Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cameron Highlands Farm Visit

The second day we were in Cameron Highlands, we decided to head to Mountain Strawberry Farm located nearby the hotel we were staying in.
To get there, we used the access road to Boh Farm in Sg Palas. Beware though! The road to Sg Palas Boh Plantation (and to Mountain Strawberry Farm) is extremely narrow and winding. It boggles the mind to see sightseeing buses navigate this road which is barely enough to let a car pass by, let alone buses and a two-way traffic!
Sg Palas Boh Plantation. Row and rows of tea trees as far as the eyes can see.
Raimie was pretty happy running around the farm, checking out the cactus plants, the animals (in cages, though) and of course, picking up strawberries and vegetables at the farm. We picked some strawberries and bought some Cameron Apples (the one Zaini was holding in the photo above). We didn't buy much because we'd have trouble finishing them all!

This farm is not located by the road-side and getting there can be a challenge but it was nice because the few times we were there, there aren't many visitors around.  Tour buses may have problem parking here too, because of the steep incline (almost 90 degrees! o.O) one have drive to get to the farm. But for those who did make the journey, bought cart loads of vegetables here unlike us who spent less than RM50 for our stash. :D

Saturday, 27 November 2010

"Makan" Time At Cameron Highlands

Usually, when we go to a cooler place such as Genting Highlands or Cameron Highlands or maybe to Bukit Tinggi too; we like to enjoy a nice steaming pot of steamboat. We had wanted to eat steamboat at the hotel we were staying in that evening, just like what we did on last year's trip, but after checking out the set meal and the buffett option at the hotel's Chinese restaurant (which was closed when we went down at around 5.00pm), we decided to opt for room service instead.

The three of us chose the same thing for dinner; we ate BBQ burger that took me three times to repeat my order. Heck! I even had to repeat our room number a couple of times! I guess my English pronounciation is quite bad for people to understand. LOL

Prompt service though, because we got our dinner served in less than half an hour. Yup, I always time how long it took for my food to come from the time I called room service to the time the food arrives my room. I sure nitpick a lot, don't I? It's a habit I acquired from staying at some nice hotels that promised to give guests complimentary food if it is not served within a stipulated amount of time, say within 45 minutes. And yes, I've gotten free meals because of staff inefficiency before. I insist on that! Yahaha!!!

I wrote about what we had for breakfast while vacationing in Japan, at Toyoko-Inn, at Hotel JAL City and Uematsuya. Now, what did we have at Equatorial Cameron Highlands? Breakfast is never missed in our household. But, we don't really take a heavy breakfast.

We went down for breakfast a bit late, about 45 minutes before breakfast session is over, and the dining area was noticeably less hectic that what we experienced last year.

Kudos to the staff efficiency - they are fast in clearing dirty plates. I noticed that the staff there are quite good with children too. There were many Arab kids dining-in with their families while we were having breakfast and the wait-staff were quite obliging in helping out the kids taking drinks and food items. Raimie however, was sadly neglected. Well, my son doesn't like strangers anyway. ;-)

Nothing exciting about the food but you'll be spoilt for choice (if you come early, that is). Some of the food station i.e. waffle and dimsum (or was it pau?) had nobody manning it.

After getting our tummy adequately filled, it was time for some fruit picking for us.
 
What if we booked a room with no breakfast (to save cost on room rates)? We usually have cup noodles for breakfast before heading out.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

A Night In Cameron Highlands, Back To Equatorial Hotel Again

From Penang, we made our trip to Cameron Highlands. On our trip to Cameron Highlands last year, we tried the access roads from Sg Koyan and also Tapah route. This time around, we used the Simpang Pulai route. For those who cannot stand the Tapah winding road, Simpang Pulai can be a better choice as it is less winding (and less scary too!) but for me, Simpang Pulai route was a yawn fest and Tapah makes me wide-eyed the whole journey!

Comparing the three routes, I think the least vomit inducing route is the Sg Koyan route, but if I'm not mistaken, it yet to be fully completed. Got to check with my younger brother who was also in Cameron that day, coming from our hometown in Raub using the Sg Koyan route.
Just like our trip last year, we chose Equatorial Hotel to stay for the night. Zaini and I have this tendency to return to places we like hence the return visit to Equatorial. And we made a return visit to the same farm for a bit of strawberry picking and buying fresh fruits and vegetables too! We are loyal, us. :D

Our trip was before the year-end school holiday rush, so the lobby area was quiet and  not yet packed with guests. However, despite that, the rooms at Equatorial Cameron Highlands can be rather hard to get.

I tried to book a deluxe room for our stay but all deluxe rooms were fully booked so we decided to try their Senator Suite as the rate difference between the two room types is not that much; just about RM100 or so.

Checking-in was a breeze. It was rather nice and ego-boosting to be greeted by name at the reception even before the staff looked at my ID. But then, was I really a bad guest to be marked and recognised by face? LOL

Anyway, not only the reception (whose name I didn't manage to get) was friendly and warm to us, we were also met by a really friendly Front Office Manager and the Duty Manager too. Raymond & NurAzlin, sorry if I weren't all that chatty that day and was rather in a hurry to get to our room. I needed to use the loo badly! Thanks for the breezy check-in process. I felt like a VIP! :D
Our Senator Suite was really spacious. It had a separate living room and two TVs so parents and children (i.e. us vs Raimie) need not bicker about which TV channel to watch. The bathroom was huge, with a seperate shower stall, tub and toilet area. There's a shower head in the tub too so two people can take a shower at one time here. Love the shower here.The water pressure was awesome!

If you book a superior room at this hotel, your room has no balcony. A deluxe room has a balcony and the Senator Suite we stayed in has not one, not two but three balconies! Pity the night was really cold due to the rain otherwise it'd be nice to sit outside enjoying the night breeze.

There is one thing about toilets in Malaysian hotels, that if you are privy to reports on guests feedback/complaints, you would almost always read Muslim guests complain about; the ability to wash after using the toilet. If there is no access to water pipes nearby the toilet, this small pail  provided in our room at Equatorial Hotel is rather essential for us. None were provided at Traders Hotel that we stayed in the day before in Penang, making washing up after doing my "business" a hassle. A toilet without an access to water  and only have toilet paper is not appreciated by us Muslims, you know. So putting this in was much appreciated.
If I have to gripe on anything about the suite, it's the incovenient placing of the sockets. To use my notebook at the writing table in the bedroom, I had to unplug a lamp in room so it was a choice of a really dim room or sitting on the sofa instead. Same issues with the sockets for the kettle. Zaini and I had to move the mini bar cabinet a bit in order to plug-in the kettle because the sockets was located behind the cabinet. Rather inconvenient, don't you think?

Why did I spend time sitting in front of my notebook during my vacation? Equatorial Hotel Cameron Highlands provides free wi-fi access to all suite guests. For those staying at Superior or Deluxe room, currently there is a promotion of RM14.95 for a day's use.

I'd  have no problem spending the day cooped up in our suite but we didn't travel all this way to laze away in our room. The evening was spent walking around Kea Farm and the next day was at a vege farm. That, on my next post.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Out And About In Penang - Old World Charm

My last instalment post on Penang.

While Zaini was working that day on Saturday, so it was just me and Raimie going sightseeing  and I was absolutely awestrucked by the old world that you can find in Penang.
Instead of high-rise buildings, I saw rows and rows of shophouses
Instead of neon signs like what I can see in big cities, I saw these signboards. Charming. :-)
I certainly won't see this kind of signboard in KL! 

Next up : our trip to Cameron Highlands.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Out And About In Penang - Admiring The Architecture

I enjoyed my family's trip to Penang a lot. Although we were there for just one night, I had fun strolling around and admiring the Colonial-style architecture that can be found in Georgetown. 

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Out And About In Penang

Our 2 Days and One night to Penang is too short of a time to explore much of the island so we just stick to the area nearby the hotel we were staying in at Jalan Magazine.

After getting amply rested in our hotel room, we went to enjoy the evening sea breeze walking along the Esplanade and also visiting Padang Kota Lama and Fort Cornwallis. 

Fort Cornwallis being the biggest and the most intact fort in Malaysia, is considered as an important monument and landmark in the historical development of Malaysia, particularly the island of Penang.

It is open until 7.00pm daily and there is a cultural performance and chingay performance being held at 6.00pm on Saturday and Sunday respectively there. With an entrance fee of just RM2.00, do visit the Fort if you come to Penang, I say. ;-) 
My excursion on Day Two started at Lebuh Pantai. Zaini went to work and it was a Mom and Son day out that day. One pleasant thing that I experienced walking around was how friendly the people were to us. We were greeted with a Hello and Good Morning a lot while walking through Little India. But as we were always greeted in English, I can't help but think that the locals there mistakenly though us as foreign tourists.  XD
Plenty of sights to see, and many places of worship standing harmoniuosly nearby each other. I wanted to enter a Chinese Temple to take some photos, but Raimie was scared of the place!
After walking somewhat rather aimlessly, walking towards any interesting buildings I see and going in the back-alleys, both Raimie and I finally made a beeline towards Pasar Chow Rasta. The reason? I wanted to buy some pickled fruits and was recommended by friends to head to this market along with instructions on which stall to buy the fruits too.

Colorful fruit pickles, waiting to be bought. It looks so scrumptious, the bees wanted some too! My choice for the day: pickled mango, kedondong, papaya, kelubi and pala (nutmeg). By the time I bought these pickles, we had been wandering about for almost two hours.  I also went on a "tourist mode" and bought some fridge magnets and had wanted to buy some t-shirts for Raimie but he flat-out rejected the idea.

Raimie was a good boy and followed me around without too much of a complaint and had waited patiently while I snap around so as a treat, we made our way to KOMTAR.
KOMTAR building.

I promised Raimie that we can have a bit R&R at Starbucks before we meet up with Zaini afterwards and the only Starbucks I know in Penang was located nearby KOMTAR. But the wi-fi connection at Starbucks was rather iffy, so a change of venue was in order.
We finally decided to go to Georgetown White Coffee for a bit of rest and an early lunch.
I had Char Koay Teow along with a glass of white coffee. It was good, with fresh prawns and plenty cockles thrown in.
Raimie only wanted to eat toast, so I ordered for him wholemeal toast with kaya and butter and a glass of ice lemon tea. Raimie can't finish his drinks and the staff kindly packed it for us. At RM3.50 a glass, I wouldn't let the drink go to waste! XD
This boy is pretty much happy when he gets the chance to play with his Nintendo DSi and likes every chance he gets to be online with it. See his concentration?

Our walk back to the agreed spot to meet Zaini took longer than I anticipated because I kinda got lost finding my way back. It didn't help that I din't have a handphone that day, because I lost my handphone the day before at the bank and have yet purchased a new one. Zaini and I agreed to meet up at 1.00pm but Raimie and I finally found our car (and Zaini) at half-past one.

It was a really short trip but I had fun. The Penangites we met were friendly and I would love to make more visits to this Island in the future.

From Penang, off we went to Cameron Highlands!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

A Night In Penang

So we finally made it to Penang. This is the first trip for us as a family. Yeay!!! For me, it was such a long time since my last visit to this island.

The journey from KL was a relatively stress free 4 hours' drive and a cool one at that as it was drizzling throughout the journey.

We checked-in at Traders Hotel for the night.
Our room. Ample amenities even in this superior room that we were in; the room  even came stocked with toothbrushes! Not all hotels in Malaysia provide this to guests.

The room is OK I guess, but I had issues with the sound proofing of the room. Our room is a connecting room, and I can actually hear everything my next door neighbor did! I had wanted to change room but Zaini said there was no point doing it if the other rooms have flimsy walls too.

There are two saving grace at this hotel to counter the noisy room: 
One - the view. I love the view we got from our room. We could the the swimming pool and putting green below and also a little bit of the ocean and Penang Bridge and the mountain area too! Nice...

The second one is the staff. The check-in staff was professional and efficient (a little bit impersonal but that's OK) and then, I was greeted warmly by other staff including the person sitting at the concierge table the morning we were checking-out.You know I can such a sucker for good customer service so even though I wasn't all that excited with the hotel initially, all was almost forgiven because of their friendly staff.
We already had Nasi Kandar for lunch earlier in the day, so for dinner we decided to eat in the comfort of our room by ordering room service. We ordered Fish Head Curry and Chicken Curry. The fish head was a huge one, and it can amply satisfy three person. A good bargain although the taste itself was just so-so. Two dishes with rice at only RM54 (inclusive tax) is pretty reasonable especially when one is eating in a hotel, right?

I didn't have much chance to explore the hotel and try out the facilities because one night there is simply too short hence there aren't much to write (read:complain.LOL) about the hotel.

Overall, an OK hotel. The decor here is pretty much Oriental influenced to which I'm afraid I am not a great fan of. The hotel's location is great for us, with everything can be found within walking distance. With a shopping mall opening soon right next to it, shopaholics can rejoice while saying here. Also, this hotel provides free wired broadband connection in each room and wi-fi connection at their public area. The blogger me was pretty happy about this! :-)

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