mostly overshot the junction to Kellie's Castle.

Address: KM 5.5, Jalan Gopeng, Batu Gajah, Perak.
GPS Location: N 4° 28.525     E 101° 05.262

Entrance Fees:
Primary School: RM2.00
Secondary School: RM3.00
Adult: RM4.00

How To Go Aun Kheng Lim Yim Kok Gai (宴琼林盐焗鸡):
It's located in Ipoh town. Lots of websites already mentioned it's location. So I'll just say look for McDonald as your landmark. You are very close to it if you saw McD.
Address: 24, Jalan Theatre, 30300 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Price: RM16 per bird (Take Away Only)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cameron Highlands 金马伦高原

A short getaway to Cameron Highlands on 2 days 1 night trip in October 2010.

Went to Cameron Highland like don't know how many times. Still love it very much. :) This time, we take the route of Ringlet on our way up, and Simpang Pulai on way down. Route of Ringlet is harder for a city driver, but for kampung driver like me, I prefer Ringlet route as more stop-over places can be found.

Exit at Tapah toll on North-South Highway. Follow Cameron Highlands signboard you will be driving on the trunk road to Cameron Highlands. Our first stop was Lata Iskandar Waterfall. You would not overlook it. It's on left-hand side of the road on your way up. There's a staircase can lead you to the higher part of the waterfall. It only takes about 10 minutes, worth for a walk.

Lata Iskandar Waterfall


Next stop was Bharat Cameron Valley tea station. It's also located at the left-hand side of the road that you won't miss it. You gotta try their home-made strawberry cheesecake. I can't say it's from heaven, but it's certainly very fresh with the fragrance of strawberry~ A bit pricey for the cheesecake at RM6.50/slice, but I can't help wanted to have it. Do try out their tea too. The fragrant of the tea and the smoothness it leaves on your tongue and lips are the reasons we came all the way here. You simply can't find anything similar in the city.
Strawberry Cheesecake
If you are on a tight schedule and only can choose to stop over one tea farm. I personally recommended Bharat Cameron Valley, compare to Sungai Palas Boh Tea station. The reasons are:

1. The road to Sungai Palas Boh Tea Station is winding and narrow. Much more terrible than the way up from Tapah. It's hard to drive on a crowded day as it's a two-way road. Your car can get scratches easily, and beside your tyre is a 100m high cliff. Some people driving Nissan Livina, truck and bus working for the farm drive to-and-fro, seems no problem at all. However, not recommended for foreigner, I mean real foreigner, who not familiar with Malaysia's road condition.
2. The scenery in Bharat is better. You can get a wide range view of tea farm from their tea house and you get to go right into the farm and smell at the real tea leaves.
3. The tea packages selling at Boh Tea station had commercialize as you could find them anywhere in the supermarket.
View from Bharat
If you had been to Bharat, Boh Tea station worth for a visit though. It has its own beauty and you get to visit the tea factory if it's open (I never seen it opens though). It tooks us less that 2 hours (stop over time not counted) to reach Tanah Rata, where our hotel, Hillview Inn resides.

We did our homework before we came here. An important mission in our itinerary is to try out the known organic steamboat. All the ingridients are grow right on this land, hehhe... how can we missed that.
The shop is located somewhere behind Hotel Passadena in Brinchang. Someone posted a detailed map on web. I forgot how much we paid, but according to others, it's RM18 per head. We had the mix steamboat instead of the total-vege's as it sounds quite scary for us. Can't imagine whole pot of vegetables cooking with vegetables... LOL. The mix steamboat comes with 10 types of vege, meatballs, squid, meat, prawns, egg and mee hoon. The soup is clear and taste fresh.
Ingredients for 2
After lunch, we went to Cactus Valley, just nearby of the restaurant. It got an entrance fees of RM4 per person. Compare to 2-3 years ago when I was there, it's not well-maintained and kinda ruined for some section in the farm. But there are still some nice spots for shooting.There are plenty of farm in Cameron, you may choose other farm instead of this I guess.

Big Red Strawberry Farm behind Cactus Valley - Free Entrance
Lok lok in the farm

Bit bit in the farm

Tandoori chicken with Naan
 We were plan to go Brinchang famous night market (pasar malam) but we didn't see a single stall on that day. Later we found that, the pasar malam only held on Friday and Saturday night. It was Sunday for us... T_T  We then had our dinner at one of the Indian restaurant at Tanah Rata. The tandoori chicken was not bad with slightly burnt. But the Roti Telur was awful, compare with those in downtown.

Not much things to do at night in Cameron. We set back to our room after dinner. :)

Next morning, we woke up early and strike to Gunung Brinchang. We going to lengendary Mossy Forest this time! The route getting there is awesome~ Best among all of them in Cameron. I was driving side-by-side with the tea plantation and we can see workers working in the tea farm. Natural and reality view!

The trail in mossy forest is built by wooden staircase. Some of the steps has worn off, have to watch out your steps. We walk for a very short distance, but feel really refresh and mosturised by the mists. The water vapor covered the whole forest, that's why it gets mossy all over... lol... I heard the trail is about 2 hours. We did not complete it that day because there's noone around! We knew it because we were the only one car at the jungle entrance. Only 2 of us in the jungle~ :o Probably not today baby... I know V wanting to check out the trail so much...
At mossy forest entrance
Broken staircase
Further up of the route lead us to the top of Gunung Brinchang. There's a telekom communication tower at the end of the road. We drove ourself there, to mark we reached the highest vehicle reacheable road in Penisular Malaysia.
Communication Tower at Gunung Brinchang

Next, we check-out our room and have our lunch at T-cafe in Tanah Rata. The entrance is at the staircase beside MerryBrown. It's easily to spot.
T-Cafe entrance beside MerryBrown
We had their famous home-made scones. So embarrased to say that this is the first scones that I ever had. :p
So I cannot judge whether it's a good one, but the strong butter taste, I certainly love it!

On our way down with Simpang Pulai route, we stop over the shops outside Cactus Valley in Brinchang to get some plant.

We also bought corn and strawberry. Baked corn is superb~

To Cameron Highlands:
- From South: Exit at Tapah toll on North-South Highway.
- From North: Exit at Simpang Pulai toll on North-South Highway.
Penang -> Simpang Pulai (2 hours) -> Brinchang (2 hours)

Accomodation/住宿: Hillview Inn Cameron Highlands
You can find my comment on this inn from TripAdvisor.
Queen Bed room at RM120
View from our balcony

Food/ 美食:
T-Cafe (Tanah Rata)
Organice Steamboat
Cameron Prganic Produce Sdn Bhd
MDCH 10, Bandar Baru,
39 100 Brinchang
Tel: 05-491 4807/491 5011

How to go Mossy Forest/ 如何到苔蘚森林:
Mossy Forest is on the same route as Sungai Palas Boh Tea station. Drive along the trunk road to tea station. There's a left turn before the guardhouse of Boh Tea station, turn left and drive along the narrow and winding road. Make another left turn, should have a Strawberry Farm signboard to the same way. If you found the road infront of you is almost 45 degree high and the road condition is extremely terrible, you are mostly overshot that junction. Spot a simen shelter and wooden staircase on your right as the entrance of mossy forest.