Monday, September 28, 2009

Unique red durian making heads turn - Star

Sept 28, 2009 By RUBEN SARIO

KOTA KINABALU: A durian species is turning heads among visitors to Sabah, thanks to its uniquely reddish flesh.

Known among the Kadazandusun community as sukang or tabelak, the fruit is also called “durian hutan”, as it is mainly found growing wild in the jungles of Sabah.

Thorny abundance: A sukang or ‘durian hutan’ tree heavy with fruits during its fruiting season.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjum said he did not know anyone cultivating sukang (its scientific name is Durio gravolens) as there was generally not much enthusiasm among locals for wild durian.

Its flesh is said to be thinner and drier compared with the cultivated fruit which is of thicker and creamier texture.

The taste is about similar with other durians, although some have described it as sweetish sour.

Masidi said the sukang’s main attraction is its red-coloured flesh.

Rare colour: Once opened, the red flesh of the sukang is revealed.

“That’s the main thing that makes it stand out,” he said, adding that this type of durian also fetched a lower price than the more common fruit.

The small-sized fruits, some about the size of a sepak takraw ball, are sold for as little as RM2 to RM3 when they are in season.

Masidi, who grew up in interior Ranau where sukang are plentiful, said some people who had tasted the fruit for the first time claimed that it had a more potent “kick”.

“Maybe it’s because this particular type of durian is generally more pungent,” he added. Others who have tasted sukang describe it having a carrot-like flavour.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More pictures on Toong Wah Tong Cave Temple in Ipoh @ Jalan Tambun

Here are some more pictures taken within the vicinity of the cave temple located 50m away from Lost World of Tambun:

Main entrance of the temple

Some of the committee members of the temple

Watch the video here:

The main altar of the temple

The entrance of the temple at the foot of the hill

Look at the beautiful scenery of the temple

One of the signages at the entrance that reads: "If you arrive at the top of hill at the temple, it is fate. If you descend from the hill it is your destiny".

One of the many structures formed by stalactite and stalagmite that resembles an elephant

A view in the temple looking out from the cave

The painting of a green dragon located on the right side of the temple

Another painting of a white tigeron the left side of the temple

Another hand painting at the side of the temple

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ipoh Famous Dim Sum - Foh San Restaurant

Sept 25, 2009

Just 2 days ago, my family and I took our chance to go to Foh San new outlet which opened about a month ago. We have tried many times before but ended up eating at Ming Court just located opposite of Foh San as we struggled to get a seat.

My sister Merlin and hubby Seng Kee enjoying their dim sum all the way from Melaka

Ooh .. that's my son Jansen and my mother-in-law

But we were lucky this time though as most of the visitors have left Ipoh after a long Hari Raya weekend. We were lucky this time as we also got a good car park and a good table labeled as C9.

See the auspicious table number with my daughter Sharon. Behind is the fully computerized payment counter

Our first impression is that it looks much better than a fast food outlet and even better than a kopi tiam. Everything was well planned and well positined with good fengshui.

We ordered quite a variety from big pau to lopak ko and of course all the other creative dim sum. Forget about the price if you realy enjoy a good dim sum as you are paying for the good ambience as well.

My sister really loves the dim sum and decided to do a ta pau. Look at the impressive take away counter

As if not enough, we managed to ta pau some of our favorite dim sum. There is a corner for take away food just by the road side strategically located.

A must for travelers to Ipoh. Foh San is located along Jalan Leong Sin Nam just behind Maybank. See map below:

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Toong Wah Tong Cave Temple

Sept 23, 2009

The 130 over years old cave temple Toong Wah Tong is located about 500m away from Lost World of Tambun on the way to Tanjong Rambutan. Visitors to this temple which is located about 60 steps high or 100 feet above ground will be fascinated with the beautiful cave.

Once you are at the temple, you can get a good view of the surrounding greenery including the lime stone hills. Founded by a famous tin miner Leong Sin Nam, the temple opens daily to the public from 9am to 5.30pm. Many tourists from around the world have come to visit this temple. Some came to offer prayers and some came to take a good view from the temple.

Local people will normally come to pray and at the same time climb the hill to keep themselves healthy. Visitors will be welcome by the writings on the wall that read: "If you can climb up the hill, it is fated and when you descend, its your good fortune".

Location Map:

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Biggest Pineapple Tart in Malaysia

Sept 23, 2009

When you are in Melaka, you will surely not miss the opportunity to walk along the famous Jonker street. Here you can find not only antiques but also good nyonya food and the biggest pineapple tart in Malaysia as well.

Owner Lucy and her husband started LW Pineapple Tarts House (Kedai Biskut LW) a few years back. Its famous biscuit is the pineapple tarts. The pineapple tarts has also entered into the Malaysian Book of Record for the biggest pineapple tart ever produced.

Today LW Pineapple Tarts House has grown by the leaps and bounds. It has 4 outlets now in Melaka. It has also branched out into nyonya food business setting up the Restoran Anak Nyonya.

Malaysian 8TV has also given coverage of the pineapple tart. So if you are in Melaka it is a must to taste the freshly baked pineapple tart.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Great place for animal lovers - Star

Sept 20, 2009 By GRACE CHEN

Be prepared for some scandalous animal stories when you visit the petting zoo at the Lost World of Tambun in Perak.

AT the last count, the animal population at the petting zoo of the Lost World of Tambun numbered 4,000, and all are descendants of those at its sister park at Sunway in Petaling Jaya. The only “newbies” are 40 tortoises whose pond is just next to a 10m-high waterfall fed by fresh river water running from the limestone hills of Kinta Valley.

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According to Calvin Ho, the general manager, these tortoises were rescued from a temple in Penang after it was found that they were living in terrible conditions. To compound the problem, the temple authorities found out that poachers were stealing the land reptiles and selling them to restaurants.

Handle with care: Petting Zoo keeper Nur Azlan Mohd Hussin, 23, ensures that these colourful birds are carefully handled by visitors.

Concerned that these revered crepusculars were coming to such a bad end, the temple authorities called Ho for help.

There are plenty of such anecdotes at the 7,432 sq metre “wildlife resort”.

The visitor will get to meet a cobra which had to be spoon-fed after it hurt its throat, no thanks to rough handling from villagers who had found it lurking in a chicken coop.

There is also a marmoset named Ron who has since become Ho’s best friend and confidante.

“There are no dark secrets but he knows quite a lot about what’s going on in my head,” quips the 44-year-old father of two who often starts his day by sitting among these cute furry mammals.

Then there are the raccoons who reside near the zoo’s entrance. If the animals had a gossip tabloid, the best fodder for it would come from a certain male raccoon here that has acquired quite a reputation for being a highly amorous “playboy”.

“The fellow mates no less than a couple of times within an hour,” affirms Ho.

What makes for the contentment and wellbeing of the animals in the Lost World of Tambun is the care they are being given.

Close interaction: Visitors can have direct contact with the animals.

According to Ho, the two crucial aspects lie in the conditioning and enrichment programmes devised by the curator and the keepers.

“The animals in our care are not just fed and expected to eat and sleep. To keep them active and stimulated, the keepers place their food between rocks or on branches. The animals will have to locate the grub with their senses,” says Ho.

The petting zoo, insists this Penang native, is about simulating the natural habitats of the animals to encourage them to hunt and forage for food. This keeps them alert and ensures their good psychological and emotional well being.

“The idea is to allow them to live in a habitat that resembles conditions in the wild,” says Ho.

In simulating the natural habitats of the animals, Ho reveals that first of all, no trees were chopped down during the building of the petting zoo which took four months to complete.

No effort was spared to preserve the original flora and fauna of the area that’s set within the majestic limestone hills of Ipoh. Even the water for the streams and waterfall is channelled from a river, which means chlorine-free drinking water for the animals. Extra vegetation such as creepers and trees were planted to treat soil erosion.

Ho attributes the tame disposition of the animals to the constant positive conditioning from the keepers. He eschews the word “train” as he feels that it carries negative connotations like the use of cruel methods.

“When it comes to animals, the interaction has to be like a relationship, like making friends. Just like people, animals, even among the same species, have different personalities. Some are feisty, others adapt more easily.

“When it comes to conditioning a bird to feed from a visitor’s hand, for example, this is the result of the interaction that has taken place between the animal and the keeper. It shows the deep relationship and understanding that has deve­loped between the two,” says Ho.

Exposing the animals to people, even those which have been previously mistreated by humans, will have drawbacks, but Ho feels such situations can be controlled.

“There are some people who derive plea­sure from seeing animals suffer. It is disgusting to watch and I feel that awareness should be raised through education. However, when we took on the running of the petting zoo, we also made sure that the animals’ keepers are there to supervise the interaction between visitor and the animal,” Ho says.

So, besides caring for the animals, the keepers also need to have a basic understanding of human behaviour.

“Sometimes, visitors are goaded by their friends or are pressured to drape a snake around their neck when they are just not ready for that sort of action. In this case, the keepers will size up the visitor to see how they can best experience the human-animal interaction minus the impositions,” says Ho.

So, what can the visitor expect to experience at this petting zoo, aside from getting to stroke the animals? Well, there is the serpentarium, a glass tunnel which allows the visitor a 360° view of the snakes and reptiles in the zoo’s collection. This will be as close as one can get to the pythons and monitor lizards clinging to the glass on top, below, by the sides and at one’s feet.

Then there is the boardwalk which winds across the Rock Canopy like a rainforest trail. This set-up brings a visitor to a natural paradise where hornbills, macaques, porcupines, prairie dogs and African goats are left to roam free. At the end of this trail is a platform which offers a breathtaking scenery of the wetlands area where Rajah Brooke butterflies can be seen fluttering among wild boars, squirrels, kingfishers and pangolins.

High on the adorable meter is the warrens where cute bunnies with their floppy ears can be seen hopping around.

Children can also do “longkang fishing”, a term coined by Ho, here.

“There are baby carp swimming in a small stream and children can scoop the little fish into their nets,” says Ho.

However, Ho reiterates that there is a clear line drawn on using animals for entertainment.

“The petting zoo is geared towards education, where children can learn about animals and the role they play in the ecosystem. This is crucial because if one link is broken, there will be an imbalance and this will have a negative effect on us in the end,” he says.

While one may argue that books, audio and visual means are able to perform the task adequately, Ho firmly believes that there is no greater teacher than real-life experience. As to whether the animals are happy, Ho gamely points out that their ability to mate and breed is a sure sign that all is well.

This can be seen in the aviary where eggs and new hatchlings can be found in the nests.

The Lost World of Tambun is open from 11am to 6pm on weekdays and 10am to 6pm on weekends. It is closed on Tuesdays. For enquiries call 05- 5428888 or visit its website at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Savoury Raya favourite RELISHING RAMADAN - Star


Black pepper beef can be served as an appetiser as well as a main dish.

Popular dish: Black Pepper Beef is a favourite during Ramadan.

USUALLY served with hot steamed rice, Black Pepper Beef (Daging Lada Hitam) is a favourite during Ramadan and Hari Raya.

Some will attest that it is best eaten with nasi impit or plain white bread.

I am told that the dish is not difficult to prepare and some families would serve it with a choice of vegetables, like carrots, potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli, on the side for a complete balanced dish.

I had my first taste of this delightful treat courtesy of a colleague.

The dish can also be served on its own as an appetiser ahead of the main course – it will whet the appetite but is light enough not to spoil the rest of one’s meal.



2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 shallots, ground
2 pips garlic, ground
1cm piece of ginger, ground
1 bowl thinly sliced beef (1cm x 2cm)
1 tablespoon flour, mixed with ½ cup water
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons black soy sauce
1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
½ bowl scallions, cut into 2cm lengths
1 tomato, cut into 5-6 wedges
1 onion, sliced into rings
1 red chilli, sliced lengthwise


Heat oil in a pan and saute the ground shallots, garlic and ginger until fragrant.

Add the beef and stir-fry until the meat is slightly dry.

Add the flour-and-water mixture and stir. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and black pepper and simmer until meat is cooked through.

Just before dishing up, add the scallions, tomato, onion and chilli and stir quickly.

Dish up and serve while the scallion is still crunchy.

Duo growing grapes in Sendayan - Star

Sept 17, 2009 By C.S.NATHAN

GRAPES here? That can’t be possible. That’s the response I got after telling friends of my visit to the Sendayan Fruit Valley — a vineyard and orchard located on a 20ha site, practically in my own backyard.

But for software engineer turned grape grower Azrul Nazim Abd Aziz, it was the question of “Why not?,” that encouraged him to try his hand at cultivating grapes here.

“In Thailand, they have been growing grapes for decades so why not here? After all, we share the same climate.

Good crop: Azrul (right) and Baumann showing off the fruits of their labour.

“No doubt we may not be able to cultivate a large variety but we can still churn out good-quality grapes for local consumption,” he said.

Azrul, the managing director of A-WINN Global Market Services said he approached grape growers in Thailand for their expertise in the field before setting up his first vineyard.

“We started off a few years back on a plot of land in Selangor. With Thai know-how, we experimented with different varieties of grape until we had a winning formula for sweet table grapes.

“Once we were confident of a good product, we started scouting for land and that is when we decided to set up in Sendayan,” he said.

The vineyard is just a 20-minute drive from Seremban’s town centre (about 80km south of Kuala Lumpur), located on land leased from the state government.

Set up in 2007 and aiming to produce grapes on a commercial scale, Sendayan Fruit Valley is neither the first nor the only vineyard in the country but Azrul believes the high investment cost may be a deterrent for many other hopeful grape-growers.

“There are a couple of small-scale vineyards here but not many people are willing to take a chance on cultivating grapes commercially. Costs are high and we ourselves have put in about RM6mil into the business.

“The bulk of the costs were chanelled into research and development and we spend about RM10,000 monthly on labour, maintenance and equipment,” he said.

However, the 35-year-old is pleased with his venture and has no regrets despite the many challenges he faced in the beginning.

“It took some time to get it right but that first harvest makes it all worth it. It’s a very satisfying labour of love.

Currently, the vineyard is home to 6,000 grapevines with four varieties namely the black opal, shiraz and black pearl — all dark grapes and the white malaga, a green variety.

For a start, the grapes are harvested twice a year and 1,000 vines yield about three tonnes (3,000kg) of grapes which works out to an average of 30 tonnes (30,000kg) per year.

Yield is also dependent on the variety of grape as the size of the fruit differs.

At present, less than half of the land is used for grapes and Azrul is sure production will leapfrog once more vines are put in.

“By the middle of next year, we hope to have a continuous supply of grapes all year-round. Grapes are grown in a cycle and it takes about a year from seedling to fruit.

“We are also growing mangoes, lychee, dragonfruit, guava, bidara (Chinese apple) and longan here among others so there’ll be quite a harvest of fruit,” he said.

Azrul is assisted by his Swiss-Thai project director Arthur Baumann @ Adil Mustafa Abdullah, 49, who is just as passionate about growing grapes as he is.

In fact, Baumann had been growing grapes in Thailand for over a decade before he was roped in to help.

“I jumped at the chance as my wife is Malaysian and had wanted to come back for a long time,” he said.

Grapes need tender loving care to grow well and for that Azrul has employed four local women, whose job it is to check on the vines daily.

There are no machines involved as the grapes have to be picked entirely by hand.

Another five people including two Thais work on the vineyard full-time while Azrul and Baumann make weekly trips to check on its progress.

For a taste of these locally-produced grapes, consumers have to visit the vineyard as they are not in the market just yet.

“Our grapes are much cheaper than the imported varieties plus it is good for you. Pesticides are kept to the minimum and we use our own organic fertiliser,” said Baumann.

Bonsai grapes and grape seedlings — starter kits for aspiring home grape-growers are also for sale at the vineyard.

Although the vineyard does not resemble its Napa or Loire valley counterparts in the Napa or Loire just yet, it is still a nice place to visit for a change of scenery and a taste of made-in-Malaysia grapes.

Both Azrul and Baumann hope that the Sendayan Fruit Valley will become an agro-tourism site where visitors can come and pick their own fruit and have picnics among the vines.

“Now, all we have to do is wait for the trees to mature and to provide a cosy spot for picnickers and the like. That’s what this is really - a sort of orchard, only with grapes instead of durian.

“You’ll not find a combination like this anywhere else,” said Azrul.

As for me, a visit to the vineyard with my friends are on the cards — nothing else will wipe the disbelief off their faces than a taste of one of those sweet crunchy Sendayan Fruit Valley grapes.

To buy grapes from the vineyard, contact 016-228 8819 (Arthur Baumann) or 012-376 4751 (Farah).