Wednesday, 14 June 2017

3D2N to "El Dorado of the East"

DAY 1: Eat our way there

It is a family trip with elders and young ones. We want it to be a relaxed trip, so we decided to stop along the way for food and snacks. So the first meeting point was Kampung Bukit Tinggi for lunch.

As you can see, the restaurant offers many interesting dishes. The famous ones are river prawns, river fishes, free range chicken, and local vegetables like tian qi leaves, yin yong leaves, bentong ginger etc.
Link to blog on Restoran Foon Lock
Our next stop was Bentong town. It is just half an hour away from Kampung Bukit Tinggi, so we have to let go on other heavier snacks. We decided to take on the home-made ice cream that is somewhat famous in Bentong. 

We did not stop by for other stuff as we do not know what will be in store for us in Sungai Lembing, so we continued our journey.
Note: If you travel by car, fill up your tank before turning right into Sungai Lembing. The nearest petrol station is 500m from the T-junction as you come out from LPT (East Coast Expressway).

You will know you reached Sungai Lembing when you see this.
We checked in to Sungai Lembing Hillview Cottage. I called early to book the resort as it is often fully booked during the peak season. I called 3 months earlier because it was school holiday weekend. True enough, the resort was fully booked for both Friday and Saturday nights.

Once we checked-in and left our bags in the rooms. We were whisked off into the back of the modified pick-up truck. Each truck are allowed 14 passenger seats in the open air. We were taken for a short tour around the town, so you know where to go and what to eat/do.
The morning market that you get your spring water tofu and noodles.

On Sunday morning, this lane beside the market is filled with stalls selling all sorts of stuff.

The hundred years old tree that centred the little town.

Why you need to fill your tank before coming to Sungai Lembing. This is the only "petrol station" in the town.

The simple long stretch of wooden shops along the road in the town.


I really mean adventure.
We start the day at 5.30am towards the market for breakfast. The market is bustling with tourists stopping by for a quick bite before moving to either Rainbow Waterfall or Panorama Hill.

Although we did not go to Panorama Hill, we did get to take some picturesque view of the rolling clouds over the forests terrain.

We stayed for about 15 minutes for the sunrise. If your truck is parked strategically, you don't have to get down and it is easier to view the scenery higher up.

As we go deeper into the forest, we get to catch some fantastic views along the way.

The driver is considerate enough to stop by once a while to allow us to take some good photos of the jungle and rivers. This is Sungai Kuantan (Kuantan River)

To go into Rainbow Waterfall is a forest reserve area so permit is required. Each visitor is charged RM50 per person including permit to enter. Children below 5 is RM38.

More picturesque view of the Kuantan River after you enter the forest reserve.

I'd say the best vehicle to travel this area are the trucks. It is basically 1 long hour of rocky roads uphill, downhill and crossing many streams.

Measuring our truck journey on a straight line is about 8km. But it is definitely longer than that. More like 20km.
When the truck stops. There will be proper toilets for visitors to relieve themselves. You can also rent rubber shoes and walking sticks, run by the keeper there. But these are limited stocks so you have to be quick.  

The first thing you have to do is cross the waist deep river. 
Note: Wear proper shoes and bring along waterproof bags for your belongings.
 The rest of the way is just climb and climb and climb and climb and climb and climb and climb....
 You know you are about to reach the waterfall when you see the waterfall (hahahaha)

Along the way as you climb uphill, you can here gibbons hooting. But we did not get to see much of the fauna. Only managed a glimpse of something like a Lesser Raket-tailed Drongo, and  very long haired caterpillar (probably a Gypsy Moth Caterpillar). Other than that we didn't spot much.

It is at least a 100 meter vertical fall. More like sprays of spring water.
 You must go there early morning as the rainbow can only appear when the sun is still low.
So there you go.. RAINBOW WATERFALL....

Measuring our walk in a straight line is about 1km. I think it is about 1.5km.
The whole rainbow trip will take only half a day, as the rainbow will disappear once the sun is high up. Then it is the same route back all the way to our resort. This is the time you can witness the kids' amazing ability to doze off with hands gripping on the rail of the pickup truck along the bumpy road.

After washing up, we went to the town for lunch. Then we headed to Muzium Sungai Lembing. The building used to be the home for General Managers that manned the world's largest underground tin mine, here in Sungai Lembing.

The building sits very conspicuously on top of a little hill overseeing the little town. 

I love looking out the windows of old buildings.

I could sit/stand by the window reading or dreaming.

Vast view across rolling greens everywhere.

The view everywhere is just as impressive. Even from the veranda.
 The museum gave quite a detailed explanation of how underground mining system works. I think it is a good introduction before going to El Dorado Tin Mines.


We went to El Dorado Tin Mines and Cafe. It was a real tin mining site refurbished into a tourist attraction but access is only allowed up to a couple hundred of metres. 
All visitors get to enter into the tunnel using their tin mining cart and railway.

Halfway down you will have to walk your way in. The tunnel is lighted with electricity. 

In 2013, there was a case of freak accident where a tourist was injured when one of these figure collapsed on him. Even today, I think the upkeep of the place could be improved.

The tin mining tunnels are much like the ant hill with a main tunnel branching out into smaller ones. 

You can see that some of the leftover benches were previously used for playing checkers.

If we have a guide, the tour would have been more beneficial. I read in other blogs, there are guides, but maybe he/she was on leave that day. We only get to explore the place on our own.

Many of the interactive displays were out of order. Only few can still be used.
Once you are outside the tunnel, there is a railroad hand cart for you to play with.
By the time we came out from the tunnel, the place has become crowded with tourists. So, I'd say the best time to go there is early morning. Less hot, less crowd.

We head back to the town for lunch and then we leave Sungai Lembing behind.

But before we do that, we turned into Pasir Kubur picnic site. A small rocky riverside accessible by car. 
We stopped by for the kids to pick up a few stones as souvenirs.
And also throw some for fun.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

3D2N: Walk Singapore

Now that the kids are bigger, it is time to up the bar and travel in less. Every member is equipped with a backpack to keep their personal belongings. Everything is kept at minimum with no check-in luggage. How did we fare?

DAY 1: Arrival

We took AirAsia and arrived in Changi Airport. The first thing I want to see was the Kinetic Rain Scupture in Changi Airport.
 We stood there for at least half an hour. It is so fascinating to watch.

Happens that it was the Pokemon Mania season. The kids are equipped with a camera each. They had fun snapping away and it is interesting to look at things through their angle.
 Not knowing the ways well. We decided on the train from the airport to our hotel (Swissotel Merchant Court). 
Kids with own bags studying up the routes of the train. 
 After checking in, we rested for a while and off we went for the Michelin starred chicken rice. The hotel is a walking distance from the Chinatown's Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. The queue was crazy (Singapore = queue). By the time our turn came, there were no more rice. So we ordered noodles. The noodles were springy and the chicken smooth and succulent. A bit oily, but that's how the chicken turns out smooth and soft.
 From Chinatown, we took a bus directly to Orchard Street. Not so much for shopping but sightseeing, as it is the year end and Orchard Road is famous for its decorative Christmas lights. We walked from one end to the other, taking in the crowd, the performances and decorations. When we got tired, we went into Japan Food Town in Wisma Atria ( If we came without the kids, we would have made a stop at the Japanese Bars. But we rested at Inaniwa Yosuke (Udon specialty of Akita Prefecture). We are not a big fan of thick udon so this thin udon fits our palate just nice. If you like cold noodles, try the one that comes with half boiled egg. Yummay!
Too tired, we took the double decker bus that go back to the Orchard Road stretch and straight to our hotel.
End-day 1 report: Pedometer recorded 20,000 steps for the day.

DAY 2: The objective 

The sole purpose of this short trip is focussed on Gardens by the Bay.
 We start off our day with Tiong Bahru Hainanese Chicken Rice, which was just across the street from our hotel. We had wanted to go down slightly further to  Song Fa Bak Kut Teh but the Singapore queue put us off. It was quite a mistake. The curry rice was pretty disappointing. 

We then walk along the river front to Clarke Quay to catch a river taxi to Gardens by the Bay. The kids made a pit stop for Tsujiri Matcha Ice Cream. The cashier recommended Shiratama Parfait (O-Matcha). We shared among us. Nice.
 The river taxi took us from Clarke Quay to Gardens Mall. Then it is a short walk across to Gardens by the Bay.
 Our first stop is the Far East Organisation Children's Garden. Let the kids run and cool off. When they are done, we walked along the bayfront towards Satay by the Bay. We chose to sit outside under the sun & wind. Very relaxing.
We then walked to the Cloud Forest. Along the way, we explored the many sculptures in the gardens.

Cloud Forest
(Note: Bring along jackets)
It was very educational and fun in the cloud forest. Though not a lot of variety and species, but at least some explanation on the height and plant type. The floor on crystals were pretty boring. What impressed us was the Black Box that explains on the Gardens self sustainability through renewable energy. The kids was much affected by the visual on +5 Degrees. 

Flower Dome
The dome is segregated by plants from the different continents of the world. We could have spent a few more hours here, but we were late after taking our own sweet time in the other parts of the Gardens.

Some of the wood sculptures displayed were grand.
 There are special area displaying seasonal themes of the dome. This year's Christmas theme is The Nutcracker. The lights and real christmas plants were great for photos. 

Christmas Special: Christmas Wonderland 2016
Part of the open area of the Gardens was cordoned off for Christmas Special. We have to pay additional SGD6 per person. Glad we did.

Super Grove Trees were impressive at night. 

The kids remembered them and kept talking about them until now.

Surrounded by Italian Luminarie light sculptures

The highlight for the kids were the snow blizzards

As we walk back, we came across this big baby sculpture. Came back and did some search to find out that this piece is named "Planet" by nternationally acclaimed British artist Marc Quinn

End-day 2 report: Pedometer recorded another 20,000 steps for the day. 

Day 3: Head back

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Bye.. The kids enjoyed it. They wish to come back. Will probably plan on a trip to the Science Centre next. We'll see..

Additional things to note: 

  1. If you are Malaysian, I got a good deal for the tickets to the Domes in the Matta Fair. Just so you know.
  2. The domes closes once a while for maintenance purposes. Make sure to check the dates before you visit.