Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011 Road Trip - North

After one day in PJ, KS and I took the ETS to Ipoh to meet up with his family and grandma there. It was the first time we are taking this new train to Ipoh and found it clean, convenient and hassle-free.

Exterior of the ETS 

Ipoh Train Station

Maple & Dawn at the Ipoh home

We spent two nights there lazing around before my parents, Ron and Jan came to pick us up on the way to Alor Setar. Yup, we all fit into the Avanza with Jan and I sitting at the last row. Passing all the padi fields made me realize how much I’ve taken the endless green fields for granted, considering many people I know who are amazed at them. Hey, I grew up with miles of padi fields right in front of my home for years, watching them turn from green to gold to being ploughed to the planting seasons.

It's been almost five years since I last visited Alor Setar. We stayed in this new motel called Mango Hotel. It was still being furbished but had the adequate furniture for us to stay. It was there when I realized how important it is to have thick carpets as the merest whisper could bounce and echo along the entire corridor and into our rooms. And also learnt the lesson why one should never choose a hotel which has a bar/club/live karaoke downstairs. Christmas season meant the nights went longer than usual so it was still rather lively past 2am.

So jealous! I took this with Ron's new camera (IXUS 220HS) handheld. So clear! Lights at Mango Hotel
Char Kuey Tiow at the Cowboy market: Our breakfast every morning

Visiting our favourite childhood haunts, we spent the days looking for good food and to also explore parts of Alor Setar we never visited. This time, we visited the Alor Setar Tower (which was built while I was schooling right beside it but I never visited), the Padi Museum which was located in some obscure part off the town and Lye Huat Garden, somewhere near Jitra.

The Alor Setar Tower was good because we could see all parts of Alor Setar, it being a small town after all. Entry is RM6 per person. Thankfully it wasn’t crowded so we could spend some time trying to capture night scenes such as these:

The Alor Setar Tower at night
View of the landmarks in Alor Setar
My old school in darkness

The next day, we went to the Padi Museum. Entry is RM3 per person but if you want to use your camera, you had to pay additional RM2 per camera. It didn’t have much but they had this amazing painting upstairs where you sit on chairs secured on a rotating platform so that you get to view 360 degrees of the entire painting. It had bits of the landscape protruding so it blends into the picture so realistically that my dad couldn’t even tell which portion was the painting and which was the 3D part of it.

Interesting roof tiles depicting the padi grains
Berposing at the entrance
Part of the 360 degrees painting
Another part of the painting
Found some strange pink eggs in the pond outside

We also had a bit of fun with the cut outs.

We then headed for a sumptuous lunch at the Curry Fish Head and Pintu Sepuluh. Very good food (loved the chicken curry and rendang beef).

Using old railway sleepers as part of the garden deco seems to be an in thing in Alor Setar. Saw them at two places.

After lunch, a few of us headed to the Lye Huat Gardens which is near Jitra, about a 20 min drive north of Alor Setar. It apparently had a mini zoo apart from some stone display so we were looking forward to seeing some animals.

Alas, upon arrival, we were told the zoo has been closed down but they had fishes and some crocodiles. Since we travelled all the way there, we decided to still go in anyway and paid RM5 per person with no concession for retirees, to my Dad’s disgust.

The place is, to put it in one word, a Frankenstein. Unrelated themes pieced together to form a “garden”. French marble-like statues greeted us at the entrance, pseudo terracotta warriors sat on the far right while a Chinese-Japanese unkempt garden flourished on our left. There was a hut-like structure housing some natural stones taken from caves with old bicycles plastered on its outside walls as part of the deco.

The garden
Half naked statues
Bridge over the koi pond
Various stones

As for the animals, there were two silver tabbies in a huge cage with a pile of cat biscuits and murky water, three crocodiles, one of whom was toothless and a whole range of sad-looking fish in algae covered tanks. There were some which were in clean tanks. I had a one-sided depressing conversation with an enormous fish which wore a miserable expression. “Help! Free me!” it seemed to say.

Silver tabby
Toothless croc

Sad fish

I really wouldn’t recommend anyone to go there.

Christmas eve was spent in the company of church friends with carollers and food until past midnight.

On Christmas Day, we went to the Wesley Methodist Church which shifted to it's no-longer-new premises before heading back to PJ.

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