Some friends invited us to go to a national reserve park just outside of Kuala Lumpur to celebrate Hari Raya, which signifies the end of Ramadan...OK, we weren't exactly celebrating it because we're Christian and it's a Muslim holiday, but we were still celebrating the fact that it was a national holiday and most of the stores were closed and the roads were deserted and it was just a good excuse to get away for an afternoon. The park is located in the area of Selangor but neither Michael or I had the wherewithall to actually ask the official name of the place, we were just along for the ride to spend an afternoon getting in touch with nature.
Here we are on our way, following Eric, our host for the day.
This picture is blurry (sorry) but I was waiting in the car with the kids and wanted to get a shot of Michael buying some Lemang. It is a HUGE comfort food for the locals at this time of year (think pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving) so we wanted to give it a try. It is a coconut-flavored sticky rice that is wrapped in a banana leave and placed in a hollowed out stick of bamboo, then placed over a fire to cook. You can find these vendors along the side of the road EVERYWHERE and they make things quite smokey (hence, the picture). It was also funny because all of these guys were crazy excited about Michael. They never get white people coming around there because it's not a big tourist spot, just a major get-away for the locals, so he became an instant celebrity. And honestly, we never saw any other white people all day.
Again, major blur...sorry. (You can tell how rain-spattered our windows were at one point) but we had to get a picture of the "butcher" selling his wares. We've seen these more & more recently (maybe just another Hari Raya holiday tradition?) where a cart is set up on the side of the road and big slabs of unidentified meat is hanging proudly and prominently for patrons to come scrutinize. How do they decide? Is it the piece that looks the least sweltering from the heat? The one with the least amount of flies? Just something about seeing it on a hook like that makes me a little queasy.
It was only about a 45 minute drive from our house, along a road that we wistfully compared to an Asian jungle-themed version of Highway 89 through rural Utah (have you driven it? you should spend a day doing that, you won't regret it) and we arrived at our site. The reserve has several campsites as well as A-frame units for rent (anywhere from $10-$50/night, depending on how many people you want to house) and there is a pleasant river running right through the middle of it all. We were in 2 cars and upon first arrival to the site, cute little Tu (sp? she's Vietnamese), who absolutely adores John, pounced on him for hugs and mothering. He used to run away shouting "no!" to her (she liked to pinch his cheeks and he wasn't a huge fan of that) but she has stopped the pinching so he tolerates her pretty well.
All the kids were in their swimsuits before the adults could get out of the cars and were gleefully splashing in the river. Some things I noticed about differences from camping at home? You could walk around barefoot pretty easily because most things were cushioned in a nice fuzzy covering of mold. Also the ants were about as big as my thumb.
The view up the river was gorgeous, with spots of sun escaping through the canopy of trees and strategically placing themselves on various bits of ground below. As you can see, we found ourselves a little sunspot to play in...sort of makes my son look like radioactive boy.
We took a break from swimming to enjoy the lemang we had bought earlier on the road. A popular dish to serve this with is beef rendang, which is basically a freaky-spicy curry. You can see the 2 halves of the bamboo stick at the top of the picture and the rice wrapped in the banana leaf on the lower right side of the big blue plate. Obviously it was a hit because I could barely get my camera out before half the table was devoured in the frenzy.
No meal would be complete unless it was topped off with a healthy dose of watermelon. Emily loves her some melon.
Father & son off to enjoy nature. That makes my heart go all soft.
For some reason I was fascinated by these yellow butterflies. They were seriously everywhere. If you were still for a while they would calm down and sit, statuesque, like innocent little yellow leaves...until some 2-year old Godzilla would run screaming through the middle of them and ruin every shot I tried to take. This was the best I got.
Phew! What a long, hot day. I think I need me a drink.