Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Strange name for a cafe & restaurant. Then we saw this poster inside that says "Strangers are friends you haven't met yet". Clever. Previously located in SS2/75, it has moved to bigger premises in Sec 19/36 in Petaling Jaya. Featuring an all-you-can-eat steamboat menu, the special thing about this place is the sheer variety of dips & sauces available. But last night we decided to have a lighter meal preferring the noodles & rices dishes. Overall, a satisfying experience. The Singapore fried meehoon was decent while the Kung Po chicken rice was a tad on the sweet side. A pickled salad of cucumber & seaweed fared better.

Strangers are friends you haven't met yet

Pickled cucumber & seaweed salad

Kung po chicken rice

Singapore fried meehoon

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Jungle Hut Cafe

Located in Bukit Rahman Putra in Sungai Buloh, this is one of the very few decent cafes around. Its signature dish is the western style butter crab, comes in a claypot laced with thick buttery sauce and with a generous sprinkling of bird chillies and curry leaves. We usually order toasted bread to clean up the yummy sauce. Lip smacking stuff! And washed down with a couple of ice-cold Heinekens.... Details of location is here.

Decor of the cafe is like Tarzan's tree house

Bar area - serves up quite a range of beers

Butter crab western style, signature dish

Berjaya Times Square

Favourite pastime in Malaysia? Shopping & eating. Preferably in air-conditioned environment. First time stepping into Times Square. Went for the 3D movie Bugs! at the 1st IMAX theatre here in KL. Lunch at Long John Silver as Poh Yee & Kah Choon had to fuel up on fries... Later they went to Cosmo's World, an indoor theme park for the roller coaster rides. The more sedate folks went for a coffee fix at Starbucks.

Indoor theme park Cosmo's World

Grilled fish in black pepper sauce at Long John Silver

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Canon EOS 350D

No. I have not gone over to the "other" side. Still very much a Nikon supporter. Was at YS Photo in SS2 to get the Canon 350D for Lai May my sis-in-law who was bitten by the digicam bug. Being a Canon user & already owning a few other lenses, it was a natural progression path for her. A full review of the camera can be found here. Welcome to the digital era & happy shooting!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Belated birthday

Had a small makan session in the office for belated birthdays this month for Ming Teck & myself. The chocolate cheese cake from Secret Recipe was sinfully good. Thanks guys! Really appreciate it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mooncake Festival

Mooncakes and lanterns have been the symbols of the mid-autumn festival which falls on the fifteenth day of the eight month in the lunar calendar. The story dates back to the Yuan Dynasty in 13th century China where the oppressive Mongols ruled. An uprising was scheduled against the Mongol rulers when the harvest moon was full. The people communicated on the timing of the uprising through messages concealed in cakes. Brightly lit lanterns signalled the start of the revolt which ended the Mongol rule. To this day, Chinese celebrate the event with mooncakes & lanterns.

Poh Yee & Kah Choon having fun with lanterns at the Sungai Buloh house (Photos taken with the Nikon D70s at ISO1600 without flash)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Lake Gardens in Taiping

There has been a prolonged drought in Taiping resulting in some parts of the lakes drying up. Quite an irony for the wettest town in Malaysia. But the rainy season is coming and hopefully the lakes will be filled to its normal levels. Cloudy skies at this time does not help in the photos taken. The old raintrees remain an awesome sight, straining towards the lake as if to take a sip of water. The boathouse is still an eyesore marring the natural beauty of the lakes. And nearer to the playground, the tennis courts seems like an ugly appendage to otherwise a pristine and lovely lake environment.

Light House Seafood Restaurant

Located in Matang, a riverine town near the coast of Perak, it is about 10km away from Taiping town. After the Maxwell Hill sampler, we headed there for lunch. Famous for its fresh seafood, its signature dish must be the porridge. Customised to your liking, you can add prawns, crabs, fishballs, pompfret fish etc. Pricing is reasonable. Other finger-licking stuff includes the fried oysters in batter (or chien), shellfish, mussels, and on some days, shark meat.

Seafood porridge with prawns, fishball, pompfret fish, mushrooms

Clams in superior soup

Boiled spiky shellfish (chi lea in hokkien)

Maxwell Hill

It has been ages since I've been up to Maxwell Hill & Lai Ping had not been there although she has visited Taiping for the last 10 years. So, this time we gave it a go. Arriving at the foothill at 9.30am, the next jeep going up was at 10am. Return fare Rm4-00 per person. Very cheap! Later, we found out why. 12 of us had to squeeze into a Land Rover that will take the ride up the 11km journey! Tighter than Levi's 501s.... After 30 mins of hairpin turns & whiffs of b.o. from other passengers, we were there!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Piano Cafe

There are no coffee chains in Taiping town the likes of Starbucks or Coffee Bean. Given the small population and the relatively lower cost of living, it's unimaginable for people here to pay Rm5.50 for a cup of coffee. So we were pleasantly surprised to see the Piano Cafe opening shop some time back. Serving ice blended coffees & various teas and offering coffee house food, most times the place was not crowded at all. We hope more Taiping folks patronise new places like these, to give them a chance bring newer stuff to town.

Piano cafe is on Theatre Road where most photo studios are located

Cafe mocha, green tea & sushi

Taiping casual market

Often I've wondered on the name of this market which has been around forever. Essentially a food court with all the good stuff Taiping has to offer. One of my all time must-eat-one is the teow chew fried koay teow with fishballs. If you tapau, the noodles will be wrapped in a type of leaf (semboyan) & this gives it a distinctive flavour. Cost RM2.40 a plate now. Used to be 50 sen back in my primary schooldays. Another favourite is the mee rebus (chinese variety) which has very crispy prawn crackers added.

Fried teowchew koay teow

Mee rebus

Pun Chun Restaurant in Bidor

This is a favourite pit stop for trips back to Taiping and today was no exception. My sis Beng Choo mentioned of a special mooncake that had dried oysters in its filling (?). Well, we just have to get some and try. But the all time must-haves at Pun Chun is the wanton noodles with duck drumstick steamed soup (ngap toi meen). Of course, the fried yam dumpling(woo kok) are also just as wonderful with its tasty filling & just right pastry that melts in the mouth.

Wanton noodles that are springy & not soft with slivers of char siew

Fried yam dumplings

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Vacation in Shanghai

We decided to visit Shanghai after plans for Bangkok were dashed due to heavy rainfall there. Ricky suggested that December would be a better time to visit Bangkok. And it so happens that Malaysia Airlines were again promoting their online ticketing with discounted fares. But it was a real hassle getting them online. Took us like 1 1/2 days to get it done ! Accomodation was arranged by Lai Ping's sister who is now working in a town called Zhangjiagang, which is 2 hours' drive from Shanghai.

For Lai Ping, this would be a shopping trip while for me, it's to test the Nikon D70s on the Shanghai scene especially the lighted old buildings at night on the Bund and the skyscrapers of Shanghai such as the Pearl Tower & the Jin Mao Tower (tallest building in China). Got another 1G CF card from Danny of YS Photo since I will not be taking the laptop along. Although at Large/Fine JPEG settings the camera indicates 297 shots, I was able to shoot more than 350 shots. To bag all the camera stuff, I got the Lowepro AW Nova 4. I wanted a Crumpler but the one available at KLCC was too small. The Manfrotto 718B was shipped along to get the slow speed night shots. As usual the Nikon 5200 was the backup camera in case the D70s gets into any problems.

Temple like building in the Cheng Huang Miao area, reputedly the most touristy area

Souvenirs were available on every corner

Lunch at Old Shanghai Hotel

Eight treasure duck

Simply Thai in Xintiandi

Buddha plaque on the wall

Dinner was at Simply Thai, a fashionably smart outlet complete with Siamese paraphernalia in its decor. Fish cakes, green curry chicken, glass noodles salad & cold beer to wash it down. Taste was somewhat subdued. Not the fiery stuff you get in Malaysia.

Water Village in Zhou Zhuang

Zhou Zhuang is an ancient town located in the southeast of Suzhou city. According to history, Zhou Di gave up his residence to build a Buddhist temple and donated 13 hectares of his private land in 1086 during the Song Dynasty. Due to his generosity, the people named the village Zhou Zhuang after Zhou Di's name.

For the past 900 years, Zhou Zhuang has grown into a flourishing river town by farming the areas south of the Yangtze River. All the buildings are retained in its original form and 60% of its residents still live in these ancient houses alongside construction from the Ming & Qing Dynasties.

At the entrance to the water village

The water canals that lined the village

An interlocking bridge

Colourful handmade straw bags

Boat lady who sang while rowing, for a fee, of course!

Lunch at one of the restaurants that lined the entrance to the village. The river prawns was cooked not to our request and they also refused to change it. Lai May wanted it to be freshly boiled while the dish that came was cooked in some kind of sauce which sort of marred the freshness of the prawns. Nothing great as the prawns were the scrawny kind. The puffer fish is the locally bred China variety, not the poisonous Japanese kind. Cooked in again some dark sticky sauce, the flesh was sweet & flaky but the size was too small. Of course, the signature dish is these parts, the braised pork knuckles was also sampled. Not impressive at all.

The Lingering Garden in Suzhou

Serene garden setting

Musical interludes fills the air in the garden

A captivating flutist

Shopping in Suzhou

Shopping for trinkets & accessories

Street artist

Young local ladies at the shopping mall

Highlight of day was hairy crabs for dinner but turned out disappointing as the roe was not fully formed. Wrong time of the year I guess. The beggar chicken turned out better. Tender & moist, the meat was thoroughly infused with chinese herbs.

Yu Yuan Garden

Yuyuan is a 400 year old classical Chinese garden in the Old Town of Shanghai. Pan Yunduan spent twenty years building it to please his parents in their old age. Over the centuries the garden fell into disarray. Parts of it became residential, schools and markets. In 1956 the Shanghai government restored it and it was reopened to the public in 1961. There are over 40 buildings, ancient trees, ponds, bridges and sculptures. In the middle of the garden, the Huijing Tower area has ponds, bridges, viewing pagodas, rock formations and large trees