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Malaysian Neighbourhood: A Photo Series

I’m back!

I know, I haven’t updated for close to a month now. Being cooped up at home is getting stressful, even for shut-ins like me who can go for long periods of time without human interaction lol. Even embroidering (hobby I picked up earlier this year) has lost its spark.

For some reason, I can’t seem to get out of this state of languishment. I dread having to submit work these days, despite having the luxury of working from home. Also I had a COVID scare a couple of weeks ago; tested negative and recovered from the flu, but ever since then I’ve been having trouble breathing / a feeling of tightness in the chest. The doc says it could be GERD, but it could also be anxiety.

I feel slightly better this past week, so I’ve been going for walks around the neighbourhood, just to get out of the house and get some fresh air. It’s funny how being deprived of the basic freedom of going out without worry, changes the way you see things. Every leaf seemes greener, and I notice tiny details, on shrubs and flowers and on the ground, that I would never have paid attention to before. It’s true what they say about not knowing what you have until it’s gone.

Here are some photos from my walkabouts. Enjoy!

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The park near my home is small but pretty. It hasn’t been well kept so there are a lot of leaves and branches strewn around, but it’s still a good place to go jogging. But if you’re a mosquito magnet like me, don’t go in the evenings. Alternatively slather on some repellent.
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It’s mango season. I never noticed how many houses in my neighbourhood have mango trees.
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Also papayas

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Bougainvilleas are also called ‘paper flowers’ (bunga kertas) in Malay because of their thin petals.
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There’s a house a street away from where I live that has this beautiful garden in front, and it’s always bursting with blooms.
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Ixora, known locally as bunga jenjarum (needle flower). When we were kids, my brother and I often chained the flowers together to make garlands.
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Yellow alamanda

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A neighbourhood tuxedo meow in the grass. Despite its grumpy look, it was actually very friendly and allowed me pats.
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My parents have been into gardening these days.

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Notices prohibiting people from going to the adjacent neighbourhood.

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The Malaysian national flower, Bunga Raya (hibiscus).

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Hope you enjoyed this photo series!

2021 is coming to a close; I feel like I haven’t even processed 2020 yet lol.

Hope you’re all doing okay, wherever you are.

Royal Floria Putrajaya 2019 @ Taman Botani Putrajaya

The Royal Floria Putrajaya – Malaysia’s premiere flower and garden show – has been held annually for over 10 years now. First conceived in 2008, the idea was to have the nation’s very own version of famous horticulture shows such as the RHS Chelsea, Hampton Court and the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

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Last year’s Floria was a pretty well organised affair, so I was surprised (and quite disappointed) by the quality of 2019’s event, which has significantly dropped. I think the organisers know this too, as the entry price is much cheaper (RM5 for Malaysians, RM10 for nons). They’ve also moved the venue from Anjung Floria (near the lakeside), to Taman Botani Putrajaya. It’s not convenient for a couple of reasons:

  • Lack of parking spaces. You’ll have to park at the edge of the Putrajaya roundabout, and it can be a really long walk to the entrance. Not to be mention dangerous when crossing the road.
  • The garden is MASSIVE (like 3 acres). Not friendly for old folks and children. They do have intermittent buggy services, but it takes a long time to walk from exhibit to exhibit, and they’re all scattered across the park with no proper directions.

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We went at night because it was cooler. While you’re here, check out the cool-looking Astana Morocco, or the Moroccan Pavilion, which was built with the assistance of the Moroccan government and artisans. The Moorish architecture, reminiscent of places like Cordoba and Granada in Spain, features walls, pillars and archways covered in exquisite detailing. Geometric motifs abound on tiled floors, and water flows from beautiful basins. It’s no wonder the place is popular for wedding photoshoots.

 

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To be frank, the exhibits were not as impressive as the previous edition, and they were so scattered across the park that we had a hard time walking around (pretty sure we missed out on a few due to poor directions and just the general layout of the place, with its undulating hills. Good workout though!)

Another point that they could improve on is lighting. I understand it’s hard to light up an entire park that is meant to be visited in the day, but there were exhibits sitting in the middle of nowhere and paths that were poorly lit. Almost fell flat on my face a couple of times after tripping over branches/holes in the ground and whatnot.

That isn’t to say that there weren’t a few interesting displays, however. Here are some highlights:

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This avenue of trees by the lakeside, draped over with colourful fairy lights.

 

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By far the most impressive showcase was by Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur. Beautifully landscaped with various plants and flowers,  great use of lighting, and they even had actors playing fairies to take photos with visitors.

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Kudos to Mr Fairy. I was sweating in a T-shirt and shorts, and he had make up on + what looked like a heavy costume and headdress.

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A display representing the state of Terengganu, including a replica of the famous Batu Bersurat, a 700-year-old granite slab inscribed with verses in Jawi (Classical Malay script) surrounded by water ways and flowers.

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I dub this the Onion Disco, because they’re shaped like onions and they had disco lights inside.

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Antiques and vintage paraphernalia inside a replica of a traditional Johor-style kampung (village) home on stilts.

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A Japanese garden, complete with a bamboo water feature and a small flowing stream.

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Another interesting exhibit – the Johor Chateau featuring wires strung together to form archways and a building.

Royal Floria Putrajaya will be running until September 8, so there’s still time to catch it this weekend at Taman Botani Putrajaya, Precinct 1, Putrajaya. It is open from 10AM – 10PM.

 

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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The Secret Garden @ 1 Utama – The Botanical Garden On The Rooftop Of A Mall

It’s been years since they built The Secret Garden – a huge botanical garden on the rooftop of 1 Utama Shopping Centre – and while many are aware of this not-so-hidden secret, there aren’t many people visiting the place. WHY? 

My hypothesis is that our hot and humid Malaysian weather makes it uncomfortable to walk around in, since you start sweating the moment you leave any air-conditioned space. It’s such a shame, when you compare it to the experience of walking through parks overseas in spring or mild summers. But you gotta work with the cards you’re dealt with, I suppose. lol.

That being said, if you’re planning to visit The Secret Garden, try to go up in the evenings when it’s cooler; like how CH and I did when we were at the mall recently:

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Touted to be the largest rooftop garden in Southeast Asia, the garden covers over 2,700 sq metres of space and is home to about 500 species of plants, mostly tropical and cool climate. If you like plants, this is a great place to enjoy the greenery and take photos of beautiful flowers.

  • PS: If you’re a mozzie-attracting person like me, be prepared for bites.
  • PS 2: Not a botanist or avid gardener of any sort, so I won’t be identifying every single plant in this post lol. Enjoy the photos!

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Bunga raya aka the hibiscus, Malaysia’s national flower. Commonly found in red but also in other variants such as the above. Long stem, large petals. The red colour is supposed to symbolise courage, while the five petals represent the Rukun Negara (National Principles) of Belief in God, Loyalty to King & Country, The Supremacy of the Constitution, The Rule of Law, and Courtesy & Morality.

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Dancing-lady orchids, so called because they resemble the figure of women in large flowing gowns. NOW YOU CANT UNSEE IT

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?? 2

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Bougainvillea flowers are known as bunga kertas (paper flowers) in Malay.

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I think this was an English rose. Love the vibrant hue!

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The garden boasts nicely landscaped areas, with shady gazebos and tunnels covered in plants.

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More pretty but unidentified flowers lol

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Look at that breathtaking colour combo. Wow.

So the next time you want to take a break from the shopping at 1 Utama, spend a moment or two at The Secret Garden. Entry is free.

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

Beautiful Blooms @ Royal Floria Putrajaya 2018, Malaysia’s Premier Flower & Garden Show

Modelled after world-famous flower and garden events the likes of the Chelsea Flower Show in London, the Philadelphia Flower Show in the US and the Singapore Garden Festival in Singapore, the Royal Floria Putrajaya is an annual event held in Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putrajaya. This year marked a significant milestone, as the show celebrated its 10th anniversary, and was held over a 9-day period coinciding with the long Merdeka Day holidays.

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The last Floria installment I attended was in 2014, but the events have always been pretty well organised so I was expecting as much this year. Brought the Boy here on a weekday evening to avoid the crowds; and it did not disappoint. There was a colourful tapestry at the entrance – they had a similar one in 2014 but with umbrellas.

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Living in the city and in a tropical country, it’s hard to find temperate blooms – so it was nice to see the colourful flowers and beautifully landscaped gardens.

The original Floria shows were free, but a couple of years back they started charging people  (currently it’s like RM14). It’s not too pricey, and I feel that it’s worth the entrance fee, since I can see that they’re improving their standards and exhibits year after year.

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Beautiful colour combi!

**Some idiots actually laid down on the flowers so they could take a ‘flower bed’ pose like wtf you are crushing the flowers

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One of my favourite spots was this nicely landscaped and designed garden, complete with a pathway lined with sheer curtains, and an elevated walkway leading into a wooden house, tastefully illuminated with ambient lighting.

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Also a water fountain with the Malaysian flag projected on it!

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More flowers.

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Another themed section called The Enchanted Garden. There was a hidden dark room within with a digital projection of butterflies  onto physical plants. The effect was quite magical.

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View of the Putrajaya bridge from one of the building’s balconies.

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Another themed area which caught my eye was the replica of the royal palace in Kuala Kangsar, Perak. The architecture was spot on, and I liked the gazebo which was lit up by changing colours.

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The weather was pretty muggy even though it was evening, so we escaped to the air conditioned confines of a tent, which had an exhibition on orchids and floral displays.

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There was a Suiseki (stone) and wood exhibition which was extremely interesting! Apparently there are collectors for these rare and oddly shaped rocks, stones and wood which have not been carved or altered in any way, save for a few accessories here and there. It was fun trying to see what shape they resembled, and a little hard to believe that these were made by nature and not man.

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A piece of wood that was a dead ringer for a monitor lizard.

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A gold prize winner, which resembled a monk/pilgrim in flowing robes, holding a cane.

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Another one that looked like a certain Chinese deity with a sloping forehead, a walking stick pointed outwards and a bag under his shoulder. YOU CANT UNSEE IT 

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Mechanical flower made from glass bottles. Creative! It could open and close its petals.

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A gazebo in the themed garden for the state of Terengganu.

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Lanterns in the Chinese garden.

Until next year, Floria! Twas’ a fun experience, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll have in store for 2019. 🙂

Attractions in Betong, Thailand : Beautiful Blooms @ Betong Winter Flower Garden

Living in a city in the tropics, it’s rare to be able to see temperate-weather flowers, unless one drives several hours up into the mountains. In Betong, Thailand, though, you can find a nicely landscaped garden full of beautiful blooms just 30 minutes outside the city. Surrounded by lush green hills, the Betong Winter Flower Gardens is a tourist attraction-cum-resort that offers a tranquil retreat up in the hills.

  

The gardens cover a huge area, replete with a lake stocked with fish and a cafe overlooking the water. You can buy food to feed the fish and watch them swarm over the pellets/pieces of bread. Visitors can take a stroll or rest under gazebos on a raised platform next to the lake.

Chalets for rent. There isn’t much to do around here other than walk through the gardens or visit the nearby communist tunnels. I wouldn’t pick this as a place to stay, unless you really want some R&R.

The main garden area is nicely landscaped and great for photos. It was rather sunny though so we quickly escaped into the shade of the nursery.

Proof of a city girl who cannot name more than a few types of flowers/plants. I christened this the bulu ayam because it resembles chicken feathers lol.

Chicken comb? Velvet brain?

 

This five-fingered fruit which was extremely adorable. It had tiny bumps on it that looked like spread-out fingers.

I realise that people have much dirtier minds than I do because apparently this fruit also goes by the name of Nipple Fruit, Lady Nipples (??), Macaw Bush (???), Titty Fruit (wtf?), Apple of Sodom (okay…) and Nipple Nightshade. That’s a lot of naughty. lol.

The gardens are not that big and can be explored within an hour, but you can spend more time just chillin’ and relaxing while enjoying the beautiful sights. There is also a restaurant for when you need a bite or two.

BETONG WINTER FLOWER GARDEN

Moo 2 Tanoamaeroa SubdistrictBetong 95110, Thailand

Phone number for Bookings:  +66878991153

Opening hours: I can’t seem to be able to find an official page or the listed opening hours, but we went there during the day around 2PM. Probably opens at 10AM and closes by 5 since it gets dark at 6PM.

Chinese New Year @ Sunway Pyramid – Spring Flower Market

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It feels like a never ending string of festivities – with Christmas and New Year’s just over, we’re already gearing up for Chinese New Year (which falls on Jan 28 this year!). Ushering in the Year of the Rooster at Sunway Pyramid is a Spring Flower Market, featuring dozens of beautiful flowers and plants for sale.

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Auspicious plants to have in your home for the New Year – neat little bamboos arranged in a cluster. Bamboos are considered lucky and represent strength. Some are twisted to form auspicious shapes like the number 8 (8 in Chinese sounds like ‘prosperity’ – making it a favourite number for special occasions)

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Fake decorative peonies. No less pretty though!

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Colourful orchids in a variety of hues and patterns.

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One of my favourites: look at that vivid colour!

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Also on display: terrariums.

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Aside from orchids, there were also other flowers. Sorry, my knowledge of flora is limited so I have no idea what these are.

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Over at the other concourse, the mall had set up a Hong Kong style ‘avenue’, with posters of old HK movies and prop-filled shopfronts. To mark the year of the rooster, a giant chicken sat atop the structure.

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Bel, Jo and I took our customary CNY reunion photo at the photo booth, with a backdrop of a traditional herbalist’s store.

Happy CNY!

Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm, Malaysia – Pluck Your Own Strawberries !

It has been a chill and relaxing weekend at Genting Highlands – time to head home! Our last stop was Strawberry Leisure Farm, located at Gohtong Jaya at the foot of the hills. The weather is not as cooling as up in the mountains, but flowers and strawberries still thrive in this spacious garden.

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Entrance to the gardens is RM8 for adults.

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We were greeted by rows upon rows of strawberry plants. Unlike the commercial farms in Cameron Highlands, which have been swarmed with tourists and plucked to death, the plants here are healthy with a good amount of juicy strawberries. Course, you have to pay extra to go in and pluck them. They did allow me to take some pictures from the side though.

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Random: did you know that there are ‘Ichigo’ or white strawberries in Japan? They are completely white as they don’t get sunlight, and are said to be very sweet and juicy. One piece can cost over 1,000 Yen (USD10)  and upwards per piece! The priciest strawberry is the Bijen Hime (Beautiful Princess), costing a whopping 500USD and weighing up to 100gms.

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If you’re not into pickin your own fruits, the place sells them nicely packaged in plastic boxes. They do look tantalizing..

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Some parts of the garden are closed to the public, presumably to allow the strawberries time to grow / for their own harvesting purposes.

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Strawberries aren’t the only thing you’ll find here – they also have flower gardens housing roses, lavenders, and many more. We head through a shady tunnel draped in tendrils and pretty shrubbery.

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The upper deck was filled with these purple dandelion-like blooms. Unfortunately, there were no labels and being a city girl, I wasn’t familiar with many of these flowers lol. I’ll regale you with some pictures instead ! 🙂

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Purple lavender patches

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Nicely landscaped. The purple + white and green contrasted really nicely.

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Roses. The weather was warm though so they looked kind of wilted.

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We weren’t expecting the gardens to be so big. Spent an hour or more exploring the place. Lots of nice flowers everywhere – great for pictures!

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A very odd piece of furniture, but I’d totally have this in my garden just for a laugh.

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These orchids are called ‘dancing ladies’. Do you see the resemblance? Apparently they look like women in a dress with flaring sleeves, like a traditional Spanish flamenco costume.

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Large white orchids. They looked healthy and well-cared for.

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The Strawberry Farm is well-worth the RM8 we paid. From the outside it looks small but there is more than meets the eye. They also have souvenir shops, cafes where you can enjoy strawberry-based products such as tea/jam/ice-cream (albeit overpriced) and more.

GENTING STRAWBERRY FARM 

No. 1, Lot 3707, Jalan Jati 2, Bandar Gohtong Jaya,
Genting Highlands, 69000 Genting Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia
Business hours: 9AM – 6.30PM (Daily)