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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Agarwood, Sam Poh Tong, and Papan Outing

On 31 August 2012, as an extension of our holiday, we visited an agarwood (or gaharu) plantation in Gopeng, Perak. Agarwood, after being infected by a type of mold, produces a valueable resin. The company which owns the plantation in Mukim Sungai Teja, Gopeng, manufactures tea, herbal soup, nougat, cookies, and other health products made from gaharu. Visitors can tour the plantation to see the oldest gaharu tree before listening to a talk on the health benefits of gaharu and buying stuff from their factory outlet. Gaharu ice-cream is also on sale.

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[Gaharu hug: Apparently, hugging a gaharu tree brings good luck...]

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[Gaharu plantation]

After the agarwood plantation, we drove to Sam Poh Tong. It's a popular cave temple in a limestone hill. We took the boys there mainly to walk through the cave and to feed the tortoises.

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[Julian and Justin feeding the tortoise with kangkong (water convolvulus)]

On 1 September 2012, we drove to Taman Herba Papan in Papan, Perak, The herb garden was closed. So, the kids played in the stream.

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[Jianna and Daddy having a dip]

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[The boys at the stream at Taman Herba Papan]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jianna at 5 Months

Jianna was 5 months old on 30 August 2012. She weighs 7kg and is 67cm in length.

Here are her updates:
  • She can easily flip over onto her tummy and back onto her back.
  • She can move herself forward and in different directions caterpillar-style.
  • When lying on her back, she likes to hold her feet, sometimes even sucking her toes.
  • Her face seems fairer than the rest of her body. This is probably due to the use of "bedak sejuk" when she had some rashes on her cheeks.
  • She has started grabbing at things, especially to put into her mouth.
  • Her curiosity has grown.
  • She looks longingly at the food we put into our mouths! Haha...soon, dear girl, soon...

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[Jianna on her tummy]

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[Jianna enjoying her hands]

20120830_JiannaSuckToe
[Forget the hands, toes are tastier]

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[Jianna]

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Highland Holiday 2012: Part 2 (Cameron Highlands)

The second day of our Highland Holiday (29 August 2012) saw us in Cameron Highlands for the day. Camerons is quite a distance from Moonriver Lodge where we stayed (30km or about 35 minutes to Brinchang, and 37km or about 45 minutes to Tanah Rata). Due to the distance, it was not practical to go back to the lodge for a rest so it was a full day's outing.

We started at the MARDI Agro Technology Park in Tanah Rata. It's one of our favourite places as we get to see a variety of flowers, vegetables, fruits and other plants. As during our previous visit the giant melons, tomatoes, and apple trees were among the boys' favourite.

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[Julian feeling a brown pear]

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[Justin admiring some flowers]

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[The five of us at the MARDI station. Photo by Dad]

After lunch, we went to pick strawberries at Mountain Strawberry Farm in Sungei Palas. This time, one of the farm hands offered to take photos for us and he took some pretty interesting shots. The boys enjoyed themselves as they had eagerly anticipated this activity. One of the reasons for our choosing this farm was that it used to have a mini "zoo". However, the enclosures have since been poorly maintained. Nonetheless, the boys reported seeing a few ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits, and goats.

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[Justin plucking strawberries]

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[Justin showing off his loot]

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[Julian aiming for a giant strawberry. Photo by the farm hand]

After paying for our strawberries, we headed to the Sungei Palas Boh Tea Centre. It was low harvest season and hence, we did not see any tea being processed when we toured the factory. After a quick walk-through of the factory, we had tea and cakes. A biplane was busy flying over the plantation which was a bonus for the boys as they are plane-lovers. We suspect the plane was releasing fertilisers over the plantation because we heard the sound of pellets falling on the roof of the tea centre at one point.

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[Tea time]

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[The boys and Dad taking in the view]

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[The Grands at Boh]

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[The biplane making a pass]

We had wanted to visit Kea Farm next, but as we left Sungei Palas it started to rain. So we decided on Big Red Strawberry Farm instead as it was shaded. Somehow, this has become our "must visit" place in Camerons. Julian (and Justin) managed to do their vege inspection, and Angie caught up on some highland retail therapy at their souvenir shop.

We had an early dinner in Brinchang as our package at the lodge did not include the main meals on the second day. We were back at the lodge by about 7pm.

On the second night, the lodge owners were around and we joined them for a video presentation on interesting farming methods while the boys watched TV in the lounge.

On the whole, we enjoyed our stay in the highlands this round. What made this trip different and special was our stay at Moonriver Lodge. It offered an interesting blend of great hospitality (thanks to our host Misha and the lodge owners Albert and Nancy), simplicity, cosiness, and nature to complement the commercial and touristy Cameron Highlands.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Highland Holiday 2012: Part 1 (Moonriver Lodge)

We headed up to the highlands for a holiday from 28-30 August 2012. It was Jianna's first holiday (the elder two boys also had their first holidays up in the highlands). Dad joined us on this trip.

We chanced upon Moonriver Lodge while doing some research on the choice of accommodation. It is a highland farmstay situated in Lojing, Kelantan about 800m above sea level. It had good reviews on Tripadvisor and disappoint it did not.

We arrived at Moonriver Lodge via the Simpang Pulai-Gua Musang road at about 2.30pm and we were taken on an introductory tour of the lodge and its surroundings. Julian harvested two heads of cabbage, much to his delight.

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[Julian harvesting a cabbage]

After tea at about 5pm, we went jungle trekking on the lodge's Water Valley Trail. It is a pretty easy trail leading to a waterfall, suitable for small children. The trail criss-crossed a stream which the boys enjoyed wading through in their borrowed rubber boots. The trek lasted about an hour.

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[Trekking along the Water Valley Trail with our guide. Photo by Dad]

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[We made it!: The boys at the lodge's in-house waterfall]

On returning, the boys proceeded to inspect the heavy vehicles at the lodge. It was their first time getting onto a digger and a tractor. Needless to say, they were thrilled to bits :-)

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[Easy does it: Julian manouvering the tractor around the bend]

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[Justin calling it a day after toiling on the digger]

After a bath, we had dinner at about 7.30pm at the lodge. After dinner, we hung out at the lounge cum library. It is carpeted and cosy, and the kids watched some cartoons on the TV.

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[Lazing in the lounge]

Bedding is basic but comfortable on raised platforms. We were assigned to Room 5 at the Lovelock Lodge just next to the Main Lodge which can accommodate four single mattresses side-by-side. This is ideal for us as we don't have to worry about the kids falling off their beds. Overnight temperature was satisfyingly cold. It was 20°C at breakfast time and we were told that it was probably 18°C overnight.

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[Our beds in Lovelock Room 5]

Currently, electricity at the lodge is provided by a generator which comes on between 7-11pm. Rechargeable LED nightlights are provided in each room for use after the generator is shut down for the night.

We were pleased to discover Moonriver Lodge as it's a good place for the two boys to roam around and explore the surroundings as opposed to the usual confines of a hotel room or a rented apartment.

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[Run!]

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[Justin having some quiet time on the hammock]

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[Julian and Jianna going for a swing]

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[Path between the Lovelock Lodge and the Main Lodge]

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[View of the Main Lodge from our room]

They can also be found on Facebook: here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Julian at 63 Months

Julian turned 63 months on 28 August 2012.

Here are his updates:
  • He is showing more interest in learning Malay and Mandarin. We notice improvement in his Malay reading as well. At school, he is now learning how to write chinese characters.
  • He has now learnt to type in URLs on the web browser such as www.starfall.com, www.youtube.com, and www.maskargo.com. He could also type in searches on YouTube, his favourite being "upin dan ipin hari raya" and "airplane".
  • He sometimes insists on having whatever Justin is having, such as toys. This leads to fights between the two. We are still trying to get them to share and to teach Julian to be more elder brother-like.
  • He stills likes to explore things around him and dislikes being restrained from doing so. We are anxious about this because he often roams off in public places. In coffee shops or food courts, as soon as he has finished eating, he would already be wandering about, curious about what's happening at the foodstalls *sweats*.

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[Wok's cooking?]

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[Sleeping on a kiddie ride]

Justin at 37 Months

Justin turned 37 months on 25 August 2012.

Here are his updates:
  • He is improving on his reading and can even spell simple words.
  • He is quite imaginative and can make up stories.
  • He likes playing with Jianna but can sometimes get irritated (and complain) when Jianna touches him or his car seat.
  • Fights with Julian quite often lately.

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[Justin posing like the girl in the book]

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[Justin singing his kindy song]

He recently started substituting words in popular nursery rhymes. The results were rather embarassing, unfortunately *hides face*. Here's one of his creations:

One little two little three little bum bum
Four little five little six little bum bum
Seven little eight little nine little bum bum
Ten little bum bum owk owk! (pass motion)