Tambok Bugis and Perigi Portugis

In yet another blind driving spree from Melaka towards Muar, we followed a new route through kampungs (villages) and came across quite a different view!

Larger than life sized bicycles mounted on poles!

From the sign board, we knew that we were in Tambok Bugis. The whole area was deserted hence we couldn't get the story behind this fascinating display. As it was a coastal area, we started looking for a jetty and turned in a small lorong (lane) and we ended up in front of this...

Edible Bird's Nests

Perhaps, this must be a cottage industry that specializes in selling bird's nests, which is used in preparing a popular local delicacy 'Bird's nest Soup'. After several attempts in finding the shop keeper or car taker, we gave up and moved on. That entire stretch looked like abandoned area.

Driving further towards Muar/Merlimau, the sign board 'Perigi Portugis' attracted us. Perigi in Malay is well/water spring, so we assumed that the Portuguese Well must have some historical significance and decided to check out that spot.

Entrance to Perigi Portugis and the inlaid picture is the long shot of the well

The description at the site claimed that this water hole was dug by the Portuguese army stationed there (Pengkalan Samak) while defending the Bugis community, who were well known sea warriors originally from Java and Sumatra. It should have been built in the early 16th century when the Portuguese invaded Melaka.

Close-up view of the well - Weekend Reflections

We wondered if we were warriors or explorers in previous births as often we were ending up in early settlements or war zones!


Labuan - Chimney and WW II Memorials

When Airasia canceled their direct flights from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu (KK), (we had booked this flight about 6 months ago during promo), we were looking for other options to reach KK. It was a blessing in disguise! We decided to go to Labuan from Brunei by ferry Shuttle Hope, and then take MAS Wings to Kota Kinabalu.

Labuan is an union territory on Malaysia and is best known for its Japanese Surrender Point, which led to the end of 2nd World War and it is also a shoppers paradise because of duty free shopping.

As we arrived at the International Labuan Ferry Terminal, we noticed that the taxi stand was right in front. A local lady was kind enough to let us know that the island round would take less than 2 hours and recommended that we should bargain before getting into the cab. First cabbie demanded a flat RM100 for the sightseeing around the island, but when we spoke to the second, he said, if we booked for 2 hours, he could offer us RM 80! So we went with the 2nd cab offer and here is the virtual tour...

Coal mining started in Tanjong Kubong in 1844 and now only the chimney and some of the artifacts are preserved in The Chimney Museum at that location!

Locals call it 'punil'. 

This is located by the sea side.

Inner wall of the chimney shows no sign of burning. so there is a belief that this tower must have been used as a light house or a bell tower to announce the arrival of a ship.

visit to Japanese Surrender Point, which is at Layang-layang beach (South China Sea) in Labuan.

Japanese Surrender Point

This is where the Japanese surrendered to the Australian Imperial forces, which led to the end of World War 2. In this garden, there is also an inscription in memory of all those who sacrificed their lives in land and sea in and around Borneo Islands during WW 2.

Peace Inscription

With a heavy heart we proceeded to the World War II memorial, which has about 3900 burials of Australian and Indian regiments, who either died in the battlefield or at the Japanese prisoners of war camp from all over Borneo.

Cross of Sacrifice

The graves are symmetrical and looks like rows of peaceful soldiers waiting for command.

Most of these dead souls buried here were unidentified because the records were destroyed in the war camps. 

This pillar is in honor of the Indian Soldiers whose mortal remains were burned as per their religion

Terrible living conditions of the refuges in a ship from Poland described in Jeffery Archer's World War based Cane and Able flashed across when we were there. Reading the novel itself was disturbing, seeing in reality altogether was heart wrenching.


Moon and Lens

Moon, to me, like cloud and water has always been an attraction:
  • Carefree childhood - when my grandfather used to enthrall us with mythological and religious stories.
  • Teen - gazing at the moon, especially full moon and dreaming, about anything and everything   
  • Of late - my aim was to capture a nice macro of a full moon 
But, with my Canon 550D and 18-55mm lens, I couldn't get a decent shot. Today, we went on a shopping spree looking for something, but ended up in buying stuff, that I'd been looking out for quite sometime. Yes, the best item was Sigma DX 70-300mm Macro lens and finally, I could capture full moon!
Manual Mode with Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: F-11, ISO -200

In most of the cultures and religions moon has a special place. Worldwide, Muslims follow lunar calendar for observing religious practices. In Chinese tradition, Mid Autumn or Moon Cake festival is celebrated around September/October. As per Hindu belief full moon and new moon are considered as auspicious. In fact, there are several sentimental beliefs attached to the waxing and waning moon. 

On a full moon day, my mom accidentally told me that it was a 'new moon' day. In a typical Hindu household, you would often hear from elders, 'cut your hair on a new moon and your hair will grow well, as the moon waxes'. Though it sounds silly, I tend to follow it as I've been hearing about this kinda sentiment since childhood. Instead of calling it as a belief, I'd rather label it a 'habit' and I did go and cut my hair on that evening. While parking my car, I saw a bright reflection on my hood and looked up, full moon was dazzling and I realized about my mom's 'lunar miscalculation':)



Like watching the clouds, it gives immense pleasure to watch paddy fields, irrespective of the season. Here is a couple of shots that shows the early stages of rice planting...

Rice seedlings - planted randomly

Transplanting the seedlings


Exploring with a Friend @ Fraser Hills

After initial hiccups in planning, we succeeded in going to Fraser Hills (Pahang, Malaysia) with a friend's family. This also happens to be my first experience in hill driving. I had to pull up my car seat to almost 90 degrees and sit straight to get a better view at the bends and drive at a terribly slow pace, otherwise it was quite smooth.

Just about 90 KM from Kuala Lumpur it is hard to believe that such a peaceful and beautiful hill station exists.
My crazy partner prefers to stay indoors instead of exploring new places. Therefore, I've always had misgivings when we travel, and wondered how good it would be to travel with someone with same interest and at the same time comfortable to talk to. I guess my wish has been so strong that this time, I was blessed with wonderful experience and do things without having to argue!
View from our suite

Chirpy visitor at daybreak

Never realized moths can be colorful!

Hill view reflection

In this trip, the men and kids decided to stay indoors, where as my good friend and myself decided to 'explore' using the map. Both of us were not good in reading the map, but the town is too small, so it was rather easy to find our way.
Golf Course

Compared to the KL Butterfly park, here the butterfly park looked small and uninviting. Then the water park too was closed, but the view through the gates was fantastic.
Allen's Water - disused reservoir 

Though I enjoy walking in the jungle or plains, I do not look forward to climbing as I start sweating and loose my stamina quickly. However, when my friend urged to go on trekking, I agreed halfheartedly to take the shortest trail, but did not complete it:(
Ferns, berries, morning glory

After this disastrous attempt, we decided to drive further and see if there was anything interesting or you could just call it as 'wild goose chase'. And, we came across a viewing deck, so we pulled up to see. We saw the sign board to a waterfall and while we were considering to go there, we noticed a Caucasian stopping a car that was headed downhill and warn them of a landslide ahead.
Fish tailed palm

Watching us, a lady who was sitting nearby pointed at the Caucasian and told, 'my husband just walked to that waterfalls in the morning and he says that the roads are not good, but still the cars keep going!'. Now, I had to ask if he had taken any pictures. She assured that her husband would show us the pictures.
While taking out his camera, he told with a lighthearted banter that it took him 1 hour to go to the waterfall and 2 hrs to walk back! Soon, we learned that they were Australians and were on Malaysian roads for the past two weeks. Within few minutes we touched on various subjects such as Indian arranged marriages, waterfalls in Australia, 'grayed nomads' who cause traffic jams with their huge caravans, comparatively cheap Malaysian food price, peculiar habit of Malaysian bikers who wear the jackets as seen in the pic below (1st biker from right), lazy attitude of the staff at the resort where they were staying etc. It felt good to talk to strangers, without being stared at by my family.

Finally, we had to drag ourselves back to the resort, in the hope of coming back after a short break. But, later we were too tired and it was also rainy and getting dark, so we had to call it a day.Since childhood, going to hill stations has always been fun. Cool weather, smell of fresh grass, chillness in the air, curvy roads or um...whatever I've always felt romantic about hill stations. But, after this trip I would certainly vouch that traveling with a like-minded and understanding friend to a hill station is substantially gratifying without any romantic inclinations!

Tokong Ular or Snake Temple - Penang, Malaysia

Compared to the colorful Pagoda of Penang, Snake Temple, which is locally called as Tokong Ular in Malay, is quite small. But, it is significant because it is one of the two live snake temples in the World!

Legend says that the main deity Char Choo was a renowned 13th century Buddhist priest and healer, who used to give shelter to the snakes.

Main Alter

When this temple was built around 1850, the pit vipers from the nearby jungle moved in this temple.

Pit Vipers

Bronze figurines

Prayer candles

There is also a local belief that the venomous pit vipers in this temple become harmless due to the aroma of the incense sticks burned here. But, there is a sign board to warn us against this belief.

Now, this temple looks touristy with typical attraction where you could take a picture with a pit viper dangling around your neck.


Turtle Watch @ Kemaman, Terengganu, Malaysia

It was an unplanned trip with short notice to Cherating, Pahang, Malaysia. Though i was aware of turtle watching in that area, I didn't know the details until I enquired @ Holiday Villa Resort, where we stayed. 

Though we booked to watch the turtles, we were told that the ranger would call us if there is a turtle landing at Telok Mak Nik in Kemaman, Terengganu, which is about 20KM from Cherating. We were lucky and the ranger picked us up around 9.30 pm and drove us to the site with another family. We had to walk about 80 mts in the deserted sparse jungle by the beach.

In hushed silence, we watched a turtle doing its reproductive process in the open beach below a muddy slope. The ranger lit a torch, without distracting the turtle, on the freshly laid eggs for for us to see.

Turtle laying eggs - unable to capture clear shot 

The ranger told that the whole process takes about 2 to 3 hours for the turtles, that includes selecting the nesting ground > digging the nest > laying about 70-140 eggs > closing the nest > go back to the sea!

As I was standing next to the ranger, I started talking to him and asked how do they scout for turtles. He told that there were 6 rangers working in that area, who are vigilant at nights on the look out for turtle landings. He walked us away from the crowd to show us the turtle mark on the beach.

Turtle mark 

He said, 'today you are seeing a green turtle and looking at the size it should be around 30 years old'. Actually, the green turtle looked blackish gray in that dim torch light. He further added, that each turtle might come to the same location for 6 or 7 times in the same season to lay eggs.

Closing the nest using rear flipperes

Another interesting fact I learned was that the turtles' gender would be decided based on the temperature of the nest. What we saw was considered as 'open beach' where the the nest was quite shallow with comparatively warm temperature, so if left naturally, it would produce female turtles.

The rangers dug out all the eggs, without disturbing the poor turtle, which was busy closing its nest. When I asked the rangers, why would they disturb this natural process, he told that they would take all these eggs to the hatchery where it would be safely hatched in about 6 weeks, thus protecting the species from predators and poachers.

Egg - flexible soft shell, resembling a ping-pong ball

In the mean time, another ranger brought freshly hatched baby turtles from the sanctuary so that we could release all of them at the same time.

2 hours old babies!

The ranger showed us how to hold a baby...

When the turtle completed its job and started to move towards the sea, the spectators in-spite of warning, used flash to capture this action. As turtles use moon/star light to find their way to the sea, this turtle got confused with the flash and started to move uphill! So, the ranger had to raise his voice among the crowd and then gently guide the turtle back towards the sea.

Trying to move towards light

Mission accomplished

Everyone cheered as it touched water and started to swim.


Within seconds, the turtle was gone. It was an awesome, once in a life-time experience, which otherwise we get to see only in National Geographic or Discovery Channel!

By the shores of Tg Bungha - Penang

Penang, the metro island in Malaysia, brings sweet memories and I used to long for another visit. Now, the second visit also proved to be magical as we stayed in Tanjung Bungha, by the beach. It was a good holiday and our days either started or ended with a beach walk. 

After enjoying sunrise from our balcony with a cup of tea we went for a stroll and captured this awesome loner.
Gazing @ noisy friends

That day, Sun was too lazy and still trying to play hide and seek even at 7.50 AM!

Shoreline is packed with high-rises and gives a sort of Sigaporish feel, but still more spacious than the land of Lion!

This bare tree with name-cards besides Paradise Resort caught our attention...

Add caption

It had names with dates and said 'In Paradise'. The duration was anywhere between 3 months to 6 years, so I was sure that it was like a memory mark or visitors dairy, like the ones typically seen in popular spots. Instead of assuming or just wondering, I chatted up with a cleaner (ignoring the killer stare from my crazy half!), he confirmed that the resort does this as a token of appreciation for their long-stay guests!

The beach is quite well maintained...

A beach walk is incomplete without collecting shells, right?


Fountain Pen - Engraving

I thought that after initial fascination, the enthusiasm on ink pens would wane. I was wrong. After 2 years, the Alan d'louis started leaking and it was time for my crazy other half VJ, to scout for another fountain pen. This time he fell for a Sheaffer. At the shop they offered to engrave the pen for FREE!.

At first, VJ thought that engraving was old fashioned, but he was excited when he realized that they were engraving with a lathe machine. And, I was given a long lecture on this process:(

Fixing the letters to be engraved

This engraving machine is table mounted and has 2 levers with pointers.

Step 1 - Fix pen and lathe plate in the mountings.

Step 2 - Assemble the characters to be engraved on the lathe plate. See the above shot.

(They have a wide range of alphabets and characters in brass lathe blocks.)

Step 3 - Switch on the machine, hold the levers firmly.

Step 4 - Start moving the lever on the lathe block like how you would use a stencil! Now, simultaneously the other lever on the pen plate moves and engraves the characters!

Inlaid pic is the assembled lathe block characters

Here is the end product.

I must admit that it is beautiful!

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