Friday, 27 January 2017

Highlights of Discover Selangor, Heart of Malaysia with Firefly

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Many Singaporeans are familiar with Kuala Lumpur, but from this trip to Selangor I saw that the Malaysian state also have many interesting places for a relaxing and meaningful vacation. Flying with Firefly airlines, an exciting holiday discovering Selangor, the heart of Malaysia is highly accessible and affordable.

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From Singapore Changi Airport, our smooth and comfortable flight in Firefly's ATR 72 aircraft brought us straight into a warm welcome at Subang Skypark Airport.

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We gladly joined in the festivities to celebrate the launch of the #DiscoverSelangor Firefly aircraft dressed in colourful livery highlighting Selangor's many tourist attractions.

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We also witnessed Tourism Selangor and Firefly airlines signing an MoU to promote Selangor together. YB Elizabeth Wong and Ignatius Ong represented Selangor and Firefly respectively. GM of Tourism Selangor, Puan Noorul Ashikin Mohd Din witnessed the signing.

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After the ceremony at Subang, our first stop was De Palma Hotel, a family style resort in Kuala Selangor.

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From De Palma Hotel, it was a short drive to Kg. Kuantan Firefly Park. We set off on little hand rowed sampan boats gliding silently on Sungai Selangor in pitch black darkness. Photography is impossible - this was a fortuitous shot at the jetty coinciding with someone's flash. The flash whited out the picture but gives you an idea on what we went through.

The fireflies were a sight to behold - the blinking lights from the flying bugs lighting up the river side scrubs like Christmas trees along Singapore's Orchard Road (but I have no photos 😄 ). If you have not seen fireflies before, a trip to the firefly park is a Must.

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On Day 2, we proceeded from De Palma Hotel to the mouth of Sungai Buloh, Selangor.

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At Sungai Buloh, we boarded motorboats that took us out to the river mouth. These are the same boats that would take visitors to Sasaran which is famous for their unique Sky Mirror. The amazing natural phenomenon takes places only at certain times of the month, but not this morning 😂 It just means that I have to come back for it next time 😄

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About 30 minutes out to sea, we spotted small fishing boats out to harvest wild cockles, wild sea prawns and fish.

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The freshly harvested cockles dredged from the shallow sea bed were brought back to the jetty in large blue plastic barrels. Here they are given a tumble wash with powerful jets of water.

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The live washed cockles are sorted according to size. Most of the cockles are just thumb size.

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From Sungai Buloh, we proceeded to Kuala Selangor which is famous for it's many river side seafood restaurants and local products shops.

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We enjoyed our sumptuous lunch at River View restaurant which included steamed sea bass, salted egg squid, spicy deep fried prawns, salted egg mantis prawns, fried chicken, fish ball soup and fried greens.

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After our seafood lunch, the afternoon was all about corn. First, we visited a corn plantation in Sekinchan.

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After the walkabout in the corn fields, we were treated to everything corn - corn syrup, corn cake, corn pudding, boiled corn, grilled corn etc. I enjoyed everything and couldn't resist 5 (five) helpings of the boiled corn - they were sooooo sweet, juicy and crunchy. It could have been worst - at least I held back on the corn grilled in margarine 😱

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Next stop, Sg. Hj. Dorani Homestay for an intimate Malaysian kampung experience.

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We were hosted in a kampung house on stilts and our host prepared a sumptuous home cooked meal for us.

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The dishes were simple - curry with jackfruit core, stir fried kang kong with sambal, and chicken fried in dark sauce sauce. We love the authentic local experience.

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The host families showed us how villagers make "trumpet" with coconut leaves. This activity really brought back childhood memories - I have forgotten about this enjoyable past time, making horns and happy noises with coconut leaves in 1960s Singapore. Thanks for the memories 😃

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Next, we were treated to a mesmerising traditional Kuda Kepang and Barungan performance at Sg. Hj. Dorani Homestay.

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I was captivated by the rhythmic gamelan music and tried my hands feet at Kuda Kepang.

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Day 3 was all about Sekinchan - the home of rice and fish.

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As we were in Sekinchan in Jan, most of the rice fields had already been harvested. Where there are still rice fields, the sea of green that stretches to the horizon is quite a sight to behold. The blue sky and green fields were also very therapeutic and relaxing for my tired eyes 😌

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At Ah Mah House, a traditional Chinese pastry shop, this lady was making traditional kueh kapit or love letters over charcoal fire. She is amazing - she singlehandedly handled at least 50 moulds, seemingly effortlessly. Those who have made kueh kapit before knows that even the best of us struggle with less than 10.

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We visited a rice mill and rice museum, the only one in Sekinchan. I was impressed by the technology in ploughing, planting, harvesting, processing and packing. I also appreciate the rice that I have on my table more.

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Lunch was at Restoran Lembah Bernam, a Malay restaurant famed for their exotic game meat such as deer, mouse deer, rabbit, porcupine, etc. This was my first time trying porcupine. How was it? I actually don't know as the natural flavour of the meat was fully masked by the robust spices. But, if you think of it as rendang, it is nice 😋

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After lunch, we had a lot of fun at Sekinchan's 3D Art Gallery 😆

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Next, we dropped in at Farm Ville Cafe and Homestay, a container hotel. It looked comfortable - something I would love to explore further 😃 

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Another surprise delight - a bus restaurant. Hey, I wanna come back to Sekinchan - it is so fun.

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Next stop, Redang Beach. We passed by a fishing village on the way to the beach.

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A popular landmark at Redang Beach is the "wishing tree". From the temple just beside the tree, visitors can buy a strip of red cloth with well wishes written on it. There are two ancient coins tied at each end of the red cloth. Visitors throw the strip of cloth as high up as possible - it is believed that the higher the cloth hangs on the wishing tree, the higher the chance that your wish will come true.

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Tourism Selangor doesn't stop feeding us. Next, we went to Cendol Borhan in Pasir Penambang for their famous cendol, Penang laksa and mee curry.

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From Sekinchan we proceeded to Summit Hotel in Subang. Summit Hotel is a good choice for a eating and shopping trip to Selangor / Kuala Lumpur. It's a short drive from Subang Skypark Airport and just beside the Subang LRT.

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The last official event of Day 3 is a visit to MinNature which is located on level 4 of the Summit Shopping Centre, adjoining Summit Hotel.

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Founded by Alvin Wan, MinNature is Malaysia's first and largest 1:87 miniature wonderland featuring local iconic buildings and magical themed models.

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The miniatures are both hand crafted and produced with 3D printers. Visitors are encouraged to touch the exhibits so there are loads of fun interactive activities.

With MinNature, our official programme for the day is complete. We spent the night at Summit Hotel.

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The main event for Day 4 was dedicated to the Royal Klang Heritage Walk led by our guide Alex, who is also one of it's creators.

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We explored several historic sites in Klang on foot for about two hours. Klang is the royal capital of Selangor state and was the British administrative headquarters before they moved to Kualal Lumpur.

We started our tour from the Royal Gallery, then Standard Chartered Bank (1874), Royal Klang Club (1901), Alam Shah Place (1950), Jalan Tunku Kelana (Little India), Indian Muslim Mosque of Klang, Hindu Temple, Klang Fire Station (1890), Gedung Raja Abdullah (1857) before returning to the Royal Gallery (where Klang city council graciously hosted us to lunch).

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But, we couldn't resist cendol on the way to Little India at Jalan Tali Air 😀 

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Tender green worms made with rice flour and pandan leaf puree and boiled red beans in a bowl of coconut milk, palm sugar and shaved ice.

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A palmist on the five-foot-way with his gifted parrot in Klang's Little India.

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The Klang fire station is still housed in this heritage building built by the British in 1890. The motif on the facade representing sun rays symbolises the Victorian pride that "The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire".

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After the Royal Klang Heritage Walk, we dropped by Setia City Mall for some last minute shopping before proceeding to Subang Skypark Airport.

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Our 1.5 hour flight back to Singapore Changi Airport was comfortable and smooth.

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Obviously, 3 nights in Selangor is nothing more than an appetiser to whet our appetite on what Selangor can offer. I would love to come back for the Sky Mirror, rice harvesting season, container hotel and many more.

Dates: 19 - 22 Jan 2017

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