Growth Chart for My Little Ones

Friday, May 31, 2013

26 May 2013 - Kuantan Day 3: East Coast Mall Shopping

As we slept very late last night, or rather early this morning, we woke up pretty late but managed to have our breakfast at Garden Terrace just in time.
After breakfast, we took a short walk to the beach.  As we passed by a playground, you would have guessed what will happen........  :-)
Our group met up at about 11am to check out.  We then drove to a nearby East Coast Mall for some shopping.  We spent 3 hours shopping here and had our lunch before embarking on another long drive home.
We reached Mersing at about 7pm and had our dinner in an Indian restaurant (below).
After dinner, the sky had turned dark and the drive from then on was quite challenging.  Along certain stretch of the road, there was no street light.  And worse still, the road was single lane and it made overtaking slow vehicles extremely difficult.  And remember, our group was in a convoy of 7 cars and to keep all 7 cars not too far apart was really not that easy.  However, we did it and reached JB custom safely at about 10pm.  There was a long queue of cars there and by the time we reached the counter, it was almost 11pm.  Fortunately, the traffic was smooth at the Singapore custom and we reached home at about 11:30pm.  This marked the end of our Funch Trip 2013 - Kuantan!

25 May 2013 - Kuantan Day 2: Late Night Turtle Watching

After our dinner at Pak Su Seafood Restaurant, we drove up to the border of Terenganu and Pahang to experience late night turtle watching.  I remember when I was a small kid, around Jerlene's age, I had experienced it once.  The images of the mother turtle still float into my mind every now and then.  We followed the GPS that led us to a beach but we were not sure if that was the right place.  We then drove along the beach and at one end, we saw some locals and decided to ask for information.  There was a man who said that he can bring us to a private beach where we were guaranteed to see turtles for a fee.  He claimed that his family owns a turtle sanctuary and their business motto is to protect the turtles.  After negotiating and agreeing to the amount, we followed his van to another part of the beach.  We passed by a turtle sanctuary before reaching the beach.  At that moment, there was one turtle moving around the beach looking for an ideal nesting place.  All visitors had been warned not to use camera flash when taking photo.
When I saw the turtle, I realized it was different from the one that I saw when I was a kid.  It was much smaller in size.  I believe this is called the Green Turtle while the one that I saw previously was Leatherback Turtle.  More info on turtles in Malaysia can be found here.
While waiting for the turtle to start laying eggs, the organizer brought out a few turtle eggs for us to see and feel.  It looks like a ping pong ball but it was actually pretty soft.
The next highlight was to release baby turtles into the sea.  All visitors were told to form a line on the beach facing the sea.  We were then given a baby turtle each.  At this moment, we were told that we could take photos with flash.  This was our first time holding a baby turtle in our hands.  It was a pretty weird feeling when the turtle's flippers kept flipping in your hands.
Initially I thought the kids will be scared and dropped the turtle but I was wrong.  They actually find it interesting though I had to keep reminding them not to press on the turtle too hard.
Finally at the count of three, all of us let go of the turtles and they were veru quick to rush into the sea.  We were told that we had to stand at a certain distance from the sea to release them so that when they grew up, they will remember to return here during their nesting season.  We were also sad to hear that the survival rate of these baby turtles are very low.  Less than 5% of the turtles that were released will eventually manage to survive in the ocean.  There were many predators out there waiting to feast on these adorable baby turtles.
After that, the mother turtle on the beach finally started to lay eggs.  At any one time, turtle can lay around 70-80 eggs.
This was really a different experience for all of us, especially the children. On our way back to our hotel, all the kids fell asleep in the car.

25 May 2013 - Kuantan Day 2: Sungai Lembing, Gua Charas and Pandan Waterfall

We had our breakfast at the Garden Terrace in the hotel this morning.  After our breakfast at about 10am, our group met up and began day 2 of our trip.  Our first destination is Sungai Lembing, which is a tin mining town northwest of Kuantan.  Translating from Malay to English, Sungai means River and Lembing means Spear.  Sungai Lembing was once a major producer of underground tin until 1970s.  After about an hour drive from the hotel, we reached the entrance of the town.
There are several suspension bridges across the river in this area.  We went to one of them and the children were pretty excited.  The scenery here was pretty cool.  Many villagers here travel on motorcycle and they even ride on this suspension bridge to get to the other side of the river.
As the bridge is a little bit wobbly, the children found it interesting and kept jumping on it to make it wobble even more.......
The weather today was extremely sunny and warm.  After walking for a while, most of us had to walk back to our car to get umbrellas.  I love the below picture where four kids share a little umbrella.  :-)
We then took a group photo here before leaving this place.  As we were driving back to the town, we saw a museum on a hill.  We decided to park our car nearby and visit the museum.  It was housed in an old bungalow once used by the mine manager.
The museum provides many information about the tin mining history of Sungai Lembing.  It also houses a collection of mining artifacts.
There is a room (one and only) with aircon in this building and everyone started to "camp" in it.  We spent around half an hour in the museum before driving to the town for lunch.  We went to a Chinese Restaurant or rather coffee shop and guess what, we waited almost an hour for our food.  Reason being there is only one chef here and there were at least 7 to 8 tables full of people.  While waiting, we bought buns (包子)to temporarily fill up our stomach.  Jerlene and Javier love the bun very much.  The bun really tastes good!
After lunch, our plan was to go to Sungai Pandan Waterfall.  Along the way, we saw a majestic hill appeared out of nowhere.  From afar, we vaguely saw a cave where we probably could enter.  After a short discussion, we all agreed to pay a visit to the cave.
It was a short drive through some dirt tracks before we reached the foot on the hill.  This is Bukit Charas (Charas Hill), which is a limestone hill 25km north west of Kuantan.  There is a temple cave in this limestone hill called Gua Charas. The cave is a holy site for both Hindus and Buddhists and their symbols and statues are dotted around the interior of this vast cavern.  By the way, there is a man at the parking area collecting RM2 per car.  And to climb up to the cave, it's adult RM2 and children RM1.
As Javier had fallen asleep and Tracy was too tired to climb up the steps, only Jerlene and me went up to the cave.  Initially I thought it's going to be a tough climb but it was actually not too bad.  In about 15mins, we reached the entrance of the cave.  This is Jerlene's second time to enter a limestone cave.  The first was in Perth last year.
The interior of the cave was quite huge.  As compared to all the other limestone caves that I've visited so far, I find this cave pretty untidy.  As we walked deeper into the cave, we could hear bats screeching.
Along the way, we saw statues of an elephant and a monkey kneeling before a Buddha.
And at the end of the cave, there is a statue of a Reclining Buddha (睡佛).
We spent about 30mins in the cave before going back to our cars.  All around Bukit Charas are Oil Palm Plantation.
As it was getting late, we gotta to rush our way to Sungai Pandan Waterfall before the sky turned dark.
This is a place where visitors come for a swim, picnic or do some jungle trekking.  The children were having fun playing with sands or simply splashing pine colored water.
Before we left this place, we decided to go for a closer look of the waterfall.  There is actually a suspension overlooking at the 100 meter high waterfall.
If we had more time, we would probably go for a swim right before the waterfall.  It should be fun.  We drove back to Kuantan town and had our dinner at Pak Su Seafood Restaurant.
After dinner, we drove up to the border of Pahang and Terenganu for late night turtle watching.

24 May 2013 - Kuantan Day 1: Long Drive up north via Mersing

7 families, 14 adults and 9 children, in a convoy of 7 cars, embarked on a 3 days 2 nights trip to Kuantan over this Vesak Day long weekend.  As we tried to avoid traffic jam at the Woodlands Custom, we met up as early as 5:15am along Mandai Lake Road.  Initially I thought it'll be tough to wake my two little angels up but surprisingly, I did not have to carry them into the car.  Anyway, we were the first to reach the meeting point, unlike last year when we were the last.

By 5:20am, all families arrived and we set off on our journey.  The traffic at the Singapore Custom was not too bad but the traffic over at JB custom had already built up.  After clearing the Malaysia custom, we first met up at a nearby Esso before moving out.  Our first destination is Kiang Kee Bak Kut Tea (强记肉骨茶) at Kota Tinggi, where we had our breakfast.
Although the stall opens at 7:30am daily, there was already a crowd when we reached there at about 7:20am.  We heard that it normally sold out by noon.  So for those who wanted to try, please be early.  The Bak Kut Tea is the herbal type in claypot.  It is one of the better version that I've tasted so far.  Though Jerlene and Javier did not eat the bak kut, they LOVE the soup a lot.
After breakfast, we continued to drive up north towards Mersing.  On the way, we made a slight detour to a stretch of shop houses that sell Keropok Lekor.  The moment I opened my car door, the smell of Keropok Lekor and Dried Salted Fish flowed right into my car.  I did not buy any because I didn't want my car to smell like salted fish, which will probably last for weeks.
As the beach was round the corner, we decided to take a look.  At that moment, it started to drizzle.
We did not spend too much time there as we still had a long drive to Kuantan.  We passed by Mersing before taking a stop at Pekan for our lunch.
We had our lunch at A&W where Jerlene and Javier were feasting on the Ice Cream Waffle.
After lunch, we continued our journey to Kuantan and at around 3pm, we reached our hotel, Swiss Garden Resort and Spa, Kuantan.  By that time, we were all very tired and decided to rest in our room till dinner time.
The moment we checked into our room, Jerlene and Javier started executing their SOP:  Climbed up onto the bed, looked for the TV remote, turned on the TV and searched for cartoon channels.
We all met up at the lobby at around 6:30pm before driving to Alor Akar Seafood Restaurant for our dinner.  It was very crowded and we waited for quite a while before we had our tables.  The food was great but we seemed to have ordered too much.
After dinner, we had a small group discussion on whether to go watch turtles tonight.  The final decision was we will go tomorrow.  After a long drive today, everyone seemed to be pretty tired.  Tomorrow should be an interesting day so stay tune!  :-)