Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Last Day of the Cameron Highlands Trip - It's Really A Short Visit!



"I must be crazy to have woken up so early on a supposedly relaxing trip to the highlands in Malaysia"; the aforementioned was the exact thought that ran through my brain as i struggled to pull myself out of bed.

Reason for waking up at such ungodly hour - we had signed up for the sunrise spectacular tour by Titiwangsa! Click here to find out if we are lucky.

Final look at the scenery from the balcony of our superior room at Copthorne Hotel before we checked out. At this point, I did regret not staying for an extra night but judging from the dark clouds, the impending rain would likely keep us indoors. 

The light breakfast provided during the tour didn't appeal to either of us and we proceeded to the Restoran Yao Yat for its canto style wanton mee after storing our bags with the luggage counter at Copthorne Hotel!

Took a picture of this map at the hotel's lobby while waiting for the Konsortium (or its partner) coach to arrive - not drawn to scale is acceptable but to have the location of Copthorne Hotel placed wrongly on the map isn't.  

Time was 11 am and we had been kept waiting for an hour. Pick up was supposed at 10 am and instruction stated that we should arrive 30 minutes before then. By then, i had called up Konsortium in Singapore and was requested to wait for a return call while the gentleman checked with the driver. I of course suspected that the coach was also held up at Brinchang (as we were in Day One) where a tour agent would hop onto the bus and persuade passengers on the coach to sign up for their tour packages!

The bus arrived at about 11.38 am and me being me, i asked the passengers who just dropped off if they had gone through the "marketing". Answer was affirmative although they also did comment that there was a jam up the mountain.

I am totally understanding if there is a jam which couldn't be helped. However, the additional talk isn't necessary when you are already late to pick up your customers; it's unprofessional and irresponsible! By the time we left Copthorne Hotel, it was close to noon; an utter waste of 2 hours.

Venting my frustration aside, i am still looking forward to my next trip to Cameron Highlands and i think i would either stay at a hotel in Brinchang or maybe the above Nova Hotel which appeared to have a direct link to Cameron Square and was conveniently located to a number of attractions. Whatever the case, i am swearing off Konsortium.

Jam right outside Cameron Square. As it was the Deepavali weekend, it's expected to have thongs of non-Hindu visitors driving up to the highlands to spend the holiday.

Thriving market at Tringkap! As coaches from Singapore don't have a designate drop-off / pickup point at one of Cameron Highlands' smallest towns, i bet most of us have never been to this market.

The Rose Valley right behind - taking the coach is one of the transport modes available to Singaporeans. The other option which i am seriously considering in my next trip, is to take a plane to Ipoh and then self drive up to Cameron Highland!

These old school shophouses were in fact pretty common in Singapore about three decades ago. I remember seeing some opposite Nee Soon camp when i was a kid.

Snaking traffic appeared at certain sections and not the entire stretch of road leading to the highlands. The opposite way, going down, was generally quite alright except for the times when a few rogue cars wanted to overtake.

Lavender Garden seemed to be a great hit as the carpark was filled and cars that didn't find a lot choose to park at the roadside; making the narrow road even narrower.

Disappearing views of the canopy-topped farmlands as the coach continued its journey down the highlands.



Strawberry Moment Dessert Cafe - there used to be a branch at Brinchang which was way more convenient. At its present location, the only way i can get there is to either self drive or engage a driver.


Smoother traffic.

Wild orchids everywhere and it's so hard to get a decent shot of them while the coach was in motion. I finally got the above shot when the coach stopped because of a roadwork ahead.

The roadwork which resulted in the passing of only one direction and the cue had to be taken from the worker with the stop and go sign.

Hm.... a sheltered driveway? I don't see the need of it unless (i am guessing here) the structure itself is to stabilise the hill to prevent landslides.

Dark clouds floating up the highlands; the rain would likely be worse than the ones we encountered the day before. Good luck to the travellers in the highlands!

With the appearance of the karst formations, i knew we had arrived at the bottom of the mountain range. Frankly, don't you think it's a bit sad that the human touch has deformed nature's beauty?

Sign of the word "Ipoh" on the roadside; once again, this confirmed my suspicion that the coach was using a rather unconventional way to Cameron Highlands. In the past, they would drive up the mountain from another gateway further south which is nearer to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

We were asked to switch buses here as the original bus was said to have broken down before it went up the mountain that morning. Strangely, i didn't hear that from the lady who alighted from the coach earlier; she only mentioned the jam.

Nevertheless, i just wanted to get back to Singapore as it was close to 2pm and if we were in Ipoh, it would easily be another 6 hours or more.

Oh, are we going up to Cameron Highlands again? Nope as this was the gateway i mentioned earlier; the one that coaches originating from KL and Singapore would take; via the Tapah / Kampar route along the North South Highway.

Started pouring shortly after; an environment damn conducive for sleeping! I dozed off as with Alex and didn't realise the coach had stopped at a rest stop for passengers to buy lunch until we were about to drive off.

My lunchner (combination of lunch and dinner) in Ming Ang (Yong Peng) at 7 pm! Both Alex and i were famished and i wolfed down a Ramly Burger that tasted so marvelicious

Can't remember what Alex had although he had to order his tea leaves eggs! The burger was hardly sufficient to curb my finger and i paid for three extra eggs.

I didn't forget to roam the supermarket and purchase the super good heong peah from Ming Ang. Trust me, they are one of the best brands around when it comes to heong peah (in Singapore, we call it chestnut pastry; 马蹄酥).

Tuas checkpoint at 9 pm! By the time we cleared immigration, alighted at Yuan Ching to take a cab and reached home, it was about 10.30 pm! Now, did i mention this was supposed to be a relaxing trip?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Crispy Pancake (Used to be at Change Alley) - Now at Yishun 81 Food Court (The One with the Famous Chicken Rice) @ Yishun Central [Singapore]

As a polytechnic student more than fifteen years ago, i often met up with my elder sister near her workplace at Raffles Place for lunch and many a time, we will also end up buying a few pieces of min chiang kueh (aka local pancakes / 面煎粿) from a particular stall in a coffee shop at Change Alley.

My family loved the pancakes and expressed their sadness when the stall disappeared. For my elder sister and i, it was more than being sad as the pancakes were packaged as one singular entity with the chatty yet forgetful stall owner who never seemed to lose his cool. It's no longer just the pancakes we miss but also the uncle.

Imagine my shock when i was done having hokkien mee at Yishun Central and walked past the above stall in the same coffee shop! I immediately texted my sister: "Remember the uncle we used to buy pancakes from? The talkative one? He set up shop in Yishun"!

This is the uncle, looking as if he didn't change a single bit except for maybe more white hair. I, on the other hand, am fatter, rounder and sprouting a significant amount of white hair.

I am posting the menu earlier so that i can explain the unique ordering that's invented by the uncle himself as his memory has never been good and back at Raffles Place, he often mixed up customers' orders! Anyway, do refer to the abbreviations as indicated above; P for Peanut, SC for sweet corn, CH+OR for cheese and oreo etc.

Pens are provided for you to write down your order on the paper bag that would eventually house one of your pancakes! My order was P x 1 and D x 1. p.s. i did notice that the menu had expanded to include oreo and even mixed savoury min chiang kueh like cheese + hotdog + egg.

Peanut Pancake
A disclaimer first - you would not like the pancakes here if you prefer them with fluffy batter and satisfyingly thick texture.

This is almost similar to the crunchy type (the kind that breaks into a million pieces once you bite it) but slightly thicker to prevent the crumbs from falling all over the table.

Peanuts were fresh without the bitterness that some pancake stalls had and the batter was eggy with just a touch of saltiness; perfect as a light afternoon snack! My recommendation is not to eat the pancakes when they are hot! Cool them down so that the crust hardens further for a chewier bite. Piece of advice - open up the paper bag so that the hot vapour inside can escape.

Durian Pancake
Ordering the durian pancake would catch close friends by surprise as they would know i like durians as durians and dislike them in other forms like in coffee, in cakes etc. However, the signboard proudly branded durian crispy pancake and i thought i should give it a try and some support despite my misgiving.

Visually, i should have been excited by the generous spread of durian paste and i indeed was until i took a chunk off the pancake; it was bland with a bitter aftertaste that tasted absolutely weird on a hot pancake! I shall stick with my normal peanut, red bean or chocolate pancakes next time.

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Location
Block 926, Yishun Central 1,
Yishun 81 Food Court (永运食坊),
Singapore 760926

Operating Hours
12 pm to 8 pm (Daily)

Menu
As above again.

Pricing
Peanut Pancake (P) - S$1.00
Durian Pancake (D) - S$2.00

Stalls in the Same Coffee Shop
(click the shop name to read more)

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Delicious Ramly Burger from Ming Ang Food Court @ Yong Peng Stopover [Malaysia]

Mention Ming Ang and i would likely subject you to the great affection i had for the heong peah sold at the bakery next to the food court at Yong Peng; a major stopover and rest stop in Malaysia for coaches originating from or heading to Singapore.

Now, there's another item that you would find me talking about when you next talk to me about Ming Ang; the ramly burger stall that's right at the entrance! 

Yes, i was famished when i arrived at Yong Peng as it was past 7 pm and the last decent meal i had was at 9 am! During the long coach journey from Cameron Highland, my stomach did have some inputs, albeit stuff that my mum would frown upon; chocolates, strawberry pocky sticks etc. 

I almost cried when i unwrapped the waxed paper covering my order of piping hot ramly burger beef with egg and cheese; i had never been this hungry before! 

Not sure if it's due to the hunger pang; this was easily the best ramly burger i ever had i my whole 36 years of life! The beef patty was juicy with the unmistakable ramly burger marination that was so addictive; many Singaporeans couldn't resist buying a few back whenever they were in Malaysia!

It looked nothing like the ones on the menu board but i actually slowed down my wolfing down so that i can savour the delicious taste for a little while longer! Trust me, it was an internal fight as i deliberated whether i should purchase a second one! 

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Location
lLot 1523, Batu 1/2, Jalan Muar, 
83700 Yong Peng, Johor

Menu
As above.


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