Wanderlusting Wednesday: Colossal Trails & Charming Traditions

Like many people, my knowledge of Cameron Highlands was mostly limited to the locale of which Jim Thompson, a former CIA member and Thai silk king, mysteriously disappeared.  I also heard that this Malaysian hill station produces good tea and a lot of strawberries.  But I had no idea how good and/or how much.

Windy trunk road to Cameron Highlands

After a 2.5-3 hr drive over a distance of 300km (with the last 40km being on a very windy trunk road that cuts through a lush mountain range), I was rewarded with delightful surprises.  Here are the…

Highland’s Highlights

Colonial Charm 

Because it was discovered and developed by a former British government, Cameron Highlands has long exemplified much of its colonial heritage that remained unchanged till present-day.  Dubbed as the ‘little corner of England in Asia’, the misty hills are dotted with quaint English Tudor-styled cottages and coffee houses.  I was fortunate enough to have spent 2 nights at the Cameron Highlands Resort – the region’s most luxurious boutique hideaway that best resonates the region’s nostalgic colonial charm.

The Colonial Cameron Highlands Resort

English Tradition 

Apart from the charm, various English traditions from the British colonial era prevail from golf and refreshing hikes through the countryside to afternoon tea.  Immerse yourself in tradition by ordering an English-style high tea set at the Cameron Highlands Resort.  Think freshly baked scones with locally produced strawberry jam and fluffy cream.

English High Tea

Panoramic Plantations

No trip to Cameron Highlands is complete without visiting a local tea plantation.  We’re talking about Malaysia’s largest tea-growing region that produces black, Oolong and green teas.  I visited two, Bharat and BOH, each with its own charm but both with unforgettable panorama of tea terraces that twirl along the rolling hills.

Bharat Tea Plantation

Boh Tea Plantation

Jungle Trails

A 2 hour jungle walk in Tanah Rata on a misty morning is a great way to kick start one’s day in the highlands.  The invigorating trek along the trail we chose took us past the Robinson’s Falls deep into the lush rainforest.

Jungle Trail in Tanah Rata

Fresh Strawberries

You can’t leave Cameron Highlands without sampling the locally grown strawberries and its jam.  The region’s cool climate makes it suitable for cultivating this sweet delight all year round.  Here’s a tip.  Visit one of the many farms after a vigorous jungle walk for a plate of fresh strawberries & cream as a well-deserved indulgence.

Raju's strawberry farm

For any of you looking to escape Kuala Lumpur’s frenzy, Cameron Highlands makes a great quick getaway.  Remember to pack a light cardigan even in the peak of summer as the nights and early mornings can get chilly – especially by South East Asian’s standard :) .

Gotta Love Cameron Highlands

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recipe: cheerfully chia-ful

Hello readers.  It has been almost 3 months since I was last here and I hope you have, at some point, missed reading my blissful little posts.  Incase you’re wondering where I’ve been…well, all over!  During the span of the past 10+ weeks, I spent 9 days in France, 4 days in Montenegro, 8 days in Croatia, 2 weeks in Malaysia and about 5 weeks in my beautiful hometown of Bangkok, Thailand.  I am now finally back in Dubai right in time to endure the blistering heat and I promise you’ll get to read all about my smouldering summer escapades.

Some chia Lovin'

To make up for my overly long lost time here, however, I’ve got something for you that’s way sweeter than an apology.  A breakfast/dessert recipe courtesy of my friend Natasha Srichawala, owner of Sunshine Market natural health shop in Bangkok, that’s going to refresh you in the height of summer’s heat without causing a bulge from your bikini.  It’s a super food, it’s so simple, it’s Chia Seed Pudding with Almond Milk with Banana & Blueberries (or your choice of fruits).  First of all, let’s get some cheerful facts about these chia seeds straight.

  • It’s super high fiber content aid digestive health
  • Chia has 8 times more Omega 3 than salmon making it awesome for the brain & heart
  • It has 8 times more calcium than milk to help main your bones & oral health
  • It has complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids with zero cholesterol
  • It’s has 3 times more antioxidants than blueberries to help strengthen your skin, hair & nails
  • Chia contains 7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 3 times more iron than spinach and twice the potassium content of bananas to encourage strong immune system & regulate organ functions
  • It is diabetic-friendly

Now here’s how to enjoy the wholesome goodness of this raw,vegan, dairy free, gluten free, wheat free, nutrient-packed pudding.

what you’ll need (serves 3)…

1 cup organic almond milk, 1/3 cup raw organic chia seeds (black or white), 1 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, dollops of honey or agave (optional)

Ingredients

what to do…

1. Soak the chia seeds in almond milk and stir well.  Refrigerate overnight in a jar with lid or bowl.

soak chia seeds in almond milk & refrigerate overnight

2. The next day your chia seeds will appear pudding-like in texture.  When ready to serve, stir well, add sliced banana, blueberries and a touch of sweetness with a dollop or two of honey/agave if you prefer.  Voila!

Voila!

Do experiment with other fruit combos like I have such as banana & strawberries, mixed berries, unsweetened coconut flakes & chopped dates, or my absolute favorite – diced fresh mango.  Also please note that if you would like the consistency of your pudding to be more watery/soupy, simply reduce the amount of chia seeds and maintain the amount of almond milk.  Go ahead, it’s trial & error until you find your perfect pudding proportion.  Try substituting almond for rice or soy milk too – it’s all up to you to add your own twist!

Mango Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds are available in most organic stores and if you’re in Dubai head straight to my favorite organic supermarket seed section.  For those in Bangkok, visit Sunshine Market to purchase a packet of chia today and thank Natasha herself for this totally addictive recipe.

It’s so good to be back writing & sharing at The Bliss Republic again :)

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No – It’s not just a Rebound

“Grab yourself a rebounder, zumba hand weights and a mini medicine ball” said Nicole Parker to all of us in the studio as she pressed play on her iPod.  House beats by my favorite DJ started pumping as we stepped on to our mini trampolines ready for a bouncy warm up.   After track 1, my calves were burning, midway my butt was on fire and by the end my shoulders were having a minor spasm (despite the hand weights being only 1kg).  I actually said ‘thank god’ out loud when Nicole uttered the magic words ‘let’s stretch’.  Check out the clips below and see me in class for your self (you may have to refresh the page if the VDOs don’t appear).

That was my first taste of Rebounder at Dance Fit, my favorite dance studio (and second home) in Dubai.  Since that first class with Nicole, I’ve become a big trampoline junkie and regularly attend at least 2 rebounder classes a week.  Why?  Because I saw results and I saw it fast!

Rebounder equipments: rebounder, light hand weights (1kg) & mini medicine ball (2kgs)

To be honest with you, Rebounder caught my attention when I learnt that it fights cellulite.  Let’s face it, our heads often turn at a mention of this C word.  When you bounce on the rebounder, your lymphatic fluid is stimulated thereby flushing out the cellulite-causing waste deposits.  I know you may think other exercises also promise the same result.  But jumping on the mini trampoline is especially effective because at the bottom of each bounce, the gravitational pull intensifies the squeezing out of toxins from the cells and drains it more effectively.  Knowing this, how could I not have tried it.

Nicole - Rebounder instructor at Dance Fit studio

I sat down and had a chat with Nicole, who also happens to be my fabulous fitness instructor, to get expert’s view on rebounding as a form of exercise.  It turns out that attacking cellulite is just the icing on cake and there’s a whole sponge of benefits underneath which primarily includes:

  • improved cardiovascular endurance & fitness

  • increased leg power, hip & core strength

  • improved coordination, balance & weight loss!

Unlike most other traditional aerobic exercises, Rebounding puts zero impact on the body causing no stress on your knees nor strain on the joints while blitzing those muscles.  The workout incorporates familiar moves like hamstring curls and squats allowing your body to engage all muscles simultaneously.  Nicole’s rebounder class is particularly effective because she uses a cardio training technique called HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) which involves cycles of high intensity bursts and low to moderate intensity recovery.  From big muscles like legs to smaller ones like triceps and shoulders, exercises are performed through a full range motion to effectively stretch and condition at the same time.  Because every class is different depending on the instructor, I asked Nicole what she focuses on and how she makes it unique.  This was what she said,

“It would definitely be my technicality of training. For Rebounder, my focus is on endurance, fat loss & total body conditioning.   My techniques are very unique because I incorporate the music into my class which makes the exercises even more powerful.”

If any of you are interested in joining a Rebounder class, here are some beginner’s tips from the expert herself: use the mirror to keep aware of your form, head erect, shoulders depressed, tall posture, engage your core and soft bent knees .  Also remember to keep your feet flat while jumping.

Nicole's rebounding exercises

more techniques: triceps & abs

If there is no professional class in you’re current area of residence but you want to get bouncing, I suggest you invest in a Body Sculpture rebounder, purchase a few rebounder DVDs and start today.

Body Sculpture Rebounder

And for all of you living in Dubai, The 60 minute Urban Rebounding class by Nicole is offered only at Dance Fit (click here for class schedule).  The studio is located at Unit 105, 1st floor Al Sayyah Building, Interchange 4, Sheikh Zayed Road.  Oh, and guess what!  You can get yourself some free trial sessions at Dance Fit today by sending me a message via my contact form or The Bliss Republic Facebook Fanpage.

Dance Fit studio in Dubai (source: http://www.facebook.com/dancefitme)

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