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7 Off-The-Beaten Path Experiences in Selangor

The Malaysian government recently announced that interstate travel is allowed again. After months of isolation, many of us are understandably excited to finally be able to be out and about for leisure. Even so, we should still be vigilant – so here are seven off-the-beaten path experiences you can get in Selangor that are away from the crowds.

LEMON MYRTLE TEA PLANTATION, SEKINCHAN

TEA GARDEN SEKINCHAN 2 by @narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Lemon myrtle is a flowering plant endemic to Australia, where it is grown in abundance and used to make essential oils and tea. What you probably didn’t know, however, is that Malaysia has its own lemon myrtle plantation. Organic Lemon Myrtle Plantations has been around since 2010, and is touted as the first of its kind outside Australia. It has several nurseries, including one in Sekinchan.

The farm is usually open to the public, but is now indefinitely closed to visitors pending further updates from local tourism bodies and the government. That doesn’t mean you can’t make plans in advance, though: and visitors can expect experiences such a relaxing nap in hammocks, shopping for products made from myrtle tea at their on-site stall, and more, when the plantation reopens to the public.


PS: Prior to closure, the entrance fee was RM3 for adults and RM1 for children below 7 years of age. The plantation is usually open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9am to 5pm. Stay tuned to their social media for more updates.

Address: Lot 16281, Jalan Tali Air 6 Sekinchan,Selangor Darul Ehsan

SEKINCHAN

SEKINCHAN by @marioncaunter
@marioncaunter

Paddy fields are not something city folk get to see very often, which is what makes a visit to Sekinchan a must for day trippers from Kuala Lumpur. Come during the September to November months to admire vast blankets of green as far as the eye can see, or in December for a sea of rippling gold. Learn more about how paddy is planted, harvested and processed at the Paddy Gallery, where you can also buy sacks of rice (pearl, basmathi, brown, you name it, they got it!)

SEKINCHAN PADDY 2 by @Narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Aside from paddy fields, the enterprising folk of this small agricultural and fishing town have also turned their traditional livelihoods into tourist draws. Stop by Ah Ma House, a quaint wooden shop at the edge of the fields which sells traditional Chinese snacks like biscuits, crackers, snacks and baked goodies the likes of pineapple tarts, kuih kapit and kuih bangkit.

For a detailed guide, check out my blog post on 7 things to do in Sekinchan.

Address: Sekinchan Paddy Fields, Sekinchan, Sabak Bernam, Selangor

THE NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS, SHAH ALAM

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @littlemisshappyfeet

You don’t have to travel far for a quick, green respite: just head to Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam (The National Botanic Gardens), a green lung located in the middle of Selangor’s bustling capital. The agro tourism park covers an area of over 817 hectares, part of it designated for leisure, the rest for research.

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @maya_jaafar
@maya_jaafar

Go for a spot of forest bathing underneath the Seraya and Meranti trees which are found in abundance within the reserve, or go hiking along the paved trail to reach Bukit Sapu Tangan(200 metres above sea level), which offers panoramic views of Shah Alam. There are also cactus, orchid and spice gardens to explore, as well as an animal park and fruit gardens. The park’s famous attraction, the four season house, where visitors can experience spring, summer, autumn and winter,is currently closed and will reopen in early 2021.

The entrance fee is RM3 for adults,and RM1 for children (6 to 11 years old) and seniors above 55. Disabled visitors enter for free. Opening hours are from 7.30AM – 4.30PM, Tuesdays to Sundays.

Address: Taman Botani Negara, Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor

SELANGOR RIVER DAM, HULU SELANGOR

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

A dam might seem like an unlikely place to visit, but the Sungai Selangor Dam makes for an interesting destination, especially for nature lovers and photographers. The crystal-clear man-made lake is surrounded by picturesque hills, and visitors can also take part in fishing and cycling activities along the way. Night time sees a sky filled with stars, as the area is far from city lights and pollution.

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

Address: Lookout Point Sungai Selangor Dam, 55, 44000 Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor

PAYA INDAH DISCOVERY WETLANDS, KUALA LANGAT

Paya Indah 4

For those who like peace and quiet, Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands in Kuala Langat makes for the perfect retreat. Filled with trees, large fields and natural plants such as waterlilies, the wetlands are home to over 300 species of animals, and is also a great spot for bird watching.

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Family-friendly fun awaits, with various activities such as feeding rhinos, crocodiles and fish in their enclosures, as well as fishing, kayaking, jungle trekking and more. There’s also a Safari Insta Tour: a 45-minute ride on a truck to three scenic locations within the Wetlands, namely the Bamboo Trail, Lake Sendayan and Rumah Melayu, a traditional kampung(village) house on stilts.

Entrance fee is RM35 on weekdays and RM45 on weekends. MyKad holders enjoy a 20% discount. The Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands is open daily from 8.30am – 4.30pm.

Address: KM 4, Jalan Dengkil, Banting, 43800 Dengkil, Selangor

SELANGOR FRUIT VALLEY, KUALA SELANGOR

Selangor Fruits Valley

If you like local fruits, then a trip to Selangor Fruit Valley should be on your list. The agricultural attraction offers many types of local fruits such as rambutan, papaya, starfruit and guava, which you can enjoy for free (it’s included in your entrance fee!). Aside from the fruit orchards, there are also other attractions such as a mini petting zoo, agricultural centre, traditional houses, and deer and kelulut honey farms.

Don’t feel like walking? Hop on a tram service which takes you around the park, no hassle. When you’re thirsty, drop by the coconut stall to quench your thirst with fresh coconut water. Entrance is RM15 for adults and RM10 for seniors (above 60), children (4 – 12 years old) and the disabled.

Address: Selangor Fruits Valley SFV, Rawang, Berjuntai Bestari, Selangor, Malaysia

PULAU KETAM, KLANG

Pulau Ketam 3

Although the name means ‘crab island’, Pulau Ketam is not an actual island; more an amalgamation of homes and buildings built over water. Located off the coast of Port Klang, the place was originally founded by Chinese fishermen in the 1880s and has since become a thriving community. To reach Pulau Ketam, visitors take a ferry (RM14, two-way) or speed boat (RM20 two-way).

Pulau Ketam 1

While the ‘island’ itself is not very big, there are plenty of things to do. Being a fishing village, there are many seafood restaurant where you can take your pick of freshly caught seafood prepared in a variety of ways (salted egg, chilli, kam heong, etc.). Another popular activity is to rent a bike and cycle around the village, which has roads just wide enough for bikes and scooters (there are no cars in the settlement). Aside from colourful murals (a rather recent addition to attract tourists), visitors will also find small but beautiful old Chinese temples and quaint self-built homes made from wood and concrete.

For a more detailed guide, check out my blog post about Things To Do in Pulau Ketam.

Address: Jalan Foreshore, Kawasan 20, 42000 Pelabuhan Klang, Selangor

So there you have it! Which place in Selangor are you looking to travel to next? Remember to always maintain social distancing and adhere to standard operating procedures during your visit.

More information at selangor.travel.

**Photos courtesy of Tourism Selangor.

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5 Attractions In Cameron Highlands For People Who Don’t Like Crowds

Once a pristine mountain retreat, Cameron Highlands is a far cry from how it used to be 20 or 30 years ago. Vast swathes of forest have been cleared to make way for hotels, farms and tourist attractions. It isn’t even cold anymore in the daytime, and god forbid you go on a weekend, what with the hordes of tourist buses unloading at the flower farms and strawberry plantations. If I wanted to push and shove among a crowd, I’d go to a mall in KL – at least those are air conditioned. 😦

Depressing points aside, there are a couple of spots in CH still worth visiting, and where you are less likely to get trampled in case of a stampede.

LATA ISKANDAR 

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If you’re travelling up from the Tapah-CH side, you can’t miss the Lata Iskandar waterfall, located just by the side of the road. Comprised of several tiers, the water cascades down into pools where one can bathe and cool down from the intense heat. Despite being a public recreational area, it’s surprisingly clean, and the waterfalls are flanked on each side with lush greenery. More seasoned hikers might want to go on the trail to see unique flora and fauna in the area. There are also some shops selling local handicrafts from the Orang Asli, jungle produce and souvenirs.

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CAMERON VALLEY TEA PLANTATION 

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CH has a couple of big tea plantations, including the Boh and Bharat plantations. Cameron Valley belongs to the latter, founded by migrants from Uttar Pradesh.

Boh is popular for their jam and scones, which is served at a picturesque little cafe overlooking the valley. As such, the place can be slightly more crowded. CV also has a lookout point, but you can opt to walk down to the plantation to take pictures, or take a buggy down to a spot where they have a bridge and a small garden. PS: Entry is RM10 per pax, which is overpriced imo.

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Sam Poh Temple at Brinchang is a Buddhist temple dating back to the 1970s and is well worth a visit if you’re into culture and architecture. While not very large, the temple has intricate decor, a grand prayer hall housing various Buddha statues, and is well maintained and upkept.

CACTUS POINT

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Perhaps it is due to its location which is a few kilometres away from Brinchang, but Cactus Point is less crowded than other nearby attractions, and the spacious layout makes it easier to navigate and browse through as well. As the name suggests, the place is dedicated to various species of cacti both large and small. In fact, we were surprised by the variety of different types they have on display, from tiny ones that could fit into the palm of one’s hand, to giant ones that tower as high as an adult. They also carry a smaller selection of garden plants and flowers, and you can even buy them to take home.

BUTTERFLY FARM

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One of CH’s oldest tourist attractions, the Butterfly Farm is home to hundreds of butterflies within its enclosed gardens. It also has enclosures for live insects, reptiles, scorpions, small mammals and an aviary. The place is in need of an upgrade, as the interiors are old and dated, but since most tourists will prefer going to shiny new attractions, it means you get the whole place all to yourself! 🙂 Despite its age, the gardens are still well maintained and you can get up close to the butterflies (they have a large collection of Rajah Brooke Butterflies) while taking a leisurely stroll and admiring the garden’s pretty blooms.

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Visiting Pusat Sains Negara – The National Science Center, Kuala Lumpur

When I say it has been ages since I last visited Pusat Sains Negara, aka the National Science Centre, I meant AGES. Like 20 years. So I think I can be forgiven for having very fuzzy memories of the place lol.

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Perched on top of a hill in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, the National Science Centre opened its doors in 1996, covering two levels of exhibition space. The original building was completely green, but it underwent a year-long refurbishment to update its exhibits and emerged with a rainbow-coloured exterior lol.

Parking is limited on weekends, but you can park your car across the road and walk over via a connecting bridge.

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At the foot of the hill is a “Prehistoric Trail” featuring several dino statues. The kids (and some adults, lol) will probably love this!

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Before venturing into the centre, do detour to check out the garden, which features enclosures housing critters like frogs, salamanders and scorpions. There is also a small pond with beautiful tropical water lilies. Love the purple!

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Koi fish in hues of gold, white, red and black. The water ripple effect created a very picturesque shot even with my non-existent photo-taking skills lol

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If you like butterflies, there are lots of them fluttering within the garden!

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Entry to the center is RM6 for adults and RM3 for children. Unlike some tourist attractions that charge different rates for foreigners, the rates are the same here at PSN. Maybe it’s because most people visiting are locals anyway.

The entrance houses a tunnel aquarium with various fish, stingrays and other aquatic life.

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The first themed gallery, dubbed Wonderspark, is dedicated to natural phenomena related to water, light and wind. There are many interactive (albeit simple imo) exhibits that you can try your hand at, such as this panel that lights up according to touch, and a ‘vacuum’ circuit/maze where you insert ping pong balls and try to move the ball towards various exits.

PS: I would recommend visitors to come on a weekday. While our visit was not entirely unpleasant, it was filled with screaming, out-of-control children and weak-ass parents who didn’t know how to talk to them about lining up, or being gentle with the exhibits. 

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The central hall has a playground and benches for people to rest on. The skylight made everything look really yellow lol.

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Another gallery called Eureka, which was further split into several themed exhibitions such as Challenge Your Mind, Colour and Sound, Illusion and All About Numbers. We enjoyed doing the number puzzles, such as attempting (key word, attempting) to line up numbers 1-9 in a grid where everything totaled up to a certain number.

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The Kids Discovery Place is all about building the minds of children, with fun, interactive and hands-on exhibits – because kids learn best when they’re experiencing things! Here you will find a maze of mirrors, this complicated looking circuit which lets you launch balls and watch as they roll down to the bottom, musical instruments such as xylophones and drums, and mini cranes which kids can try to operate.

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There are more exhibits on the second level. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this section because I was too busy trying to reign in the Boy who decided to age 20 years backwards and run around like an excited child. The upstairs level was more of a mishmash of different disciplines, from chemistry to biology and physics.

For a mere RM6, I think the National Science Center is a great, educational place to take the kids. Granted, some of the exhibits may feel dated/worn out (even though they just reopened after their refurbishment) but I hope that they’ll continue to keep the place maintained well.

PUSAT SAINS NEGARA / NATIONAL SCIENCE CENTRE

Persiaran Bukit Kiara, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening hours: (Tues – Sun) 9AM – 5PM, closed Mondays

Entrance fee: RM6 (adults), RM3 (children)

psn.gov.my

Getting There by Public Transport 

There is a feeder bus (T818) from the Pusat Bandar Damansara MRT station which stops at PSN.

BONUS 

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Since we were so close to Publika, drove there for ice cream at Inside Scoop. 😀

 

2D1N Itinerary @ Genting Highlands, Malaysia

Hey guys! 

SO I took a 10-day break a couple of weeks ago to accompany the Boy who was visiting Malaysia – and one of the places we went to was Genting Highlands. For those who have never been here before, it’s basically a huge mountain resort with the only (legal) casino in the country. Works are ongoing for a new Fox Studios Theme Park, but the opening date keeps getting pushed back, and it doesn’t look like it will be up and running anytime soon.

Even so, there are lots of fun things to do in Genting, so here’s our 2D1N itinerary (for reference)!

Note: This is not a ‘budget’ itinerary; I actually blew quite a lot of money there lol. not from gambling but from FOOD LOL 

Getting There 

There are several ways to get up to Genting. Driving takes about an hour from KL, but there might not always be parking spots (especially during the holiday season or weekends) and the roads are fairly steep, so some cars might not have enough power to go up (cough mine cough)

You can also take a cab from KL, although this will set you back more than RM100. Something to consider if you are going with a group so you can split the cost.

The third option is to take a Resorts World Genting bus from KL Sentral, where they depart hourly. It’s super cheap and you can opt to purchase a package that includes the cable car (the bus does not go all the way up to the resort). You can catch the bus at the basement of KL Sentral – just follow the signs. The entrance is to the left of the escalator going up to Nu Sentral mall.

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Bus ride takes an hour and stops at the Awana Sentral Cable Car Station, which is also where you will find the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets. Not really a fan of shopping because I’d rather spend on food lol but if you like branded goods at discount prices, GHPO is a good place to shop for brands like Sacoor Brothers, Adidas, Furla, Calvin Klein, etc.

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The cable car ride takes another 15-20 minutes. The weather was super foggy during our visit; we could barely see the gondola in front!

Bus + Cable Car Ride: RM14 per pax

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The cable car takes you directly to Sky Avenue, one of the resort’s newer shopping malls. The older sections are being refurbished to make way for new outlets and attractions, so there isn’t too much to explore atm, but there’s a nice selection of retail outlets, mostly clothing and food. The SkyCasino is located on the ground floor. Wanted to go in but they didn’t allow backpacks and we were too lazy to go put it back at our hotel room so we skipped it lol.

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Decorations for the Mid-Autumn festival.

Speaking of hotel room, there are several hotels within the resort to choose from, each with different price points. The most luxurious one is Crocksford, which I recently had the pleasure of staying at for work (blog post up soon!), but without the media badge I’m sadly relegated to commoner status lol so I could only afford the budget First World Hotel.

Other options include Maxims (also pricey, 5 stars), Genting Grand Hotel (4 stars), Theme Park Hotel (suitable for sharing coz they have quad beds), Resort Hotel and First World Hotel (3 stars).

First World holds the Guinness Book Of Records for Largest Hotel in the World, with over 7,300 rooms! We had a standard room with a Queen Bed, costing RM100.

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Exploring more of SkyAvenue!

One thing I don’t like about the mall is that there. are. no. chairs. I think they want you to walk around and explore as much as possible but when I came with my mom, who is quite elderly now, we couldn’t find any place to rest at all… unless we bought a drink at a cafe. MAYBE THATS WHY LOL 

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More pretty Mid Autumn deco

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View of Genting Grand from the outside. The sun and blue sky came out for awhile

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The yet to be completed Fox Studios Theme Park. It still seems like there’s a long way to go.

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Dinner was at Burger & Lobster, the beloved London franchise that serves… well, burgers and lobsters. The outlet has been going strong since it opened in Malaysia two years ago, and even though it was a Thursday, the queue was pretty long – a good thing we got there early!

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Boy had the Original Lobster, steamed and served with their signature Lemon & Garlic Butter sauce.

Fun fact: Live lobsters are flown in from Nova Scotia in Canada and kept in RWG’s facilities to ensure freshness.

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I had Chilli Lobster – a special dish made exclusively for B&L Malaysia. It’s similar to Singapore’s famous chilli crab, but with lobster instead – and it’s served with thick and fluffy brioche slices. It was good, albeit a tad salty, but the brioche was excellent to sop up the gravy.

**For some reason, I was less impressed on this particular visit. The lobsters were good but they weren’t like WHOA, as compared to when I ate here when they first opened. Anyway the only reason we went for lobster was because the Boy hadn’t tried it before and I really wanted to get his opinion on it so now that we’ve had it, this’ll be a one off thing. UNLESS OF COURSE THERE ARE MORE MEDIA REVIEWS HEHEHE 

RM153 + RM173 + taxes = RM350++ and a bleeding wallet

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Breakfast: It was cold in the morning and I wanted siew loong bao lol. If you have never had these dainty soup-filled dumplings you are missing out on life. I was happy that they had opened a Paradise Dynasty in Genting – it’s one of my favourite places to get good siew loong bao. Boy had the colourful 8-flavour basket which includes flavours like Szechuan, Garlic, Truffle, Crab Roe, Original and Cheese.

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My favourite is the cheese so I ordered a basket all for myself hahaha. I could probably eat 20+ of these but wallet lol.

TOTAL  RM100 (probably the most expensive I’ve ever had for a breakfast).

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After checking out, we took the cable car down, stopping mid-way at the Chin Swee Cave Temple Station. You can stop here to explore the temple at no extra cost. It was raining a little and extra foggy – this scene looks like it could have been out of a Silent Hill film!

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The temple sits on forested land donated by the founder of Resorts World Genting, Lim Goh Tong, and was officially opened in 1994. Combining Chinese Buddhist and Taoist beliefs, the temple is dedicated to Qingshui (Chin Swee in Hokkien), a deity in China’s Fujian province, Lim’s hometown.

Despite being 24 years old, the buildings, statues and shrines are kept in pristine condition – almost as if it was opened just yesterday. Personally, Chin Swee Temple is one of my favourite temples out of the many I have visited, simply because of its scenic location which overlooks the valley below. On cloudy days (like this one!) it really seems as if the entire temple is floating above the clouds.

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Statue of Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong.

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The central courtyard which features a traditional wooden building that houses several deities, and a large statue of Gwan Yin, the goddess of mercy.

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Another prominent statue at the temple is that of Buddha, which towers at least three storeys-high. Look at how misty it is! Gave the place a mysterious, ethereal feel.

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The valley all but disappeared. Shrouded in mist, the dragon statues looked like they’d come alive at any second.

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View of the mountains from the temple’s balcony. It looked exactly like an ancient Chinese painting! Why travel to China when you can get breathtaking views like this here ?

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The temple has a section called Journey To Enlightenment, which details one’s ordeal after death, and subsequent rebirth. Pretty scary stuff, as the statues show in graphic detail what evil-doers will have to suffer through when in hell.

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Ye probably not something you want the kids to see lol

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The bus and cable car ride back costs about RM14.

So there you have it! Our 2D1N itinerary to Genting. Course, you can save more if you don’t eat as pricey as us bahaha.

Happy travels!

Perlis Travels: Al Hussain Mosque + Hai Thien Seafood, Kuala Perlis

It ‘s easy to see why Masjid Al Hussain in Kuala Perlis is often called the most beautiful mosque in Malaysia. Like the state of Perlis itself, the mosque may be small in size but is stunning in its beauty and unique architecture.

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The mosque combines traditional Islamic design such as geometric patterns and floral motifs with modern touches. Perched on stilts looking out to sea, it is also called the ‘Floating Mosque’ because during high tide, it looks as it the building is floating on the water’s surface. Unfortunately during our visit, it was low tide – but the sight of it in the sunset was already lovely enough as it is.

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What I found special about the mosque was its colourful stained glass windows, which I’ve only seen in churches before but not a mosque. Instead of painted walls, the walls are embedded with corals, granite, marble, pebbles and quartz. The minarets are lit up at night with different colours to signal a different prayer time and can be seen from miles around.

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After donning robes, we ventured inside. There was a beautiful blue, white and gold dome surrounded by a star pattern; each corner engraved with the five precepts of Islam in different languages. The carpeted floor had a similar colour scheme of blue and gold.

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Stained glass windows with geometric patterns.

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View from the other side of the mosque.

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After our short visit, we made our way to Hai Thien Seafood just down the road. This is one of the most popular spots in Perlis to have fresh, tasty Chinese-style seafood. Since the establishment is halal, you’ll find people of all races dining here! 🙂

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Our hosts did all the ordering. My favourite was the soft shell crab – lightly battered, crispy on the outside, sweet and flavourful on the inside.

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Other dishes that we had: fried rice with chicken, steamed fish, salad shrimp and stir fried mihun (vermicilli noodle). Loved the salad shrimp which was served with fruit and a sweet creamy sauce, only qualm was that there wasn’t enough to go around.

HAI THIEN SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

02000 Kuala Perlis, Perlis

The jetty at Kuala Perlis is a good place to enjoy the sunset, take in some beautiful sights and wrap the night up with a scrumptious seafood meal. Definitely a must visit if you’re in Perlis! 🙂

 

7 Things To Do In Perlis, Malaysia’s Smallest State

When you think of tourist spots in Malaysia, most people would think of places like Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, but never Perlis. Which is a pity, as Malaysia’s smallest state is big on things to explore. As Malaysia’s tiniest state, it often gets the butt end of jokes about how Perlis is so small, (insert joke about small things)

via MGAG 

via Wikimedia Commons

Located on the far northern reaches of Peninsular Malaysia bordering Thailand, Perlis covers 810 square kilometres and has a population of about 190,000 people aka lesser than the population of my city, which is 51.71 kmsq – 400,000 people. But that also means they have a lot more space.

Once under the kingdom of Siam (you can still see a lot of Thai influences in everything, like food, language, etc.), they were ceded to Kedah in the mid-19th century, but have a ruler of their own, known as the House of Jamalullail. The special thing about Perlis is that while other states have a Sultan, Perlis is the only one that calls its ruler Raja (king).

Now, if it hadn’t been for a work trip, I think I wouldn’t have gone to Perlis anytime soon. I went with the impression that Perlis was going to be this boring little place with nothing but paddy fields…but guess what? I thoroughly enjoyed it there. It was a good escape from the city, and I can see coming back here just to chill and enjoy the sights.

Here’s what you can do:

1 ) Visit the Galeri Diraja @ Arau 

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(Above) Istana Arau

15 minutes away from Kangar is the royal city of Perlis, Arau – home to Istana Arau. The palace dates back over 100 years and is a beautiful showcase of the region’s Malay architecture. The building is off limits, but visitors can stop by at the adjacent Galeri Diraja, a museum which houses precious collections belonging to the Perlis royal family.

On special occasions, such as Hari Raya or 2017’s Malam Kilauan Cahaya (Light Illumination Night), the palace grounds are opened to the public.

2) Admire the view from Tuanku Syed Putra Bridge

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Located at the mouth of the Kuala Perlis river, evening is the best time to come, as you’ll be able to see stunning views of the sunset, fishing boats returning for the night, and the distant shapes of Langkawi and Thailand looming against a pink/blue tapestry.

Best way to get here is to Google this location: Pasaraya Seri Utama Kuala Perlis , then ask the locals.

3) Take a stroll by the beach / snap pictures of the ‘most beautiful mosque in Malaysia’

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Take a stroll and enjoy the sea breeze along Kuala Perlis Jetty, which has a nice paved boulevard. You will also find what many people dub the ‘most beautiful mosque in Malaysia’ – Masjid Al-Hussain. It’s not very large, but the design is definitely unique, as it features stained glass windows like those you find in churches. The mosque looks like it’s ‘floating’ on water during high tide, but even during low tide, it is a lovely sight.

4) Tuck into scrumptious seafood

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Not too far from the mosque are numerous seafood restaurants, located within a large foodcourt. Vendors put out displays of fresh fish and seafood to entice customers, and you can have it in different styles – tepung goreng, steamed, assam pedas –  you name it, they have it! A very famous place here is Hai Thien, a Chinese-style restaurant that is so popular even the royals come here to dine! The spot is halal, so you will see people of all races dining together.

5) Hangout at a chic cafe-cum-art gallery

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Part cafe, part cosy mishmash of knickknacks and art gallery, Blackwood Coffee and Chocolate Kangar is owned by the Perlis royal family and has several outlets in Perlis, Kedah and one in Penang. The Kangar branch is an Instagrammers dream, with loads of paraphernalia from around the world the likes of dreamcatchers and a giant kangaroo doll. There is a small shop selling souvenirs and T-Shirts, and a large collection of Coca-Cola items (the Crown Prince is apparently a big fan of Coke souvenirs).

6) Shop like crazy at Padang Besar

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Padang Besar is a border town that is very close to Thailand. There’s a running joke about how they had to name it Padang Besar (large field) because Perlis is so small lol. This is a shopping haven for cheap items. There’s a large complex with many vendors selling makeup, beauty products, clothing, toys, cookware, bags, shoes, fake jewellery, and more.

7) Buy produce

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Because of the relatively smaller population, Perlis has plenty of land for agriculture. Like Kedah, it is a rice producer, and it’s common to see vast swathes of paddy fields. Other popular produce include the mempelam harum manis and rock melon. Pay a visit to the farms to buy them fresh. The harum manis is really, really sweet and fragrant, I kid you not. Better than the Philippine mango. My Filipino boyfriend will kill me for saying this.

BONUS

There are actually other things you can do in Perlis; but these were just the ones I went to because we were only there for 2D1N (and most of it was spent working).

  • Bukit Keteri – limestone hills with lots of crags and nooks for rock climbing. Only for the adventurous!
  • Gua Kelam – literally ‘dark cave’, once home to stone age men, according to archaeological finds.
  • Muzium Kota Kayang – museum with interesting exhibits of the state’s history
  • Snake and Reptile Farm – One of only a handful of snake farms in Malaysia, home to some 200 snakes from 30+ species.
  • Wang Kelian Market – A border town with weekend market selling cheap goods. On Sundays, the border guards open the Thai side so you can go over to buy stuff without having to present your passport.
  • Tasik Melati Recreational Park – Park with a small but beautiful lake.

Detailed posts of places visited coming soon!

***Eris Achievement Unlocked – 12/13 states in Malaysia visited ! 

Urban Green Spaces – Secret Garden, Upper Roof 1 Utama

Living in the city, there aren’t too many green spaces outside of the allocated parks and forest reserves. In major metropolises, people have taken to ‘urban’ green spaces, converting their apartments or rooftops into small sanctuaries of green. While the practice hasn’t fully taken off in Malaysia, there are a few initiatives slowly taking root, such as the Secret Garden on the upper roof of 1Utama Shopping Center in Petaling Jaya. The mall has a ‘rainforest’ section – a small oasis in the middle of the building – so its great that they have another one! 🙂 The rooftop space is under utilised anyway.

PS: Apparently this place has been around since 2009, I just wasn’t aware of it. Better late than never, they say 😀 

To get to the place, simply look for the lifts that are between the Old and New Wing. The lift has a button labeled ‘Secret Garden’. Guess it’s not so secret after all. 😀

Since it is an open air rooftop concept, it was quite sunny and humid during our afternoon visit. The garden is quite large, spanning across 30,000 sq ft, and is divided into two sections. There are over 500 types of tropical plants/flowers to be found here!  Some of the plants are labeled to provide information to visitors.

I think the ‘curtain’ structure was very Instagrammable 🙂

Cosy nooks with benches for people to sit and just chill.

They also do guided tours and people can use the venue for wedding photography. Check or schedules on their FB page 🙂

Not a gardening enthusiast so I didn’t know what everything was called – but it’s nice to just walk around in a garden setting, don’t you think ? 🙂

We had these back at our old home. Ixora plants (woo, I got one right!) We used to make ixora bracelets and necklaces out of them. 🙂

Secret Garden

7th Floor,
1 Utama Shopping Centre
1 Lebuh Bandar Utama
Bandar Utama City Centre
Petaling Jaya
47800, Selangor, Malaysia.

ADMISSION: FREE

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM, daily.

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Drift Like A Pro @ BlastACars Malaysia

*first published on http://www.efy.com.my on January 30 2016.

*2017 update: BlastACars Malaysia has moved to a new location at Sungei Wang Plaza, Kuala Lumpur.

Watching the Initial D movie will make you want to whip out your steering wheel and go cutting corners like a pro. In the film, racers pit their cars in street races against each other. There was an emphasis on drifting – a flashy technique where the driver intentionally oversteers, causing loss of traction in the rear wheels.

Today, drifting is a motorsport of its own, with tournaments and races around the world. Malaysia even has its very own female drifter, Leona Chin.It’s too bad we (regular) Malaysians can’t do that on the roads without getting a big fat saman or causing accidents!

….. or can we?

A Need for Speed

BlastACars Malaysia opened its doors to Malaysians in May 2015. Here, drivers fulfil their need for speed on drift karts – specially designed karts that are made for drifting.The indoor race track in the industrial area of Balakong, Selangor covers two acres of land, with a track measuring around 200m. Originally from New Zealand, BlastACars has been around for 27 years before an ingenious young Malaysian decided to bring it to local shores.

“Regular gokarts run in straight lines. It can’t drift as it will lose its pickup power when going through corners,” BlastACars Malaysia chief executive officer John Wong explained. Drift karts, on the other hand, are heavier at the bottom with a more powerful engine, more torque and higher capacity (up to 390 cc). “When you accelerate, it will lose traction almost immediately, allowing the kart to drift,” said Wong.

It all started with Wong discovering BlastACars through social media. “I thought it has a lot of potential, especially in the Klang Valley where everybody is finding new things to do,” he enthused.

“Go karting is mainstream and has been around for some time. I wanted to do something that is really different and stands out from the crowd,” said Wong, who also has an avid interest in motorsports.Deciding that this would be a good and healthy place for people to hang out, Wong flew to New Zealand to discuss the business deal. It took over nine months for him to seal it. Prior to opening BlastACars Malaysia, Wong was in the sales and marketing line for more than 10 years. Currently, this is the first and only BlastACars franchise in Asia.

The center has 10 karts, but only six are allowed to run per session. “If you see some players on track, it might seem easy. But it’s not!” he laughed .“Some players might end up driving all over the place. When there are more karts inside the tracks, chances are they will bump into each other.

“Although our safety system is good, too many karts on the track will spoil the fun as every time you come to a corner there might be someone there and you won’t be able to do drifting properly,” he elaborated.

Sessions are divided according to ranking – Novice, Intermediate, Advance and Pro. Karts for each category have different speeds. A standard run is 12 minutes. For beginners, Wong recommends they play two to four rounds to really ‘get the hang of it’. “It’s common during the first run to just apply what you know about driving. The first round will always be ‘kelam kabut’ (messy)!” he chuckled. “Practice makes perfect.”

Test Run

Enough with the banter – can I go live my dream as a master drifter now?

The friendly staff led me to a briefing room where I watched a video explaining rules and safety. Once that was done, I walked down onto the track where I put on a helmet, got into the kart and strapped on the seat belt. Then I had to demonstrate to the staff that I knew how to reverse the kart with a side handle, in case my vehicle knocks into something.

Red, yellow, green, go! Once the light turned green, I pressed the pedal and the kart zoomed forward. The feeling of going at a high speed on a track was exhilarating!  I had to avoid tyres which were placed to form obstacles all around the track. Drifting is not as easy as it seems. It was very hard to control the steering and make the kart drift around sharp corners. One round is definitely not enough for a beginner.

After many laps, I slowly got the hang of it. I left the track with adrenaline pumping in my veins and a sense of accomplishment.

Rules and Regulations

The minimum playing height is 120cm. There is no maximum age, as long as drivers are in a healthy condition.“We provide them with helmets. It’s best to wear shoes when playing. Our karts also come with seatbelts. They are built to be very tough and won’t flip, which is a common thing in the go kart world.

If someone really can’t handle the kart well or in case of emergencies, staff can use remote control to slow down the karts or cut off their engine.

The place accepts walk-ins and bookings. A major part of the clientele are working adults. They also do corporate events such as team building and product launches.It seems that many people come here to blow off steam after work, as prime hours are after 10pm. The center opens until 2am, with last call at midnight.Other than locals, Wong claims they get a lot of Singaporeans and Bruneians, especially on weekends.

“We hope to push this to become one of the hot tourist destinations in future, as you can only get BlastAcars here in Malaysia,” he added.

If you’d like to get a feel for the track before actually going onto it, there are racing simulators in the comforts of an air-conditioned room. With triple screens, it feels like you’re in a cockpit of a car. “We have loads of international tracks in it so you can drive a lot of different cars. It’s 80% similar to driving a real car,” Wong claimed.

On future plans for the company, Wong says that they wanted to focus on the current outlet first.“We’ve had enquiries from other countries. We hope that by the end of the year we might have some good news,” he said.“We want to push this to become an international sport, so we definitely need it to be in a few countries,”

Prices start from RM50 (Novice), RM60 (Intermediate) and RM80 (advanced). They are currently running a Happy Hour Buy 3 Free 1 promotion from 6pm – 9pm daily. This session is 15 minutes each, which gives you one whole hour of drifting!

BlastACars Malaysia is located at Lot 72887, Kawasan Industrial Balakong Jaya, 43300, Balakong, Selangor, Malaysia.

Opening hours are from 11am til late daily. For more details, visit www.blastacars.my

And this is how professionals do it!