We love to take pictures. Pictures that capture moments of everyday life. It is these moments of colour and light, of the extraordinary as well as the common which remind us of the immense beauty we live in. Some pictures were taken at our guesthouse. Others in our neighbourhood or somewhere around Kuala Lumpur. We hope you like them and feel inspired to discover Malaysia on your own. If you feel like having more picturesque moments in life, just follow us on Instagram (orangepekoeguesthouse). See you there! Cheers!
Has it ever happened to you that you miss out on a destination somewhere close by simply because you are telling yourself that you can go there any time anyway? Well, we had this experience before and it looked like eventually we would have to add Genting to our list of blank spots. The fact that things turned out differently is thanks to dear friends who helped us make “Project Genting” come true.
So on a recent Sunday afternoon we finally left Kuala Lumpur in north-eastern direction. Traffic was light and hence the city gave way to the rainforest in no time. A moment of bliss! After passing the “Genting Skyway” station (see TIP) we stopped at the Chin Swee Caves Temple.
The construction of this Taoist temple was initiated by Genting founder Lim Goh Tong who picked the most scenic spot of the Genting Highlands for this place of worship. It took 20 years to complete this project because of the steep and rocky terrain in this area. If you are not in a hurry, a stop is highly recommended. Don’t miss the beautiful view on clear days!
From Chin Swee Caves Temple it is another 10-minute drive before you reach Resorts World Genting. The name, we thought, may easily trigger too high expectations, especially with those who know Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore (both are operated by the Genting Group). Unfortunately, Genting’s age (the first hotel opened in 1971) shows and you wish that somebody came up with the idea to give the entire resort a facelift. We know, people do not come here for architectural beauty but for entertainment. But with big new entertainment resorts being currently developed all over Southeast Asia, an optical upgrade – especially of the facade of most buildings – seems mandatory.
To be fair, we understand that renovation works are on-going. It is also important to mention that Genting is in the process of building the world’s first 20th Century Fox World theme park which is scheduled to open in 2016. Undoubtedly, this new attraction will have a rejuvenating effect on the resort.
Optical aspects apart, Resorts World Genting offers entertainment both for adults and children. It houses Malaysia’s only land-based casino which attracts both a local as well as an international crowd. And for kids and families there are attractions like SnowWorld, a Video Games Park, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and more.
As we are neither into gambling nor able to call ourselves kids any more, we are not in a position to report back to you on these things. But guess what, we still had a great time! There are many restaurants to choose from, it’s fun to just stroll around and watch things happen around you and then there is one thing you won’t find on Sentosa – the fresh, crisp air. When you are used to KL temperatures, 19C just feels sensational! All in all we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, not least because a visit to Genting Highlands means to do something of the extraordinary and to take a break from everyday life. We promise to be back in 2016 once the 20th Century Fox World theme park is open. And just in case, if you have wondered: the Bentley below is not ours. Well, not yet 🙂
Tip: If you go to Genting Highlands by car, you should calculate roughly one hour for the 55km journey. Alternatively, there is a convenient bus service between downtown KL and the resort. Coaches depart from Puduraya bus terminal. The cheap tickets include a ride on the Genting Skyway cable car. If you decide to go for a ride on the 3.5km long cable car (which is fun), the tradeoff is that you won’t get to visit the Chin Swee temple.
Where to hang out. Once again, take a deep breath and shift into a lower gear. It’s all about relaxing and letting go. One place that we found particularly suitable for this exercise is The Baboon House (No. 89 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock). Run by artists, The Baboon House is all in one – a cafe/restaurant, a gallery, a studio and a home. Here is where young artists from near and afar hang out and exhibit their works. Everybody is super friendly. So it’s easy to mingle and to make new friends. But of course nobody will mind if you go there with your favorite book for an hour of me-time. Other places that we recommend are Limau-Limau Cafe on Jalan Hang Lekiu, Calanthe Artcafe (Jalan Hang Kasturi) and of course Geographer for drinks at night. If you are mobile and want to do it like the locals, you should also go for a Klebang Coconut Shake (on Jalan Klebang). This place has become an institution and is hugely popular. There are many more choices and its fun to discover these places.
Thanks to our host we also got an introduction to the Baba-Nyonya who used to play an important role in the old days. The term Baba-Nyonya (also Peranakan Chinese) refers to descendants of early Chinese immigrants (15./16. century) who mixed with locals and eventually formed an influential “cast” that had its own language, culture and cuisine. We already mentioned the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. Excellent, authentic Nyonya food is prepared by aunty Amy at “Amy Heritage Nyonya Cuisine” (75 Jalan Melaka Raya 24). Check it out 🙂
How to get to Melaka. Coming from Kuala Lumpur it takes about 2 hours to reach Melaka. If you don’t have you own car, taking a coach might be the best option. Buses leaving from the southern bus terminal charge around RM 13 for a one-way ticket. If you like to depart from KL city center, you may want to opt for Nice ++ whose buses leave from the old railway station (tickets are RM 22 per adult). When you stay with us at The Nest, we will be happy to help you plan your onward trip to Melaka.
Tip: Melaka gets very busy on weekends. If you want to experience a more quiet, intimate place, visit during the week.
What to do. Many tourists go to Melaka just for a day trip. We believe that is a mistake because this town is all about affording the luxury of switching into a lower gear. Hang out, chill, read a good book, have a good conversation, meet interesting people from all over the world – these are all things we would associate with Melaka in addition to sightseeing in the traditional way. Of course Melaka with its long history offers plenty of things worth a visit. You will certainly end up on Jonker Street (night market on weekends) at some point, you will go for a stroll along the river and you will climb St. Paul’s Hill. You may also visit the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum (more on the Baba-Nyonya later), the replica of the Sultan’s Palace and the Flora del Mar (taking pictures of this old vessel from the outside is enough as the inside has little to offer). Further options are the Stadthuys (now a museum, in colonial times seat of the Dutch administration), the Red (or Dutch) Square or e.g. the old Kampung Kling Mosque in Chinese architecture. We recommend all these places but we believe that it’s equally important to spend time chilling out in some of Melaka’s popular hangouts.
Even hard-core urbanites need the occasional break from busy city life. Problem is – where to go if time is limited and if you do not dispose of your own means of transportation? Here is the good news: Kuala Lumpur is blessed with a green oasis of more than 90ha that is commonly known as the Lake Gardens. Lake Gardens whose official name is “Perdana Botanical Garden” since it was revamped and upgraded not long time ago, is located close to the city centre and can easily be reached by taxi. KL’s “Central Park” which was first designed by the British is built around an artificial lake. Lush, tropical greenery, water falls, flowers, plants and differently themed sections of the park are a true feast for the eye. A deer park and a large playground make Lake Gardens also a great destination for families with children. On weekends Lake Gardens tends to get busy with locals. So if you want to have the park for yourself, go there during the week. Entrance is free.
Tip: We recommend Lake Gardens for a breakfast picnic. Get there around 8am, bring some food and coffee and enjoy a serene morning before you dive back into the hustle and bustle of downtown KL. A great way to start your day if you visit KL! You can also combine your picnic with a visit of KL’s Bird Park which is just next door.
During our recent stay at Cameron Highlands we payed a visit to Sungai Palas Tea Plantation – a must for everybody who is in the area. Sungai Palas has a long tradition that goes back to the late 1920s. Since then tea has been grown on the estate which is closely linked to the name “BOH” (Malaysia’s biggest tea brand).
Getting there is a bit of an adventure. A narrow road takes you to a lofty altitude of some 2,000 meters (local tour operators organize tours – so you don’t need a car). Once you arrive you know why this destination is so popular. The setting is really beautiful, the air is fresh and a modern visitors’ centre provides interesting information. Of course, Sungai Palas also has a tea house and a visit would be incomplete without trying a cup of highland tea and one of their lovely scones. We also visited the tea factory where the tea leaves are processed in five steps after they have been harvested. And of course we ended up buying tea from the Cameron Highlands that we took back with us to Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately, we can’t promise you scones – but a cup of tea from Cameron Highlands is definitely waiting for you when you stay with us at The Nest.
Tip: Sungai Palas Tea Plantation is open everyday except Monday from 9am until 4.30pm. Factory tours are provided every 30 minutes and are free of charge.
Cameron Highlands is all about relaxing. And that’s what we did. We stayed for 2 nights and thought this was just perfect. After we had dropped off our luggage in the hotel, we drove to Brinchang (the other township in the area) where we had excellent “Steam Boat” dinner at one of the roadside restaurants. Brinchang also has a weekend market where you find honey, strawberries and other local produce.
Speaking of which: strawberries are one of the most important crops in the Camerons. If you have time, visit one of the farms where you can pick your own fruits. We opted for Big Red Strawberry Farm and were amazed by the endless variety of strawberry (derived) products that are sold there. From jam to body lotion, from milk eclairs to shampoo – this is strawberry paradise! After a quick stop at one of the bee farms we moved on to Sungei Palas Tea Plantation which turned out to be the absolute highlight of our trip (more on Sungei Palas and Boh Tea in our next blog entry). Forget about the other tea plantations – this is the place to go – and we are saying this not only because of the great scones and the tea that we enjoyed there.
After we had returned to Tanah Rata we browsed through some of the souvenir shops where we found a most useful Cameron Highlands Discovery Map. It only costs a few Ringgit and gives you a great overview of the area. We also discovered that local tour operators offer a number of day tours which allow even those who travel without car to explore the area. If you have time, sign up for one of the jungle trekking tours to discover the beauty of the mossy highland rainforest – you won’t regret it.
Where to stay: Cameron Highlands has an array of hotels and guesthouses that suit every pocket. For some odd reason, not all of them are listed on tripadvisor. If you travel by bus, we recommend to look for accommodation somewhere in the centre of Tanah Rata. This way you are not only close to the bus station but can also choose from a bigger variety of places to hang out in the evening.
Recently, we took a break from KL’s vibrant city life and went on a weekend retreat to Cameron Highlands. The Highlands are located some 220km north of Kuala Lumpur in the state of Pahang and deserve their name – after all you find yourself in refreshing 1,500 – 2,000 meters altitude.
The Camerons are named after William Cameron who discovered the area in 1885 during a mapping expedition. But even though the potential of the Highlands was understood early, the actual development of Cameron Highlands as a resort and farming area only started in the 1920s. Today, Cameron Highlands are famous for their extensive tea plantations, fruit and vegetable farms, highland rain forests, scenic nature and mild climate.
The latter is one of the first things you notice when you arrive in Tanah Rata, the administrative centre of the region. With daytime temperatures of around 24C and cooling 15C during the night, the weather is perfect not only for busy urbanites like us but also for visitors of Malaysia who like to take a break from the hot climate of the “Lowlands” (to be continued).
How to get there. Reaching Cameron Highlands is easy. Busses from KL to Tanah Rata leave daily from Pudu Sentral bus terminal. The journey takes 4.5 hours and costs some RM 35 (one way). If you plan to go to Taman Negara or further north to Penang, it is convenient to combine these destinations with a stop-over in the Highlands. Bus companies and tour operators offer transfers in both directions. When you stay with us at The Nest, we will be happy to assist you in planning your trip to Cameron Highlands and Taman Negara.
Even hard-core urbanites need their occasional escape from the city. One of the great aspects of KL is that escapes into beautiful nature are possible without having to plan long ahead. We went to Kanching Rainforest Waterfall between Gombak and Rawang which is only some 30 minutes north of Kuala Lumpur.
At the car park we were greeted by a family of monkeys who did a routine check on us (bananas, anybody?) but who otherwise didn’t bother to give us any special attention. After we had passed a picnic area with water pools, we entered the forest and followed the jungle trek along the river. Old trees, giant leafs and a huge variety of plants everywhere. Are we really just on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur?
Eventually we reached our destination and could not wait to get into our swimming trunks which we had brought for the best part of our outing – an all-body rainforest waterfall SPA treatment with compliments from Mother Nature. You have got to experience this amazing “therapy” to see what it does. Within a few minutes your entire body/mind system is recharged and energized – better than anything we have ever had in a real SPA.
After a chill-out in one of the natural pools next to the waterfall, we changed back to dry clothes and eventually found ourselves at the small restaurant next to the park entrance where great local food was waiting for us.
Kanching Rainforest Waterfall can best be reached by car or taxi. This forest reserve is close to Batu Caves which is why a combined visit can be a great idea.