Category Archives: Malaysia

Loose Strings

This is the last post in the Malaysia chronicles. And just in time, because our next trip is schedule to start in a few days! Here are some pictures that didn’t fit into the other posts.

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Christmas Eve! That was a real tree behind us!

 

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Monkey Beach. Ugh! I took this picture so Matt could tell his family how crowded this “once secluded” hike has become, but I have a different story…

I. Hate. Monkeys! I haven’t encountered many in my life, but they are the worst. Exhibit A…the beware of baboon signs in South Africa. Exhibit B…The baboon that jumped Matt’s mom in an effort to get her Pringles in Tanzania. And finally, watching the monkeys and the apes (aka irresponsible tourists) interacting on monkey beach.

The hike to monkey beach was wonderful! It was appropriately challenging and long. The walk there was nice, and we even saw some pretty big monitor lizards. Then, we got to the beach. There were monkeys stealing everything from humans. And humans getting way too close to the monkeys. There was even a lady who brought a plate of fruit over to a group of monkeys so they could steal it from her hands. And you wonder why people are shocked that the monkeys we getting right onto people’s picnic tables. I really REALLY wanted a monkey to steal someone’s selfie stick! Any who, I was highly uncomfortable with the monkeys, so I got myself a stick, because it seemed like the monkeys were afraid of the workers and their sticks. Then I felt better. On our hike back, we encountered a male monkey and his family and he wouldn’t get off the path. We tried to wave the stick at him and yell, but he was growling back. Tried again, nothing. So, we just had to sit there and wait for him to move. Once he was off the path, we had to tip-toe past him. That’s it…I’m done with monkeys.

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Penang Hill. Another unfortunate story…with a happy ending.

We went up the hill on a busy day. The line looked long, but it was something to do. They offered us the fast track ticket, but it was double the price, so we didn’t take it. BIG MISTAKE. Double the price meant an extra 10 dollars, and turns out, would have saved 2 hours of our life. We waited in line for over 2 hours to get up the hill. It was beyond frustrating and cramped. Each time the vernacular trolley rolled up, people started pushing to get on. It was miserable. If we had only bought a fast-track, there is no line, and you get on the train before the pushing begins!

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Once at the top of the hill, we went to a fancier restaurant, just so we could have some peace and quite. Then, we went for a long walk toward a coffee shop in the middle of the jungle. It was a great decision. If you buy a coffee, they will give you a ride back to the main area. Minutes after we arrived at the coffee shop, it started to pour. Really pour. We were able to relax in our little jungle sanctuary and watch the rain go by. ‘Twas and very nice afternoon. And, on the way back down…we bought the fast track ticket!

Finally, near the end of our trip, we rented a scooter an drove around the island for a day. It was wonderful! We stopped for a Thai lunch, visited a fruit farm, found a waterfall, and enjoyed the jungle breeze. We ended up keep the scooter for a few days because it was such an easy way to get around.

 

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Around George Town

Georgetown has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. With that, they have clean-up and spruced up the old town. First, there is no smoking allowed in that area of Georgetown. Next, There seems to be some cute little restaurants and “indie” shops popping up. And lastly, they have been embracing street artists that have been painting murals on older buildings.

Also, did you know that Georgetown is the #4 city to visit in 2016? See here. Congo was also one of the best countries in 2015!

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My favorite art. It’s a real bike with the painted kids above. I think it’s so funny!

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The exterior of the temple with the Reclining Buddha. The building was beautiful.

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How cute it this!

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Old town charm.

Things We Learned from Uber

We are relatively new to the Uber scene (because we bought at car!!), but we were happy to find out that Uber is available in Penang and Kuala Lumpar. It was a nice surprise that we wouldn’t have to be bartering for taxis throughout the trip.

An added bonus, was that the Uber drivers were so friendly and knowledgable. We learned a few key things we wanted to share in case you are headed to Penang.

  1. Our Uber driver in KL was from Penang. He suggested that we stay in one of the heritage hotels in Georgetown. They are old colonial building on the outside, but newly renovated on the inside. We stayed on night in Ke-lan-tan Guesthouse, and loved it so much we went back for another night later in the trip.

    I stole this picture from the internet. This is the hotel! Inside there is lots of wood, exposed brick and a cute little courtyard.

    2. One of our driver’s in Penang insisted that we have World Famou Chendol. The “best food in Penang.” He was so excited that after we arrived to our destination, he pulled out his phone to show us the stall with the World Famous Chendol. Be careful though, because there are two Chendol stands on that street, but only one is the best!

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    It is a sweet snack. The base is coconut milk sweetened with sugar. The green worms are jelly, and there are kindey beans floating around too.

    It was tasty, but I don’t think I would call it the best food in Penang. It has some stiff competition.

The Soup Diaries

This was the post I was most excited about making. I. Love. Soup! That’s all there is to it! I could eat it everyday. One of my favorite soups is the Thai Soup, Tom Yum which is spicy, and tangy. I hoped that other soups from Southeast Asia would be equally as perfect…And here are their stories..

  1. Laksa

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Research tells me that this is THE soup of Malaysia. It is a fish stock soup with noodles and an assortment on fresh veg…and pineapple. This particular Laksa came from KL and it was a pretty sad soup to start my adventures. I thought the fish stock would be amazing…like Top Chef Seattle amazing, but it tasted and had the texture of mushed up canned tuna.

2. Laska 2

One of our Uber drivers assured me that Penang Laksa is way different, and of course better than KL. So I tried again…It was better. Not are tuna tasting, but still fishy. I enjoyed the vegetables and noodles in the soup. I think I would eat it again.

3. Curry Mee

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This was another highly recommended soup in my research and it didn’t disappoint. It is ranked one of my top foods in Malaysia. It is a spicy soup with several types of noodles, chili, mint and bean curbs all in a delicious broth. Just one thing…those brown, purple squares…pig’s blood. Although I was trying to build up the courage, I merely pushed them around the bowl. Maybe next time.

4. Steamboat

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Moving away from bold flavours, this is steamboat. It is very popular restaurant item in the Cameron Highlands. This contraption is a bowl of boiling broth on a bed of coals with a “smoke stack” going up the middle. You start with a vegetable or chicken broth and plates of raw meat, noodles, eggs and vegetables. Then you start playing chef. A little of this..some of that…none of these…and along the way you enjoy your evolving soup. I loved this. Playing with my food is extra fun! Plus, it was chilly in the Highlands, so it is the perfect medicine.

5. Watercress Soup

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Another meal in the Cameron Highlands. We passed a watercress farm that I decided would be perfect for a rainy lunch. Watercress is not a main part of my diet, but I have fond memories of eating it in sandwiches (or maybe that was just land cress? Is there such a thing?) Anyway, this soup wasn’t packed with flavour, but it was packed with water cress. So if nothing else…I think it was healthy!

There were other soups I had heard about, but didn’t have time to try. Noodle Soup and Wet Wanton Mee…I’ll catch you next time!

 

Cameron Highlands

In the middle of our trip, we scheduled a break from the Penang heat to bask in the rain and squeeze in a road trip and hike. Here are some highlights and anecdotes to go along…

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This is the lush green that the highlands are famous for. We visited a tea plantation. Despite the CRAZY traffic leading to this place, we found a nice view and some nice tea. (I’m drinking it as I write this post.)

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When the weather doesn’t care about your nice view…you get heavy fog/mist. This is the view from our balcony…and the day we thought we were going to hike. Luckily we changed our mind.

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More tea! One of my favorite parts of the highlands is the scone and tea menu. At this tea plantation we had a little pot of tea, scones, cream and jam. I could make that a regular breakfast I think. The view isn’t bad either. But do those leaves taste like tea?…no…they taste like leaves.

The main event: I really wanted to hike while in the Highlands. I’ve been going through some mountain withdrawal. We found a trail and investigated the best way to execute the mission. Climbing up was fine, but it was too steep and muddy to climb down, so most climbers follow a road at the top of the hike to the tea plantation and walk down the crazy road I spoke of above. Well, the climb  up was wonderful! It was steep, muddy and challenging. Just what my heart was looking for. The hike down, was less heart warming. It was much farther than we thought, but fear not, we stopped at a strawberry farm. As I was looking around the greenhouse, Matt got roped into some modelling!

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The worker was having a blast!

After the photoshoot, we hitch-hiked down the crazy road with a Pakistani guy is a big truck. Unfortunately, the road was so narrow, two lanes of traffic couldn’t go at one time, so it was way backed up. Don’t worry though, our driver played some WWE on his phone while we waited. He is a big fan of Gravedigger.

Edit: Gravedigger is not a wrestler. Apparently Undertaker was the word I was looking for. Same same. I am not the slightest bit embarrassed by my WWE knowledge.

Rats!

Those of you who know me well, know that I’m afraid of mice. By growing up in Alberta, I’ve never had to worry about the mouse’s big brother…the rat…but I was pretty sure I’d be scared of them too.

Since leaving Alberta, I knew that, inevitably, one day I would see a rat. However, shockingly, Congo didn’t really have a rat problem. Maybe I saw a dead one, but it was small…and well, dead.

In Tanzania, I saw my first rat. At night, in our dining hall, running across a table, shortly after Matt’s dad said he felt something run over his foot. This was practically the worst thing I could imagine, especially since we were sitting on tiny camping stools so it was hard to keep my feet off the ground.

Getting to the point…Asia has rats. I’ve been warned. I’ve asked may people to tell me where I would see them and how big they are so I could mentally prepare myself for this lingering misery.

BUT I DIDN’T SEE A RAT. I spent two weeks in Malaysia and…nothing! And certainly not from lack of looking. I had my eyes on the gutters the entire time! Matt saw one, but I missed it. I’d hate to say I’m disappointed, but for all of this build up, I’m a little bit shocked!

Drinks to Go!

I’ve had some people in the UAE asking about this one! So I will share the picture first…

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Here Matt is drinking Milo Ice, his favorite childhood drink. Notice the string. You carry your drink by the string!

I have to say, I didn’t trust it at first. I really thought that the string might give out one time, but they are sturdy. If you want a break from drinking, you can hang your bag on a nearby post, tree, hook…really anything.

Penang Food

If you have done research on Penang, I’m sure you have come across their famed street food. Although Matt was there for two things, Wonton Mee and Milo Ice, we did have plenty of time to indulge in some big hits. Since I am not a food blogger of any sort, I only took a few pictures (mostly of soup), but I’ll list some of our favorites for you to research on your own time.

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Chinese Pancakes (Apom) and iced coffee. While in Tanjung Bungah area of town, we went to this market almost every morning for pancakes, but every time except one, the pancake stall was closed. I think I could eat these things everyday. It is a very thin pancake with peanuts on the inside. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Other popular dishes:

  • chicken rice (nasi ayam)
  • Rojak (a fruit-like salad with a robust sauce)
  • Char Kaoy Teow (A thin noodle and meat dish)
  • Wonton Mee (Seriously Matt’s favorite)
  • Roti Canai (Roti and Dhal)
  • Laksa (details in the upcoming soup post)
  • Curry Mee (details in the upcoming soup post)
  • Cendal (details in the upcoming Uber post)

we also had a few other noodle dishes and Tandoori chicken three times. They have fantastic Indian food in Penang!

We also indulged in many fresh juices. And finally, no trip to Asia is complete without trying DURIAN!

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We got this guy on the side of a road and we were biking around the island. You can literally smell the durian before you arrive. In my opinion it tastes like a mix of sweet fruit and fried onions. For Matt, it was enough to try not to vomit. I don’t think I need to have it again.

As we were walking around Georgetown, we came across a newly opened food museum. They made all of the popular Penang dishes out of art and everyday products. Each item looked so realistic.

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Look at me! I’m pulling tea!

The stall food was intended to be the highlight of our trip, and it really lived up to the hype. We really liked being in Penang long enough to try dishes several times and different places so we can lay claim to the “best.”

Kuala Lumpur

After a little flight glich (not our fault!), we landed in Kuala Lumpur one day late. Lucky for us, we had a view of the Petronas Towers from our hotel. We spent our morning walking around the mall, which we quickly sought out after remembering it is hot near the equator and walking isn’t fun when you are sweating profusely! After popping into the mall we headed to the towers only to find…

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Yes…it was a Monday!

For those of you who didn’t hear about our time in Paris back in the day, we accidentally hit every attraction on the day they are closed…Versailles on Monday? Closed. Louvre on Tuesday? Closed! All cool Paris restaurants in August? Closed!

But the Petronas Towers looked nice from our window:)

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In the afternoon we went to the Central Market. This old place is a tourist hub to gather your Southeast Asian souvenirs. Since it was our first day of a long trip, we opted to just browse the market and the old town area of Kuala Lumpur.

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I really liked the look of this theatre! Stylish!

But the true highlight of this city was captured in this post…

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