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Friday, October 16, 2015

Fashionista's Travels: Cameron Highlands

A few days ago we took advantage of the Islamic new year public holiday and took off on a roadtrip to Cameron Highlands. A couple of my friends since then have asked me for details of the trip so I thought I might as well make a blogpost out of it. So here's a photoblog of my trip:


Cameron Highlands is about 4 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, and essentially there are two routes getting there, either from Tapah (which is closer) or Simpang Pulai (which is about almost 100 km further than Tapah). We decided to take Simpang Pulai as I've read that the roads are better and less winded. I'm glad I took Simpang Pulai rather than Tapah because I did enjoy the road and the scenery along the road as well. If you're planning on a road trip, here's some info on both routes, click [here].


The road was slightly winded, but it was manageable, at least for me. I've driven on worst road conditions so this was okay.


As our check in time wasn't until 2.30pm, we decided to go to Rajuu Hill Strawberry Farm (located opposite the junction to Copthorne Hotel and embark on a strawberry picking adventure. 


There are plenty of strawberry farms in Cameron, so don't worry, you'll definitely be spoilt for choice. 


At Rajuu, they charge you RM30 per half kg and they'll provide you with a basket and two scissors. I definitely recommend the experience. It was so much fun!


There's a marker in the basket, so you'll definitely know when you reach half a kg.


We paid for our strawberries and requested for some whipped cream on top before digging in. They charged RM4 for the whipped cream. And yes, the strawberries did taste better with cream. 


Post checking in, we decided to go on an English-themed high tea at Ye Old Smokehouse (located at Tanah Rata) as we've heard that the scones over there is totally delicious. 


For RM45 per person, the high tea consisted of tea, a couple of salmon sandwiches, a scone and a slice of fruitcake along with clotted cream and strawberry jam. However, the fruitcake contained alcohol so we opted for another scone in exchange for the fruitcake. I must say, this is the best scone I've ever tasted. Soft, warm and buttery, it was absolutely delicious.


The compound.


The compound.


Ye Old Smokehouse. Lovely place, beautiful and well-kept garden and absolutely love the scones. The scones were the highlight of my trip. Perfect place for honeymooners I must say. For more info, their Facebook page is [here] and website [here].


Sunset. The view from our hotel room at Copthorne. Obviously there's a lot of construction activities happening in Cameron so in regards to the view from your room, you could either get a view of the strawberry farms which are scattered in Cameron or a view of an empty land which is currently under construction.


Dawn in Cameron. Fog is rising up from the earth. Subhanallah.


Day 2. We decided to have tea at Sungei Palas Tea Estate which grows tea for Boh Tea. The Sungei Palas tea plantation is only about 3 km from Copthorne.


On the far right of this photo is the terrace where you'll be having tea.


However, to enjoy the view, you have to walk up this tiny path for about 200 meters.


Almost there.


And here we are.


We ordered some chicken pie, scones, strawberry tart and coconut tart for breakfast. We also tried their Sungei Palas tea as well. As you can see, the view is magnificent behind us. 


Tea bushes.


Tea bushes.


More tea bushes. This was the second highlight of my trip.


Azima took this photo from the car. I was trying to capture photos of the tea plantation but let me just say, my photos doesn't do them justice. You have to be there to experience it.


We left the tea plantation and checked out from the hotel at 1 pm. On the way back to Kuala Lumpur we decided to stop by Cameron Lavender Garden to check out the lavender flowers that they have there. The farm charges an RM6 entrance fee for adults and RM4 for children.


Japanese lavender (front) and at the far back are the actual lavender plants.


They have a wide array of other flowers as well.


Fresh flowers are available for picking at RM2 each or 6 for RM10.


A sea of flowers.


And more flowers.


And since we've never been to Kellie's Castle, we decided to do a little detour and check out the unfinished mansion. Kellie's Castle is about 10 km away from the Simpang Pulai junction.


Incomplete.


Corridor.


Grounds.


Skydeck for entertaining guests which also acts as a tennis court.


Unfinished. 

So here's my verdict. I loved Cameron Highlands. I don't mind going there again and having tea at the same places as well. In terms of accommodation, I would say that Copthorne was a good place to stay in, it was right at the top of the hill and it offers a magnificent view of Cameron Highlands. However, due to the various construction activities as well as a number of farms around Cameron, your hotel room would most probably show you a not-so-pleasant view. And because Cameron is hilly, the hills themselves would obscure the views of the tea plantations, forests and jungles. Most places such as the strawberry farm, cactus farm, bee farm etc are closed by 6 pm so there's not that many things to do after 6 pm. There are some stalls selling fresh vegetables near Copthorne (about 5-10 minutes walk from the hotel) but when we went at 8 pm, most stalls were already closed for the day.
We booked via Agoda, and there's mainly three places where you can stay, i.e. Ringlet, Tanah Rata and Brinchang. We stayed at Brinchang and we loved it. So I don't know how it would be like if you were to stay at Tanah Rata or Ringlet.

Hope this blog post helps you in making your plans to visit Cameron Highlands =).


xoxo Mrs Fashionista

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Halal Food in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Hey ya peeps! I haven't managed to update much of my travels lately and I am quite behind in updating the blog unfortunately. I am trying my best, inshaa Allah and here's some of the places/ restaurants that I went to when we were in Vietnam, September last year. 

So before I left for my study leave last year, we decided to have a family trip to commemorate the occasion and this time it took us to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. There's plenty of halal restaurants and eateries, so there's absolutely no worry of you being deprived of your favourite food. Vietnamese food is absolutely delicious, there's a mix of sour and sweet, pretty much like Thai food, but a slightly toned down version than Thai food. I love, love, love their pho (a soupy noodle dish) and their seafood is also nice. So, here are some photos of the places that we went to:


On the first day we went to Tandoor. Usually most halal outlets would be located near Ben Thanh Market however, Tandoor was located slightly further from Ben Thanh Market, I think perhaps about 20 - 25 minutes walk from the market. Unfortunately, I am not able to pinpoint it's exact location, except perhaps, it's located near the area where the buildings have a slightly noticeable French architectural influence to it.


So, here's the address of the restaurant. 


Considering that it's an Indian restaurant, we ordered the usual Indian fanfare, briyani, chicken curry and naan bread. The food was delicious, and the service was good. However, price wise, it's slightly expensive. This is most probably due to the fact that most of their spices are imported from India, so there's a higher cost to it. However, if you're wanting Indian food in Ho Chi Minh, I'd absolutely recommend it. 

If you're interested in the restaurant, you could also check out their website click [here].


There's quite a steady influx of Malaysian tourists to Vietnam, I suppose, and there's plenty of signage written in the Malay language, such as the one in this photo. Vietnam is also famous for it's coffee, among them is the coffee chain Trung Nguyen, so you may want to try them out. To read about Vietnam and coffee, there's an article [here] by the BBC on Vietnamese coffee.


Malaysians definitely will not be deprived of their local Malaysian food when they visit Ho Chi Minh. There's plenty of restaurants and stalls offering Malaysian cuisine. The one in the photo above is Restaurant Halal Kampung Melayu located next to Ben Thanh Market.


Another restaurant that we visited was Salima Restaurant. I must say it served one of the best pho I've ever tasted. 

Seriously. 

It's located above a hotel, known as An Tam Hotel (hotel website is [here]), and to go to the restaurant, you have to walk past the hotel lobby and take the elevator to the first floor. Salima restaurant would be next to the elevator. 



We ordered pho. It was delicious. The soup was light, and the beef was fresh and sweet. Even the sauce (soy sauce with chilli) was also yummy. Pho is basically a rice noodle dish served with beef, beansprouts and some herbs. It's a simple dish, usually served hot and the combination of light flavours from the meat and herbs is definitely an unforgettable experience (at least for me it was, I'm still thinking of the pho I ate a year ago at the restaurant *drool*).


We also ordered prawn spring rolls. Usually you'd dip the spring roll into the sauce (which is sweet and sour) and eat it just as you'd eat sushi =).


Considering that there's a sizeable Muslim population in Ho Chi Minh, there are several mosques catering to the needs of the Muslim population. This is Jamia al- Muslimin mosque located behind Sheraton hotel. If you're interested to locate other mosques in Ho Chi Minh, there's some information from this website [here].


As it was lunch time, we decided to have our lunch at Halal Saigon, located right across the road in front of the mosque.


The food was okay, but unfortunately I don't remember this dish that I ordered. To check out their website, you can click [here]. 


Another restaurant which we visited is Warung 1 Malaysia Saigon. It's located near Ben Thanh Market and due to it's convenient location (and of course yummy food) I think this was the only restaurant that we went to twice.


Here's the menu. They had a lot to offer. 


The price was reasonable too. 


We ordered rice, soup and fish. And I must say, this is among my favourite too. The fish was absolutely tantalising. It's fresh, so you know how soft and sweet the fish is when it's cooked fresh. 


Steamed fish with soy sauce and herbs.


Clear soup. Both dishes are absolutely recommended. 


There were other restaurants along the road that we didn't get to visit such as Restaurant Hjh. Basiroh. 


And this Nasi Goreng Ayam food stall. You'll notice when you're walking along the street (which leads you to Ben Thanh Market), there's about maybe 5 -7 halal restaurants along the street. 


The Daun Restaurant is also among our favourite. It's not located directly along the pathway leading to Ben Thanh Market, but it's not far from there either. I think it's about maybe 10 - 15 minutes walk from Ben Thanh Market. 


Here's their address as well as social media sites. 


We ordered prawns and soup as well and it was absolutely heavenly. I would definitely recommend this restaurant for the ambience as well as good food. For more information on the restaurant, you can visit their website [here]. 


On our last day in Ho Chi Minh, we decided to try something different, so we went to Sahraan Restaurant which serves Egyptian food. It's also located not far from Ben Thanh Market, perhaps about 7 - 9 minutes walk away. 


I had grilled chicken while hubs ordered chicken fried with bread crumbs. The food was okay, however, in terms of price, this restaurant is also slightly pricey compared to the other restaurants. If you like, you can visit their Facebook page [here].

So if you're thinking of visiting Ho Chi Minh, the best place to stay would be somewhere near Ben Thanh market, as around the market there's plenty of halal outlets and everything would be within maybe 5 - 20 minutes walk, which is convenient. However just a word of caution, just like any city, there's pickpockets, thieves as well as fake taxis (this is very common in Ho Chi Minh unfortunately) so do take care of your belongings.

Happy traveling!


xoxo Mrs Fashionista