Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Banjaran Hot Spring Spa …. and A Wine Cellar to Mesmerise You

Nestled in the limestone hills surrounding Ipoh lies a delightful sanctuary where you can relax and pamper yourself. The Banjaran Hot Spring Spa is a 5-star retreat sanctuary consisting of 25 luxury villas offering holistic wellness and spa experiences, unequalled hospitality and distinctive Asian grace. Strategically located 15 minutes from the city of Ipoh, it is just 2 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur and 1.5 hours drive from Penang. It is situated on a 16.59 acre valley fringing a cluster of towering limestone hills and features an amalgamation of natural caves, pristine jungle, waterfalls and geothermal hot springs.


The thermal springs at The Banjaran are a natural and relatively rare phenomenon. Groundwater flows naturally at the base of the hills at a temperature of 65 to 70°, at a rate of about 3 millions liters per day (approximately 2,000 liters/minute). The water comes from a deep underground reservoir fed by rainwater that has slowly percolated downwards through the limestone hills and the underlying granite. As it makes its way down through the rocks, the water picks up minerals and dissolved ions.The water also warms up on its way downwards. Because of the heat radiation from the earth’s mantle, temperature increases with depth at a rate of about 3 to 4° per 100 meters, referred to as the geothermal gradient. Taking into consideration an average surface temperature of 25° and the fact that the water would have cooled down by about 10° on its way back upwards, groundwater would have reached a temperature of 80° at about 1,500 meters below the surface. Buoyed by dissolved gases and the higher pressure in the subsurface, groundwater eventually travels back to the surface as it encounters a fault or fractures in the rocks and comes out bubbling as a hot spring at the surface. Hot water is captured at The Banjaran to feed the steam room, a natural sauna, to fill the hot lake and to warm up the pool. The amount of carbon dioxide not produced by capturing and using naturally hot water at The Banjaran is roughly equivalent to the carbon sequestered by about 110,000 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

Wining & Dining

At The Banjaran, only the freshest organic fruits and vegetables are used. The Pomelo restaurant serves the freshest premium seafood, meat and poultry that richly enhance the overall flavour and nutritional value of each meal.

Private Wine Cellar

Probably one of the most unique and mesmerising places at Banjaran is the private wine cellar which is located in a large 280 million year palaeozoic cave in one of the nearby limestone hills. Sealed with a large door and grill the entire cave has been air-conditioned and fitted with lights with piped music to create an incredible area for storing wine, hosting dinner parties or meeting at the bar …. all located within the cave. I use the word mesmerise as this was the exact phrase used by one of the waiters who guided us to this feature …. and he was not wrong! The private wine cellar belongs to Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, the founder and chairman of the Sunway Group but is open in the evening for drinks or you can book dinner here.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Weekend of Indulgence

We returned once again to Indulgence Restaurant & Living in Ipoh for a short weekend break and some serious self indulgence in the excellent cuisine from chef Julie Song. The food was, as ever, excellent and accompanied by the great service of her well trained team it was a memorable experience. The boutique rooms at Indulgence are all very comfortable, each one decorated in a theme or style. This time we were lucky to enjoy the wonderful Roccoco style of the Qatrynka suite which as you can see from the photographs was beautifully furnished and decorated. The bathroom with its brightly coloured hand-painted murals on the walls and the tasteful fittings was both stunning as well as spacious.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

HighlanderImages Photography Website Re-Design

Website Home Page
www.highlander images.com

SmugMug recently launched a fresh and modern interface offering their customers a set of new web design templates along with a comprehensive set of customisation tools. This new launch came at a timely moment as I was giving some thought to my existing website design and the desire to bring a new lease of life to it. I have been very happy with SmugMug as a photo repository and as a front end to my website  but the interface for customisation was a little difficult and required the writing of various scripts to achieve what I needed. The new SmugMug allowed me to completely revamp my design with ease  and also had the advantage of offering a wonderful, cascading menu system to organise access to my many photo galleries. In a few hours I managed to re-arrange my photo galleries into logical folders of my topic choices and this in combination with a personalised customisation of the menu system got my site to where I have wanted it for some time. My home page of the website now shows a selection of photos with a clean menu bar at the top. A useful addition from SmugMug here would be the addition of a "randomiser" function so random photos could be displayed. I manually change the from page every week to maintain a new look and on the plus side the new customisation tools allow me to do this in a few seconds. There is a useful "Search" button allowing users to search the site for specific keywords or topics. All my photos are key-worded so it should be easy to find photos on a specific topic or keyword. Social networking links to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and my blogsite are also directly accessible at the top right of every page on the website. Users can read my bio or directly e-mail using the "Contact" button on the main menu.

Pull-Down Menus

Prior to the re-design I had only one main portfolio of photos accessible via SmugMug, other private galleries being hidden. In the new design I now have the portfolio as before but now have a pull-down menu under projects to open up specific project topics with multiple tiered photo galleries under this menu. It is very easy to change and modify the menu system to add new categories and new photo galleries in a matter of a few minutes.

Cascading pull-down menus allow easy and quick access to photo galleries

Photo Galleries

After navigating through the menu bar to the photo gallery the individual photos can be viewed in much the same way as the earlier version of SmugMug. The user can page through the gallery, view the photos individually or go to slideshow mode to view in full-screen mode.

Individual photo gallery

As my site is a full SmugMug Pro commercial site I have this set up so users can purchase the images in a wide range of formats including prints of all sizes and different media such as paper, canvas, thinwraps and metal finish. You can even gets many other types of products such as printed mugs, T-shirts, magnets, tiles and postcards. Digital downloads of images are also available. Simply click on the "ADD TO CART" button to add any item and choose the preferred media. All items will be shipped to the purchaser or in the case of the digital download option directly downloaded to the purchaser's computer (minus the watermark!). I have full control over the pricing of all items on the site - SmugMug takes a cut to facilitate the commercial handling of purchases as well as the printing and shipping - this is a great deal as it let's me focus on my photography. I can generate special pricing options site-wide or for specific photo galleries as well as being able to generate discount coupons to give to customers and promote my site. All in all a very comprehensive and easy to manage system.

Purchase prints, merchandise or digital downloads

I have now added a new "Video" section to the website with a large number of video slideshows on a wide variety of topics. You can watch these full HD video slideshows in full screen which is just beautiful!

Video page with many video slideshows to view

Private Galleries

As in the earlier version of SmugMug I can have hidden private photo galleries and allow specific password access to these for customers. This is very useful for example when doing a private commercial shoot for a client I can provide them full access to that private gallery to review and then download finished images directly.

Public or private galleries can be created with individual privacy and customisation settings


I am extremely pleased with the new SmugMug interface and it has certainly brought a new lease of life to my website and will now allow to grow and build this site as well as being able to easily and quickly customise the look and appearance of the site to maintain a fresh look. It's not often a major software product launch such as this goes so smoothly and I am very impressed with how well this upgrade went with hardly a issue. I'm sure we will see further exciting developments with SmugMug as they receive user feedback over the coming months.