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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

REVIEW: Impiana Resort Cherating

From Singapore to Cherating takes about 8 hours car ride. When we finally reach our resort, the wearther is raining heavily. Road is dark as there is very limited lighting. My SO drove at a speed of turtle and suddenly he stops the car. We saw something blocking our way. As it is pouring quite heavily, we squirt our eyes to see a monitor lizard blocking our way! My SO had high beam him several times but he just turned and looked at us. Since he is not moving, I mind as well take the chance to take photo. *haha*
I want to take a clearer photo so I opened my door despite of the rain. But once my door opened, the monitor lizard quickly zapped into the forest! *tsk* So we continue on the way to the resort.
When we enter the resort, this is the activity I want to do! Turtle watching and see mother turtle lay eggs! But is kinda expensive though. Previously I read online, for watching turtle lay egg is free. Because the mother turtle will swim up to the beachside and lay the eggs. Since the beach is public areas, there is no entrace fee or any national park fee. I guess RM60 is purely for the guide and van. Hopefully they will donate at least 50% of the money to the turtle sanctuary.
The check in is very fast, less than 10mins. The customer service has already print out and filed the customer documents together with the room key. Once they verified your passport, they will issued the room keys to you and briefly introduce the facilities they have. However their english language is quite weak as compare to JB & KL. So you already have to be patient.
Below are some of the photos taken at the entrance of the resort.
Below is the dining area. Food selection is quite limited and not to my liking. The waiter & waitress also don't speak proper english. So you have to guess what they are trying to say between the english and malay mix of sentences.  
Below is their mini store. The hut is pretty cute. They sells some snacks, drinks and souveniors for visitors to buy. Price is definitely more expensive than the usual.
At last my room! I have requested for a king size bed, but was given 2 double size bed. It's quite a turn off as either my SO or I will stuck at the center gap in the middle of the night. I love the room, all woody and rustic. Definitely my type of room especially with the wooden poster bed. The room is very spacious, with a living room with TV, sofa, coffee table, study table, chair and fridge. Beside the 2 double bed, there is a day bed as well. Totally my SO's favourite! We can just laze at the day bed reading or just snoozing our time away.
The view isn't that fantastic though. Anyway my expectation wasn't that high as it is quite a remote beach in Malaysia. At least there is no rubbish lying around.
The bathroom is also very spacious, which is very good. However I would prefer both shower and bath tub seperated in the bathroom. Since the bathroom is so spacious, I not sure why they combine both shower and bath tub together. The major turn off is the plug of the bath tub is not working despite the technician tried to repair it. So when my SO & I want to soak in the bath tub, we took a plastic bag and the plug from the basin to choke the hole in the bath tub. Another con is the towels given to us is kinda yellowish. I guess they didn't change the towel even they turn yellow. But I guess the towels are clean *cross fingers*

Hotel Name:Impiana Resort Cherating
Address:Km 32 Jalan Kuantan/Kemaman
Area / City / Country:Kampung Baharu Cherating/Cherating/Malaysia
Room Charge for 4D3N:USD 386.60

Personally I find the room price is abit steep. If they can improved on the food selection and the quality of the food. Provide more reasonable pricing of activities. Fixed up their private beach to be more serene and beauitful. Give me the king size bed I asked for. Have a seperate shower and bath tub (which is not spolit). I would find the price reasonable and will go back there again.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Diving at Khao Lak

I saw a 4D3N stay at Khao Lak JW Marriott from Groupon and my SO decided to go there for my birthday celebration. It's quite suitable for me as I love quiet, peaceful beach vacation. I can just laze around doing nothing.

Since there is basically nothing to do there, I still have to find some activity. If not, my active SO will be bored to death. I'm always interested in diving so I guess I want to try it at Khao Lak. Singapore water is quite yucky so no way I'm going to dive here. I'm not sure whether monsoon is over by October, and hopefully some dive schools are opened. I decide to search for diving school and go for the PADI Discover Scuba Diving.
Cost: Baht 5900
Multi language Instructors
State-of-the-art dive gear
Padi Discover Scuba Diving certification
National Park fees
Pick up service and Drop of service in Khao Lak

2) Big Blue Diving Khao Lak
Big Blue Khao Lak is a Swedish and Japanese owned and managed. And has been opened for 20years.
Cost: Baht 6400
Includes: Not mention in the website.
Remarks: School only opens on 3 Nov

3) Wicked Diving
Involved in conservation programs
Cost: USD235
Includes: Not mention in the website

4) Manta Point
15years of experience. Max 3 students per instructor.
Cost: Baht 6500
Includes: Not mention in the website

5) Kon-Tiki Diving & Snorkeling Center
Cost: Baht 6500
Includes: Full set of equipment, Pick-up from your hotel, marine park fee, breakfast, lunch, water, coffee, tea, fresh fruit, tanks, weights, weight belt, Nitrox and professional guides. Please note that for some areas a small transfer fee will be added.

6) Khao Lak Scuba Adventures
Cost: Bath 6400
Includes: Transfers*
All Meals on Board
Tea and Coffee
Fruits and Snacks
National Park fees
Full Set Rental Equipment
Instructors 5:1 Ratio
Padi Teaching Materials
24 Hour Medical Service
Evacuation Insurance
Limited Dive Insurance**

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

REVIEW: Turtle sanctuary cherating

This is my first road trip with my SO.. and he has chosen Cherating, near Kuantan. It is quite a quiet town. My friend, whom taging along also comment that it's no different from a ghost town. Oh well, I always prefer something serene & quiet. My SO prefers city life though. But he always accomodate to my request especially for vacation.
I guess there isn't much attraction in Cherating, and what attract me the most is the turtle santuary in Cherating. You get to release baby turtles to the ocean!!!
If you are expecting a world class or "atas" santuary (like Singapore Zoo or Night safari or even Dolphin lagoon in Sentosa), you will be greatly disappointed. It is a small santuary just beside Club Med Cherating. The entrance is free.
DO NOT REMOVE YOUR SLIPPERS OR SHOES! Unless you have really tough feet. I remove mine, and I'm tearing the whole journey. Perhaps my feet are more sensitive. When you enter the santuary, you can go to the mini education room. It consists of several displays of turtles, dugong and how the baby turtles dig their way out of their shells.
Next you will enter 3 little ponds when they keep the turtles! *YEAH*

Below is the baby turtles pond. You can see the baby turtles are learning to dive, swim around or just playing rough with their siblings.

This is the small netting for just born turtles or they are feeding the baby turtles before releasing them to the another pond? There is no tour guide, so I just guess *keke* With the contraint space, the whole group of turtle do looks like a cluster of cockroaches *YIKES* 
These are the adult turtles sharing the little pond with the baby turtles (as above). I'm not sure why they are keeping the adult turtles. Perhaps for studies or the turtles are too sick to release to the wild?
Below are not turtles. Maybe is terrapins? They are housed at different pond from the turtles. I guess different species cannot live together?
After visiting all the ponds, you can walk out of the gate and head towards the hatchery. The santuary will picks up the eggs from the beach, and relocate them to the hatchery. Different batches will be tag with the dates. I was hoping that I can see baby turtles hatching or crawl out from the sands. But no luck =(
The highlight of my visit - release the baby turtles!!!!! Each turtle costs RM5. My SO got me 6 baby turtles to release and the in-charge gave us 7 baby turtles instead! He must see my sparkling eyes when my SO is passing the money to him. And maybe also I'm jumping around while waiting for my baby turtles! *BLUSH*
The baby turtles are so adorable! Their eyes are sparkling big unlike terrapins. They feels harder than terrapins too.
My SO took a video of me and my friend releasing the baby turtles, and it is totally hilarious. The turtle my friend release will automatic dash to the ocean. For mine, it will stone for awhile before making a few attempts to dash to the ocean, and stone for awhile more before the waves splash into it and the current pull it towards the ocean. 
I feel quite sad saying goodbye to them because they are totally adorable! How I hope I can bring them back to Singapore and keep them as pets. But I know they can only survive in the wild. I hope the next time I see them is they come back to the santuary and laying eggs. And I will be there releasing the baby turtles =)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Pork bone soup (gamjatang)

My SO hurt his shoulder few weeks back when doing weight lifting, and up till now is still not completely heal yet. In Korean drama, when the person has bone injuries, their loved ones will always brew ox bone soup for recovery. I guess is the protein and collagen to aid the healing process. But since my SO cannot take beef, I decided to try Korean pork bone soup instead. I guess it would have the same effect.

I found pork bone soup recipe from Maangchi and decided to use her recipe. I had amended the recipe as I have trouble getting some of the ingredients. For example, I can't get perilla leaves & perilla seeds powder, so I just use white sesame seeds. Thanksfully my SO love the white sesame seeds. Oh ya, I can't find hot pepper flakes, so I add in 2 tablespoon more of hot pepper paste instead.
I took some photos while cooking....

The hot pepper paste soup & vegetables done! Waiting patiently for the pork bone soup to brew for 1.5hrs before I can dump everything in.. *Starving*
Boiling boiling pork bone soup... 
At last, the final product - pork bone soup! I guess my SO really loves it especially the broth. Sour and spicy with his favourite pork bone. Next time will try to get the pork spine bones since it is highly recommended.  
Recipe adapted from Maangchi :-
Makes 2-3 servings. Cooking time: 2 hours.
Gamjatang (pork bone soup) is another Korean traditional nutritious dish. It’s usually made with pork spine bones and vegetables, but I use pork neck bones in this recipe.
Pork neck bones, onion, garlic, ginger, dried shiitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, potatoes, soy bean sprouts, Asian chives (buchu), green onions, perilla leaves, dried red chili pepper, soybean paste, hot pepper flakes, hot pepper paste, cooking wine, perilla seeds powder (deulkkae garu), fish sauce
  1. Soak 2.5 lb (about 1 kg) of pork neck bones in cold water for 2 hours.
  2. Boil water in a large pot.
  3. Put ¼ of a medium sized napa cabbage (about 2-3 cups) into the boiling water and blanch it for a minute.
  4. Rinse and drain the cabbage and put it in a bowl.
  5. Tear each leaf lengthwise once or twice to make it bite size and set it aside.
  6. Rinse pork neck bones in cold water and put them in boiling water with 4-5 slices of ginger (1 tbs). Cook for 7 minutes.
  7. Rinse and strain the pork neck bones and put them in a large pot.
    *tip: when you rinse the pork bones, pick out any excessive fat
  8. Pour 10 cups of water into the pot.
  9. Add 1 medium size sliced onion, 1 tbs of sliced ginger, 2 tbs of soy bean paste, 1 dried red chili pepper (after removing the seeds), and 2 dried shiitake mushrooms to the pot. Boil it for 1. 5 hours over medium high heat.
  10. Prepare a small bowl to make the sauce! In the bowl, put 6-8 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tbs of hot pepper flakes, 1 tbs of hot pepper paste, 3 tbs of cooking wine, 3 tbs of fish sauce, 3 tbs of perilla seeds powder (deulkkae garu) and mix it all up.
  11. Prepare a large bowl for vegetables
  12. About 1 ½ hours later, take the red hot chilli pepper and shiitake mushrooms out of the pot.
  13. Slice shiitake mushrooms into bite sized pieces.
  14. Add your vegetables and your sauce and the chopped shiitake mushrooms into the soup. Cook for another 30 minutes.
  15. 30 minutes later, transfer the soup into a serving bowl and sprinkle some chopped green onions and ground pepper.
    *tip: If you have an earthenware bowl, put the soup into it and heat it up until it sizzles. Sprinkle some chopped green onions and ground pepper!
  16. Serve with rice and kimchi or some side dishes!