Sunday, 28 June 2009

Canopies and Carnivores

Today’s agenda: tackle the jungle at FRIM – the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia. We set our alarms for a 7am wake up call and piled into the Proton.

We wanted to hike on the FRIM’s canopy walkway. They only give out a certain amount of tickets a day, so you need to get there early. Also, BE SURE to buy your ticket at the registration desk near the parking lot. Don’t tackle the 45 minute hike to the canopy without a ticket. They don’t sell tickets at the canopy and they will turn you away.

We picked up our tickets and then fortified ourselves with some roti canai and teh tarik.

The father had every intention to sprint the 45 minutes uphill to the canopy walk. Unfortunately, his plans were thwarted.

Mr. Happy wanted to jungle-ize his pampered feet, so he removed his shoes and walked barefoot. He insisted it gave him a better grip. I insisted he looked crazy. And my mother insisted he would catch a jungle fungus.

We stopped briefly to drink some water and catch our breath.

Unfortunately, 100 Malaysian scouts passed us during our break.

This meant we had to wait in line when we reached the canopy!

It wasn’t all bad. The father found an audience of sweet locals who were amazed he could manage the climb at his advanced age.

The canopy walk offered beautiful views of both the jungle and the city and wasn’t nearly as scary as the one in Taman Negara.

Mr. Happy hammed it up for the camera, but at least he wasn’t barefoot!

The mother declared this her favorite part of the trip thus far!

We got a little lost on our way back to the car. Mr. Happy navigated and he definitely took us the (wrong) long way. The mother and I managed to cool off with some Asian air conditioning.

When we reached civilization we headed to the convenience store to re-hydrate – Team 300 Plus.

After our hike we drove to the Lake Gardens for lunch at the Hornbill CafĂ©. We ate here just last week with Mr. Happy’s parents. This time the birds actually flew right up to our table!

Some of us thought it was cool!

Others were very uncomfortable.

We took a walk through the Orchid Garden.

I did my best impression of a fairy.

And we called it a day.

That night, we headed to our favorite steak shack, Suzi’s corner, for dinner with the gang.

The father ordered some cream of mushroom soup. It turned out to be a special Malaysian recipe - Campbell’s!

As always, the steaks did not disappoint.

But next time I’ll have to try the button mushrooms & string!
(Mmmm. String.)

Mr. Happy satisfied his vegetarian cravings with some potato skins and vegetarian lasagna.

Our time in KL is going fast! Soon, we are off to Singapore.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Elephants, Monkeys, and 'Mericans

My parents landed! After a 25 hour trip that took them through Chicago and Seoul, they arrived safely in our flat via the Mr. Happy transport around 12:30am. I quickly put them to bed so we could jump into sightseeing mode the next day.

In the morning, we hopped on our hog and headed to the Chow Kit market.

They didn't care for what they described as "that dirty, fishy smell" of the wet market. But we did have fun.

The mother and the father were tempted by these chickens (and the man behind them with the cleaver was tempted by them)But I explained about my kitchen not really being a place where food is prepared in any sort of traditional way (and I successfully pleaded with cleaver man not to butcher them).

But this is not to say that we did not eat. After relaxing by the pool, we met some friends at Sao Nam in Bukit Bintang for a bit of Vietnamese.
Here’s the mother enjoying the seafood pancake – a popular, but s-l-o-w-l-y prepared – choice that evening.

Now it's time for some ele-fun!

This morning we revved the adventure throttle up a notch and journeyed to Kuala Gandah, two hours to the east of KL. It's an elephant sanctuary for animals who have been injured and displaced from their herds by predators, poachers, and plantation owners.
We had to wear old clothes and the mother and the father looked like they were heading off to summer camp.

Mr. Happy worked very, very remotely and prepared for a board meeting with land beasts watching his back.

First, the elephants washed off the dust from the hot day with a bath in the river.

One little boy had the best seat in the house.

Next, it was time for some snacks. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do the eating. But doing the feeding was just as fun.

In fact, those elephants were so grateful for our papayas, bananas, and human limbs they offered to give us a lift.

And, after noticing how hot we got during our visit, they took us for a dip! The mother and father went first and we captured it on video!

Followed by Merbear and Mr. Happy in an old fashioned still.

Playing with the elephants was a lot of fun and definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.

On the way back home, we stopped at the Batu Caves.

It was nice dropping by in the evening.

The climb, though steep, is much more manageable with the absence of the sun’s glare.

Everyone waved to the camera!

As always, you see some cute monkeys.

And, as always, things can change very, very fast.

But we did our best to stay on good terms with the primates.

We made it to the top, had a look around, and then raced to the bottom for a bit of dinner.

Next stop? Showers to scrub off some of the sweat, dirt...and that darn elephant smell.