A 16-day adventure by Darren and Janet
  • Day15

    Leap Day

    February 29, 2020 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    Our final day in Malaysia, and it's a leap day... so we have arranged a geocaching event at the Petronas Towers, to meet local and visiting cachers. Having previously been warned that any event in Malaysia where you're not alone is a good event, we were very pleased to have 9 attendees.

    One of the local cachers then escorted a group of us to complete a nearby NFC cache (Near Field Communication), and as we don't have any of this type of cache in Adelaide, it was interesting to see it in action.

    After morning tea at the towers, we found a few more caches with the locals, and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe before catching the monorail back to our hotel to collect our bags, then the train to the airport.

    We had plenty of time to spare, so bought a lounge package where we could have a shower and a meal before our flight home.
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    John Kalaitzis

    Please explain an NFC to us muggles

    Darren and Janet

    NFC is the technology used for electronic communication over small distances (up to 4cm) - it's the same technology used for Tap & Go contactless payments, work access passes, bus passes, etc... for geocaching the cache owner has programmed NFC stickers and placed them on an item (in this case a sign in an underground car park), and a reader on compatible phones reads the sticker, which directed us to the next waypoint, then another sticker directed us to the physical cache. There's a handful of NFC caches in the world (the nearest is in Melbourne)

    John Kalaitzis

    Wow! Who knew? What will they think of next? Thank you for allowing a glimpse the wonderful world of caching.

  • Day14

    Muddy Confluence

    February 28, 2020 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    Another day exploring the streets of KL, but this time we were out the door by 7.30am in an attempt to beat the heat.

    We caught the monorail and metro to the city centre and arrived just before 8am, with the peak hour crowds. The area around the train station transforms in the morning into a temporary food court, as stalls pop up to feed the arriving workers with sandwiches, rice, drinks and the national dish, Nasi Lemak (rice, sambal, cucumber, egg, peanuts and dried fish, wrapped in a banana leaf).

    We spent most of the day exploring the area around Merdeka (Independence) Square, where the national flag was first raised in 1957.

    Kuala Lumpur (literal translation, muddy confluence), was built where the rivers Klang and Gombak merge. Along these rivers the locals once bathed, washed laundry, and buffaloes wallowed. Crocodiles were also sunning on the banks, prompting the British Administration to offer rewards to capture them, dead or alive. The capture of a crocodile measuring 15 feet would return $15.00 Straits Dollars in 1912. Looking at the rivers today, it's difficult to imagine.

    We returned for a late afternoon swim, before tea in the local food court (nasi lemak of course, $1.66 each)
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    John Kalaitzis

    That's not the station with the roof that can withstand 3 feet of snow is it?

    Darren and Janet

    No, sadly we didn't get there... drove past is as close as we got

  • Day13

    The streets of KL

    February 27, 2020 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    With nothing particular planned today, one of us had a sleep-in 😁... so we were a bit late getting going.

    We caught the monorail towards town, then walked a circuitous route toward Chinatown via a number of caches, Malaysian Scout Headquarters, coffee shops and numerous drink stalls.

    After navigating the metro and monorail, we arrived back at our hotel in time for a late afternoon swim, and a quiet night in.
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    John Kalaitzis

    I do like this art

    John Kalaitzis

    Built for the 1998 Commonwealth Games I believe?

    John Kalaitzis

    I'm liking it even more!

    John Kalaitzis

    A bit sad!

  • Day12

    Castle and caves

    February 26, 2020 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    We departed Ipoh at 9am and headed to Kellie's Castle on the outskirts. Kellie's Castle is a partially completed mansion built by a Scottish businessman in the 1910/20's, which has a six storey tower and was to have the first elevator in Malaysia, an indoor tennis court, rooftop entertainment area, and escape stairways and tunnels from most rooms.
    Unfortunately he died before it was complete, and his wife wasn't interested in living there, so it was sold and was neglected for decades, until it was opened to tourism.

    The road to Kuala Lumpur is mostly freeway, so apart from a lunch stop at a large outdoor food venue, we headed to Batu Caves, on the northern edge of KL. Batu Caves are a series of cave temples dedicated to the Lord Murugan, the Hindu God of War. It is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, and is entered via a colourful 272 steps.

    Our accommodation for the next 3 nights is on the 33rd floor of Berjaya Times Square, the 12th largest building in the world (by floor area) 😁
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    Looks similar to Singapore with absence of normal crowds?

    Darren and Janet

    Yes, very quiet everywhere we go...

  • Day11

    Cave temples and concubines

    February 25, 2020 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Our last day in the highlands and we started with more tea plantations. We revisited one from yesterday to do the factory tour, and pick up the 2 caches there!

    We began the trip down the mountain after a quick stop at a roadside market to buy some sweet potatoes for Rosli's mum (and had some for morning tea that they cook ready for the shoppers).

    We stopped enroute at a waterfall and hot spring, which isn't very popular with the locals as they charge an entrance fee (5RM = $1.66 each), so we were the only one's there... or it could be that hot springs aren't popular when it's 35 degrees and humid!

    Ipoh is the 3rd largest city in Malaysia and was built on limestone and tin mining. It still has an industrial feel, but they are trying to increase tourism by promoting the limestone caves and food culture.

    On the outskirts of town we visited one of a number of cave temples, before heading in to Concubine Lane for lunch. The town has a large Cantonese population who came for the mining boom, and many of the businessman housed their second wives in this street to visit when they were in town for business.

    After a walk around the old town, we visited Mural Arts Lane, an otherwise drab alley that's been transformed by local artists, before walking back to our hotel.
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    John Kalaitzis

    Great art work!

    John Kalaitzis


    John Kalaitzis

    I like it!

  • Day10

    Mossy Forest and Butterfly Farm

    February 24, 2020 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We had a full day touring the highlands today, with a second night at the same hotel.

    Our day began with a drive to the Mossy Forest, on a road not for the fainthearted! Apart from being steep and winding, large sections of the road were in disrepair, and most of the journey was single lane - on blind corners drivers sound their horn on approach and if they hear a return beep, someone has to pull across to let the other pass.

    The Mossy Forest is a high altitude region where low cloud means the area is usually covered in mist and moisture, and today was no exception - the view from the top was non-existent, but we found the path was closed just after the peak because of recent rains... all in all, not the most successful outing 🙄

    By the time we journeyed down the mountain the weather had cleared slightly, so we stopped at some of the lookouts again to view over the tea plantations.

    We had lunch in Brinchang, then visited a butterfly farm, strawberry plantation, cactus outlet, local market, waterfall and Buddhist temple on our way back to Tanah Rata for the evening.
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    John Kalaitzis

    Very nice

  • Day9

    Up to the highlands

    February 23, 2020 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Today we are headed to the Cameron Highlands, a popular holiday destination for locals and international tourists, as the temperature rarely gets to 30 degrees, and humidity is low.

    On the way out of KL we visited the Blue Mosque: capacity 24,000, claim to fame: the largest religious dome in the world.

    The Cameron Highlands is a collection of small towns which became popular among the British in the 1930's as an escape from the tropical heat, but is now famous for it's tea plantations, strawberry farms and honey production.

    We stopped at an indigenous local's house on the way, a friend of Rosli known as Michael Jackson, for his uncanny resemblance... he invited us into his single room house for a chat, and his brother was happy to demonstrate his prowess with a blowpipe and poison dart!

    We visited a couple of tea plantations (quite touristy, so we didn't stay long), but did a short hike to lookout with spectacular views over the valley.

    After a late lunch we checked into our hotel before a dusk walk... and put a jacket on for the first time this holiday, as the temperature dropped below 20 degrees!
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    John Kalaitzis

    Wow! Spectacular!

    John Kalaitzis

    Does look good!

  • Day8

    Walking the cape

    February 22, 2020 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    We took the road less travelled today, from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur via the coast road.

    The coast road is an almost unbroken string of connected villages for 80km, with countless local eateries, and small scale rubber plantations. First stop was Tanjung Bidara beach, a popular local recreation spot, where we had morning tea of roti and pulled tea (tea with condensed milk, poured with a high arm action to aerate it, and cool it slightly).

    Next stop was Fort Supai, an abandoned Dutch fort at the mouth of the Linggi River. The fort is difficult to access now as a local developer has put a gate across the road to build his resort, so we walked along the beach to view what little is left.

    The main walk for the day was at Cape Rachado, a sweaty trek through a forest reserve to the lighthouse, the oldest still operating in Malaysia. Our shortcut on the way back turned out to be anything but... as they usually do, but we saw plenty of great scenery.

    Lunch was at a roadside restaurant, 3 mains and 3 drinks for 22.50 ringgit ($7.50), followed by dessert of mangosteen and jackfruit from a roadside vendor (both delicious)

    Nearby Port Dickson is a resort town for locals, and home to the Army Museum, an interesting collection of motorcycles, planes, cannons and an armoured train.

    The drive to KL was mostly freeway, passing Sepang Grand Prix track on the way to our accommodation on the outskirts of the city.
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    John Kalaitzis


  • Day7

    Road to Malacca

    February 21, 2020 in Malaysia ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    We got picked up at 8am for our drive to Malaysia. Our Malaysian driver is officially a taxi driver, so he can't drive in Singapore, so we were collected by one of his colleagues who has a private limousine licence and can drive both countries.

    The border was very busy with workers on motorbikes travelling home to Malaysia after working nighshift in Singapore - the bikes have their own lane and they were lined up 3 abreast for over a kilometre! We got through in 30 minutes, but it can take up to 2 hours at peak time.

    Our driver, Rosli, was waiting in the border city of Johor Bahru. We made a brief stop at the Sultans palace (to find a cache of course), then travelled via the motorway to Malacca.

    Malacca has a rich trading history and mix of architecture, with Indonesian and Chinese influence before being colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch then British, before Malaysian independence in 1963.

    Our hotel is in the old town, one street from Jonker St, which turns into a night market after dark.
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    John Kalaitzis

    Great architecture!

  • Day6

    Michelin Star restaurant - tick!

    February 20, 2020 in Singapore ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Our last full day in Singapore began with an MRT trip to Chinatown, perusing the many stalls, architecture and street art (and finding some caches on the way), before heading to the hawker stalls for lunch.

    One otherwise non-descript stall in the middle of the market generates a lot of attention - Hawker Chan was awarded a Michelin Star in 2016 for his soya sauce chicken rice, and is the world's cheapest Michelin-starred meal, at $2.80 a serve. We only had to line up for 20 minutes (the wait can be as much as an hour), and it was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. He marinates 180 chickens overnight in his secret soya based marinade and sells out every day.

    After a bubble tea and egg tart, we headed back to our apartment via Emerald Hill, an area of of double-storied terrace houses off Orchard Road built in the 1920's by Chinese immigrants. The style is known as the Straits Eclectic Style, combining components of Malay, European and Chinese architecture - half doors outside the main door to allow ventilation within the house while still maintaining privacy, European half-columns and Chinese-inspired reliefs.
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    John Kalaitzis

    Great view. Not seen the "old" Singapore on my previous visits

    John Kalaitzis

    Love it!