The guide to café-hopping in Cameron Highlands

One thing that one can never miss while scrolling through their Instagram is a whole string of photos of food, cozy environment and beautiful cafés that people are visiting. As far as I can remember, cafes weren’t really popular, until maybe two or three years ago and has become such a huge culture here in Malaysia.

With so many cafés sprouting like mushrooms after a heavy downpour, café hopping has become a normal weekend activity that Malaysians really love. In Cameron Highlands, there are some cafés worthy to be hopped up in the mountains. Check these out:

Lord’s Café

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lordscafefood

This quaint little café located along Jalan Besar in Tanah Rata is the perfect place for your afternoon tea with the most delicious and sumptuous scones around. Fresh out of the oven, you can either pick their signature Strawberry scones or the normal, butter one. If you are a cake person, they do not disappoint in their variety of cakes, pastries and pancakes. Serving also local English and other varieties of teas, Lord’s Café is the best place for your evening siesta.

Address: No 4, 1st Floor, Jalan Besar, Tanah Rata.

 

The Barracks Café

barrackscafe

barrackfood

barrackgarden

Located in Tanah Rata at the edge of the town, Barracks Café is actually a real military barrack that was built during the World War II by the British. Their menu has an extensive mouthwatering dishes which includes pasta, salad, rice dishes as well as a wide selection of cakes and pastries. You can also enjoy your afternoon tea in their beautiful garden, just like how it was done years ago.

Address: No 1, Jalan Gereja, Tanah Rata.

 

Fruit Delights Café

fruitdelightscafe

fruitdelightsfood


If you are into fruits, then this café is dedicated specially for you. Just like what its name indicates, Fruit Delights Café offers fresh fruit juice of every kind, and varieties of teas. They have put together an impressive selection of fruit desserts like strawberry ice- cream, raspberry cheese cake, durian cake, mango milkshake, and many more. They also offer local food like pineapple rice, pineapple curry rice, steamboat and fresh fruits. This place is a total delight!

Address: 27 Jalan Besar, Tanah Rata.

 

Teh Tarik Place

tehtarik

This café is located at Cameron Square in Brinchang. They serve Malaysia’s renowned street food like Teh Tarik, crispy hand-tossed Roti Canai, Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Lemak and Mee Goreng Mamak. If you can’t live without Teh Tarik for a day, this place is a must visit.

Address: Ground Floor, Cameron Square, Brinchang.

 

Tea’Ria Cafe @ Boh Tea Center

bohtea

A definite must on the list of cafe-hopping in Cameron Highlands is a visit to Sungei Palas Boh Tea Cafe, also known as Tea’Ria. Tea’Ria offers their own varieties of teas that exude refinement by infusing exotic spice and fruit flavours with tea’s own aroma. You can enjoy your blissful cup of tea while enjoying the fresh air overlooking the tea plantation.

Address: Sg Palas Boh Tea Center, Brinchang.

Now that I have covered some of the best place for café-hopping in Cameron Highlands, here are also some great hotels where you can unwind and relax after your blissful-strawberry filled evening.

Copthorne Cameron Highlands – Staying here, you are waking up to cool mountain air and lush greenery. A 4-star hotel, Copthorne Cameron Highlands offer a choice of 341 full-service guest rooms and apartments, all furnished with modern amenities.

Cameron Highland ResortCameron Highlands Resort is built as a long extension from an existing 1930s cottage with architecture dating from the 1070s. The thing that draws people to this hotel lies in the interiors that dates back to its grand colonial heritage with tall French doors, timber-beamed ceilings and plantation shutters.

For the best deals in town when it comes to hotels, get it straight through Traveloka.

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Stolperstein; a growing memorial

One of the little things that captured my attention when travelling—stolperstein.

A stolperstein or stumbling stone, is a concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination. The stolperstein art project was initiated by the German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, and is still ongoing. It aims at commemorating individual persons at exactly the last place of residency—or, sometimes, work—which was freely chosen by the person before he or she fell victim to Nazi terror, euthanasia, eugenics, was deported to a concentration or extermination camp, or escaped persecution by emigration or suicide. As of 11 January 2015, over 50,000 plates have been laid in 18 European countries, making the stolperstein project the world’s largest decentralised memorial.

Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolperstein

st01Siesmayerstraße, Frankfurt.

st02Bahnhofstraße, Wiesbaden.

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Caravaggio’s Heirs – Baroque in Naples

I took the chance to visit Caravaggio’s Heirs – Baroque in Naples that is on exhibit at Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden (capital of Hessen) on my 2nd last day in Frankfurt with Daiana and my sister-in-law, Najwa.

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The exhibition is from 14 October 2016 until 12 February 2017. If you are somewhere in the Hessen, do visit the exhibition. From Frankfurt, it is about 40 minutes train ride to Wiesbaden. Fare is €16. Museum ticket fee is €10.

Caravaggio’s Heirs – Baroque in Naples brings flourishing Golden Age of Italian paintings that began in 1606 with the arrival of Caravaggio in Naples. During the next decade, Caravaggio became a much-admired model for generations of Neopolitan Baroque artists such as Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, Artemisia Gentileschi, Jusepe de Ribera, Salvator Rosa, Mattia Preti, Luca Giordano and Francesco Solimena.

Presenting more than 200 works by some 50 artists from as many lenders in eleven countries, the exhibition traces the development of Neapolitan Baroque painting.

Who is Caravaggio?

Michelangelo Merisi (Michael Angelo Merigi or Amerighi) da Caravaggio (29 September 1571 – 18 July 1610) was active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting (reminds me of Rembrandt), had a formative influence on Baroque painting.

Caravaggio was contracted for many works, including the work in the Contarelli Chapel, which was in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Following this commission, he was later given several contracts to do work throughout several chapels in Rome, as well as in neighbouring cities. For the most part, these new paintings, and each new job he took, helped to increase the fame which he was experiencing during the time.

However, there were a few of his pieces that were rejected because of the dramatic intensity, which people viewed as vulgar. Some of his well-known for during this period include The Madonna of the Grooms, and the Death of the Virgin.

Judith and Holofernes

Two paintings from the Caravagesques that are most intriguing to me were Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi and Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio. Caravaggio’s painting, was the main inspiration of Artemisia’s. Both have the same Holofernes, but different interpretation of Judith, and different accomplice. The lighting differs too; I imagine that Artemisia’s lighting effect came from a lamp, while Caravaggio’s from the day light that went through a window. Different feeling.

Anyway, Caravaggio’s Judith reminds me of Boticelli’s Simonetta. That nose. That face.

judith-und-holofernesJudith Slaying Holofernes (1614–20). Oil on canvas. By Artemisia Gentileschi.

judith-beheading-holofernesJudith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio. Created: circa 1598-1599.

Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi painted many pictures of strong and suffering women from myth and the Bible – victims, suicides, warriors. Artemisia was raped by a painter that her father hired to tutor her. The trauma of the rape and trial impacted on Artemisia’s painting. Her graphic depictions were cathartic and symbolic attempts to deal with her pain. Her style was heavily influenced by Caravaggio.

Here are some photos from the exhibition:

riberaImmaculate Conception, Jusepe de Ribera. My most favourite piece of Caravagesques.

beinaschiDiogenes by Giovanni Battista Benaschi (1636–1688). I was attracted by the metal frame first, painting then. Two perfect masterpieces.

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Peter Rabbit Garden Cafe by Rakeru, Tokyo

As a big fan of Beatrix Potter and her creation, Peter Rabbit, going to its cafe is a must, so I did that on my second day in Tokyo with my friend Mazni and her daughter, Nadya.

peterrabbit

This cafe is situated at Jiyugaoka area, a stylish and chic neighbourhood at the southern part of Meguro-ku.

Arriving at this cafe, first thing that I noticed was the beautiful alfresco garden setting. I ran up the stairs and opened the cafe’s door excitedly, just like a little kid entering a wonderland. It was truly a fantastic feeling.

prcafeTell me how would you feel seeing a cafe like this? Amazing, right?

Once inside, we helped ourselves to a table. The setting is very English, of course, to honour Beatrix Potter, the well-known  English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her children’s books featuring animals, such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

On the table there were two copies of  Peter Rabbit books (in Japanese), a jar of wrapped cube sugars, a pitcher of plain water, drink glasses, as well as little bell to ring. There was also Petter Rabbit waiting for us.

peter-rabbitPeter Rabbit and Dina.

peter-rabbit2We invited Flopsy Bunny from next table to join us.

We ordered two coffee (with Peter Rabbit art), hot chocolate, and Doubleberry French Toast Casserole. Everything was nicely presented and we went oohs and aahs eating the yummy casserole. The coffee and chocolate was good too.

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We spent more than two hours at the cafe just enjoying the surrounding while making photos and videos. Here’s a video made by Nadya, featuring Mazny as the intro:

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Japan in summer

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To sum it all, my summer Japan trip was great; I learned about the things that Japan has to offer in summer. Although my list is not comprehensive, below are the things that I came across:

Edogawa Hanabi Matsuri
One of the many firework festivals that I attended was Edogawa Hanabi Matsuri. This year the Edogawa Fireworks Festival turns 41 – making it one of the oldest fireworks festivals in Tokyo. The venue, Metropolitan Shinozaki Park point on the banks of the Edogawa River, is about half an hour walk from Shinozaki Station. It was a very long walk but nonetheless I enjoyed looking at people along the way. Most local people wore the traditional yukata, summer kimono or jinbei.

yukatagirlsGirls in traditional yukata.

The fireworks display can actually be viewed from either side of the river; Edogawa (the side that I was at), and Ichikawa (opposite side), that is known as the Ichikawa City Nohryo Fireworks Festival.

edogawahanabi01Edogawa side.

ichikawasideIchikawa side.

firework

Yukata
In summer, most people wear yukata; a casual kimono-like garment worn during the summer. It’s unlined and usually made of cotton to make the fabric more breathable. Yukata are popular for dressing up for summer events like firework festivals. Yukata wearing dates back over 1,000 years to when they were worn by the nobility to and from their baths in the days before bath towels were used in Japan. Because yukata are much cheaper than silk kimono, they became very popular during the Edo period when there were strict laws that prevented people from living extravagantly.

yukatasketches

Ayu, river fish
Grilled salted ayu, or sweetfish, is a staple at summer festival food stalls. Ayu, also known as Sweetfish, is abundant during summer time in Japan. When summer arrives, many Japanese go river fishing for Ayu, which has a sweet, distinctive flavour. Catching Ayu is prohibited from November to May, as a measure to protect the species, but becomes legal from June when the skin and bones are especially soft.

Edo furin, wind-chime
Furin (Wind-chime): Introduced from China by monks and used to know the direction of wind and a charm against evil. The soothing sound of Furin is a symbol of summer.  Japanese people enjoy that furin changes the wind into sound. Though most furins were made of bronze, glass furins appeared in the Edo period. Glassworks artisans in Nagasaki made furins and started selling them in Osaka, Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo).

Summer hand-fan
The summer hand-fan are available abundantly during the summer. I got some free ones during the Edogawa Hanabi Matsuri. There are two types of fan that I came across: Sensu and Uchiwa. Uchiwa are the popular and common flat and ridged hand held Japanese fans made primarily of paper on a bamboo frame. Often the traditional fans were beautifully decorated with a simple art work or design. Although traditional, hand made uchiwa fans remain popular, modern day uchiwa fans are often mass produced from paper on plastic frames with advertising for local businesses, products or festivals printed on them. Popular motifs for the uchiwa include designs portraying cooling streams or breezes, bamboo leaves, goldfish and fireworks. Sensu, on the other hand, a fan that is made from pleated paper, silk, or other cloth, allowing it to be spread into an arc or folded into a neat, rectangular shape.

Watermelon
One more thing that I could find easily in Japan during summer was watermelon! I even had a watermelon ice-cream that looked exactly like watermelon. Around the late June grocery stores and super markets start selling watermelons and it gives the feeling of beginning summer.

Summer cicada
In Japan, the cicada is associated with the summer season. On my recent trip, I heard it at the park, and on the trees along the roadside. I like to think that the sound of summer cicada is melancholy, and it has been featured in literature. Cicada is one of the summer kigos in haiku (Japanese poetry). Matsuo Basho wrote in “Oku no Hosomichi”—

At a quiet and empty temple in the deep mountain,
a cicada start to sing,
but its sound gets sucked into a rock.

And here’s my take on Japan in summer in the form of haiku poetry:

Yukata colours
add joy to the green and blue,
cheeks flush a pink blush.
-Emila 2016

Dazzling colour splash
lits up Edogawa sky;
Explosive summer.
-Emila 2016

 

 

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Beijing in poetry

Being alone in my room watching out the window, I came up with these short poems. Short poems that use 5-7-5 haiku syllable (not fit as Japanese haiku as there are no kigo in them). Some people call it modern haiku.

Photos were captured with my Nikon D5100.

BeijingSuset

Tiny dots in flight
against the vault of heaven,
finding way back home.
-Emila, Aug 27,2016

BeijingGCP

Alone together,
reflecting one another;
soulmates forever.
-Emila, Aug 27, 2016

BeijingNight

Streetlights lining up
busy Beijing boulevards;
relentless honking.
-Emila, Aug 28, 2017.

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Tea Ceremony Experience at Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo

I was looking forward to attend the tea ceremony at Keio Plaza Hotel but due to a mild fatigue and swollen feet, I had to stay in my room and rest. Luckily, Mazni and Nadya attended the ceremony and they told me all about it.

Here’s the write-up by Mazni:

Tea ceremony in Japanese culture could be conducted either in formal (chaji) or informal (chakai) way. The ceremony is conducted by a tea master, normally using matcha – the powdered green tea, in a small tea room. A simple chakai is usually started with some sweet confectionery just to balance off the sweetness and the bitterness of the tea, followed by a thick tea, meal, and thin tea.

Matcha

During my recent stay at Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo, I was invited to experience the chakai. The hotel’s Japanese Tea Ceremony Room ‘Sho-fu-an’ is situated on the 10th floor of the main tower. We were served by a lady tea master, Miss Michiko Yano. She is the 3rd generation in her family who pursue the art of Japanese tea ceremony.

Tea-Ceremony-Room

MazniTeaCeremony

Michiko-san guided us throughout the ceremony by washing up our hand and mouth first. This act is said to purify the body and soul. During the yesteryear, a tea house was used as a social gathering place. The samurai, the businessmen, the ordinary people will enter the tea house by leaving their swords, ranks and social status outside. Inside the tea room, everyone becomes equal no matter what their hierarchy in the society. This reminds me of some similarity in my Muslim culture. We take ablutions before entering the mosque just to purify our body and soul too. Inside the mosque, everyone’s also treated equally as human being no matter who you are.

While preparing the matcha, Michiko-san told us some beautiful custom in the tea room. The room is usually decorated with the seasonal flowers and a quote written in Japanese calligraphy. I found out that the Japanese  really appreciate nature in every single way of their life.

The culture is also meant to respecting the others. For example, when the tea is offered to you first, you should acknowledge the person next to you by saying  ‘Osaki ni’ – which means, ‘Sorry to drink before you!’  Then if you were the last person offered, you should say, ‘ It’s nice to enjoy the drink with you!’

I was told by the tea master, the type of  ‘furo” or the portable brazier use in the tea room will depend on the seasons. If it is spring or summer, the braziers are placed at the corner as to distance the guests from the heat. In the autumn or winter, they are placed in the centre of the room so that the guests could heat up their body.

My daughter, Nadya shared her  Japanese tea ceremony experience with us. It is interesting to know that she drank from the same bowl with her friends. Her tea ceremony was conducted by her sensei during the graduation day. At Sho-fu-an, we were served in different bowls. The tea master chose the beautiful part or design on that bowl and place it towards the us. We took the bowl and turn it slightly, take a sip and turn the bowl so the beautiful part is positioned back to where it begins.

Thanks to Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo, I had a  wonderful time experiencing this simple yet memorable tea ceremony with my daughter.” — Mazni.

That was a beautiful experience! Thank you Mazni for the write-up. I will try to experience the tea ceremony if I go to Tokyo next time.

Japanese Tea Ceremony
Day:
Everyday except for Thursday, Sunday, and days upon which the room has been chartered through advance booking.

Time:
session1 11:00a.m. – 11:30a.m.
session2 2:00p.m. – 2:30p.m.
session3 3:00p.m. – 3:30p.m.
session4 4:00p.m. – 4:30p.m.
*Each session’s capasity is 4people.

Price:
2,000yen (Japanese tea and sweets, tax and service charge)

Place:
Japanese Tea Ceremony Room “Sho-fu-an” on the 10th floor of the Main Tower, Keio Plaza Hotel.

Inquiries/Reservations:
Please contact the Guest Relations Desk through the following inquiry form. The hotel recommend you to make an advance reservation due to limited capacity.

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