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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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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. 🙂

Travel Diaries: Floria Putrajaya 2014

The annual Floria Putrajaya event has become a signature event in the administrative capital of Putrajaya, Malaysia for the past seven years. This time around it’s a bit different, because…. Floria has officially become a permanent fixture! 🙂 They also received a ‘royal’ status from the Sultan, kind of like the Royal Camden Flower show in London. The nine day flower and garden show was held at the  Lakeside of Precinct 4 two weeks ago. Weather was extremely hot, so the next time around you should bring umbrellas, sunscreen, shades and a hat.

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The hundreds of colourful umbrellas at the entrance were for show only.. they didn’t give any shade at all. It was a scene for hipsters to show off their photos on Facebook and Instagram. I jumped on the bandwagon as well.

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I made a beeline for the air conditioned sanctuary of the indoor pavilion, a large tent housing creative entries by flower/garden designers from all over the world. Here are some entries!  All arrangements are made using real flowers.

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A ‘zoo’ section complete with animal props, such as elephants, monkeys and even a tiger decorated with yellow and orange orchids.

After lounging around the air conditioned tent for a bit, I walked out into the sweltering heat and immediately started sweating, even though I was dressed in a breezy T-shirt. I couldn’t understand how some families could bring their babies out in strollers in the afternoon sun, wtf. Even I almost got a heatstroke at the end of the day, imagine how those little kids would feel.

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The area was split into many different sections, often landscaped around a theme. This area had beautiful water lilies in various shades of pink and purple, floating in small pools of water. They were among the only plants that still seemed fresh and thrived in the scorching sun.. other displays were slightly wilted.

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It’s not a bad idea to have a flower and garden show, but with Malaysia’s hot weather, one has to wonder if it is appropriate.  It’s probably best to go at night when it’s cooler, but everyone else would think the same so it would be crowded.

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The nice garden displays were all by the lake. This one had an English garden feel, with white picket-like structures and potted plants hanging from them. Boats packed with visitors cruised down the man-made Putrajaya lake.

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There was a sea of colourful fans that spun in the wind, creating a nice ripple effect. From the pix, it was hard to tell it was in Malaysia – felt like a field in Taiwan or something. Kudos to the organisers, they did a really good job at the exhibits this year ! Well worth the small entry price of RM3.

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Bougainvilleas (omg I managed to spell that without fking up lol.)

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One of the landscapes was done by an award winning landscaping architect. Dubbed the ‘Hanging Gardens’, the central theme was a container fashioned into a small rest house of sorts. On the second floor, a balcony opened up to panoramic views of the lake and the Putrajaya bridge.

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The ground floor had an outdoor patio, complete with cascading waterfall and swinging seats in the shade. Would be great to have a home like that and just chill by the water with a book and a drink.

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A white woven canopy at the entrance to one of the gardens

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A crystal-themed garden with glass beads hanging from various structures, reflecting the dancing sunbeams.

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A very creative display made from plastic bottles with stars stuck to the bottom. Great way to recycle!

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Taking a brief respite from the scorching heat under a walkway of shady trees. They were themed around nostalgia/old memories, with baby pictures of a family, nicely framed and hanging from the branches.

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Beautiful orchids lining the walkway.

Overall, I’d say that the Floria team has really outdone themselves this year! Looking forward to another good installation in the next series. 🙂

Til next post !