Monday, 29 December 2008

short weekend getaway: my gopeng resort - day 1

one fine day...

this was a very last minute trip. it all started last tuesday, when i was feeling particularly restless. so i sent N an sms:

“i suddenly feel so sien… feel like going away somewhere for few days. u think our gua tempurung trip can happen dis weekend?”

at which N promptly replied:

“can… so long v got friends go with us… u check website for min requirement. min 5 pax if i’m not mistaken”

but after asking everyone we can think of (that we wanted on the trip), no one wanted to go with us! i think it was because it was so last minute. less than 1 week's notice! i wanted to ask san, but she wasn’t online that day… and i reckoned it’ll be too last minute for her too.

so in the end, we decided to go by ourselves, which i think still worked out for the best! less ppl, less hassle! and we also decided to go to gua kandu instead of gua tempurung, which is also in perak.


long morning wait

as mentioned in my previous post, i was pissed with N for (i think) not taking this trip seriously that i nearly wanted to cancel everything and crawl back into bed. luckily N managed to persuade me otherwise…

and so, our trip began! since it’s quite a long drive to perak, we didn’t want to make it a day trip. so we booked a package at My Gopeng Resort, inclusive of full board (5 meals), 1 gua kandu trip and 1 night jungle trekking.


bored in the car


in between yakking abt anything and everything, and singing tunes from mama mia! at the top of our lungs, i was pretty bored in the car. well, i think these photos explained my boredom…



one indication that u're nearing ipoh
is the limestone caves along the highway...



N sempat lagi (malay: still had time) to pose for my camera!


yours truly... i was bored, ok? not very sharp pic, coz of the moving car...


our breakfast-on-the-go!


nearly there! 1 more km to the gopeng exit!



getting into gopeng town

well, the map indicated that upon turning right from the toll, we are to look out for a bus station on our right, at which we are to turn into gopeng town. but after driving for 15 minutes, we still did not see any bus station. and we were already heading towards setiawan! so we called the resort to ask again and found out that the bus station is only abt 3-4 minutes from the toll. ok… we made a u-turn and only saw the bus station after driving really slowly and opening our eyes really big.

the place don’t look like a bus station at all! i think the resort should indicate more landmarks in their map, such as the post office next to the bus station and also the police station next to the post office. those are the more obvious landmarks, compared to the bus station. also, i think the resort should have a sign board by the main road pointing INTO gopeng town, instead of appearing AFTER we’ve gotten our lost selves into there.


while lost, we passed by this 2 rows of empty pre-war shoplots...
very eerie. it was quickly dubbed as 'ghost town' by us



and the journey continues


dear, u think this one ok ar?


after a brief stop at an electrical shop in gopeng town (where N wanted to buy a headlamp or a torchlight for our caving), we followed the signboards scattered along the way towards the resort… from town, the road got smaller and the surrounding overgrown with bushes and undergrowth. the adventurous selves in us were awakened and we can’t wait to get to our destination!


this wira a few cars in front of us had some trouble with the pot-holed road.
so we got down from our car to 'kay-poh' (hokkien: become busybodies).
moral of the story: don't modify ur car!


along the way, i was looking if there were any cars behind us, and saw this!

some 20 over ppl packed behind a lorry!

we were laughing our heads off, commenting that they look like kena ‘mai-zhu-chai’ (canto: ‘sold-off pig’ --> human trafficking).


arrived at last!


main entrance to the resort...


entrance to the carpark at the back...


the place is very nicely tended, with vast open space and has a very peaceful kampung feel to it. after checking in at abt 1.15pm, we straight away had our lunch before checking out our living quarters.


the dining area... looks like a canteen, hor?


their buffet lunch was a simple fare...


back to basics... but good thing everything was very clean. no icky feelings!


and the adventure begins!

after settling down and changing into appropriate clothes and shoes, we were brought to gua kandu… on the lorry as mentioned above! turned out, those lorries are used for transferring the guests and participants to the various activity locations around the area! so the moral of the story here is, do not laugh at ppl at the back of lorries looking like ‘zhu-chai’ (canto: pig) on the way to the market, coz u’ll never know when u’ll end up like them! but we were lucky coz on this trip, there were only the 2 of us, so our guide (an org asli named ah ngah) let us sit in front with the driver while he climbed onto the back of the lorry.


we had to climb up a small hill to get to the opening of the cave


N was very excited when she saw this huge 'umbrella'! if u've watched
the cartoon 'my neighbour totoro', u'll understand this...



gua kandu is very different from the dark cave in batu caves. the whole feeling of the cave is different. for one, there weren’t any ‘adventure route’ for us to creep and crawl through. secondly, the smell of guano is minimal. thirdly, the chambers and ‘halls’ in gua kandu are huge! we felt like we were in a whale’s stomach!

also, there are more loose sand and dirt in this cave. according to ah ngah, if we were a group, the air will get very dusty from the trampled loose dirt. unlike in the dark cave, the inside of this cave is mostly dry. so instead of mud, we get a lot of dust on us.


an opening at the opposite side of the cave...


rock curtains... don't this reminds u of davy jones'
"octopus beard" from pirates of the carribean?



another cave opening... this opening is
actually very big, with a long drop below



one for the record! we were here!


with ah ngah. at another opening at another part of the cave...


haha... i made N do this! to show that the stalactite and stalagmite
are nearly touching! but they would still need a few more hundred years
to actually join into a column


there were also no regulations whatsoever in gua kandu. visitors are allowed to touch the cave walls and rock formations, which will actually erode and spoil them. and we are allowed to take flash photography wherever and whenever we like. no worries abt scaring the bats! i think the reason for this is because there weren’t any body managing or guarding this cave, unlike the dark cave, which is managed by mns. here at gua kandu, anyone is allowed to come and go as they please. we went in equipped with only our flashlights, without any safety helmets! and there were even rubbish scattered here and there, especially plastic water bottles.


water bottles left by some irresponsible visitor...


also, i think the resort can improve on this package by providing a more expert guide. the orang asli guide is a good guide, in the sense that he made sure of our safety and knows all the route to take. but on top of seeing the cave, we were also looking to learn more about it. so it would be great to have a proper guide to explain to us the facts abt the cave.

the communists hid here in the 1950s...


i don't read chinese but according to N, it said
"long live chairman mao!" and "long live the communist party!"



we emerge from kandu cave via this huge opening...


to get back to the road, we need to go through this path in the undergrowth...


back at the resort

no, i wasn't taking N's bum. i wanted to capture the menu
for today's dinner! ok, so i lied. i was taking N's dirty bum. so sue me!


sweaty and dusty, we went back to the resort for our afternoon tea. as we still had some 2 hours to kill before dinner, N and i decided to take a short trip of our own to explore the area around the resort. we heard that there is a waterfall nearby, so we drove up the road from the resort entrance in search of it, even though it had started to rain.

we got to the waterfall after abt 15 minutes of driving. it’s not everyday we get to see a waterfall, so we jumped right in! ok, not really… we just waded in up to our knees, just to soak our feet. and yes, in the rain! N was even wearing her poncho! what a sight we were! luckily there were only the two of us…

see, it's really rubber ler!

getting back to the resort, N the city gal excitedly went to examine the tapped rubber tree next to the resort car park. this was her first time seeing a real life rubber tree and she announced loudly that she’ll wake up very early the next morning to see the rubber tappers at work!


dinner!

after taking the coldest shower in my life, we went to the mess for dinner. there, we found that dinner for that night was barbecue! each group had our own bbq pit and portions prepared according to the number of person in our group. i think this was done very well. everyone gets their share and we don’t have to crowd around a huge bbq pit. other than the raw meat and vege for bbq, the resort also prepared some fried rice, chicken curry etc to make sure big eaters do not starve!


night jungle trekking

after dinner, N and i went back to our hut to change back into our dirty caving clothes for the next activity --> night jungle trekking. personally, i did not enjoy this. normally i like jungle trekking, but it being night, we can’t really see anything other than the small area lit up by our torchlights. and because the group was very big (50 of us!) with a mixture of adults and kids, the trek was very slow. some trekkers who were ‘not so deft’, kept stumbling and slipping on the muddy and slippery jungle floor, slowing down the ones behind. N and i were right at the back (roll call number at 40 and 41), and we got pretty bored after awhile.

and because there were only 4 guides spread along the long line of single file participants, we did not hear anything the guides say. again, we were looking to be ‘educated’. so it would be great if the groups were smaller and the guide can explain things to us as we go along.

but N and i enjoyed the river crossing near the end of the trek. initially they had wanted to cancel the river crossing, because there were kids in the group. but N asked if we can be split into 2 groups, with one group going for the river crossing. so that’s what we got! of course, the river is not very wide, but the water was very rapid! and cold too! the water level came up to our chest and we had to cross it by holding on to a rope tied across the river. i would say it’s the only interesting part of the trek.

we got back to the resort at about 11.30pm. another cold shower ensued! brrr… if only they had hot water for these nighttime showers!


goodnight!

after shower, we were dead tired. those who know us would expect us to talk into the night, but nope! we just rolled out our sleeping bags and fell right asleep!


read also:

1) caving at the dark cave

Saturday, 27 December 2008

just a quick one...

my vegetating days have begun! on 'leave-clearing' leave beginning 24th dec till 4th jan. but actually, have been so bz that i've not much time to vegetate... hopefully next week will be better!

neeways, had some friends from the orchestra over for a pot-luck session and gifts exchange on christmas eve. a lot of stupid and crazy jokes flying around... and played our own version of "truth or dare" --> "truth or drink!"

christmas day, had extended orchestra practice in preparation for our 1st Jan and KLPac performance. a fruitful practice session, i would say. but didn't really enjoy the company. after practice, went for yum-cha with a few orchestra members and a short heart-to-heart as to why i don't enjoy the company of some of the members.

boxing day, was bz with work (from home). need to get everything sent out by the 27th... finished work at abt 2am, pack for today's caving trip (yes, another one!) and went to sleep at abt 3.30am. did not sleep well. kept tossing and turning and waking up every hour or so.

woke up at 7am today. gave N a morning call and got myself ready by 8am. waited for N to come pick me up... now it's past 9am, and still waiting... argh!!! found out she did not pack the night before, but went straight to bed after we spoke on the phone at abt 12am. if i'd known earlier, i'd sleep an extra hour and not feel like shit now.

~~BIG sigh~~

Monday, 22 December 2008

happy winter solstice...

actually my family is not big on these 'additional celebrations' of the chinese... that was why mom did not even bother to call me to see if i'm eating anything special or if i had the opportunity to eat the 'tong-yuen' (glutinous rice balls) on this special day, even tho wikipedia dubbed the dongzhi (winter solstice festival) as one of the most important festivals celebrated by the chinese.

but housemate M is really a gem. she made sure housemate P and i get older by one year (as the chinese believe) by preparing us these glutinous rice balls... 3 balls with 3 different fillings each - peanut, red bean and black sesame. really a good wife in the making, huh that gal! kakaka...

Sunday, 21 December 2008

time for giving, time for caring...

that's the theme for the company's christmas csr program every year. this year's program took place today... so here are some photos...

having my face painted...


it's a sea horse! but very big hor?


with 2 very cute kids from the New Life Home...


going home... hope u enjoyed yourselves today...
pls study hard and create a good and meaningful life for yourselves!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

long overdue gift...

since a few years back, i've been sending birthday cards and gifts to my cousin's 2 daughters in singapore. well, it was pretty easy to choose gifts for them when they were younger. but now that they're nearly teenagers (you know how singaporean kids mature earlier), i've been struggling with gift ideas these 2 years. it's not easy being someone's fav ah yee, you know! and singapore being such a material-conscious place, i don't want to just buy any expensive branded stuff for the girls and encourage materialism in them. i want gifts that are meaningful and would help in their development.

previously, seeing that their parents are not big readers, i try to encourage the reading habit by getting them books that i hope would instill the love of reading in them. i've given them so many books by roald dahl that i lost track of which books they have and which they have not! and then after a while, i'm not even sure if they're reading the books i sent them... coz of course they would answer a sweet 'yes' when asked if they like their presents!

anyway, this year, i totally forgot abt K's birthday (in september)! i only remembered it like one month later... so then began the whole process of cracking my head on what to buy. and then before i found the perfect gift, i forgot abt it again! hahaha... so boh-sim (hokkien: not sincere) hor?

then early last month, our families had a gathering at my house. the moment K entered the door and saw me, she went, "ah sue ah yee! you forgot my birthday present!" and my cousin mentioned that K kept bugging her to check the letterbox everyday for my gift! yikes! :P

so i was thinking and thinking of what to buy her, when i suddenly thought of Jullie! now that K is old enough to have a handphone, Jullie's handmade handphone charm would be just the perfect gift! and since Jullie is in singapore, she can just send it straight to my cousin's address.

and today, it's finally done! here's the pic Jullie sent me. it's made of 100% swarovski crystals. gorgeous! can't wait for K to get it in the mail!



read also:
1) overdue gift
2) cny '06

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

random conversations on my caving trip

me: would u be interested to join us for caving?
M: CAVING??? eh, i saw in the documentaries hor, got a lot of cases where the ppl got lost in the caves!
me: heh? no lar... got guides one mar
M: yes, but still will get lost one
me: and got trails one mar. just follow the trail. dun simply-simply walk lar
M: yeah lar, but still will get lost one. u'll never know...

----------

me: ok, confirmed! going caving this weekend
M: scary
me: kekeke
M: forbidden
me: yeah lor... i also foresee u won't like
M: wooo... once in... no out
me: hahahaha
M: woooo... wooooo...
me: karut (nonsense) lar
M: tell san... once in... no out
me: she went before lar
M: never out. takkan keluar. won't out. tak keluar keluar. beh tan chut lai (can't come out)

----------

me: i'm going caving. u interested to join?
yw: aiyo, no lar... like so scary
me: ok
yw: if u see Batman there, let me know ar

----------

me: y dun wanna bring Ke Er?
N: my sis said very dangerous wor. worry the thing will collapse
me: aiyo, if after so many millions of years, the cave choose to collapse on the day we are there, then i also bo-pien (no choice) lar
N: and so happen to collapse on us, right?
me: yeah lar. then is really fated. nothing we can do

----------

ks: ah sue ah yee, y is it called 'hei fong dong' ("black-wind hole" - mandarin name for batu caves)
me: erm... didn't you remember how dark it was inside just now?
ks: oh yeah, but 'fong' (wind) ler?
me: erm... erm... neh, just now there was one tunnel, where it was really windy, remember?
ks & ke: oohhh...
me: *phew*

bento #22: the one also with the kao-zhi

got M to help me buy these from pasar malam yesterday... 5 for RM3. so saved 2 for today's breakfast bento.



read also:
1) bento #13: the one with the kao-zhi
2) bento #3: warm-hearted breakfast

Monday, 15 December 2008

caving at the dark cave...

N has been telling me about this caving adventure since forever, but i've only had the chance to go try it out last weekend.

this cave is called The Dark Cave, and it's a part of Batu Caves. not many ppl know abt it, coz it's only until recently that they started advertising and commercializing it. i think the management of this cave was taken over by MNS (Malaysian Nature Society) only recently, coz the 2 previous trips that N went (this is her 3rd trip), they were not so organized and did not provide the necessary tools for the cavers. there were also minimal rules and regulations as compared to now. of course, the entrance fee were also much cheaper then.

anyway, we arrived at the batu caves at 10am. as our group consisted of only 2 adults and 2 children (N's 2 nieces), we were asked to join another group for the adventure trip. the fee for a group of 5 adults and above is RM80 per pax, while 4 adults is RM90 per pax (children is at a flat rate of RM60).

we need to climb abt 180+ of the batu caves steps to get to the dark cave's entrance


fee inclusive of safety helmet, headlamp and boots...
but N and i opted not to wear their boots, coz it's so icky!


the group we joined was a troop of scouts from SMK Confucious. we later found out that 2 more canadian girls are to join us as well. the 4 of us were the first to arrive, followed shortly by the group of 30+ scouts. after some waiting, the canadian girls arrived and we were ready to start!

a short briefing and some educational facts before the start of our journey...


take the opportunity to cam-whore a bit, while we're still clean!


did you know, batu caves is actually a part of the titiwangsa range? i didn't know ler...

our guide (we didn't find out his name) explaining about the rock formations, the sea water level mark on the cave walls, the plate tectonic movements etc...

at the entrance to the dark cave, the stench of guano is overpowering. but that's just the beginning. the smell gets stronger when we went into the cave, especially at one particular spot where there were millions of bats hanging overhead! we were reminded to close our mouth when we look up at them, lest we get a taste of the yummy guano! haha...

the beginning part of the journey is the educational route, where we were shown some cave wonders such as stalactites and stalagmites, flowstones, rimstone pools etc and how they were formed.


the inside of the cave is pitch dark!


at the end of the educational trip, we were brought to sit in a small chamber and then asked to switch off our headlamp. boy, was it dark in there! it's so dark that our eyes hurt, coz our eyes were trying hard to focus on something, but there were only pitch darkness. it's like the darkness was pressing down on our eyeballs. we were then asked to keep very quiet and very still, and just listen...


at one of the few places where we're allowed to use the camera flash. sudden bright lights will scare away the bats, and considering the number of bats in that cave, it could result in an 'air stampede'!



after the educational trail, we began our adventure trail. from here onwards, we had to keep our cameras in a sealed plastic bag, coz our whole body would get very wet and muddy! take note of how white Ke Shin's and Ke Er's t-shirts in the picture above. and look at the pic below!



all wet and muddy! at another spot which allowed flash photography

in the adventure trail, we were brought through a series of small tunnels and confined spaces where at some places we need to bend down, walk like a duck, crawl on all 4s or even creep along on our stomach! some places were so small, we can't even do the commando crawl because there weren't any space for our elbows and knees to protrude from our sides. all we can do is stretch our hands straight in front of us, legs straight behind us, and use our fingers to grip on the rough ground to pull while using our toes to push ourselves forward. sometimes, we even need to turn our heads to our left, coz if we look in front, our heads would get stuck in the small opening due to our safety helmet. but why look to the left and not right? coz somehow, the left side of the openings are bigger than the right.

and every time we creep along, we'd only move abt an inch forward! it's really a slow and labourious process that leaves us totally exhausted and need to take a rest while crushed in between the rocks! after a while, we just couldn't care abt being dirty anymore and just rested our whole being, including our faces, on the wet mud!

one day before this trip, a friend cautioned me that this adventure will be a big challenge for those with claustrophobia. and i went "oh shit! i think i am slightly claustrophobic!" so he was trying to reassure me, asking me to relax, do not panic, just go at my own pace etc. and at the beginning of the adventure trail at the entrance of the first 'hole', where our guide did a 2nd round of briefing, i kept looking at the hole and ask myself if it's really possible for an adult human being to go thru it??? the holes could get as small as abt 30cm (h) x 40cm (w)! but luckily the guide is quite fat, so if he can get thru, surely i can too!

but all those crawling and creeping took a toll on my shoes! at just the beginning of the adventure trail, the soles of my left shoe gave way, flapping at every step i took! argh!!! so i just tore it off and passed it on to the guide as a souvenir! kaka... no lar, he took it from me to keep in his sling bag coz we're not supposed to leave things in the cave and furthermore, i needed both my hands free to move about in there, as well as to help Ke Shin (who was under my care) and sometimes to hold her hand. then later, on the last leg of the journey, my right shoe began to flap! gosh, those nike shoes are really useless! i didn't even bother to bring them back. just threw them into the rubbish bin in the bathroom... that'll be my last pair of nike ever!

and in the confined hollows of the caves, we can see fine particles of lime dust floating about the whole chamber. it's like inhaling the dust from the whiteboard chalks from our school days, which is actually the same thing. imagine inhaling all these dust for more than 1 hour! i think my lungs must be pretty clogged up now!

well, this whole trip was estimated to take abt 3 hrs (as per advised by the liaison person when we called in). so when we exited from the cave, i expected it to be around 1pm, or 2pm at the most. as non of us wore any watches (coz we knew we'd get really dirty), i only found out abt the time after we got into the car on our way home! in actual fact, we came out from the cave at 3.30pm and finish our bath at 4pm! 5 hrs in there! no wonder i was famished! i think the extended hours was due to the group being so big. nearly 40 of us... and for most of the adventure trail, we need to go one by one, very very slowly.

overall, this trip is really educational and adventurous. and N's 2 nieces really enjoyed it! so we've promised them we'd go again next time, when they start to learn abt rock formations, stalactite and stalagmite etc in their school books. but u know, i think by then i'd be too old for such exhausting activities! even now, my arms are still aching and my body (esp my elbows and knees) are covered with bruises and scratches. i feel like a big splat of rock has dropped on me, or i've been beaten up by someone! hmm... maybe we'd just drop them off and then come pick them up again after we've done our shopping! :P

bento #21: the one with triangles of rice...


went to midvalley with M yesterday... so bought these onigiri for today's bento. yummers!

read also:
1) bento #18: the one with all the shapes
2) bento #17: discounted sushi again!
3) bento #6: sushi breakfast and home-cooked lunch...
4) bento #5: discounted sushi and nando's leftover
5) bento #1: bento mania!

Friday, 12 December 2008

must've jinxed myself!

right after i publish this post (specifically item #2 & 3), things began to turn crazy in the office! suddenly i'm so busy! and the boss is STILL throwing work at me, as if i've not more than i can chew on my plate. relaxing my @ss!

but yikes! u think the boss is reading my blog?! :S

Thursday, 11 December 2008

things mom said to me recently...

1) har? it's nearly noon and still in bed! if i have a cane now, i'd surely give u a good caning!

2) your brother saw an ad for a vacancy with xxx company in the newspaper today. u try to apply lar. they're offering very high pay and comes with good benefits. u try lar...

3) i tell u ar... u're not young anymore ar... anyone courting you now? when are you going to settle down? please ar, be serious ar...

4) cny coming. go out and buy some new clothes for yourself lar... (fwaaah! mom is asking me to go shopping ler!) what? no money? *repeat nag #2*

5) how come your panda eyes getting darker? always sleep late somemore lar! *repeat variations of nag #1*

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

why i love december...

1) the weather is not so hot, with more rain... ok, sometimes it's a nuisance trying to get our laundry to dry, but i'd trade this cool weather with the hot, dry and windy one typical of cny any day!

2) with the year nearly over, all the projects, contracts, scheduling etc. are done. so things in the office are generally just tying up the loose ends, planning for next year and doing the budget

3) it's the time where everyone is clearing leave! everyday, someone is surely on leave... so generally, the office is quieter and the atmosphere more relaxed

4) it's the time i get to clear off my leave! (tym, dun jealous!) so looking forward to my long leave end of the year! gonna do some serious vegetating at home! keke... :P

5) it's xmas month! not that i celebrate, but it's a good excuse for parties, right? and gift exchanges! bring out the booze, ppl! :P

6) it's the end of the year, with next year a clean slate. time to put all the bad stuff behind us, and look forward to a new year, with fresh hopes, renewed vigour, new goals and new beginning!

here's an early happy christmas and happy new year to everyone!

first christmas pressie...

ok, just a short one. received my first christmas present of the year... from the bossbossboss! how sweet... (pls ignore the mess on my table!)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

some videos of chewie

was particularly bored in the office today, so was browsing thru my phone and found these cool videos of chewie. even until now, i still can't get over how smart she is!


video
sitting-up. i don't wan to use the word 'beg', coz this trick is NOT to beg. just to make her look oh-so-cute!


video
play dead. she's so good at this!


video
for a dog who loves food so much, it's amazing that she understands the word 'wait' and can really sit there patiently until my cue for her to eat!

gosh, i miss her so much, it hurts! :'(

read also:
1) a more obedient pup?
2) chewie at 4 months +