Monday, 25 June 2012

Kids for Chess - 17 June 2012

Come May/June every year, tis the season of chess camps, tournaments, inter-club meets, inter-school meets, etc.

The stage is set for chess battle!

"Grand Master in training"

Start them young.....

Chess is still popular in Malaysia!

Classroom in the Park - 8 June 2012

Unveiling the secrets of Taman Warisan Pertanian in Putrajaya - an agricultural education park with a variety of fruits, herbs, spices and agricultural crops. 

Posting by Xian Wei:

Why were these branches upside-down? Guess the name of this tree. 

Our guide was cutting the bark of a cinnamon tree....... It has a strong smell!

Hmmm..... I wondered which hand could reach the fruit first.
Our guide showed us a pineapple plant. If you cut the crown of the pineapple, then you can plant it again.

We went to a small paddy field. We saw duckweeds which were the small green floating plants. These plants could take up a lot of oxygen,  they must be controlled.

After that, we learnt to plant at the Little Farmers' Program.  Our guide taught us to plant using recycled bottles.

Busy at work.........

The finished work........

Rubber-tapping demonstration

Looking at the latex dripping into the bowl....

The leaves of rubber tree were always in groups of 3, like three fingers.

After collecting the latex, put into a container. Then pour some formic acid (it makes you itchy if you touch it) to harden it. Flatten it like 'roti canai'. After that use rollers to roll and  pattern it. Next, soak the sheets in water to wash away the acid. Finally, hang to dry before put the rubber sheets in the smokehouse for 4 days.

Hip-Hip Hooray!!!!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Fishing in Semenyih - 6 June 2012

Posting by Xian Wei:

After a tiring trip to Penang/Ipoh, my family and I went fishing with our cousins at the Fish Valley Semenyih. As it was our first time fishing, we were actually feeding the fish!!

The charge was RM10 per fishing rod for unlimited hours of fishing at the small pond - less than 3kg fish pond (Big pond will cost RM20). If you want to take back the fish you have caught, you will need to pay!!

After that, we asked a man to teach us how to fish and put the bait to the hook. The hook accidentally poked my finger. It was very painful. But it was not deep nor bleeding. What luck! The bait was actually fish pellets but we had to put in some water to soften it. The lump looked like poop!

He showed us an example how to throw the fishing line and when he threw it you must NOT stand behind him.

Waiting for the fish.....We tried and tried, but we ended up feeding the fish. When we had to go home, we finally got it! But we did not get a single fish .....:(

My cousins and I climbed from tree to tree (like monkeys) beside the fish pond. It was fun. My aunt was practising her clarinet for her coming performance.

This big catfish was caught by another visitor. He used a fishing rod to catch the fish and the worms from the ground as bait. I would like to come to this place again, hopefully next time I could catch a real fish.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Sekeping Kong Heng - 5 June 2012

Sekeping Kong Heng is exactly what it claimed - it is a slice of history within a real old town setting which is alive, working and real. If you have heard of Ng Sek San, you will agree that he's one of a kind, practically a legend in the landscape design field. Sekeping Kong Heng is his latest unveiled guest house, or more accurately, an adaptive reuse of an abandoned building, side-by-side with the famous century-old coffee shops in the heart of Ipoh Old Town.

Top: Across the street is Concubine Lane, a buzzing hangout place of rich tin mine tycoons representing the golden age of Ipoh in the early 1900s. Bottom: Sekeping Kong Heng behind the popular "Kong Heng" coffee shop (yellowish building).

Unassuming entrance to guest house besides the coffee shop. Even with GPS, it is very difficult to locate the guest house. Maybe when Seksan completes his touch in the surrounding abandoned buildings, we will see the masterpiece.



Original walls, unlike other heritage mansions in Penang and Malacca, the walls here are not plastered or repainted, they are displayed in their original, aged forms.

Unfinished work at the lobby area...may be a good area for garden cafe...

Lift for cargo (top left)Wash area behind the reception, which adjoins to Kong Heng coffee shop (bottom left); steel staircase that connects all 3 storeys (right).

Our favourite area on the 2nd floor - the rooftop for relaxation and a cup of Ipoh coffee.... Open area to look out the busy streets of the alive, working and real old Ipoh town.

This is the retreat room on the 2nd floor, spacious enough to accommodate a private function. But the best is the TWO "suspended glass houses" on top!!! Maybe they will not serve too much drink there, cos they only have see-through "glass toilets". Rate at RM800 per night for the entire space and rooms.

The family room on the 1st floor is spacious with a master room (hidden at the back) as well as communal space for another 4 beds. The communal area, however, is exposed to wind, sun and rain!! Creeper plants are used as "living walls". Rate at RM800 per night.

There are 8 standard rooms. Simple with basic facilities. Rate at RM200 per night.

An abandoned building behind the existing guest house. If nothing is done, it is left to ruin. Not just the physical building, but along with it the history and heritage of the place. Seksan is not only a successful landscape architect with a string of accolades, he also has conservation at heart and being a Perakian, aging buildings are given new lease of life. And to us, it is a piece of timeless life.

"in designing a landscape, we are not creating an object or an art piece. It is more about people and creating a idea that is successful piece of work is one that is still relevant 10 or 20 years later...." Seksan.

Sekeping Kong Heng
Address: 75, Jalan Panglima, 30000 Ipoh, Perak.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Ching Han Guan Biscuits - 5 June 2012

"Ching Han Guan" (in Cantonese "Zhong Hon Yuen") is famous in Ipoh as a traditional biscuit shop. This is one of the shops that we faithfully go back to every time we are in Ipoh. Reason? The varieties of biscuits, with a mix of the old and new, taste fresher and better even though we're not big fans of traditional biscuits. The shop has a rich legacy behind the name, you will likely not able to find another traditional biscuit shop still doing the way they were more than 60 years ago.

The owner shared with us that the shop in Hugh Low Street had been established in 1949, when he was only 2 years old. The business was started by his father, a Teochew, and until today it's one of few shops still making authentic Teochew specialty biscuits. He took over the business when he was only 13 years old after the passing on of his father - starting off as a bicycle peddlar selling the biscuits to neighbouring shops. He has 4 children and currently only one of them is involved in the family business.  A Teochew couple who was there claimed this is the only shop in Ipoh that makes the traditional and rare Teochew wedding biscuits.

The variety of biscuits here attracted many customers from outstation and neighbouring countries as well as migrated Ipoh people who come back to find their familiar tasty biscuits. On top of the variety of biscuits they sell on day-to-day basis, they also offer specialty products like wedding biscuits, Chinese New Year biscuits and mooncakes for Mid-Autumn festival . They even cater  their biscuits to different clans, for example they have special wedding biscuits for Teochews, Cantonese and Hakka clans as well as traditional mooncakes for Teochew, Hokkiens and others.

Few workers were busy making the biscuits at the back of the shop. The recipes have been passed down from generation to generation and their philosophy is simple, "Use high quality ingredients and passionately craft them into delicious biscuits". You should not expect very low prices though but they are more reasonable than most commercialised brands. A plus point is the biscuits are sold promptly so you can be assured of their freshness.

Our boys love almost all the types of biscuits here but the popular biscuits here are meat floss lotus paste biscuit, Ipoh famous "heong peah", "hup tung so" walnut cookies, sesame/peanut/walnut candy, "sak kei ma", "kai zhai peng" Chicken biscuit, "Biskut Telinga", fish biscuit (popularised by my boys...) etc etc. It is commendable that they still persist in making the biscuits in the traditional way, and even become successful in their own right.

STILL selling like hot cakes!! The very first biscuit sold by the senior Ching peddling the Ipoh's famous tau sar pheah (mung bean pastry) on his bicycle, in exactly the same packaging!

A close rival of Ching Han Guan - read Ming Yue Confectionery, Pasir Pinji.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Metal Monster TT 5 - 5 June 2012

Posting by Xian Jin:

My family and I went to many interesting places during the holidays. One of them was the historical tin dredge in Malaysia. This tin dredge is in Tanjung Tualang, about 9 km away from the Kinta Nature Park in Batu Gajah. It is called TT 5. It is no longer in use since 1982, after the collapse of the tin price. 

TT 5 was the last remaining of 6 tin dredges belonging to the Southern Malayan Tin Dredging Ltd. TT 5 looked like a giant metal ship. TT 5 was a 5-storey high tin dredge and has a width of 35m, length of 75m. It weighed about 4,500 tonnes. TT 5 needed 30 workers per shift, 3 shifts per day for its operation.

We were very fortunate to have Mr Steven Ng to explain to us the history of tin mining in the Kinta Valley. Mr Ng's father worked in the tin mining industry, just like my grandfather. He's responsible for managing the tin dredge now. According to Mr Ng, there were five methods of tin mining - tin dredge method was developed by the British, others were underground mining, cave mining, palong method and dulang washing. My grandfather worked in a tin mine in Chenderiang using the palong method.

Going into TT 5......... Sitting in water, it was so big that we did not know where to start with. We were so conscious about falling into the pond that we didn't realise we were already inside TT 5.  We were told that the water was 30m deep!!!

Giant buckets digging into the soil all the way up and into the revolving screen for shaking so that the minerals will be loosened from the soil.

Kinta Valley was very rich in tin deposit. During the mining, many other kinds of minerals, including tin would be extracted. The separators above were used to separate the soil and minerals - minerals were heavier and would stay on the separators. 

There was a big garden outside the museum. Mr Ng grew many vegetables and fruits in the garden. Now guess who were sharing the ex-mining pools with the dredge? "DUCK FARMS" It was certainly a very 'quackingful' and memorable visit!

Before we came to TT 5, we visited the Ngah Ibrahim's Fort. It's a good place to learn about the early days of tin mining in the area, now known as Matang Historical Museum. A very historical piece of property built in the mid 19th century, situated in Bukit Gantang, Perak, about 30 minutes' drive from Taiping town.  
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