Cool sojourn

IT is all quiet except for sounds of insects at Tanarimba in Janda Baik, just 35km outside Kuala Lumpur.

At more than 457m above sea level, the eco-friendly retreat, at the foothills of Pahang’s Main Range, started as a residential development where a small group of people have built houses.

Its surrounding 2,225ha of tropical rainforest are protected from development.

This draws visitors to the undulating landscapes of majestic peaks, lush valleys, ravines, picturesque streams, waterfalls, wildlife and plant species, which include Honduran pine trees.

At Tanarimba’s entrance, we were wowed by the unique timber-and-glass Visitors Centre, which serves as a multi-purpose hall.

Further inside, visitors check into “annexe-type” rooms or the large Enderong House which fits 30 people.

We chose to stay at one of the cottages, showcasing traditional Malay architecture.

Ideal for a group of 10, it has a fully equipped kitchen, three bedrooms (without air-conditioning) and a living hall. Breakfast is complimentary.

The area’s cool climate between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius, and occasional thick fog, is a great relief from the enervating humidity elsewhere.

Tanarimba has diverse ecological and conservation attractions, but offers only two activities — a visit to an organic farm and jungle trekking, led by in-house guides and conservationists.

Without its own F&B outlets, you can take a two-minute drive to Bentong town for hearty meals, featuring ingredients sourced from nearby farms, at old-world kopitiams and restaurants.

After freshening up, we embarked on a jungle trek (at a fee, inclusive of a meal). Only 10 persons are allowed a day, to minimise impact on the environment.

Our journey started at 10am along a 3km trail that takes five hours to complete. Hiring a local guide is a must.

Our knowledgeable guides provided entertaining nuggets on the biodiversity and thriving wildlife, but the animals are elusive and difficult to spot.

At several parts, they pointed out the soil and plants uprooted by wild boars searching for food.

“The jungle trek reveals how trees use different ways to grow. Visitors also pick up survival tips, such as searching for jungle herbs. Those with medicinal qualities help a lot,” said one of the guides.

“You even learn how to use bamboo as a life-saving device, and mankind’s impact on the environment here and what can be done to maintain it.”

Along the trail, we stopped several times to rest and take in the surroundings.

Halfway, we climbed a scramble net next to a waterfall, aided by safety harnesses. It was a fun way to reach the trail’s highest point.

Further up, we saw several potted tree saplings on the ground. Our guides led us in planting some of them in denuded areas along hilly slopes — our small contribution to Mother Nature.

We also observed the guides avoiding cutting tree branches with parangs during our trek.

At the final stretch, we stopped for lunch at Paddy Shack, a resthouse next to an old bridge over a river.

After feasting on a traditional Malay spread of lemang and chicken rendang, washed down with fresh coconut water, we proceeded to a 45-minute descent along the river, before arriving at the exit. A four-wheel vehicle took us back to our cottage.

The next day, we visited the organic farm, where blue ferns, lemons and dandelions, among others, are tended by workers staying near Tanarimba.

The red and Thai basil grown here were used to make tea served at our breakfast.

Tanarimba also hosts business presentations and other activities in the large conference hall.

Holistic and spiritual lifestyle groups hold regular meditation classes here. The pristine surroundings make for an ideal environment for visitors to discover their Zen.

For more information, call
09-233 0655 or visit

The Vanilla Ice



HGTV (CH731) 9pm

Vanilla Ice (pic) might be best known for his 90s music, but the pop icon has another hidden talent, 15 years of home improvement experience. Follow his team as they tackle Florida mansions one gaudy floor at a time. Investing in expensive dumps that need total transformations can be risky. Will his over-the-top remodels end up costing him a profit?


Celestial Movies, ASTRO (CH322) 9pm

When corrupt Roman leader Tiberius arrives with a giant army to claim the Silk Road, Huo An teams up his army with an elite legion of defected Roman soldiers led by General Lucius to protect his country. Starring Jackie Chan (pic), John Cusack and Adrien Brody.


HGTV (CH731) 10pm

One of America’s best-loved performers, Jim Belushi (pic) is going rogue – as in the Rogue River in Medford, Oregon. The actor, comedian and singer is trading his microphone for a tool belt and building his dream luxury river-front cabin complete with its own stage for performing. Follow along as he learns what it takes to not only build an entire house from the ground up, but also how this constantly travelling celebrity found a place to call home.


Nickelodeon (CH612) 4.30pm

Donatello feels inferior to Fugitold, but his intellectual ability is put to the test when the Triceratons attack. As the team finally travels to Earth, they are shocked when Fugitold reveals a horrible secret about his past.


Local products take centrestage

LULU Hypermarket launched the 15-day Festival of promoting Malaysian products in conjunction with the Merdeka celebrations recently.

The event was inaugurated by Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

This initiative by Lulu will largely benefit local farmers and I laud Lulu Hypermarket for promoting Malaysian products, he said.

The hypermarket conducted the festival in association with SME Corp and the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority.

Several booths were set up at the ground floor for promoting the products. Lulu also exports almost 70 products from Malaysia, such as frozen goods, furniture products, plastic ware and fresh items. Lulu promotes SME products and does not charge for the SME listing.

Until Dec 31, Lulu offers discounts from five to 70 per cent on electronics, IT, home furnishing, stationery, garments, sarees, sports equipment and toys.

Lulu operates 127 stores across the Midle East and India, with two stores in the Far East, one in Indonesia and Malaysia. By the end of 2018, new hypermarkets will be opened in Selangor, Kelantan, Terengganu and Johor.


Sweet accolades

IT was a moment to cherish for the 27 students and five chefs from INTI International College Subang and INTI International College Penang when they picked up 16 awards at the Battle of the Chefs in Penang last month.

The awards included two gold, one silver, six bronze and seven diplomas across a number of categories, with INTI’s contingent competing alongside more than 1,500 competitors from Malaysia and around the world, including Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia, among others.

Commenting on his team’s achievements, INTI Subang School of Hospitality dean Cheng Mun Kid said he was proud of his students winning the Dream Team Modern Western Cuisine category.

“It was a challenge because it required all five contestants to demonstrate their skills and creativity in fulfilling the tasks,” he said.

“Through the guidance and support of their lecturers, these students juggled between their assignments, final exams and training, especially in the weeks leading up to the competition.

“We are pleased that their dedication and efforts have paid off.”

In addition to the guidance from their lecturers, students from INTI Penang were also trained by a specialist industry partner.

Tan Ween Nee, owner of Sugar, a boutique bakery specialising in cakes, was invited to share her expertise with the students during one of their classes.

Her insights proved fruitful when the students from Penang picked up INTI’s second gold in the “Dressing A Two-Tier Cake’’ category.

INTI Penang School of Hospitality dean Christine Khoo said the collaboration with industry players gave their students a keen awareness of what was expected when they entered the workplace.

“By providing a curriculum that is based on market needs and expectations, and which promotes participation in a variety of activities such as competitions and events at national and international levels, we empower students to gain the exposure they need to make informed choices and discover the platforms to kick start their futures,” she said.

“By participating in this competition, our students have gained an edge that sets them apart from their peers.”

Newly elected HK lawmaker reports ‘death threats’

HONG KONG — A Hong Kong lawmaker advocating more autonomy from China who won a seat in landmark elections last weekend said yesterday he had received “death threats” before and since the polls as he reported them to police.

Eddie Chu was one of at least five candidates in the semi-autonomous city pushing for more distance or even an outright break from Beijing who took seats for the first time in the Legislative Council assembly Sunday amid fears of China tightening its grip.

Chu, 38, is also an environmentalist who has campaigned against the destruction of heritage properties to make way for newer developments.

He said he was unable to go home because he was being stalked and the safety of his family threatened.

“I received death threats…because of my political views,” Chu told reporters.

“The threat to my personal safety is imminent …it has drastically worsened in the past two to three days,” he said before going into the city’s Wan Chai police station with his lawyer.

He did not give any detail on who had made the threats and how they reached him.

Michael Vidler, a lawyer assisting Chu, urged police to take the case seriously.

“Politically motivated threats or violence against elected representatives of the people is a direct attack on the rule of law and democracy,” Vidler told reporters.

“The Hong Kong police are duty bound to uphold the rule of law and everybody’s constitutional rights, including Chu’s,” he said.

Sunday’s election saw a record turnout with more than two million residents casting their votes in the city of seven million.

It was the first major poll since the 2014 “Umbrella Movement” protests, with the anti-establishment camp increasing its share of the legislature, which is still weighted towards Beijing.

Chu, standing as an independent, emerged as winner in his constituency with more than 80,000 votes — the most of any candidate in the polls.

His allegations mark the latest controversy to hit the election.

Several pro-independence activists were banned from standing and two say they will now appeal their disqualification.

Pro-establishment candidate Ken Chow, of the Liberal Party, has also complained of interference, saying he was told to quit the race to make way for other pro-Beijing candidates. — AFP


Second pair held over gas canisters in car

PARIS — French police investigating a car containing six gas canisters discovered near the Notre Dame cathedral in central Paris detained a second couple overnight.

The detention raises to four the number of people held in connection with the abandoned Peugeot 607, which had no number plates and was spotted at the weekend by a bar employee working in the area, which is hugely popular with tourists.

Anti-terror investigators are probing the incident which comes with France on high alert following a string of militant attacks, including November’s coordinated Islamic State (IS) group assaults in Paris by gunmen and suicide bombers that killed 130 people.

Police picked up the couple near Montargis, about 110km south of Paris, a source said.

The first couple, detained on Tuesday at a service station on a road in southern France, were known to the security services for links to radical Islamists. Both of them remain in custody.

The car’s owner, also known to authorities for spreading Islamist ideas, was also taken in for questioning but released on Tuesday evening.

Police are also looking for the owner’s daughter, whom he described to investigators as radicalised.

A bar employee working near Notre Dame raised the alert on Sunday after noticing a gas cylinder on the back seat of the metallic silver-coloured car, a police source said. That cylinder was found to be empty but five full cylinders were found in the boot of the car.

Police found no detonators in the vehicle.

Notre Dame, renowned for its flying buttresses, stained glass windows and gargoyles, is one of Paris’s most popular landmarks, attracting 13 million visitors each year.

Salah Abdeslam, the man thought to be the sole surviving member of the extremist team which attacked Paris last November, arrived yesterday for questioning at Paris’s main court.

Abdeslam, 26, who has twice refused to answer anti-terror judges’ questions, was brought to the court in a heavily
guarded convoy.

He has refused to answer questions since being transferred to France from Belgium in April and is believed to be angry at round-the-clock surveillance in jail.

On July 7, his lawyer Frank Berton sought unsuccessfully to get authorities to halt the surveillance, a source close to the case said.

After four months on the run, Abdeslam was arrested on March 18 in Molenbeek, a Brussels neighbourhood notorious for being a hotbed of Islamic extremism, where he grew up.

He was brought to France to face terror charges on April 27.

Investigators have yet to pin down Abdeslam’s exact role in last year’s Nov 13 attacks on Paris bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national stadium.

held over
gems theft from rapper’s tour bus

PHOENIX — An Arizona stagehand was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of stealing about US$3 million (RM12.1 million) in jewellery from a bus used by Grammy-winning rapper Drake on his latest concert tour, Phoenix police said.

The suspect, identified as 21-year-old Travion King, snatched the briefcase after boarding the bus at about 10pm on Tuesday at the Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix, police spokesman Vince Lewis said.

King has done unspecified contract work with local entertainment venues in the past, but was not known to be employed for work for that particular show, Lewis said.

The bus was being used for a Phoenix show featuring Drake and his fellow rapper Future. It was apparently unoccupied at the time and the jewelry did not belong to Drake, according to Lewis.

Drake and Future were appearing in the city’s downtown as part of the “Summer Sixteen Tour,” which began in July, according to the event website. It was scheduled to resume on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

A representative for Drake declined to comment on the case on Wednesday.

King was being held at a Maricopa County jail, Lewis said.

He was first arrested around 3am in a separate matter by Arizona State University Police in Tempe, a Phoenix suburb, on suspicion of trespassing after officers found him in a dormitory with a bag that held the stolen jewelry, Lewis said.

Then, just before police released him on Wednesday afternoon, detectives investigating the jewelry theft learned he was being held at the jail and arrested him on suspicion of burglary, Lewis said.

Portions of King’s activity were captured by arena surveillance cameras, Lewis said.

Officers are working with the victim to account for the items reported stolen, Lewis said.
— Reuters


Monroe’s dress from JFK birthday bash for sale

LOS ANGELESThe skin-tight dress Marilyn Monroe wore for her sultry rendition of Happy Birthday before then US President John F. Kennedy at a 1962 gala will go on sale at an auction in November.

Jean Louis designed the dress covered in sequins that Monroe, one of the 20th century’s most famous sex symbols, wore when she shed her fur coat in a splashy entrance at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The breathless performance Monroe gave Kennedy at the May 19, 1962 fundraiser for the Democratic Party 10 days before the president’s actual birthday is remembered for its sultriness and because it was one of her last public appearances.

The star of the films “Some Like it Hot” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” died of a drug overdose less than three months later.

Beverly Hills-based Julien’s Auctions will offer the dress for sale at an auction on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles.

The late fund manager Martin Zweig bought the dress in 1999 for RM5.1 million at a Christie’s auction, said Julien’s Auctions president and chief executive Darren Julien.

Zweig, who saw the dress as an investment, kept it in a climate-controlled display case mounted on a mannequin, Julien said.

His estate is offering the dress for auction and it is expected to sell for anywhere between RM8 and RM12 million,
Julien said.

Ironically, given her death later that year, actor Peter Lawford jokingly introduced Monroe at the New York event in 1962 as the “late Marilyn Monroe,” because she had a reputation for being tardy.

Monroe’s song was to mark Kennedy’s 45th birthday, which was to occur a couple weeks later. The president was assassinated the following year.

The dress is among some 1,300 Monroe artifacts being offered by Julien’s over three day from Nov 17-19. They include items from the estate of Monroe’s acting coach Lee Strasberg and from David Gainsborough-Roberts, a British collector believed to have the largest private collection of Monroe costumes.

Monroe would have been 90-years-old this year.


Keep my Walk of Fame star 
shiny, Usher tells fans

LOS ANGELES — R&B singer Usher accepted the 2,588th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday, imploring fans during a tongue-in-cheek speech to keep vigil over it and ensure it stays clean.

The star was unveiled in front of a number of musical and film luminaries, including pop and soul icon Stevie Wonder, Black Eyed Peas front man and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

“It is because of you guys that I have this moment. It is because of you that this shining star will be here and I leave it up to you — it’s your responsibility — to come down here every chance you get to shine my star,” he joked to fans.

“Hey listen, that’s the smallest thing I could ask of you right now, especially given the fact I’m going to be walked on.”

Usher, 37, won eight Grammy Awards and sold more than 65 million albums, with nine Hot 100 No. 1 hits and 18 Hot 100 Top 10 singles.

Usher also singled out his mother for his special moment.

“Mom, thank you for everything and all the people that you’ve actually helped to bring here. They wouldn’t be here if you didn’t recognise and make sure you selected the right people to be around and to help me be the man I am today and in this position.”

He also remembered those close to him, saying: “I don’t just celebrate this moment by myself. I celebrate it with those people who invested in me, those people who loved me through my hard times”.

His 2004 record “Confessions” was the best-selling solo album in the first decade of the 21st century in the US and brought him one of his three Grammys in 2005.

Born Usher Raymond IV in Dallas, Texas, he was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and later moved to Atlanta.

His mother entered him in singing competitions when he was 12 and he caught the attention of an executive from LaFace Records.

His hits include Can U Get Wit It, U Remind Me, which brought him his first Grammy in 2002 for best male R&B vocal performance, and U Don’t Have To Call, which brought him his second in 2003, in the same category.

Usher’s acting career has taken in Broadway, television and a number of feature films, culminating in an acclaimed turn as boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard in the recently released Roberto Duran biopic Hands of Stone. — Agencies


China’s mistress hunters on a mission

BEIJING — Don’t get mad, get your opponent to surrender voluntarily: when Mrs Wang discovered her husband had been cheating on her for several years, she called in an elite team of Chinese “mistress hunters”.

Rather than seek a divorce — which could have hit her social and financial standing — she hired a specialist to earn the other woman’s trust, and then persuaded her to end the extra-marital relationship.

It was a longstanding affair, but once the mistress hunters were called in, it was over within two months.

Wang said she paid between 400,000 and 500,000 yuan (RM243,000-RM340,000) for the service.

“I think it was worth it, I’m satisfied,” she added. So much so, she is now thinking of becoming a hunter herself.

“That way, I can help women protect their families and their rights,” she explained.

The company Wang used, Weiqing — or “protector of feelings” — has 59 offices across the country, and offers free legal advice and lectures.

Its founder Shu Xin said he had 300 agents at his command.

“My goal is to prevent divorces,” he said at his upmarket Beijing headquarters. “Every year we save some 5,000 couples.”

The mistress hunters are mostly women and are all psychology, sociology or law graduates.

They spend three years learning the ropes before being sent out into the field, where they pose as neighbours, cleaners or even babysitters.

Ming Li, 47, has been doing the job for three years. “I’m older than these mistresses, in general, so they listen to me,” she said.

“If the mistress goes to a park, to the supermarket or to work, I’ll happen to meet her. And even if she is a stay-at-home sort of person, I can claim I’ve got a leak in my apartment and ask for her help,” she said. “We always find a way to initiate contact.

“One time, I pretended to be a fortune teller, and the mistress asked me to tell hers. Obviously, I already knew all about her from the wife, so it was easy to leave her dumbfounded and exhort her to leave the husband. It was one of our most quickly resolved cases.”

Chinese divorce rates have surged from 1.59 per 1,000 people in 2007 to 2.67 in 2014, according to the most recently available Civil Affairs Ministry figures — far higher than in Europe, with France at 1.9 and Italy at just 0.9.

In Beijing, official statistics show 73,000 couples divorced last year — almost three times the number nine years previously.

“The reasons? The liberalisation of morals, tensions related to differences between the husband’s and the wife’s income, incompatible personalities,” said Zhu Ruilei, a divorce attorney at Beijing-based law firm Yingke. “But also the desire to pursue personal dreams is stronger than it used it be.”

According to a study by dating site, at least one party has been unfaithful in half of Chinese first marriages.

The survey found more than 21 per cent of first time husbands have had a mistress, and a similar number — 20 per cent — of wives have had a lover. In nearly nine percent of first marriages, both partners have cheated.

“Today, being unfaithful has become easy, especially with the Internet,” said Pan Xingshi, who runs an online advice company, referring to the popularity of Tantan, China’s equivalent of Tinder.

But mistresses are still poorly regarded in the country, where having children out of wedlock remains socially taboo. They are known as “xiaosan”, a derogatory term meaning a third person of lower rank than a wife.

Sometimes they fall victim to violent vigilantism.

In June, a video went viral showing a naked girl being attacked by a group of women. She was suspected of being the mistress of one of the women’s husbands.

“Mistresses are global. But specifically in China they are kept women: the husbands, often rich, pay for luxury apartments, cars and luxury products,” explained Weiqing chief Shu, a former journalist.

“Some women do not want to divorce out of fear of getting into financial difficulty. They just want to get rid of the mistress. That’s where we come in,” said Shu.

It is an expensive process: the mistress hunters often have to rent similarly pricey accommodation and buy high-end jewellery and clothes as they try to forge a friendship with their targets.

“We are paid a lot. But we also risk losing a lot too, because if we fail then we repay the entire amount,” explained Shu, who says his mistress hunters sent 8,552 women packing in 2014 — some husbands have more than one.

Under Chinese law, the activities of Weiqing and similar firms are not illegal, said Zhu, the lawyer, adding they “serve a purpose”.

But there were also “many problems”, he added: “Invasion of privacy, the relationship between the mistress and the investigator is based on deceit. There is the risk people’s feelings get hurt.”

Mistress hunter Ming has a solution for that: “Sometimes I help the mistress find a boyfriend,” she said. “It’s my way to bring her happiness.” — AFP

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