Sunday, 31 July 2011

Searching for Ents in Cameron Highlands (Part 2)

(Click here for Part 1)

And so we returned from Cameron Highlands satisfied that we found the Ent again. Here are some latest photos of the fella:
Still the same after 3 years. Thank God for forest conservation efforts!

I managed to snap a photo of the Ent's legs:
Twisted legs of the Ent. Could this Ent be a human being who was cursed by the spirit of the forest to become a tree? My imagination working on hyperdrive here.

Ents are a race of beings that resemble trees. They were created by J.R.R. Tolkien in his hugely popular Lord of the Rings (LOTR) novels that were made into movies and went on to become the greatest movie epic of all time.

Now here comes the part where I tell you that we not only found the Ent again, we also found another tree that looks exactly like Treebeard:

Treebeard is the oldest living Ent and is described as being 14 feet tall. I think this tree suits the description.

If you can't imagine this mother of a tree being Treebeard, I did the honours of showing you:
Pardon my lack of CGI skills, but Picasa certainly helped a lot!

Apart from characters from the LOTR movie trilogy, we also found some other interesting tree formation like this one shaped of a kidney:

And I saved the best for last. We also found a character from Jurassic Park:
 Looks like a dinosour's head foraging for food.

Mossy Forest and Gunung Brinchang is one hell of a movie set. If you're going there soon, remember to watch out for these movie characters all shaped by trees. Who knows, you may even find other movie characters that we missed.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dear Penang Assam Laksa,

You have done great honour to Malaysia by coming in at Number 7 in CNN's World's 50 Most Delicious Foods. It's a pity your Penang counterparts - Char Kuey Teow and Nasi Kandar did not make it into the list. But nevermind, at least you're ranked higher than Singapore's Chili Crab (No. 35).

"Penang Assam Laksa - Poached, flaked mackerel, tamarind, chili, mint, lemongrass, onion, pineapple … one of Malaysia’s most popular dishes is an addictive spicy-sour fish broth with noodles (especially great when fused with ginger), that’ll have your nose running before the spoon even hits your lips." - CNN's World's 50 Most Delicious Foods

My uncle told me that the best Penang Assam Laksa is sold at the foot of Kek Lok Si Temple. He whacked 2 bowls in one sitting when he was there earlier this year. But personally I prefer the assam laksa that's sold on Lebuh Keng Kwee where the famous Teochew Cendol is also located.              

Penang Assam Laksa, you not only made yourself famous but also the little island of Penang. But then again, Penang is already famous after coming in at Number 8 in Yahoo's 10 Islands to Explore Before You Die. Both you and the island of Penang do make a dynamic team by consistently emerging tops in lists pertaining to travel and food.

Penang Assam Laksa, whilst I'm still wondering how the hell did Chicken Rice (No. 45) and Rendang (No. 11) ended up as Singaporean and Indonesian dishes respectively (in the same CNN poll), I would like to thank you for putting Malaysia on the world tourism map.

Penang food lover,
Julie Lim

Monday, 18 July 2011

Fascinating Cactus Close-Ups

Cactuses are fascinating works of nature when seen up close. I discovered that at Cameron Highlands over the weekend.

Many people think of cactuses as prickly little flora like these:

However, cactuses can look prickly but are not, like these cactuses that have thorns that are soft and bendable:

Cactuses can can also exist like cluster of flowers: 

If you look carefully, cactuses can look like everyday items: 

Helium balloons twisted into cluster of flowers.

Silkworm cocoons.

Chicken nuggets :-)

Mother-in-law's tongue

A cactus can even be cool enough to look like the rocker sign :-)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Searching for Ents in Cameron Highlands (Part 1)

Deep in the Mossy Forest of Cameron Highlands lives a creature that looks like an Ent from the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) movie trilogy.

It was tall, green in colour and in a hurry to go somewhere. Just look at its long legs and powerful strides.

Here's a photo of an Ent from LOTR in case you don't know:

Image source

This weekend we will be hiking our way to Mossy Forest again where we spotted the Ent. And hopefully our paths will cross again.

Will we succeed or not? Stay tune for more news next week.

(Click here for Part 2)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Discovering Magical Ma'aloula

Ma'aloula is one of Syria's best kept secret. We have never heard about it until a shopkeeper in Souq Hamidiyyah recommended we visit it.

Ma'aloula is located about 50 km from Damascus, and is the only place on earth where the people speak Aramic - the language that Jesus Christ spoke. Cool, huh?

Our visit to Ma'aloula began at the Greek Catholic Convent of St Sergius:

The Greek Catholic Church of St Sergius was built in the 4th Century, making it one of the oldest churches in Christendom. Even typing it out makes me feel tingly and all.

Photos are not allowed inside the church, so I'll show you the courtyard instead:

Courtyard in the middle of the convent.

There is also a cafe and souvenir shop to quench your thirst, fill your tummies and satisfy your shopping addiction:

I went to the back of the convent and couldn't resist snapping this shot because I like the sun rays piercing from the sky:

Like God sending a message to the people :-)

After the convent, we walked down the road and I snapped this magnificent shot:

This shot is one of my fav travel photo of all time.

Then we reached a signage in the road:

... and we stopped by the Temple of the Sun which was built in 175 BC. Ma'aloula is full of super historical buildings and monuments! But alas, the Temple of the Sun was just a small, dark cave with graffiti on the wall. I thought they were uninteresting and therefore didn't take any photos. I thought these berry-like fruits in front of the temple were much more interesting:

Can eat or not?

Next, we saw an old man who pointed to an iron door that led into the rock crevices. We thought that was the proper path to follow and so a walking we went. Soon we found ourselves in a place that looked like the set of Star Wars:

This part of Ma'aloula was an exciting surprise, not mentioned in the guidebooks at all. Thank you old man for showing us the way.

We were worried that we were lost, but after seeing other locals and travellers using the path, we felt more comfortable. And true enough, soon we arrived at the other church that Ma'aloula is famous for - The Greek Orthodox Convent of St Takla.

Entrance to Convent of Saint Takla.

Here is another shot of the convent from a different angle:

Please ignore the aluminium can in the front of the photo. Didn't realise it's there until a Facebook friend pointed it out.

Like St Sergius, the Convent of St Takla has a beautiful courtyard in the middle:

That's Aud exploring the convent.

A flight of stairs lead to St Takla's shrine:

Sorry folks, but photos are not allowed in the shrine.

The convent also boasts of religious icons like these:

Who is that carrying whose head?

I love these too:

Not too sure what are these, but I think the one on the right is a holy water fount.

Even the various doors in the convent looked interesting to me:

3 Doors Down?

We spent so much time exploring the nooks and crannies of St Takla that we didn't realise it was late and had to cancel our onward trip to Seidnaya.

I didn't even have the chance to grab hold of some old lady and demand she speak Aramic because I really wanted to hear how the language sounds like. Could this be another reason to visit Syria again?

So we headed back to Damascus and I managed to snap a photo of the village from the car:

Goodbye Ma'aloula, never in my wildest dream did I know you were this exciting!

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