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Aug 15, 2012

Repost: Happy Eid & Seeing Green (again)



I was just looking through some old posts and came across this which I'd totally forgotten I'd written about. This would be appropriate since it's around the same time last year when we decided to find our inner country bumpkins and cleanse our over-polluted lungs. 
It was so quiet and peaceful due to the Eid season. Some of us who did not return to hometowns or go off on vacations, benefited from this very short but sweet moment of nature appreciation and friendship. 
Happy Eid ul Fitr to all my Muslim friends out there. Travel safe, eat safe and come home safe.






16th September was Malaysia Day. And to celebrate, a bunch of us very city folks with a couple of city-but-a-little-more-experienced-in-jungle-trekking folks headed off to Janda Baik. This is located just below Genting Highlands, our own homegrown Las Vegas, started by Mr/Datuk/I don't-know-how-many-titles-he-has, Lim Goh Tong, bless his Chinaman soul. I watched a tv interview of him a long time ago and I really liked the guy, even though what he created brings out the devil in so many people and causes so many heartaches due to some peoples' gambling addictions and an incurable need to make money the quick and easy way. On the other hand, he's helped the country's economy and workforce. But that's another story.



Greens are good for you. It's been proven, gastronomically and visually. We all know about the benefits from eating vegetables, so we won't get into that. Looking at green things apparently relaxes the eyes and calms the mind and soul ... so I read ... somewhere.



Janda Baik, which means "Good Widow", is filled with lush greens, especially since it's been raining almost daily for the last month. The secondary tropical jungle surrounds small fruit farms scattered around the area. And if you look carefully, you might see some pretty fancy getaway homes among them. These farms produce a good supply of local fruits for sale at the surrounding village shops and also the scalp-the-tourist shops below the entrance to and at Genting Highlands.
The morning started out like all groggy mornings. Fortunately it wasn't raining and was quite a lovely day. 10 of us left in 3 cars and convoyed to a good Malaysian breakfast in the hopes of having lots of energy for the trek. Unfortunately and predictably, after stuffing our faces, we were all pretty warm and woozy. Cups of hot teh tarik (hot milk tea) and coffee didn't seem to work. The drive took another half hour before we got to the little township of Janda Baik. Meanwhile, folks who weren't driving were nodding off in the back seats.



We left our nice, air conditioned cars (hey, we're city folks, remember?) at the car park of a quaint little place called Hawa Resort.They have a good facility for training, leadership and fellowship building purposes. It was quiet at this time of the year due to Ramadan and Eid and most folks are off to their kampungs (hometowns), so we have the whole place to ourselves...





...except for 2 of the most ferocious geese I've ever met. Hmmm... Christmas is coming, and we haven't had roast goose for a long while. Ok, ok, just kidding ...
They make excellent watchdogs.. umm.. i mean, watchgeese.





The air was fresh and clean, the earlier couple of rainy days helped, lack of noise pollution (except for the occasional jabbering from some individuals of our group), breathe in, breathe out, inhale, exhale ....




We started our trek going through a "langsat" (botanic name: Lansium Domesticum) fruit orchard. And thus, our trek was delayed by a good half hour :)







After having been satisfied with taking pics and some mouthfuls of the sweetest, freshest langsats I've ever had, we finally set off on the trail that our so-called guide and friend claimed he knew like the back of his hand.
You know something's about to go wrong, right?




It wasn't quite so bad. After much slipping and sliding, cuts and bruises, bugs and leeches and crashing our way through some denser undergrowth due to non-traffic during Ramadan season, we landed up at a place we were not supposed to be...in other words, we got lost.
Wild boar foraging grounds. You can see the upturned earth where they dig for edible roots. Thank goodness we didn't meet with any of them oinkers. Those things are fierce! and
dangerous! and you think just because they're big and fat they can't run? Think again. I've seen the pygmy ones in Africa and they were scary little round things with upright tails, running and nipping at our heels with sharp toothpick tusks trying to puncture the truck tires ... dumb things. I'm certain I wouldn't want to meet up with their Malaysian, 10x-bigger-in-size cousins!
I think some people in the group probably didn't realize this. Maybe it's just as well.

Nah, it's not quite as exciting as it sounds. It happened to be the backyard of one of those holiday homes and we just had to trespass (sshhh) and cut through the massive garden to the river where we had our picnic.



It was a lovely place to picnic. Some of us were frolicking in the river while others were enjoying the greenery and tranquility of the whole situation. And some were trying to stop the bleeding from leech bites with a forest herb called "Senduduk Hutan" (botanic name: Melastoma Polyanthum), a Rhododendron-like shrub, by crushing the leaves and rubbing it on the wound. It worked for some but not for all. Apparently, you need the ones that grow deep within the jungle.
(A word of advice: rub bug repellant around ankles to prevent leeches from crawling up your legs and into your socks and who knows where else.)




Things went really quiet after that. No more of the excited chatter at the beginning, no more screechings from discovering leech bites, no more shrieks from falling on one's butt into the mud (that was me...ahem).... just calm and peace with a hint of tiredness in the air. How do I explain it? A satisfying tiredness? Ah, yes,...... Contentment. Absoverylutely zen.









37 comments:

  1. Selamat Hari Raya to your Muslim readers and to the rest, happy holidays. If driving, do drive carefully and have a safe and delightful trip.

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    1. Thanks for the joint greeting, Arthur :)
      I'm sure my muslim friends will appreciate it.

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  2. I would love to go on a trek like that. Looking at the fauna and flora. Oh yes, geese, they are totally kick ass. I visited my grandma's friend years ago and she kept a few geese in her garden (kampung house). And the moment I entered the gate, they came charging and made a terrifying loud noise. Scary!

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    1. Yeah, relax the eyes and good for the soul.
      Haha! Did you get pinched? I got pinched! Not by this pair but a friend's guard geese. I should have fried him right there!

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  3. I first thought those langsat were the longan....
    It's nice to get close to the nature...well, once in a while. ;-)

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    1. Hehe ... honestly, I think I'd be quite lost if I had to live there for too long.

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  4. Sounds like an awesome day. And I remember reading the previous similar post.
    The wild boars were lucky they didn't run into you guys. And it seems Christmas almost came early for the geese:)
    I guess the ideal way to finish off this kind of day (healthy, lots of exercise, fresh air...) is with a big feast, where everything is in excess. I suppose thats exactly what happened, hence no mention of it.

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    1. It was. Yup, there would have been a great feast if they let me deal with those creatures. Honestly, I can't remember what we ate after that ... I think there was some fried noodles, sandwiches and plenty of fruits. Everyone was just laying around, enjoying the quiet, the river ...

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  5. Your trekking trip into the land of 'Zen' looks like fun, and the green trees, and plants are so healthy for you. It's good for the soul, and also a calming sensation to be out there in nature! So glad you and your friends had a great time!

    Now you can understand my daily life is surrounded by lots of 'greenery' flowers and the Atlantic Ocean right in my back yard, 'so to speak'. Just wish I had more time to relax and enjoy nature!
    Love your photos, Ping. You actually posted 8 this time. I happen to be a 'photo freak'...just love, photos!
    xo

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    1. We really should do this more often. Everyone's so absorbed into the city lifestyle that we forget how unhealthy it is. You're lucky to have everything in your "backyard". Enjoy it!

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  6. a lovely post :)

    Hmmm if there is a choice, i prefer dokong than langsat coz the seed is not bitter.

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    1. Ya, me too but they didn't have a dokong plantation there, only langsat and durians.

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  7. It's fun to see bits from some of your past posts...love that last photo of the water. I always feel much more peaceful around water.

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    1. Mmmm ... yes, water is calming ... and with the sound of the ripples, it was such a sleepy moment :)

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  8. I have plan with hubs to bring the girls there some day as I really love the piece of green land fills with peace and tranquility.

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    1. Yes, do that. It doesn't cost a thing unless you want to use the shower facilities of nearby local resorts. It really was very peaceful ... but must remember, it's also the non-peak period. There was nobody else around but us and the locals. So nice!

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  9. Beautiful post ! Thanks for sharing . Happy holidays .

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    1. Happy Holidays to you too, Sonia!

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  10. Ping, your fairytale post made me dream of forests, nature, tasting langsats.... maybe a bit less about the leeches experience. I get goose pimples even thinking about them... It is definitely a part of Malaysia we never hear about in Europe (or maybe I only see the food travel programs ;-) ).
    PS I have seen this fruit here, at my Vietnamese grocery shop. I must taste them one day.

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    1. Hehe ... even if you watch the travel programs, I doubt they'll show those icky things. Unless it's some wildlife, out in the forest type show.
      There are several species looking like the langsat. There's another quite similar but a darker yellow, thicker skinned, rounder and sweeter species called a duku-langsat, which you can tell is a cross of the duku and the langsat, producing a nicer tasting fruit. The langsat has (if nicely ripened) a tart/sweet taste. But don't ever bite into the seeds, it's seriously bitter!

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    2. Thank you for the advice! I will report on my first langsat experience :-)

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  11. Beautiful Ping - I love areas like this. I'm so lucky to live next to a forest. I couldn't imagine living right in the middle of a city. I need to be able to have access to calming greenness! :)

    I've never had a langsat before - does it taste like any other fruits?

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    1. Thanks, Charles! Yes, you are lucky. I used to live on an island before I moved to the big city and I still haven't adapted to city life. You can find me easily in the middle of the city crowd as I'm the only one dressed in my shorts and flipflops, island attire. Can't take the island out of the girl ;)
      Taste of a langsat ... let's see now ..... the closest I can think of would be a rambutan. Not as sweet, a little tart. Nothing similar to the common fruits of the western world for sure. Sissi mentioned seeing it in the vietnamese grocery. Perhaps you might find some there as well.

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  12. Ping, nice post for the holiday. When are you taking me to enjoy nature? I make whatever you want for that. Otak-otak? Macarons? Hokkaido Chiffon Cup cakes? or Durian Cream puffs??? hahaha. Enjoy the holiday my dear friend. XOXO

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    1. All of the above! :D oh ... wait, no, not the durian cream puffs, definitely not.
      I'm having the worst flu ever during this hols. Guess I'll have to be kwai kwai and stay home. :(

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  13. That's so nice of you to recognize holidays from different cultures! And I loved your goose comment. I would have probably thought the same thing... :D

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  14. Thanks Amanda! This place is a hot bed of cultures ... pretty difficult to avoid. But we've been immersed in it since we were born so it's a big part of who we are and what we are today.
    Hehe .... I doubt those two will make a good roast anyway, tough ol' things. :D But I loved to see them running free and not being turned into foie gras on somebody's plate.

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  15. I'm so glad the almost encounter with wild boars and leeches (yikes) ended so well. Such beauty around you...I'm glad you shared it :)

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    1. Haha .. phew, yeah, me too. Didn't encounter the boars and no leeches bit me, thank goodness. Yeekh!

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  16. What a beautiful post Ping - I feel relaxed just looking at these images...such a breath of fresh air, literally, to take a break from it all and visit the natural side of things - where the wild things are, you know? Loved the images; zen indeed.

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    1. Thank you, Kelly. Hehe ... you didn't mean us, did you, the wild things? I think we were the wildest bunch there then since there was nothing else around :)

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  17. i think i ought to do more outdoor activities too to engage with nature, for some fresh air. Leeches!!! they are so geli!! i still remember there was one time i found 4-5 leeches inside my socks, luckily it wasnt a painful thing!

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    1. Hi Lena. Yeah, we should do this more often, clear the lungs and mind ... of course minus the leeches :) That's the trouble with them, you can't feel anything! Eeww ... I can't remember being bitten by one. Maybe I smell ... wahahahahaha! Or the repellent I always slather myself with each time I go trekking, more so to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.

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  18. I can just picture you all slathered up in repellant! :) The bamboo looks like my backyard right now...we have our rainy season so it's growing like a weed! I don't get out as much as I would like among the greens, but we do get out on the boat and kayak and beaches near us, so I guess it's among the shells and sand. Funny we were just talking about how a co-worker was herded by a goose and it was going after her at a greenhouse when she went to look at a plant...so weird.

    I love your beautiful photos!

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    1. Thank you, Lyndsey! Haha! Yeah, I'd rather be all slimy with repellent than slimy with leech goo .... and mosquito bites. You're lucky to be by the sea. I actually prefer the sea and sand since I used to be a beach bum ... uh, I mean, beach babe, in my younger days back in my home island. I see some of your beach pics and I get homesick.
      LOL!! Geese are mean! Hope your co-worker came out of that without to much trouble or pinches :)

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  19. Back again :) Yes, popovers are almost exactly like Yorkshire pudding...just made in buttered pans instead of pans with beef fat. Lora rolled hers in cinnamon sugar...and others added cheese. They all sound yummy to me!

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    1. Thanks for that, Lizzy. I'll need to try this at least once but with so many yummy variations ... ok, maybe not once. Hope I manage this.

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