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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Kuala Kurau Roadtrip: Day 2

We went on a short road trip from 16-17 December 2017 to Kuala Kurau.

On the second day, we had breakfast provided by the hosts at My Home Twenty One Guest House. We were served fried bee hoon (vermicelli) with lots of prawns, and prawn and chives (koo chai) pancake.


After breakfast, we rode the bicycles around the compound of the guest house.

[One, two, race!]

[Bike-ride with Mummy]

[Bike-ride with Daddy]

Later in the morning, we went on a river cruise in Kuala Gula. We saw many birds commonly found in the area. Some may have been migratory birds but we were unsure. We were also taken to an area to feed the brahminy kites, an experience also found in Langkawi. At the river mouth, the boatman also tried digging for cockles but unfortunately there weren't many. Apparently many cockle rearing efforts in the area had failed. At some point during the river cruise, the boatman let the kids steer the speedboat - they were absolutely thrilled!

[River cruise]

[River cruise]

[Justin steering the boat]

[Lesser adjutant storks]

[Brahminy kite]


[Dried prawns]

After the river cruise, we had lunch at Ai Tee Seafood Restaurant. Since a visit to this area is not complete without sampling the seafood, we indulged in some fish and soft-shell crab.

[Deep-fried soft-shell crab]

After checking-out of the guest house, we stopped at the Selinsing Charcoal Factory on Jalan Gula not far from the guest house. We left smelling a bit like bacon!

[Mangrove tree trunks to be made into charcoal]

[The kilns]

Heading back to Penang, we made a final tourist stop at the Aitong Coffee Mill in Taiping.

[Coffee beans]

[Antong Coffee Mill]

[The Antong giant coffee cup]

Overall, the roadtrip had a mix of what the kids and adults enjoyed. We have to admit that what is educational is not always exciting, e.g. the salted duck egg factory elicited the familiar "now that we've seen it can we go now" response. Anyhow, we think the kids enjoyed the river cruise and the "blue house" best on this trip.

Kuala Kurau Roadtrip: Day 1

We went on a short road trip from 16-17 December 2017 to Kuala Kurau.

We left Penang just after 10am on 16 December 2017. Our first stop was the Universiti Sains Malaysia Engineering Campus in Nibong Tebal. It is a beautiful and green campus with lots of birdlife.

[Bart at the USM Engineering Campus main gate]

[USM Engineering Campus greenery and the pond]

[Blue-tailed bee eater at the USM Engineering Campus]

After lunch, we look the scenic route to Ban Pecah. The area is famous for paddy fields just next to the sea, and the unique erosion prevention structures.

[Family photo at Ban Pecah]

[Inter-locking concrete erosion prevention structures]

We arrived in Kuala Kurau town around 2.20pm and headed straight for the Joo Hong Chan salted duck egg factory. They weren't making any salted eggs when we arrived but we saw the various equipment to sort the eggs, prepare the mixture of clay and salt, and coat the eggs with ash. They are ready to be eaten after curing for about 2 weeks. As we were leaving, a forklift was loading a lorry with boxes of salted duck eggs. We were told that there were about 30,000 eggs shipped out that day.

[Duck eggs]

[Sorting machine]

[Clay and salt mixture]

[Ash-coating machine]

[Salted duck egg]

Next, we crossed the river over to Bagan Seberang and headed to an unassuming village stall selling the famous prawn fritters of Kuala Kurau. With clockwork coordination, a deep ladle is coated with batter, filled with a mixture of chopped turnip, chives (koo chai) and prawns, and topped with another coat of batter. The content of the ladle is then deep fried to golden-brown and crispy perfection. Delicious!

[Prawn fritter ingredients]


[Fritters all done]

[Kuala Kurau prawn fritters: Delicious!]

[At the Kurau River riverbank at Bagan Seberang]

We stayed at My Home Twenty One Guest House in Kampung Leang Seng, off Jalan Gula. Formerly part of the surrounding oil palm plantation, the hosts built a number of chalets and a cafe around their old village house. We checked-in to our 2-room family chalet which comes with extra open-air rooftop space. The place is really a hidden gem. The cafe served food and drinks at reasonable prices and bicycles were available for a ride-a-round. The children fondly calls the chalet the "blue house" for obvious reasons.

[My Home Twenty One]

[[My Home Twenty One: Family Chalet]

[My Home Twenty One: Original village house and cafe]

Friday, June 30, 2017

Permaculture Perak Jungle Farmstay: Day 3

On our third and final day of our jungle farmstay at Permaculture Perak in Lenggong, we had pan-baked bread for breakfast with passionfruit and nangka (jackfruit) jam and some ulam (edible herbs) - daun kadok, ulam raja and misai kucing.

[Justin's bear head-shaped bread]

[Pan-baked bread with edible herbs]

As we readied to leave the farmstay, we bought jars of passionfruit and nangka jam, and candied nutmeg.

[Passionfruit and nangka jam, and candied nutmeg]

At about 11.45am, we left the farmstay to return to Lenggong town. After retrieving our car from the rest house, we headed to Lata Kekabu - a popular waterfall. It was already 12.30pm when we arrived. Instead of playing in the stream closest to the parking area, we took a 10-minute walk and were rewarded with the sight of the waterfall. Here, we had the whole place to ourselves.

[The waterfall at Lata Kekabu]

[View looking away from the waterfall]

We left Lata Kekabu at about 2.00pm for lunch at the Restoran Tasik Raban. They are famous for ikan bakar (grilled fish) and various traditional Malay dishes.

At about 3.45pm, we bid farewell to Ladia, Amy and their two kids, and headed back to Penang.

Overall, it was a very interesting experience for all of us. Being an off-the-grid farm with intermitent solar electricity power, it was a welcome change to be less occupied with electronic devices for the three days we were there. It's not a holiday resort. It's more of a permaculture-driven, back-to-basics, sustainable-living farm. Hence, there's a certain "jungleness" feel to the whole place, bearing in mind that Ladia and Amy run the whole place by themselves, save for the occasional volunteers. Truly an experience we and the kids will remember.

Permaculture Perak Jungle Farmstay: Day 2

Early on the second day of our jungle farmstay at Permaculture Perak in Lenggong, we were awakened by the resident cockerel. We had homemade granola and freshly harvested passion fruit for breakfast.


After breakfast, we walked around the farm. Beneath where we camped, on the ground floor of the Kilang, there were a chicken coop, and a cow shed. The chickens are reared for eggs and meat, and the cows for manure and their trampling on the soil. A few stingless bee (lebah kelulut) hives were kept outside the farmhouse. A few dogs helped guard the farmstay.


[Julian collecting eggs]

[The very shy cows]

Around the farm there were all sorts of fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables. There were durian, passion fruit, lime, pomelo, star fruit, banana, pineapple, tumeric, misai kucing, ulam raja, cinnamon, pumpkin, bitter gourd, hill rice, yam, and gourd just to name a few. Ladia is also experimenting with chestnut, vanilla, and mushroom. Permaculture Perak is not a commercial farm. So, whatever is grown is more for the family's consumption.

[Chestnut seedlings]

[Mushrooms grown on logs]

Before noon, we decided that we would let the children go fishing at the fishpond just behind the Kilang, but not before digging for earthworms. Although there were some good-sized tilapias in the pond, the kids only managed to land the small ones which were then released. It was a good experience for them nonetheless.

[Digging for worms]

[Jianna's catch]

Later in the evening, we went for a short 20-minute jungle hike through a ginger grove to a pool. Along the way and back, we picked-up a few leeches.

[Ginger grove hike]

[Another cool dip]


After dinner, we prepared the dough for the farmstay's traditional pan-baked bread. It was a creative experience, adding whatever spice you wish. For this batch of dough, Ladia mixed in cumin and oregano. Then, we all had some fun shaping our own bread and left them aside to rise overnight.

[Dough-mixing fun]