Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Photo Story #1: That Warm Evening

Photo By: Elin Chow

I have created My Photo Story to share some random moments of my life. Be it good or bad, these moments will still be an important part of my life.

I always love sunset. It helps to warm my heart and makes most of my troubles disappear instantly. I could not remember when was the last time I ever saw a beautiful sunset. It was almost impossible to witness one as the weather was rather gloomy these days.

However, after a rainy and gloomy afternoon, I was fortunate enough to witness one of the most stunning and glorious sunset in the evening. Without any hesitation, I quickly turn on my phone camera, anxious to capture such a rare and beautiful moment. Even though I knew well that it is not easy to capture a sunset in all its glory with a phone camera, I could only try my best as I did not have my DSLR with me. Luckily, I have managed to capture some nice shots of that amazing moment. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Trip To Cameron Highlands 2014 - Butterfly Farm

Photo By: Elin Chow

Continuing from my previous post about my trip to Cameron Highlands, we set off from Silverstar Apartment @ Greenhill Resort at 8.30am in the morning. After having our breakfast, we headed off to visit the Butterfly Farm.

The Butterfly Farm

Established in year 1990, the Butterfly Farm was initially started by the founder as a hobby to house some of the most beautiful and exotic living creatures in Malaysia. Currently, the Butterfly Farm houses a wide range of live butterflies, insects, reptiles and amphibians, all opened for tourists to visit.

Opening Hours & Admission Fee

The operating hours and admission prices to the Butterfly Farm are as follows:

How To Get There

The Butterfly Farm is located close to the famous Kea Farm, about 3km from Brinchang.

Upon stepping into the Butterfly Farm, I must say that I was not very impressed. It was nothing near my expection. The name itself is a big misnomer as the farm does not breed or cultivate butterflies. Furthermore, it does not house a large collection of live butterflies either. 

The Butterfly Farm is divided into three distinct areas:

1. A butterfly enclosure that offers visitors a great chance to get up close to hundreds of free-flying butterflies.

2. The insects, reptiles and amphibians zone which exhibits most of the amazing insects, reptiles and amphibians species found in the rain forests of Malaysia.

3. A flower farm that features a wide range of Malaysian flower species which never fail to delight most visitors.

So, why is this attraction named the "Butterfly Farm" when it does not only house butterflies, but also a wide variety of exotic wildlife and flowers species? Thus, the name may be a little bit misleading in this case.

Before we enter the Butterfly enclosure, let's take a nice group photo together!

The Butterfly enclosure is a magnificent glass house where dozen species of.butterflies are housed in an indoor rain forest atmosphere. It is built with the idea of creating a beautiful flower garden in an enclosed area, specifically with the purpose of raising and exhibiting butterflies to the public.

From the moment we stepped into the Butterfly enclosure, we were really delighted to be surrounded by a myriad of fluttering butterflies around and all over the place.

Even though I am pretty scared of insects, I could not help but fall deeply in love with such delicate beautiful creature of nature. The Butterfly enclosure actually offers me a really good opportunity to observe these amazing creatures up close and probably capture some great-looking photos on camera. It was a pity that I did not get to bring along my DSLR for my trip to Cameron Highlands. This would mean that I could only rely on my Samsung S3 for the entire trip.

We were also glad that the place was not crowded with people during the time when we visited. This actually helped us to better enjoy and appreciate the attraction more. Of course, the uninterrupted photo-taking time was the best part of our visit. Most of the time, we could capture anything we wish to without any interruption.

I was even intrigued to witness a spider feeding on a poor butterfly. No matter how much I wish to save the butterfly from the spider, I did not. The butterfly was already dead. Even if it is still alive, I will not save the butterfly as well as this will disrupt the natural food chain. 

Although the Butterfly enclosure was not big, we still managed to spent an enchanting hour or so interacting with the butterflies. Occasionally, some of the butterflies even landed on my arms and stay there for a few seconds before fluttering off again. It was such a great experience!

Exiting from the Butterfly enclosure, it is not difficult to spot a cactus bed just right at the entrance. Beside it, you will find a flight of stairs that will you lead down to the rest of the zones.

Look at those horrible pricly thorns! I think I will be badly injured if I accidentally fell on the cactus.

As we headed off to the next zone, we were actually very excited to find some little yellow flowers with purple leaves being planted at the bottom of the stairs. 

At the right of the stairs, you will find a really dirty and wet concrete enclosure where three poor rabbits are housed. There was a very strong rabbits urine odor lurking all over the air around the enclosure. The stench was so overpowering that I felt I could almost puked on the spot when I tried to catch a glance of the rabbits. I really hope the owner could do something to improve the living condition for the rabbits.

The insects zone features a good collection of beetles that are commonly found in Malaysia. Some of the beetles displayed in this zone includes the Cheirotonus Arnaudi, Odontolabis Femoralis Femoralis and many other interesting species.

However, I did not managed to capture any photo of the beetles that are exhibited in this zone as I am always not fond of insects. In fact, most of the time, the sight of insects terrify me so much so that I could not even stand to get any closer to them. I just could not wait to get rid of them whenever I see any of them lurking around the corner of my house!

Situated right behind the insects house, at the reptiles and amphibians section, we were really excited to find a gigantic tortoise resting in an enclosure with a small pond. Although it is gigantic, this tortoise is definitely not as big as the Aldabra Giant Tortoise that I saw at the Singapore Zoo.

We actually tried to get the attention of the tortoise. But nothing seems to work as the tortoise continue to ignore our presence. I swear the tortoise is one of the most dull and boring creature living this world. It really makes me wonder why there are actually people who love to keep tortoise as a pet. 

On the left hand side of the tortoise enclosure is a mini frog pond where several frogs called its home. Seriously, I really feel that frogs are such ugly creatures. Its wet and slimy appearance always disgusted me very much. I could not imagine myself touching one with my own hands. They look so yucky to me!

Whereas, on the right hand side, you find a large glass enclosure where two adorable Chipmunks are housed. How I wish I could bring these cute furry ones home! 

It was only when I looked back at the photo I took that I realized that we actually left without exploring the other side of the bridge. So, I am not sure what have we missed out. Let's hope that there are nothing awesome at the other side of the bridge.

Located right in front of the tortoise pond, there are also a couple of glass enclosures that house different species of snakes, each unique in its own way. To be frank, I am extremely terrified of snakes too. Even so, I still could not help but have to capture a few pictures of the snakes as its beauty fascinated me very much.

Among all the snakes, I feel extremely fond of this green one. It looks really adorable and pretty to me! 

I think I am still fine with just one snake, but not a dozen of them! Can you imagine what would happen if all these snakes escaped from its enclosure? Not sure whether they are poisonous, but whether or not, this is bound to create some huge panic among people.

However, I think the green ones look more sinister and dangerous to me.

Right at the end of the farm, behind the snakes enclosures, we were delighted to find a mini flower farm filled with vibrantly colored flowers. How wonderful it will be if I could be surrounded by such beautiful flowers everyday. 

It is without doubt that brilliant sun flowers can always bring a smile to one's face. Thus it is really delightful and inspiring to see rows upon rows of sun flowers in full bloom as we strolled down the flowers field.

I am not particularly fond of flowers. But I must admit that the sunflowers are one of the most cheerful flowers I have ever seen. Indeed, the sunflowers did seem to brighten up my day and put a smile onto my face. 

The Morning Glories are beautiful too. Look at those purple trumpet-shaped flowers! I wonder why I have failed to notice its beauty in the past?

With that, we ended our visit to the Butterfly Farm. Overall, it was quite an enjoyable and worthwhile trip. The admission price of RM 5 is really affordable, especially if you are visiting in a large group of people.

The farm is actually not very big or interesting, but for the RM 5 which you had paid, there is really nothing much which you could complain about. I expected more, but the experience was still not too bad. If the owner could, I would really suggest him to have the name of the attraction changed. If not, at least try to make the butterflies the main attraction of the farm.

Personally, I really feel that the Butterfly Farm is just a perfect place for a family with kids to spend some quality time at. It will not be bad to visit the Butterfly Farm as an educational trip where kids get to explore, learn and interact with our Mother Nature.

However, I do have a feeling that the living creatures are not well-taken of. Take the rabbits for example. The furry little ones look really lifeless to me. Well, not just the rabbits only. It was the same for other living creatures that are housed at the Butterfly Farm as well.

However, as what I had said, for RM 5 which you had paid, the Butterfly Farm is still worth a visit. Take this time to learn and appreciate our Mother Nature.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Trip To Cameron Highlands 2014: Tanah Rata - Silverstar Apartment @ Greenhill Resort

Photo By: Elin Chow

During the Deepavali holidays this year, my colleague and I decided to visit Cameron Highlands for a day. It was an impromptu trip and not much planning had been done. Since Deepavali fell on a Wednesday, we decided to drive our way to Cameron Highlands immediately after we ended our work at 5.30 pm on the Tuesday evening. After a 5 hours drive, stopping once to have our dinner settled, we reached our destination at 11.30 pm.

For accommodation, we decided to book a night with Silverstar Apartment @ Greenhill Resort through Agoda as we feel that it was a rather great deal. Indeed, it was.

Silverstar Apartment @ Greenhill Resort

Situated in the heart of Tanah Rata, the Silverstar apartment @ Greenhill Resort is a private unit of a vacation home that is owned and operated by an individual owner. The apartment, which consists of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a small kitchen is the ideal place to stay for families or large group when visiting Cameron Highlands. 

For meals, you would not need to worry as there are plenty of eateries around the vicinity. Although it was named as Greenhill Resort, look for the 'Heritage Hotel' signage on the main road instead. 

There are ample of free parking space available in the apartment for you to park your car. However, as this is a residency area, you will have to share the car park with the residents of that apartment block. 

For those who had booked your stay with the Silverstar Apartment @ Greenhill Resort, please note that there are no check in counter for you to collect your keys. We actually have to call the owner once we arrived at the apartment. Surprisingly, the owner told us that he had left the door of the apartment unlocked. We could just take the lift up and enter the apartment once we arrived.

To be frank, we were not very impressed with the appearance of the building and to a point of time, we did regret. We thought that the lift is seriously in need of maintenance. It looks like those we would commonly see in horror movies. Really dark and eerie. 

However, we were even more shocked when we realized that the owner has not only left the door unlocked, but has also left the keys in the apartment! 

The living room is equipped with a 5 seater sofa set, a glass coffee table and a flat screen satellite TV. Just the perfect place to stay for a family holiday.

Unfortunately, the TV was not in working condition even after we have tried every possible attempts to fix it. So, what is the purpose of having a satellite TV in the living room when it is not working at all? 

We did not inform the owner of the apartment about the faulty TV as it was already past midnight. Perhaps the owner has long been informed of the non-working TV, but could not be bothered to have it replaced. Or probably the TV was not faulty to begin with. It might be just us who could not figure out how to operate a satellite TV. Whatever it was, the non-working TV did not really bother us since we arrived pretty late and will be leaving very early the next morning. 

Comparing to the TV, the absence of Wi-Fi was actually the bigger irritation for us. Well, at least for those who did not have a mobile data plan like me. The apartment actually provides free Wi-Fi access for all its guests, which annoyingly is only available upon request. However, we still decided not to call and disturb the owner at such a late hour just for the Wi-Fi password.

The owner should have left the password for the Wi-Fi in the apartment. I wonder why he did not when he had left the door of the apartment unlocked, with its keys hanging on the wall, next to the entance. So, what is he worrying about?

The living room is well-lit by a beautiful chandelier, which enhances the beauty of the apartment.

The master room comes with one large king size bed and one single bed with a small en-suite bathroom. Everything in the room looks pretty comfortable enough for a good night sleep. Indeed, we slept really well on that night.

There are no air conditioner or fan installed in the entire apartment. I believe the cooling climate is enough to keep you cool for an entire day. However, it might get a little too warm in the day. It would be good if the owner could have a ceiling fan installed. Luckily there is a metal rack for us to hang our wet towels.

The bathroom is really cramped and when you shower, everything just gets pretty wet and slippery. Please note that there are no bath towels provided, which means that you will have to bring yours along. This really annoyed me too as I have to pack in extra weight in my small backpack. But luckily, we actually called the owner two days before we arrived to enquire whether there are any bath towels in the apartment. If not, we can just forget about showering that night. But we still glad that the owner has actually provided us with a hair dryer in the bathroom to dry our hair after bathing. There were also bars of soap provided as well, but you would have to bring along your own shampoo if you are intending to wash your hair.

The room that was located just next to the entrance door is actually the smallest among the three. There is basically just enough space to accommodate one king size bed.

Similar to the master bedroom, the bigger room also comes with one large King size bed, one single bed, a small couch and a wall mirror. However, this room does not have an en-suite bathroom. The other bathroom is situated in the kitchen of the apartment.

As for the kitchen area, it is pretty well-equipped with refrigerator, electric water boiler, microwave and some basic dining utensils. However, it does not come with a stove, which somehow discourage all guests from cooking in the apartment. Well, not a bad thing actually. At least this will keep the entire apartment free of oil and grease most of the time. 

Even so, do not feel too disappointed if you prefer to enjoy dinner with your famiy or friends in the comfort of your apartment. You could still bring your electric cooker along and have a wonderful steamboat session together. 

That was actually part of our initial plan. However, since we arrived at the apartment very late at night and left really early the next morning, we could not have the steamboat session as planned. How I wish we could stay for one more day!

Being hungry at 1am, we headed out and bought some Roti Canai (also known as Roti Prata) and cup noodles to fill up our stomach. Such a sinful supper!

No matter how guilty I felt, I still ate 2 pieces of Roti Canai for that night. Or should I say for that morning since it was already an hour past midnight? We finished our very unhealthy supper at around 2.30am in the morning and decided it was time for bed. It was a really long and tiring day, but luckily, it was all worthwhile since we managed to have our fun. 

The next morning, we glanced out of the large window in the living and were delighted to greet by a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. 

It was then that we realized that the apartments are actually surrounded by lush greenery and mountains! I especially love the refreshing cool mountain air and enjoyed the peaceful, nature-filled environment very much.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we have really enjoyed our stay at the apartment and would recommend to anyone who is looking for a spacious place that can accommodate as much as 10 people in one space. 

The Silverstar Apartment actually feels more like a home stay than a resort to me. It actually makes me feel like home. Price wise, it was rather affordable. The apartment only cost us about RM 230 a night for the 5 of us. 

It was quite a comfortable night stay at this apartment. Everything was clean, well-maintained and nicely furnished. It will be even better if the Wi-Fi and satellite TV were in good working condition during our stay.

However, please keep in mind that this apartment does not have any hotel-like amenities such as a pool, restaurant, gym or room services. The Silverstar apartment is not suitable for you if these amenities are of a great importance to you.

Oh, not forgetting to mention that we only realized that we selected the wrong date after we completed our booking? We actually called Agoda customer services centre right away after realizing the mistake to request for an amendment for our booking. The staff told us to wait on the phone while he contacted the owner of the apartment. Surprisingly, the owner was very accommodating and allowed us to make amendment to our booking. Although Agoda has a non-refundable policy, they still took extra step to refund the over payment to us as we had paid much more for the wrong date which we had booked. Thank you Agoda and the owner for making our trip to Cameron Highlands great. If not, we might still be blaming ourselves for having to spend so much more due to some stupid mistake we had made.