Some time in December, my friend Edward from Singapore was visiting KL for the first time ever, and i told him that i’d try to take him to Awanmulan so he could get a taste of Malaysian nature. I’m adamant that if visitors come to KL, they can’t just explore the city… you gotta get out and see how beautiful it is a mere hour away too!
I was having a crazy busy time at work… and it wasn’t the best time to go away, but i felt like i needed to shut off for just a day. (The thing about running your own show is there IS no break. And as long as i’m within a whatsapp message or email away… i can’t seem to run away.) But hey, Edward around was a great reason to: 1) be a great host. 2) get away myself.
I’ve stayed in every single room in Awanmulan, save for Durian Runtuh and Rahsia – their latest addition to the nature retreat. It’s built on a slope facing West so you can watch the sun set over the distant hills.
There are two floors – on top is Durian Runtuh, and below is Rahsiah. If you book only Durian Runtuh (2 bedrooms that sleep 4 pax) it will be RM1330; Rahsiah below sleeps 5 for RM1140. If you take BOTH rooms, you sleep 9 pax for RM2100.
The words on their door sign are formed from nails being hammered into it!
Kitchen with full amenities and living area
Love the pink and mint wooden window panes that complement the colours of the sunset rays so the whole room will glow in those tones in the evening!
BECAUSE I HAVE NO SHAME that i love Frozen.
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Sorry i haven’t been blogging much! Ever since we got back from France, it was immediately jet lag-battling, back-to-work drowning, Life Errands-sorting stuff in 4 days; before six of us darted off to the Dusun for a weekend getaway.
Kenny organised it for Cammy’s 30th birthday, and we all divided groceries for meals between couples across our 2-night stay. As usual, we brought too much food… but better to be over prepared than craving.
All in all; we ate raclette, saucisson, tarama, foie de morue, salads, ham + egg sandwiches, Chinese herbal chicken drumstick noodles, steak tenderloins, breakfast of bacon and eggs, and i think that’s it… Drank champagne, Shiraz, tequila, rum, single malt whiskey, gin, and beer.
Clem and i brought the Dusun family some saucisson and gave Hansi a Mr. Potato Head. He seemed more enamoured with my camera i held out to him tho.
Helen’s eyes widened slightly and i quickly said, “Oh it’s okay, it’s water-proof and shock-proof!”
She said, “But is it child-proof?”
Me: “Well, that’s why Clem got it for me…”
For little hands holding a small camera, Hansi took a pretty decent shot of me!
I took a picture of his painting from that afternoon.
Didn’t even notice the dolphin at my feet till going through the pictures.
Hansi took this picture too!
I brought a bunch of pink balloons (cos Cammy likes pink), pink streamers (she coincidentally brought some too!), and a balloon pump (cos there’s no way i’m gonna blow all those balloons up with my mouth. Where’s my butler…) to decorate the place. Matt and i hid upstairs and blew a few up to rain down on her as a surprise, but we got to six balloons and felt left out doing it by ourselves so we rained down what we had then continued the rest downstairs.
I tried to pump a balloon up till it burst and it got SO VERY BIG. Clem said i was scaring myself more than Matt or Kenny; whom i innocently stood next to, subtly pumping away on the balloon pointed at them, all the while talking to them.
It finally burst into hundreds of little pieces… (who knew?)…
… that Clem swept up.
This is the French way: The men cook and prep…
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We decided months ago to spend New Year’s Eve at Awanmulan and there are urm a lot of pictures i flooded Instagram with when we returned to the city. For the benefit of those who don’t know where Awanmulan is (cos so many asked me on IG), it’s in Jelebu in Seremban and only an hour’s drive away from KL. Hence so convenient for us to get to when we wanna get AWAY.
We didn’t want to go somewhere too far cos Cammy’s almost 7 months pregnant, and we didn’t want to be in the city so Awanmulan was our best option. Days before the trip, Clem kept saying, “I cannot WAIT to go to Awanmulan.” And Cammy told me that Kenny would walk around the house going, “Awanmulannnn awanmulannnn” Hahaha.
This time we just had a small group of us that took up Teratak Bonda for two nights.
Clem and i stayed at Evensong, a new room for couples next to the new pool Uncle Teng and Anne have built. The pool even has a shallow portion for children to swim in, while adults can be in the deeper area.
Cassie met a new friend in Evensong!!! Match made in Flat Pet heaven.
The bed in Evensong faces a large terrace which is spacious enough for me to roll around and play in
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Kubz and i were supposed to go for lunch on Wednesday, but he asked whether i wanted to follow him to Dusun on Thursday instead. I checked my schedule, and miraculously – had no meetings/events planned… SO OF COURSE I SAID YES. In fact, i replied ‘YES YES YESSSSSSS’ in our whatsapp chat. I was so happy packing my suntan oil, pareo, present for Haanim’s baby (not a baby anymore..!), my spinner, snacks, book, pastels and sketchbook. At first i had this insane idea of bringing my laptop to work for a couple of hours there. But when push came to shove, i thought, “Really? Do i really want to bring work to Dusun? I go there to ESCAPE, not to bring work!” So i left my work stuff at home. I felt a bit guilty… but stubbornly pushed the emotion aside – cos what’s the point of being a freelancer if i don’t pretend Thursdays are Saturdays?!
It’s been a long time since i’ve been to The Dusun, you can read my previous blogposts about it:
*my first time at The Dusun with Clem*
*spending my 28th birthday at The Dusun*
I discovered that Cee is the household chef, and planned to cook us squid pasta for lunch. Kubz and i tried to be as useful as possible and helped chop the garlic and onion. I chopped two onions in the same span of time Kubz did three cloves of garlic. Just sayin. XD
I got to meet Haanim and Cee’s baby properly for the first time! He’s already a year and a half old, and is called Hansi! He’s SO FREAKING CUTE OKAY. Like, not ‘i’m polite and i’ll say all babies are cute’ but ‘YOUR BABY IS SO PRECIOUS I WANT TO EAT HIM UP NOW’.
/// sorry took the pic down ///
Hansi wearing the sun hat i brought him. It’s got vintage cartoon space kids on it.
As we all sat down to sexy steaming pasta with our glasses of red wine, Haanim said, “How lucky we are to do this on a Thursday!” And indeed we are… Eleanor and her sister Isobel joined us too so we were in a nice little group of seven. The squid pasta was great… i had two helpings and greedily felt like a third.
Haanim, Hansi & Cee
GAHHHH Hanging out with Hansi has made me go temporarily baby-crazy. I went home to Clem that night and went, ‘I WANT A BABY!’ and he was like, “Yeah, but we can’t get it in one day!”
Okay we did other stuff that day, like have a look at the new house Haanim and Cee are building for themselves, and the new swimming pool and guesthouses that can sleep two more couples. It’s becoming quite a little town! But i just took lots of pictures of Hansi…. >.<
We also went swimming, hung out by the pool and snacked for hours, talking about Fierce Curry House at Urbanscapes. Cee is going to perform on the first day at Urbanscapes too so Hansi might be making his first festival appearance there! Oh my god. I just went back to talking about Hansi didn’t i.
The Dusun accepts guests by appointment only. You can check them out:
I know it looks like i’m addicted to Awanmulan. And i AM. i SO AM. Everytime i tell my dad i’m going to Seremban, he’ll be like, “Ha? Again?”
This time round was rather last minute. My Lovelies and i have been trying to get together for a holiday this year. The last time ALL five of us traveled together was… Bali 2008. I don’t think i’ve felt it as much as the others cos i’ve managed to go on separate holidays with each of them (save Dhanya) – went to Bangkok with Aps for Vampire Weekend, went to Acheh with Steph, went to Bangkok with Cammy… but it’s been a long time since THE FIVE of us have been away together. Somewhere. Anywhere!
We took WEEKS to pick a 4-day stretch where we could all go away together. We’ve got such different schedules that we couldn’t even find dates to go away. So we thought, worse comes to worst, we’ll go for a WEEKEND. I’m sure we can find a weekend right? Even THAT was so difficult! We ALL finally got away last weekend. Left all our boyfriends/husbands at home and ran away… to Awanmulan (luckily we got the room we wanted even tho it was so last minute!)
Each of us brought food and drinks to share. Dhanya brought a bag of food so big, security guards were staring and i was toppling over with laughter. It’s like she brought the whole market with her and i love her so much for being a foodie like that.
Yolanda and Aps
From the moment we unpacked all our food, we started eating. Well, i started eating first cos i hadn’t had lunch yet and was well starving. I tapau-ed a char koay teow and got an extra so they wouldn’t take mine, heh. Besides that i got RM15 worth of siew yoke from the chicken rice man.
Dhanya brought rojak
Obviously not born to be a model
I thought Steph was crazy to get eight pieces of cake from Souka for us to eat in 24 hours. But they are seriously yummy and it’s going to fulfill my cake cravings from henceforth.
I was pretending to be a kite
Pink fan, pink havaianas, pink pareo, pink water bottle
With Mr Teng aka Uncle Awanmulan
That’s a proper scratch picture
Lazy people resting while Dhanya and i prepared dinner in the kitchen. Okayyyy in the end everyone was helping out.
“That’s a big mole.”
“I’m not a mole!”
“It’s a talking mole in denial!”
All the refrigerated food we brought
Dinner from top to bottom:
1. Aubergine pasta that Cammy’s mom cooked
2. Salad made by Dhanya
3. Potatoes in goose fat by me
4. Pigs trotters courtesy of Auntie Anne aka Aunty Awanmulan
5. Egg yolk crab also from Anne
6. Seafood soup cooked by me
I know it’s a bit scary how much we eat. But we don’t do this pig out session often… probably once a year! It just gets out of hand because each of us gets excited about eating and it ENDS UP being a pig out session.
Everything was amazing. At one point i couldn’t decide what to put into my mouth next, and had to stop and breathe cos i just kept on eating without air passing through my nostrils!
After dinner #1 (cos Dhanya and i had a second session later), we joined two beds together so we had a large soft space we could all hang out on. Slumber parTAY!
I was going to write Cake #3 and #4 or something like that, but i can’t remember anymore! It’s like we were constantly stuffing cake into our mouths. But they were all so gooooooood. My personal faves from Souka are the carrot cake and the strawberry cheese cake.
We were going to play Scrabble… till cake distracted us.
Cammy and Steph stretching out the food. We all danced around a bit, but felt like that was just being dangerous with digesting food so we stopped. Even sitting down seemed uncomfortable for awhile and we caught ourselves in a scenario of 5 girls walking aimlessly in a space because standing up felt better!
There was a discussion whether ‘diss’ should be allowed. In the end Dhanya the referee said it should be, and noone argued.
We were feeling reallyyyy sleepy before midnight and i jolted up saying, “NO! We came all the way here together, i REFUSE to pass out! Come on. It’s time to start drinking!” We started playing games we made up using scrabble letters and finished two bottles of choya. After more made-up games (i’m scared to look at our scribblings in my notebook), we decided that we did okay and were not being too aunty by passing out at 2am…
Aps fried bacon for all of us, and Cammy scrambled eggs.
Gouda + fantastic bread + bacon + eggs = WINNING IN THE MORNING
After breakfast was dessert, of course
After that crazy weekend of eating, i went for dinner at my parents’ house, and ate EVEN MORE. Oh and teatime Sunday i was chewing on leftover pig’s trotters on the sofa. Clem was appalled at how i was still eating and i just replied, “I’m just so used to eating something every 3 hours now!”
Argh. So much for being body beautiful for Tioman.
I spoke to Aunty Anne on the phone when we got back to KL.
Anne: I hope you girls enjoyed yourselves!
Me: Oh we did… we ate so much.
Anne: I know! Zee came to tell me, “Ma! Do you know how much rubbish they have?!”
Me: Ohhhhh so embarrassingggggggg
I decided 3 months before New Year’s that spending it BBQ-ing and chilling with some friends would be ideal compared to partying amidst hundreds of people in a crowded club. So i booked the top floor of Awanmulan before anyone thought of what they’d do for NYE and paid the full price even though i didn’t confirm who’s going. Was just so certain enough people would see the AWESOMENESS of it and come. In the end we had almost everyone we hoped would join us – Aps & Fai, JP & Oli, Steph & Nick, Serena & Matt. Olivier asked to come last min and Awanmulan was nice enough to let him.
Nick & Steph on our patio
Are there ANY paparazzi pictures of Clem and i like this?! I need to get a resident photographer in our group besides myself.
Clem, Nick, and Oli & JP being lovey dovey at the back. I have so many pictures of them being smoochy in the background throughout the trip…
Steph, me, Oli
To be fair to all those unattractive pictures of friends i’ve put up, here’s a horrible one of me. Oh and perhaps Nick too. I showed the above pic to Clem: “Look how sexy i am. This is why you love meeeee righttttt”
Steph & Nick were in charge of grilled veggies, mash potatoes, and some pumpkin dish Nick wanted to make. It turned out SO GOOD that i asked him how he made it, later that night. He tipsily told me and i tried remembering it best i could, as did Oli. The next day Oli got Nick to write the recipe down… and thanks to her brill memory, she noticed something missing and said, “Eh, you forgot the sugar?” Clem told me later Nick told him the night before he’d purposely miss out an ingredient so we wouldn’t get it right. Sial wei the fellow! We got it anyway HA! If y’all want this pumpkin recipe i heard his mum (who’s responsible for it) is publishing a cookbook soon.
Pumpkin is such a wonder to cook and eat if only it wasn’t such a BITCH to chop!
Steph forgot to bring her commendable collection of shot glasses and sorrowfully prepped paper cups in replacement of them. Wasn’t a big deal la (that she forgot). Erm just that she made it like a big deal so we didn’t stop her from writing names on everyone’s cups to avoid wastage. She even measured and poured shots into each of them before food was ready heh. Good job Stephy!!
Orange + cinnamon + tequila
Fai’s chicken wings and my lamb.
The chicken was so awesome i’m inspired to try marinating that next…
Fai takes his BBQ very seriously and didn’t let anyone else handle it cos he didn’t trust them. Not like the other guys cared… think they were very happy to let him do all the work. Look at Nick pretending to help but padahal doesn’t want to be near smoke. :D
JP & Oli made some crazy pork burgers. I’m so impressed by how EVERYONE’S food turned out fantastic! Every single leftover pork burger was whacked the next morning by being made into sandwiches.
Steph and her hotdog.
The ones who were cooking ended up eating earlier than the rest – hard to resist food while prepping!
‘Twas hard to see the BBQ on the patio when it got dark… and Matt proudly emerged with a headlamp in hand. Super dot dot dot… who would think of bringing a headlamp? Hahaha
Matt. Always prepared for the elements of nature.
Steph and i were prepared in other ways. We constructed a moat made of tinfoil so the ants couldn’t get to our leftovers that sat waiting for people who wanted seconds.
Clem took to doing the dishes since he didn’t cook.
Me *standing there and staring* : You’re so so sexy baby…
Him: While i’m doing the dishes? Great… just great.
Nick got Maurice my mouse to take his first step! “It’s all in the dynamics,” he said.
Having a shot at midnight
There was so much love there that night! Everyone was hugging and kissing. I even saw Fai giving Clem a big smack on the cheek, super bromance can die. Tried convincing him to do it again so i could take a picture but he didn’t. I guess it was a special moment that i thankfully happened to see
Steph, Nick, half of Matt’s face, Clem
me and CC. Her tea ceremony is coming up and i almost booked tickets to Acheh for that same weekend. Happened to get her message while looking at flights and immediately thought, “THERE’S NO WAY I’M MISSING OUT TORTURING ALL THE FRENCH GUYS HAHAHAAAAA” (by the way, for girls who think you’ve got a BRILLIANT torture please email me firstname.lastname@example.org! the more ideas the eviler mwahahahahah)
I & Fai
Aps & Fai
Ok i didn’t take that many pictures that night! Was too lazy and just wanted to enjoy myself (also couldn’t hold camera still for some reason). Most of the shots are blurry, dark or just not suitable to put up online. Tada!