Royal Belum – Day 2 (Back to Nature)

Note: Before we continue with the post, million apologize for the delay. It took us almost a month to get back on track as our most trusted companion (read: desktop) are not in a good shape. We had to make a few visit forth and back to the clinic too. Alhamdulillah, everything goes back to normal. Thanks to the technician as we couldn’t resolve it on our own.

Rubbing our eyes when we first waking up in the morning, we then realized that we’re on our 2nd days in Royal Belum. Alhamdlillah, we’re still in Belum. Still. Feeling so fresh with the cool morning dew and also the smell of pure and clean. This is what we called a ‘Smell of Nature’. It’s definitely one of the reason why we love to be in the forest. While the sun are yet to make his appearance of the day, we catch the time by walking around, explored every single corner of the base camp and appreciating the whole panorama view of this untouched forest from the deck.

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A very good morning Lil Aqilah
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An interview video shoot by Belum Outdoor Adventure (BOA) crew members with Time Travel Afif. We just have to say this. He’s just too good in front of the camera. Really. Everything came out naturally.

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It’s basically a free and easy session for the whole entourage in the early morning. While the rest decided to spend their time by getting the refreshing dip in the water, we spent most of our times at the view deck. For both of us, it’s definitely one of the best spot ever at the base camp and a quiet moment for us. Suddenly, we feel so connected with the nature. We could spent hours there doing nothing but appreciating the Almighty God creation.

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After filling up our empty space in our stomachs, we then opt for a boat ride to the surrounding area. We eventually missed out the first trip as it’s already full house. So, second trip it is! We were told by the boat crew that we’re actually heading to Sungai Kooi. These are a few attraction in Royal Belum beside Sungai Kejar, Sungai Papan, Sungai Ruok and Sungai Tiang. We spent most of our time on the boat and we only spent around 10 minutes at the jetty of Sungai Kooi as we were told that it’s too many leeches around. We doesn’t want to take risk to explore around as we have someone with ‘Bdellophobia’ in the house. What is Bdellophobia? It’s an abnormal anxiety, or extreme fear of leeches.

The Banding Bandits
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Hello Mr.Leech!
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We were given a sign that we need to return to our boathouse as it will depart to Sungai Ruok Waterfall and Fish Sanctuaries. We observed that the crew members are there to run the trip within schedule. On our way to the destination, we were given a brief and short ‘FREE’ photography tutorial by the BOA Resident Photographer, Hilmi Yusof. His artworks are amazing.

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We have reached the destination when we could see a few other boathouse docking within the area. We are then transferred to Sungai Ruok via small boats which took us less than 10 minutes and this will be our last stop for the day. We were also informed that this is where the waterfall and freshwater fish sanctuaries are located. No fishing activities are allowed within the area and one of the species that can be easily found here are Kelah. It has 3 tiers of waterfall where we spent most of our time at the 2nd tiers. Just be reminded that a short trekking of 15 minutes are required to reach the area.

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The trek
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The standing stone within the 2nd tiers area
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Sungai Ruok 2nd tiers waterfall. It’s a dry season and the water would not be crystal clear. But the water are cold and there’s a lots of fish in the pool which love to nibble your feet. You can get a fish spa here for free.
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We spent about an hour there. It’s enough to keep us shivering in the cold water. We returned to our boathouse where it’s already lunch time. It came to our surprised to see that the boat operator cooked ‘Gulai Lemak Ikan Toman’ which was caught the night before. It’s our first time trying out the fish and it was so good!

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We then left the place and headed to the main jetty where it all started. We were too tired at that point of time but we wanted to stay around just to see the view for the very last time. We were not sure when will be our next trip here. We definitely can’t promise that.

Friends at the tip of the boat
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The breathtaking view
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We finally reached the main jetty around 2.30pm. We then leave the jetty with a heavy heart. In overall, we really had a good times here with the rest of the travel blogger. This is definitely another option for a short getaway from the city offered by Belum Outdoor Adventure (BOA). Without hesitation, we definitely recommended this and will come back soon. InsyaAllah.

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Our compliments goes to TravelholicAwesome – Chawan & NaLilyRianiJanggel @ RenByyaMasMZShahruleKak Anash @ Coco NutzMrs PapiIcam for organizing & inviting us and not to forget the rest of our Travel Friends – Hang DhaminPae and Time Travel Afif

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

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Royal Belum – Day 1 (Back to Nature)

Yes! It’s Royal Belum! One of the places that we really wanted to go all this while. Looking back at the entry written by ThatSoFarah, we promised ourself that, sooner or later, we should allocate some of our times to be here. Royal Belum have been in existence for the past 130 million years making it one of the world oldest rainforest in the world beside the Amazon and Congo! Having said that, how can you miss such an opportunities to explore nature at your home land. Naaaah, it couldn’t be happened right!

A few weeks before the adventure begin, we received unexpected text from our dear travel blogger friends, LilyRiani which invited us to be part of the journey. Our deepest thanks to the Traveholicawesome for the invitation. The whole trip was made possible by them and we really appreciated it! Coordination and arrangements was fully made by them too.

Oh ya, we basically took a 2 days 1 night boathouse trip operated by Belum Outdoor Adventure (BOA) which includes boat transfer, accommodation (chalet or either camping), meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), licensed nature guide, permits and basic insurance coverage with an introductory price of RM150! Just don’t mention. Yes, we know. It’s super cheap. Oh ya, just don’t forget that permits are required to enter Royal Belum Park prior to your visit. Hassle free, just let them do all the works. 😀

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We decided to start our journey on Friday, right after office hours and continue our journey to the meeting point on Saturday. It will take you a 5 hours ride all the way from Kuala Lumpur to Pulau Banding Public Jetty overlooking a scenic view right after the exit at Kuala Kangsar. You will pass through a Tasik Raban, Lenggong and Lawin town too.

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Let’s get on board
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All participants and visitors are required to complete BOA Release of Indemnity Form right before our departure. A short briefing was given by the operators on the dos and don’t s while we were on the boathouse and throughout the trip too.

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So sit back and relax.

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The first pit stop is definitely the Rafflesia site at Post X-Ray. Since Royal Belum is an untouched forest, it’s basically a home to a wide range of flora and fauna which includes the rarest, the heaviest and the most stinkiest flower in the world – Rafflesia. To be brief, there’s only 3 species that can be found here which is Kerrii, Azlanni and Cantleyii. Again, as what happened in Kampung Peruas, Pahang before, it’s just not our luck to witness a blooming rafflesia as it has a very small life cycle of 5 to 7 days. Just be reminded that a short trekking of 20 – 25 minutes are required to reach the area.  Do wear your most comfortable clothes and shoes!

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If you ever think that you are not fit for this, think TWICE! Check out this lovely moms and their kids.

Na and cheeky Aqilah. A pair of polka dots pants and slippers on? Awesome huh! No excuses and they even made to the top!
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Mrs Papi and Suci. Standing ovation!
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Our 2nd times of seeing the ‘Baby Rafflesia’ after in Pahang. Rafflesia plants open into a cabbage size bud.
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Next on the list is definitely the Orang Asli Village. It took us quite sometimes to reach the destination. Therefore, we took the chance to chit-chat and did a little bit of ice breaking session with the entourage just to kill the time. We managed to get to know Pae in person too. We were lucky that we lingered around with those K-Pop lovers, so we basically talked about K-Pop die-hard fans and a sharing session of all her previous trip to the ‘HOMELAND’, South Korea. Right in the middle of the conversation, we then saw a village from far with a sign of Kampung Aman Damai. What a short and brief name they got there.

Pae, a Malaysian with a Korean blood.
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Basically, as informed by our Tour Guide, Jahai and Temiar are the 2 ethnic groups of Orang Asli that can be easily seen here. From our observation, the Jahai ethnic physically are short with darker skin and curly hair. As a guest here, we are encouraged to bring some donations. Having said that, we brought along a few packets of biscuits and Milo to be given to them. Here, you can actually experience the daily lifestyle at the settlements, trying the blowpipe at an affordable rates and get to know the rainforest herbs such as ‘Kacip Fatimah’, ‘Tongkat Ali’ and etc which are also available for purchased.

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The super shy Tribe Chief (Tok Batin) son.
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A shot with the Tribe Chief (Tok Batin)
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Rainforest herbs – Kacif Fatimah for sale
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Right after the visit to the village, when then departed to the base camp and this is where the houseboat will docked. Without waiting any further, the rest of the boys changed and put their life jacket on. I basically took the chance to experience and learn on fish ‘casting’. Hope I got that term right!

Sungai Tiang Base Camp
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Put your jacket on and let’s rumble
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Artificial lures
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Next thing that we knew, we are sniffing to a nice smoke smell from the boat. Surprisingly, chicken and lamb are already on grill. Frankly, this is one of the nicest view of the day – a cool sunset view while having a delicious chicken and lamb grill.

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Later that night, we were given a session by BOA which covered everything about Royal Belum, the flora and fauna. One of thing that caught our attention is how Belum got his name. It was originated from one of the grasshoppers species which kept making the sound of ‘belum….belum….’ when it’s fly and irritated the local villagers that they then decided to call the rainforest at such. Besides, tips and tricks were given by BOA tour guide on how to deal with the wildlife especially the high population of elephant and tiger here in Royal Belum. Questions and answers were thrown in the air during the session followed by endless conversation and laughter. And at one time, everybody was stunned and quiet to see the boat operators came back with a big catch of Giant Snakehead FIsh (Ikan Toman).

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Towards the end of the night, we crawled and wrapped ourselves in the sleeping bag with the fresh night forest air.

We will continue our journey on Day 2 soon.

Our compliments goes to TravelholicAwesome – Chawan & Na, LilyRiani, Janggel @ Ren, Byya, MasMZ, Shahrule, Kak Anash @ Coco Nutz, Mrs Papi, Icam for organizing & inviting us and not to forget the rest of our Travel Friends – Hang Dhamin, Pae and Time Travel Afif

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Experience Malaysian Homestay By Rail (Ipoh, Homestay Kg. Beng and Kuala Kangsar)

The song ‘To Know Malaysia is to Love Malaysia’ sang by one of Malaysia Best Female Vocalist in the 80’s, Fransissca Peter just get stuck in our head. This is the song used to promote the very 1st Visit Malaysia Year way back in 1990. Listening to the rhythm and lyric of the song, we couldn’t denied any further that to get to know the place, you have to love it.  One of the best way to explore is to experience diversity of cultures, traditions and to get to know the locals.This is definitely what a local homestay programme could offered where it’s rare opportunity and chance to experience the charm and tranquillity of ‘kampung’ life.

A homestay programme is a unique experience that encompasses ‘kampung’ lifestyle. Visitors get to live with a local family  in a ‘kampung’ house and learn a close-knit relationship. Not to forget the scrumptious home cooked foods and discover the day-to-day ‘simple’ lifestyle of the villagers. Every homestay presents a different experience based on what they could offered, varied by locations and the settings too.

Recently, we were given a chance to experience a homestay in Kampung Beng, Lenggong Perak in conjunction of the launching of Railway Tourism Package. Railway Tourism? Haven’t heard anything about it before? It’s a homestay programme with a rail journey in order to give tourist an enrich experience throughout their journey to the participating homestay.  Hence, it does not only give tourists a chance to experience the ‘kampung’ life but it includes the exciting experience of riding the train to the designated locations.

The KTMB ETS Train which goes directly to Ipoh, Perak

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An experience in ETS Train cockpit with the captain.

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Official launching of Railway Tourism Packages at Ipoh Railway Station before we depart to the homestay location. It’s official launched by YB. Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abd Aziz, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia.

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One Malaysia, unity in diversity.

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Beautiful water fountain at in front of the Ipoh railway station.

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Homestay Kampung Beng is located in Lenggong, within Tasik Raban. At a glance, it doesn’t look any much different from other traditional ‘kampung’ but the magnificent panorama view save it all. It’s a popular film and advertisement shooting spot among producer and director. Did your remember the famous Petronas Raya advertisement ‘Janda Anak 7’ directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad when the 7 siblings came back with a whole cow? A Hollywood’s Production, Anna and The King starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fatt?  Our local film, Sara starring Ida Nerina and Shamsul Ghau Ghau? The shooting of the films and advertisement mentioned were made within the location.

Furthermore, what make it unique is the whole village is surrounded by lake. Thus, the main mode of transport is by boat or ‘sampan’. It’s a common sight where you can see lines of boats parked right in front of the villagers house.

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Most home stay villages are also filled with orchards where you can pluck and sample a variety of seasonal or non-seasonal tropical fruits such as rambutan and others.
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With these, you can actually savour local dishes and learn how to make one with your foster family.
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Besides waking up to the crowing sounds of a rooster and birds, walking around the village and a jungle trekking to the nearby waterfall, this is definitely what we would like to suggest – Sit back and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of the lake spread right in front of your eyes!

Do enjoy a short video by Ramble and Wander on Homestay Kampung Beng, Lenggong ,Perak.

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We were then crossing under the Raja Nazrin Shah Bridge at Tasek Raban, travel all the way to the Royal Town, Kuala Kangsar to visit some of the local attraction there. If you have an opportunity to come here, don’t forget to visit The Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (AHLV) a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Our first location is definitely the Victoria Bridge built-in the early of 1900’s or known as Enggor Bridge (as it is situated in sleepy town, Karai near Enggor). We were told that Victoria Bridge is a single railway bridge that cross Sungai Perak and one of the oldest railway bridges in Malaysia.

The Victoria Bridge remained in use until 2002, when a wider concrete girder bridge built parallel to the old bridge was completed to take over the role of handling rail traffic. The new bridge is significantly wider, with room to support a second track, but in its early life it was only required to handle a single track until double tracking and electrification was conducted between the IpohPadang Besar line. While the old bridge is closed to rail traffic, its adjoining footbridge is still publicly open to motorcycles and pedestrians.

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Live cannon shooting by local which something that you seldom see everyday.
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Last but not least, the beautiful Masjid Ubudiah of Kuala Kangsar located in Bukit Chandan Royal Mausoleum. We got fascinated looking at the exterior and interior especially the main features of the mosque which is the golden dome and minarets. It shared the same designer and architect of Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.

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Our new friends, a group of students from Indonesia enjoying the delicious and famous dessert, Cendol Kuala Kangsar.

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For more information about Railway Tourism Packages please visit Railway Tourism Association Malaysia (RTAM).

Our compliments goes to Railway Tourism Association Malaysia (RTAM), Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia, KTM Berhad, M-Mode Berhad and Coordinator of Homestay Kampung Beng, Lenggong, Perak for organizing and inviting us to the familiarisation trip of Railway Tourism in conjunction with VMY 2014.

Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Road Trip to Ipoh – Part 3 (Jalan Jalan Cari Makan)

Another reason to travel all the way to Ipoh is definitely the FOOD and this is why people keep coming back. Oh my, we have been spoilt with all the delicious local foods there. Since we were there for just a short trip over the weekend, we only have to 2 days just to fulfil our appetite. So, this is it!

Nasi Ganja

Once reached the town, we started with our first selection which is the famous Nasi Ganja or Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah or Nasi Vanggey or whatever local called it for our lunch. Did we missed any of their name? We opt for the one in Restoran Yong Suan (yes the stall is located inside the Chinese Coffee Shop) at Jalan Yang Kalsom which is near to the Pekan Baru Police Station. It will be easier if you could spot Hotel Bajet Memori Ipoh (painted in yellow) and the restaurant is just in front of it. As mentioned by locals, the meal could be addictive at times and that’s the reason why it was called as ‘Nasi Ganja’.

Verdict? Ermm, is just not the best nasi kandar that we had in our life. But, doesn’t harm trying.

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Mee Kari / Kicap Daud Mat Jasak

We found out about this place as we read through ThatSoFarah blog talking about how she and the whole family used to have this whenever they are in Ipoh . It’s her family’s favourite eatery. It’s a little bit tricky to find this small shop as this is our first time there and we have to make a few big rounds at Jalan Dato Onn Jaafar just to find the shop. We waited for about 15 – 20 minutes just to secure a table and we reminded ourself that ‘this better be good’ as we’re super hungry at that point of time.  We choose to have both which is the ‘Mee Kari’ and ‘Mee Kicap’. We dig into the bowl once it was served and it’s gone in just a few minutes. Everything was so good! The gravy, the fresh ingredients, the taste. Ohhhhh. Missing it so much.

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Medan Selera Dato Sagor

We randomly choose to have our breakfast here as we wanted to do the Ipoh Heritage walk right after that. Medan Selera Dato Sagor is located exactly behind the Ipoh Town Hall and near to Ipoh State Mosque. This is where you’ll experience the 1 Malaysia theme when multi racial are under the same roof. You got to taste a little bit of Malay cuisine, Chinese cuisine and even Indian cuisine too just to kick off your day. Amazing!

Freshly made hot “Apom”, one of our Indian cuisine. When it is hot, the edge of the apom is very crispy while the center is soft. Normally eaten with sweet or spicy thick coconut gravy. But we just love to have it with plain curry.
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Nasi Lemak Rendang, a complete meal for both of the guys.
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Roti Goyang, the highlight of all! Crispy bread toast topped with half boiled eggs. The taste was awesome!
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Ipoh Hainan Chicken Rice

Last but not least, the Ipoh Hainan Chicken Rice. It wouldn’t be complete if you did not try a plate of Hainan Chicken Rice before leaving. This is one of the Halal Chicken Rice in town and it’s located at Jalan Anderson (just a short distance away from the Hospital roundabout) and another shop just behind the Greentown Mall (next to DWJ Hotel).  We opt to have our lunch at the Greentown Suria shop lots as there are ample parking lots provided.

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Ipoh Pamelo / Limau Bali Ipoh

Last but not least, our next hunting was the Ipoh’s famous fruit which is Ipoh Pamelo or ‘Limau Bali Ipoh’ just to wash away and detox everything that we had earlier. Naaaah, just kidding. It was mentioned that the best and juiciest pamelos are reputed to be from Tambun. There are stretches of stalls selling pamelos along Jalan Raja Nazrin Shah (Jalan Gopeng) adjacent to Sam Poh Tong Temple to cater tourist driving in and out of Ipoh. We bought a numbers of it at En. Muhammad Ridhuan stall (Stall No.28) at a very good good good deal! He and his wife was so generous.

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So, what are you guys waiting for then?

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma