Sunday, 2 August 2020

The Lord's Cafe, Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands (Second Visit)

I once wrote about The Lord's Cafe back in 2014 if you're interested to read it :)

The Lord's Cafe has always been a "Cameron Highland's" staple to me.  It has been around for years and I've never failed to visit it whenever I'm at Cameron Highland. I recently visited Cameron Highlands, and dropped by The Lord's Cafe again, after about four years since my last visit!

The Lord's Cafe is located above Marybrown in the "main streets" of Tanah Rata. There's a large parking space located right opposite the row shops here so you needn't worry about parking unless you're here on an extremely busy weekend!

The interior didn't change much since my last visit four years ago :) Rattan chairs, rattan trinkets, travelers books that have changed hand multiple times sitting on the book rack. This cafe is often quiet and peaceful - with the occasional burst of laughter from the other tables and the roaring of engines from the main road.

This is my favourite spot, even after all those years. :)
The Lord's Cafe is a self-service cafe - you have to take the menu and a piece of paper + pen/pencil to your seat to write down the order, and pay for + collect your order at the counter yourself.

I was surprised that the price didn't change much compared to four years ago! Prices were pretty affordable as you can see on the menu :) 
Cream Scone RM2.80 & Passionfruit Tea RM3.00

Banana Chocolate Cake RM3.20 & Chicken Pie RM4.20

The selling point of this place is definitely its pricepoint - it is hard to find a cafe with food and drinks priced below RM5 nowadays. The food to me tasted homey - it isn't mind-blowingly great, but I like it - I loved the simplicity of the food. I loved the homey environment. 
The Lord's Cafe is definitely a lovely place for you to unwind and relax while having some scones and tea :) Do note that they are closed on Sundays so do plan your visit!

The Lord's Cafe
No.4, 1st Floor, Main Road,
39000 Tanah Rata,
Cameron Highland, Pahang.

Contact Number: 019-572 2883

Opening Hours:
Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm (Closed on Sundays)

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Hiking Bukit Sri Bintang, Kepong

Here's a relatively short (20-40 minutes to the peak, depending on your speed) hike that is not tooooo tough (there are stretches of uphill inclination but nothing overly tough!) to a 270° view of KL city - Bukit Sri Bintang in Kepong! KLCC and KL Tower are in the backdrop but it was a rather misty/foggy/low saturation (whatever you call it) day so you might have to squint your eyes a little to see them in this photo!  
Bukit Sri Bintang is a small hill located just right at the corner of Desa Park City. The trailhead is located around a housing area, at Jalan Seri Bintang 8, otherwise known as Jalan 11/36 on Google maps. (See below for exact location!)

Parking is rather limited - You may park along the roadside of Jalan 11/36, or at the shop lots nearby (less than 5 minutes walk to the trailhead!).

At the trailhead, you'll see a fork. The trail to the right is the supposedly "main" trail (supposed because I have no proof that it is the main trail, but it seems like the main trail with the throngs of people using it!). We ascended on the trail to the left and descended from the "main" trail/trail on the right.
Because it was our first time here, we decided to just main hentam (ie take a guess on which trail to take) and took the trail to the left. I've read that all trails eventually reach the peak, and the trails are of similar difficulty so I wasn't really worried about getting lost. 
Before I go on to write about my experience hiking the trail on the left, let me ramble on a little about the "main" trail/trail to the right, since that is seemingly the trail most people would take. If you take the main trail/trail to your right, you'll reach another fork, as shown in the picture above. Again, it really doesn't matter which trail you take at this fork because it'll all take you to the same peak :) There are markers and signage put up by hiker to guide hikers all the way up to the peak along the way on this "main" trail, so perhaps it is more reassuring for first-timer to take this "main" trail rather than the trail we took :p

I, however, preferred the trail to the left though, as the trail led us to an opening with a nice view of KL city just after 10 minutes of ascending. So read on if you'd like to learn more about this trail.
 At the trailhead, you might see a family of monkeys that are seemingly used to human presence.
The trail on the left started off with lots of stairs...But after about 10 minutes of uphill inclination, we reached an opening with a view of the houses and building around Desa Park City

You can see KL tower in the backdrop here :) Would be lovely to come on a clear day for sunrise!
We continue along the path which was somewhat flat and we found ourselves at another trailhead, right outside an apartment. (Villa Orkid Condominium, according to Google Maps). View from the other trailhead below. Can you spot KLCC?
We made a U-Turn and spotted a small trail on our leaf leading up. A kind uncle told us that this is the way up to the peak.
And up, up, up, we go. From that point onwards, it was a 10-15 minutes uphill inclination...
To the first peak :) The view is similar to what you could see at the trailhead near the condo, but less obstructed :)
You can see the second peak from this first peak right behind you...up where the transmission tower is.
There is some self-made gym equipment at this peak and plenty of space for one to rest (& carry out physical distancing :p). I've read somewhere that this "peak" was created as a result of the construction of transmission tower here - which leaves a flat land and opening to this 270° view to the vicinity around it.

After taking a short break, we continue our ascend to the second peak. From the first peak to second peak, the path is exposed so be prepared to get baked should you decide to hike late!  
It may seem a little daunting from the bottom, but the inclination wasn't' too steep - it took us about 15-20 minutes to get from the first to the second peak!
 Saw a little gecko along the way!
Second peak! Similar to the first peak, there was plenty of room for one to rest and physically distance yourself from others. Here are some snapshots on the second peak!
There was another trail leading towards somewhere (apologies for being vague - can't say much as we didn't go on it!) but as the dark clouds were looming, we decided to backtrack and head back to the trailhead. We used the "main" trail to descend, which is easy to recognise by following the signs, or by following the crowd :p

We covered a total of 4.5km in this hike in 1.5 hours (including rest time at the peak!). It was overall quite a lovely hike - short and sweet, with enough uphill inclination to make me feel as though I am working out :p View was a great bonus too! I'd definitely like to return, perhaps to catch the sunrise/sunset :)

Bukit Sri Bintang
Difficulty: Somewhere in between "easy" and "moderate" (it's a short hike with bursts of uphill inclination, but nothing too steep. Saw lots of children hiking this hill!)
Duration of hike: 1.5 hours (including rest stops)

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Hiking Bukit Botak & Bukit Berdiri, Parit Sulong, Johor

Note: Visited in September 2019. Published in July 2020, courtesy of procrastination.

There are plenty of small, albeit relatively unknown hills and mountains in Johor for hiking. There is a cluster of hills with multiple peaks around the vicinity of Muar. one of them is Bukit Botak & Bukit Berdiri, which are located in Parit Sulong, a village about 20 minutes drive from Batu Pahat.
Fun fact: Bukit Botak literally translates to "Bald hill" - and there's a reason to it being called that. A quick search for "Bukit Botak" on Instagram would probably yield photos of a giant boulder that looks like the head of a bald man.

A quick google search for Bukit Botak entrance will render you a few results - there are a few entrances, all will lead you to the peak. I entered via the official entrance here.

All entrance will eventually lead you to the peak of Bukit Botak. However, the length and difficulty of the trail may vary. My friends and I tried to hike Bukit Botak sometime in May 2019, but we used a different entrance that time, and due to the lack of markings or direction, we ended up...on Bukit Payung, which is another peak within this cluster of mountains. Lol :p
If you use the same entrance as me, you'll see a few wooden kampung house scattered along the stretch of road where the official entrance is located at, with water lilies in the ditch. 
The first part of the trail is an oil palm plantation. There are orange markers sprayed over the trunks of the oil palm - follow them to prevent getting lost or going off-track. I felt as though I got consumed alive by mosquitoes on this part of the trail!
The arrows will lead you to a junction, just follow the arrow scribble on this wall..
And please adhere to the advice scribbled on the wall (Translation: Bring home whatever you brought here ; though I really disagree with vandalising the walls).
Beyond the wall was... a steep hike up, but just for a short stretch! (Probably around 200m!). This stretch is uncovered too so if you started hiking late, brace yourself to get burn under the scorching sun!
There were a lot of junctions during the first stretch - make sure you follow the orange marker, on the trees, or the trail that has ropes for support
After 10 minutes, you'll reach the (self-proclaimed) first look-out point
And you'll be entering the shaded part of the trail.
The path from here onwards leading up to the peak is much easier and not steep at all :)

Except for this part where you've got to hoist yourself up this giant boulder.
After about 30 minutes of trekking hiking, you'll reach this place which is seemingly a base camp - the terrain is flat and there are many structures to support a tent. I'm assuming that this place may be popular for overnight camps too.

Once you see this sign, Bukit Berdiri peak is located less than a minute way!
The peak of Bukit Berdiri

The peak was okay. A panoramic view of the oil palm plantation below.
Now after you reach the peak, you can turn back and descend the same way you ascended. We met a friendly Pak Cik who was a regular there and offered to show us the way to Bukit Botak peak, which he claimed was only about 20 minutes away. 
The path from Bukit Berdiri to Bukit Botak is kinda...unmarked. We couldn't have known where to go, if it weren't for the Pak Cik.

We just followed this kind Pak Cik (uncle), who kindly led the way. My apologies as I am not able to give clear directions to get to Bukit Botak peak from Bukit Berdiri.
We had to cut across some plantations again. As we were walking, a (wild) wild boar crossed out path! It was quite an interesting sight :p though we were told that wild boars may get aggressive and it was kinda dangerous - so the pak cik that was leading the way took a branch and started disturbing the bushes as we moved along the trail, just to send out a "WE'RE HERE" signal to fend off any potential wild boars.

Was quite sad to see trees being cleared off :( the pak cik suspect that these may be the work of illegal loggers :(
After what seems like forever (the hike from Bukit Berdiri to Bukit Botak wasn't 20 minutes, I swear), we finally saw some markers!
And...the signature Instagrammable boulder at the peak of Bukit Botak!
I very much prefer the peak at Bukit Botak :) You get a more panoramic view of the surroundings at Bukit Botak, whereas the view is slightly obstructed at Bukit Berdiri.
We had a picnic there, courtesy of the pak cik and his friends.

From this peak, we took about 30-45 minutes to get back to our starting point. The pak cik brought us to a mini waterfall in the oil palm plantation but again, we just followed the pak cik so I can't give any clear directions, my apologies :( The waterfall though was littered with trash though, it was quite a sad sight. The pak cik said that the waterfall used to be much cleaner, but due to the irresponsible actions of mankind, sigh. I have no words for this. We buried what we could and left. 

Shout-out to the pak cik who kindly showed us around. He had a plastic bag with him and he picked up trash along the way. This was our "yield" by the end of the hike (excluding the trash at the waterfall - there was too much trash :( ).

Let us all be responsible hikers and leave behind no trash when we hike, please! I really enjoyed this hike and the company. Though be warned that the trail from Bukit Berdiri to Bukit Botak is kinda confusing unless you can get someone who is familiar with the trails, I really wouldn't recommend doing it alone especially for first-timers!

Bukit Botak & Bukit Berdiri
Difficulty: Moderately easy
Duration of hike: 2-3 hours (for the entire loop)

Other places to visit in Johor:
1. Pulau Mawar, Mersing
2. Gunung Arong, Mersing
3. Blue Lagoon of Kangkar Pulai
4. Rainforest Treehouse, Pulai
5. Aw Pottery, Ayer Hitam
6. Island hopping @ Mersing

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