Dim sum bike at Ipoh's famous dim sum tea house "Fu Shan Cha Lo"
And so it was that we set off from Singapore for Malaysia on Thursday afternoon to FaiZ's sister's home in Johore Bahru. She had generously agreed to loan us her car for our use. It was about 3pm when we set off from Johore Bahru towards Kuala Selangor hoping to reach there at about 7pm for the treat of a lifetime.
The Firefly Park In Kuala Selangor (Pic from a brochure)
I was told that the Selangor River is one of the very few places in the world where you can find the gathering of millions of fireflies. I knew the watching of the fireflies or kirip-kirip in Malay, would be magical and indeed it was. Bobbing along the river of the night with matching skylight on a slow sampan, we sat and watched the belambang trees being lit up by these shining and glowing masses. Silent except for the soft crickets and quiet splish sploshing of the river. It was as if Mother Nature was singing Silent Night with special effects. When the boatman drew close to put one of these bugs on Rosanna's hand, she looked like she was wearing the most amazing diamond ring! A field trip for me because I had wanted to build a miniature firefly park for the longest time.
Our next destination, Ipoh, a state that was named after a tree. In the picture is an Ipoh tree and the only one left in Ipoh because all the others have been destroyed due to the poisonous sap. Ipoh is also FaiZ's hometown and the place where he grew up.
We reached Ipoh at about 11pm and met FaiZ's parents at "Old Wong's" for some chicken noodle and the promise of durians for dessert at their home in Meru Valley. The Rollas have by now heard too much about durians which explained why they were not particularly enthusiastic. By the time we reached home, we were all so tired, no one wanted desserts.
The next morning, we woke up to the glorious expanse of green and limestone mountains. This is the view from the balcony of FaiZ's Meru Valley home. Many from afar have come and settled here for this view. We teased the Rollas about getting a house here which was really very affordable. And so after a sumptuous dim sum breakfast, we drove round the Meru Valley Estate to look for the perfect Rolla house.
Rosanna, MarG and I were squealing in amazement when we saw this house and insisted we should stop for pictures. As if the architecture was not fantastical enough, the owners decided they have to match everything according to the theme. No prizes for guessing what the theme was but I bet you it was "doll's house".
There is the "candy" umbrella over a table that is still under wraps.
And an artist's impression of the house on a painted signboard placed above the coded keypad.
A matching letterbox of course with its own lawn. I can hear exclamations of "Oh my, the grass look so real and" Is that an egg shell path?"
Last but not least, the topper or a renaissance cherub angel fountain? 1 inch scale , albeit not as detailed, available here.
The Rollas trying the house for size. Nahhhh, we all decided. We were all very curious who built this house. My guess was a giant miniaturist building her dollhouse. Now do you really want to shrink yourself to live in a house like this? It was so huge my digital camera could not take everything in.
On the other hand, we found this house later that afternoon on Cameron Highlands. This is the Ye Olde Smoke House. We had tea and scones here while Walter and Rosanna were on the golf course. They joined us later. Everything here felt more authentic. Even Rosanna remarked that it was as though she was in Scotland again.
We have the pretty but less ostentatious fountain.
A Tudor birdhouse where birds really dwell.
And a perfect nook for secret lovers. Or maybe just tea for two?
At Cameron Highlands, arrangements were made for us to stay at Uncle Sai Pan's (FaiZ's dad) friends' apartments. Of course, it overlooked the Cameron Highlands Golf Course where Walter played a round of 9 holes.
We had steamboat dinner that evening. Rosanna and Walter were overwhelmed by the amount of food which was deceivingly over the top. They agreed afterwards the look was worse than the bites. We went back to the apartment after dinner with Uncle Sai Pan insisting that the Rollas stay for desserts. It was to be the most hilarious moment of our trip.
Here is Walter bracing himself.
"I am ready! Hit me!"
"Awwwww hell! What was that????!" Should have warned him that one could never be ready enough!
Trying their darnest to please Uncle Sai Pan. It was almost like watching celebrities eat because there were about 3 -4 cameras clicking all the time. We all went to bed with big smiles, except maybe Walter.
The next morning, we had breakfast at Uncle Chow's and then we bade farewell to FaiZ's parents before heading off to the Boh Tea Plantation. Retail! Yay for me. I bought enough tea to last us a few years only because the packaging was pretty. I suspect Rosanna did the same.
View from restaurant at Kenyir Resort and Spa
Heading towards Cherating after that, we stopped at the Kenyir Dam Resort for lunch. We were all feeling a little car sick by then but knew the ultimate destination would be worth it.
Here e are! At last! Cherating also means crab in Malay. It is also one of my favourite places in the world. And when the tide is low, the sea at its clearest and warmest , I can lie down in the water for hours, dreaming of impossible things or nothing at all. And this was what we did.
From left to right, FaiZ, MarG, me, Rosanna, Walter.
Thanks to the generosity of FaiZ and his family, I think I can speak for everyone when I say this has been an incredibly memorable trip.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY FAIZ!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY FAIZ!