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Shah Alam Lake Gardens, Shah Alam

Malls may be popular in Malaysia because of our sweltering tropical weather, but for those who want a green respite in the city, there are many well landscaped parks to explore too. One of the largest in Selangor is the Shah Alam Lake Gardens, located in the heart of the state capital, Shah Alam.

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Designed by renowned Japanese landscape architect Fumiako Tanako, the Shah Alam Lake Gardens opened in 1985, covering a massive 43 hectares (roughly the size of 35 football fields). The park is built around three man-made lakes, and includes playgrounds, exercise lawns with equipment, elevated walkways, cycling and jogging tracks, gazebos, a floating seafood restaurant, and even an extreme sports tower where you can ride the flying fox across one of the lakes.

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N and I came here for a walk after our visit to the immigration nearby, thinking it would be a nice and relaxing stroll. We’ve never been here before, so when we parked at the east entrance and saw the smallish lake there, we thought ‘meh we can do this in under an hour’.

What we didn’t know is that the park is divided into three sections. We only ‘discovered’ the Central and West sections after walking through an underpass and emerging into another massive area lol. Still underestimating its size, we decided to make a ‘circuit’ around. It ended up being an absolute workout that took over two hours. The good news was that I got almost 20,000 steps in!

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The east section is smaller than the others, but has one of the most picturesque views of Shah Alam’s famous Blue Mosque. If you stand at the bridge spanning the lake (or a bit further, like in this shot), you’ll get wonderful shots of the building reflected on the water’s surface.

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The park is beautifully landscaped with a variety of different trees and plants. On the East end, you’ll find sparse-looking trees forming an archway over the bridge, which I think is very-eye catching for photography.

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Peeping Tom

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Some of the flowers you’ll come across at the park.

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After passing an underground tunnel of sorts, we emerged to the gardens’ Central area. It was massive, but it looked like there was an elevated walkway built across the lake where we could cross—so we (foolishly) decided to press on. We would later find out that the walkway was closed 😛

By then we were too far in to walk back the way we came so there was no choice but to finish the entire circuit lmao.

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If you’re an adrenaline junkie, look out for a tower in this area where you can sign up for the Flying Fox activity. N and I are too old for that sht, so walking on these elevated walkways was plenty of excitement already. The walkways were connected to each other with these wonky wooden bridges that swayed dangerously whenever someone walked on them—and although they weren’t high above the ground, it was a strenous workout to balance ourselves and not fall over.

The large trees provided plenty of shade. We even saw a couple of bushy-tailed squirrels darting across the branches!

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Taking a breather.

I actually missed out on taking pictures because I was getting tired by the time we got to the halfway point and was only focused on getting to the end. But along the way we passed by well-maintained exercise lawns complete with equipment, a massive children’s playground, the floating restaurant, and a boat rental area where you can rent paddle boats out onto the lake. There is also a museum, which was closed during our visit.

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As you loop to the other side of the lake which faces the Immigration department, you will see birds such as storks and geese. We even came across a giant monitor lizard slithering along the water’s edge.

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What we thought would be an easy, hour-long walk turned into a two-hour excursion—but not an unpleasant one. If you cycle or jog, this is a great place to workout, soak in the sights, and breathe in the fresh air. I think it’s wonderful that we have such nice parks right in the middle of the city that offer a respite from the concrete jungle.

SHAH ALAM LAKE GARDENS

Persiaran Tasek, Seksyen 14, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor

Parking: Public parking is available at several entrances around the park.

Transport: It’s best to drive to the park. Alternatively, take bus T754 from the Shah Alam KTM station.

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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.

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Sipping Corner @ Plant & Pot Studio Puchong

Hidden at the back of a plant shop in Bandar Puteri Puchong, Sipping Corner by Plant & Pot Studio might just be the greenest cafe in the city. Opened last year, the place has already gained a loyal following – and because of its small capacity (the place seats about 15 at most), reservations are encouraged to avoid disappointment.

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If you do manage to get a seat, you’ll be well rewarded with a cool and relaxing spot to chill and sip on a drink, surrounded by foliage. The Cafe offers a selection of coffees (espresso, long black, honey americano, latte, cappucino) and teas (blue mint honey, red roselle honey), as well as signature beverages (Matcha, Salted Gula Melaka Latte, Matcha/Hojicha Latte). Baristas are very friendly and accommodating.

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Grab a sweet slice to go with your drink. Cakes range from RM13 to RM15 per slice.

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I didn’t dine-in coz the Moo finished her shopping and we had to make a move – but I got one of their signature drinks, the Salted Gula Melaka Latte, to go. The palm sugar was creamy and sweet, but it was well balanced thanks to the hint of saltiness.

If you’re looking for a quick green respite, drop by for tea time – but make sure to call in advance.

SIPPING CORNER @ PLANT & POT STUDIO

 78G, Jalan Puteri 5/5, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM (daily)

Phone: 018-578 6311

Hello!

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Hamarikyu Gardens @ Chuo, Tokyo – A Green Respite From The Tokugawa Shogunate

Despite being an ultra-modern metropolis, Tokyo has beautiful green spaces – like the Hamarikyu Gardens in Chuo-ku, just a stone’s throw away from Ginza. Like an oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle, these tranquil gardens once served as the hunting grounds and imperial R&R spot for the Tokugawa clan, in Edo-era Tokyo.

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I was only able to visit at 4PM – leaving me an hour to explore the place. There had been a typhoon the night before, so some sections of the park were closed for repairs, but there was still plenty to see – like the majestic 300-year-old pine tree greeting visitors at the entrance. Typical of Japanese parks, many of the trees and rocks felt carefully composed and structured, with wide gravel paths and immaculately manicured lawns.

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Each season offers a different view – in the hazy summer heat, tiny yellow cosmos peppered the field. In spring, visitors will be privy to blooming plum and cherry blossoms, while fall brings with it autumn foliage on maple and gingko trees.

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Ignoring the shadow of the buildings surrounding the park, it’s easy to imagine how the royals would use the park as a tranquil retreat, hunting ducks from behind blinds or enjoying tea by the pond.

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Reconstruction of traditional buildings

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The park is built around a man-made lake, which draws its water from the Bay of Tokyo.

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Drop by for a spot of tea at the park’s traditional tea house, which is built on a platform at the edge of the lake, giving it the appearance that it’s floating. Visiting is free, or you can order a matcha for a fee.

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The Hamarikyu Gardens is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo for a couple of hours, and it’s also less crowded than some other parks in the city, such as the Imperial Palace East Garden or Kiyosumi Teien – so you’re almost always guaranteed of having the vast grounds to yourself (or close enough to it). It’s also very accessible, being a 5-minute walk from Shiodome Station or a 15-minute walk from Shimbashi Station. Entrance is 300 yen (RM 11 / USD 2.64).

 

 

 

 

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.