Friday, November 23, 2012

ELS 22nd Anniversary Scholarships for Malaysians | ELS Language Centres, Malaysia

ELS 22nd Anniversary Scholarships for Malaysians | ELS Language Centres, Malaysia

Attention all Malaysians age between 17-22 years old ! My Company is offering a special scholarship award worth RM2,200 for 1 month FREE Certified Intensive English Programme. Intake is in Dec'12 or Jan'13. For more information on this EXCLUSIVE 22nd Anniversary Scholarship, pls click on the above link.

See you in ELS !!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Back To Nature–Gopeng Rainforest


Went to a great getaway last week and if you are someone who loves to spend time at a quiet, back-to-nature kinda retreat, read on. Gopeng is a lesser known nature getaway compare to places like Taman Negara or any rainforest reserve. Located about 1.5hours drive away from Kuala Lumpur and south of Ipoh, Gopeng is a pretty laid back town away from rapid development.

In this blog, I would like to introduce you readers to Gopeng Rainforest Resort is situated about 15 minutes drive from Gopeng town. Visible directional signboards are placed along the road leading to Gopeng Rainforest Resort. One can easily find the way to the resort without needing much help from a GPS. One word of warning though is that since this place is not commercialised yet, the road leading up to the resorts is pretty narrow and windy. The road is just wide enough for 1 vehicle and it serves both direction. So, make sure your vehicle’s horn is working as you need to honk at every blind turn to ensure that you alert any car/lorry/motorbike coming from the opposite direction of your presence. Often, either party has to move his vehicle to the side of the road or reverse to a broader path for the other vehicle to pass through. 


 Gopeng Rainforest Resort’s signboard with its contact detail

 As the name suggest, this resort is built with the intention of giving its visitors the experience of being close to nature. The resort is managed by a Chinese couple with the help of some locals. By the way, the owner’s name is Mr. David Poon. Thanks for the great hospitality you had given us David!

Visitors are not allowed to drive the car up to the resort. There’s a parking area at the foot of the resort which can accommodate about 20 cars. From there, you have to walk up to the resort.


View of the resort from the parking area

Next to the parking ground is the camping area. Guests of Gopeng Rainforest Resort can opt to stay in the kampung style cabins or camp at the foothill of the resort.


Parking and camping ground

As out group is for a company’s staff family day, we form the bulk of the guests of the resort. The 60 of us are housed in about 10 cabins which houses from 3-6 people each. These log cabins are mainly built from wood and natural materials found in the surrounding area. Trees are aplenty surrounding the resort.


Cabins and dining area. Our room was the middle unit on the right of the above photo.

The rooms we stayed are pretty basic as you can see from the photo below. You have mattresses and thin blankets to cover you up at night. No bed. There’s a ceiling fan and power sockets for you to use your electrical appliances. One thing to note is that you will not get much phone reception here. Most of the time there is no signal on the phone. A real hideout if you don’t want to be disturbed by phone calls. Also, keep you broadband away. There’s no wifi signal here too.


The mattress and blanket

The rooms are pretty airy as its surrounded by trees, lots of trees. As it was rainy season, Gopeng also gets a fair share of rain during our visit. I was greeted by a heavenly sight the next morning as cool mist enveloped the surrounding mountains. It was really a sight to behold and makes you cherish Mother Nature more.


Cool mist greets you in the morning..…heavenly


Private cabins


Lots of kampung influence in the design of the cabins

By the way, did I also tell you that surrounding Gopeng Rainforest Resort are durian trees? I was being informed by a durian orchard operator here, Mr. Leong that there are about 5000 durian trees which produces about 300 varieties of flavours. Each of the trees are natural on its own and no cross breeding of species. Since I love kampung durians compared to designer breeds like D24, red prawn, Musang king etc., this place is definitely in my good book.


Durian tree bearing fruits outside our room

Besides durians, there are also a few pulasan trees planted by David. Pulasan is actually a cousin of rambutan with thicker skin but juicier flesh inside. The outer skin is thick.


Pulasan, a distant cousin of rambutan

Gopeng is famous for its white water rafting activity. The river actually has its source from Cameron Highlands. If you do not like rafting, you can also consider wet absailing or go caving. There are also Rafflesia flowers in Gopeng’s forest.


Riverbug, the operator for white water rafting

Many people would opt for rafting as the past-time activity in Gopeng and the rivers certainly present a great challenge especially after the rain where the water come gushing down from upstream like a steamroller, taking on everything that comes its way.


The river wild

According to David, there is also a trail that can get hikers from Gopeng to Cameron Highlands. If you’re up for a walk, this journey takes a day and a half. I’ll give it a pass Smile.


Clear, cold water gushing down the river

As I didn’t go for the water rafting activity, David was kind enough to take us for a ride, exploring the surrounding area of Gopeng in his 10-seaters van. We toured the rivers that ran through Gopeng. According to David, the British settlers came to Gopeng in the late 1800 and started tin mining here. Gopeng was also known to be a communist area during the British as well as the Japanese occupation in Malaysia. The tarred road around the hills of Gopeng were only made available around 6 years ago. Before that, they were all gravel paths. Jeeps and 4WD vehicles are more suitable as a mode of transportation here. The locals are mostly on motorbikes.

After tin mining was exhausted here, agricultural activities took over with rubber trees and oil palms form most of the greens here besides the durian trees. Gopeng also hold the natives or locally known as orang asli. The orang asli form settlements around the higher grounds. They are the natives of the forest and expert of the jungle. In an effort to bring better lilving condition to them, the Government has provided each household with solar panel that enable them to generate some electricity for their daily necessity. I was told that each day of solar charges can provide the natives with around 1.5 hours of electricity.


Orang asli’s settlement


Solar panel providing some electricity for each household

David also took us to visit the oil palm estates and showed us fungus that grew out from decaying oil palm’s husk. It certainly was an interesting sight to see how one plant thrive on other.



Fungus mushrooming from oil palms’ husks

Nearby, we also saw a mini hot spring. The hot spring was just a small patch in the middle of an oil palm estate. It’s about 3 feet x 3 feet wide.


A mini hot spring in the middle of an oil palm estate

The water from the hot spring certainly contain minerals as it attracts Raja Brooke’s butterflies to the stream that flow from the hot spring. We were surprised to see this species of butterflies as it certainly is a unique species. To find them in a well hidden area certainly adds more element of happiness and awe to be able to see these butterflies in their natural habitat. The butterflies were seen happily sapping up the minerals that came from the hot spring.


Raja Brooke’s butterflies congregating at a small stream

This 2 days 1 night experience in an eco-resort was really a memorable trip thanks to the generosity of David who brought us to a journey of discovery in his van which was not part of the retreat’s package. Also, getting to know Mr. Leong who runs a durian orchard here certainly add more interest to the trip. Mr. Leong also told us that in future, we can make a detour to Gopeng’s town if we want to order his durian kampung. We don’t have to drive up the narrow road to the hill to buy his durians. Hmm… I will certainly call him for my next trip north since a detour to Gopeng town only take abour 10 minutes from the North-South Expressway. Mr. Leong also brought us to see his 120 years’ old durian tree. He also told us that come next month, December, there will be more durians as the durian season in Gopeng will be at its peak. The fruit from the 120 years tree will also ripe by then. I am quite certain I will call Mr. Leong next month since I’m making at least a journey up north next month Winking smile!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pin Xiang Restaurant – A “Thumb’s Up” Gastronomic Experience



Bright signboard and located at a T-junction makes Pin Xiang easy to locate
 A recent dinner brought us to a new oriental dining restaurant situated at Aman Suria, Petaling Jaya. Thought it was raining cats and dogs, the hungry stomachs won the day. We decided to carry on with our reservation and reached Pin Xiang restaurant slightly over 6:30pm for our dinner. Pin Xiang is a restaurant that serves oriental dishes ie seafood & noodle. The restaurant is just facing the T-junction behind the corner Nasi Kandar in Aman Suria. Pin Xiang is also next to the Lotus Curry House and same row as the Guardian Pharmacy in Aman Suria. Occupying 2 shoplots and a extended corner, Pin Xiang caters to diners who can opt for air-conditioned sitting or open air dining.
Once seated, we were attended to promptly. Dishes were decided ahead before we reached the restaurant. We decided to have the Marmite Crab, Crispy Long Beans, Signature Tofu, Butter Chicken, Special Spare Ribs and Deep-Fried Tilapia as part of our gastronomic experience with Pin Xiang. 6 dishes althogether.
As we have pre-ordered our dishes, they arrived in a short period of time, no more than 10 minutes. First came the Signature Tofu. Since we ordered a large plate, the portion came deservingly for 8 person. The topping is something new to me as usually, in most Chinese restaurants, they usually top the tofu with minced meat, salted fish and spring onions. Pin Xiang topped it with fried, sweet preserved vegetables which I find blends quite well with the tofu.


From top left: Special Spare Ribs, Butter Chicken, Crispy Long Beans and Signature Tofu

The crispy long beans was everyone’s favourite, even Mum wanted to try this style of cooking the long beans in the future. The long beans were coated with flour and salted egg yolk before frying. Hence, you will feel the crunchiness as well as the saltiness of the egg yolk before you get to taste the long beans. As the dish was served right after they came up from the frying wok, you will still find the long beans hot and crispy. Do order this dish if you happen to be in Pin Xiang.


Signature Tofu

A self-profess meat eater will hardly go for a meal without meat. Here, we have the Special Spare Ribs to give us a different flavour to wet our appetite. The Special Spare Ribs came in a sweet and sour sauce. The special homemade sauce tasted like plum sauce in it. Pin Xiang uses a bigger cut of the pork ribs so that the diners can taste more of the pork instead. Pin Xiang also gave its diners a generous cut of the pork ribs as I can see each slice of it is about an inch thick. This dish also receive a thumbs up from me. Every piece of the pork ribs are evenly coated with the sauce that leaves you wanting to have another piece.

Special Spare Ribs 


Deep Fried Tilapia

Right before the final dish came the deep-fried tilapia fish. I know the photo above doesn’t do much justice to the fish but it was actually quite tasty too albeit some minor complain. I do like the fish deep fried and I don’t recall eating anywhere else having the fish topped with chopped garlic, chillies and lime juice. In fact, I initially mistaken the chopped garlic for cubes of cucumbers, sort of like a Thai style cooking. For a person who loves garlic, I somehow find that there were too much garlic on the fish instead. Hence, the strong aroma of the garlic overwhelmed the fish when you savour the fish.

The finale – Marmite Crabs

For a seafood fan, I’m not big-time on crabs. Like many people, I find it a challenge eating crabs. I’m totally hopeless in getting into the finer parts of a crab. This dish is more for my wife and my sis. We had a serving of 3 regular-sized crabs in the plate. As the name goes, the crabs were coated in a thick marmite paste. I do like the salty taste of marmite coated seafood. Marmite prawns would be a better option for me instead of crabs.

We topped the hearty meal with a glass of barley and bean curd drink. A nice sweet drink to go with a “thumb’s up” meal. The bill came up regularly to RM253 including taxes. Below’s the price breakdown of each dish:-

1. Marmite crabs (3 pieces) – RM99

2. Crispy long beans (large) – RM20

3. Butter chicken (large) – RM26

4. Signature tofu (large) – RM20

5. Special spare ribs (large-8 pieces) – RM40

6. Deep fried tilapia – RM24


Here’s the location of the outlet and my rating for the place.

Address: Lot H-18-G, Jalan PJU 1/45, Aman Suria, 47301 Petaling Jaya.

Location: 4/5 ( easy to find, just look for the Nasi Kandar restaurant and Lotus Curry House )

Ambient: 5/5 ( spacious seating with both air-conditioned and open-air dining available)

Food Quality: 4/5

Food Price: 4/5 ( for a large portion and in Petaling Jaya area, I think the dishes are fairly priced )

Service: 4/5 ( prompt service despite an almost full house on a Sunday evening)