Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Updated : Bucket List

I am revisiting my Life List today :) It's been left too long.

From today on I'll call it My Bucket List because that's essentially what it is. I have drawn up another list Bucket List Part Deux:-

1. Mabul. Sipadan. When? Need to get my OW. Maybe not necessarily Sipadan.
2. TawauSandakan
3. Learn to cook the perfect nasi lemak. When? Not perfected yet.
4. Read all Bryson. Have read all his travel books except for African Diary, which I have yet to find in any bookstores.
5. Touch the stones of Borobudur
6. Touch the stones of Angkor Wat
7. Thaipusam at Batu Caves
8. Jason Mraz LIVE!
9. Run a (half) marathon. Have ran in two events (11K and 10K) so far. Have committed to take part in at least four in 2010.
10. Travel solo.
11. Backpack travelling.
12. Learn a foreign language. I know some Spanish words :) Hmmm.
13. Get rid of credit card debt. Using the Snowball method. Cut down to two.
14. Healthy Eating. Ongoing, with the occasional relapse :P
15. Get Fit. Ongoing, albeit rather slow, I have 1000 excuses sometimes.
16. Write a column. or a Book. I wrote a short advertorial and it came out in a magazineHmm, does that count? I got paid for 2 articles so, yes!
17. RWMF, Kuching
18. Read daily. 50 books in a year. Didn't really keep track last year, so I am re-starting a new count for 2010. To date, am on my 12th book.
20. Learn to play the guitar - at least one song! Need to find a guru. Bought an Uke, still learning!
21. London 2012. Hope floats. Postponed.
22. Sew something. When? I think this may be too ambitious? :p
23. Grow own vegetables. When? Cili padi can?
24. Step foot in all Malaysian states. 4 left. 1 left - Perlis!
25. Borneo overland trip. Done KK to Brunei via Lawas. One day, KK to Kuching and maybe onwards to Pontianak. Maybe.
26. Volunteer. When? 
27. Go green - recycle. reduce. reuse. Trying.
28. Take one photograph a day. Some days more than one to make up for what I missed. Even if it's just my own face. Haha. Done. After a while, no can do, I realised I am not that vain :) 
29. See Jason LIVE again. What I'd give for this! Went to his concert Oct 2011 and June 2012. YEAY!

BUCKET LIST PART DEUX (this was recorded in my notebook, where various other lists reside and grow and get struck off every now and then).

1. Up close and personal with endangered animals - Bornean elephant, orang utan and Sumatra rhinoceros. DONE, Christmas of 2011. Best Ever.

2. Helicopter ride. DONE, Christmas of 2011. Best Ever.

3. Float in the Dead Sea. DONE. July 2010.

4. Taj Mahal. DONE, July 2011.

5. Parasailing.

6. Paragliding.

7. Rock Climbing.

8. OW diving.

9. Palawan.

10. Nepal.

11. Turkiye. Istanbul.

12. Morocco.

13. Barcelona.

14. Kimchi country. Eat authentic bibimbap.

15. One foreign run/race. Singapore does not count, too near :p

16. A full marathon. A medal. A finisher tee.

17. London again. maybe.

18. Eat at a Michelin rated place.

19. Hot air balloon.

..... and maybe a few more additions. When I get some inspiration.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bitter Tea

Have you ever tried Wong Lo Kat herbal tea?

It's a bitter-tasting tea, which helps to reduce heatiness in the body.

I like the taste. Acquired, for sure.

This bowl costs RM1.30 I think, at the outlet in Petaling Street.

Daytripping : Kedah Darul Aman

Remember my bucket list item - to go to all states in Malaysia?

After a long break from domestic travels, I finally got the time and opportunity to visit Kedah recently, it was only a 'day-trip' though.

Initially I had planned to go to two places - Alor Setar and Sg Petani - but in the end I decided to only visit the former as I had not much faith in the bus schedule and also worried I might not make it back to KL on time.

I boarded the north bound overnight express coach from Pudu Sentral (the new name for Puduraya) and braced myself for the 6-7 hours journey. Finding out that there were no reading lights on the bus (what was I thinking?) I settled to catch some sleep and I must say I did sleep quite well. We reached the bus terminal - Shahab Perdana? - at around 6:30 am and I waited for the local bus service to start at 7:00 am for the trip to the city centre. A taxi costs RM12.00, the bus RM1.00 so it's clear why I'd rather wait for the bus.

The slow and steady journey took about 20-25 minutes and I went off at the bus stop right in front of Pekan Rabu Complex. It was still very early, shops were still closed so I decided to take a walk around the city and have some look-see and get some bearings.

I was surprised to find out that Alor Setar has many old Chinese shoplots, like the ones we'd find in Melaka or Georgetown. There was a Pekan Cina and Pekan Melayu section as well. After trudging around I found the shop that sells the infamous Nasi Lemak Royale (something I was introduced to on Twitter!) so that was breakfast.

I did not have any map in hand so I just followed the road signages - which led me to the Tourism Malaysia office and information counter. I got maps and guides there which were a help, especially the Heritage Trail. I also was given a Food Trail Guide, alas, while some were within the city, most were open at night and one would need transportation. I decided to go to Mee Abu for lunch later.

Tun M's family house. Well maintained within a small complex of its own. I enjoyed spending time here - maybe because I had lower expectations :-\ 

An old building which still has its Hotel signage - didn't look like it was still in operations. 

Old Balai Polis.

Old Post Office. 

Tourism Malaysia Complex. 

Masjid Zahir. What a beautiful building! I think, the most beautiful mosque in the country. Quiet, understated elegance. Chic colours. Very Chanel, I thought.

Wat .. something. This was on the way to Mee Abu place under the hot hot sun! 

Okay. I forgot the name of this Pintu Gerbang, it is a replica though. I think the original was burnt down. 

Muzium Diraja? I did not go in.  

Inside Pekan Rabu, offering all sorts of Malay attire and food items and snacks - didn't buy anything.  

Gerbang - Pekan Cina on the left and Pekan Melayu on the right. 

Clock Tower.

Nasi Lemak Royale, which is actually more of a nasi kandar. RM5.50. 
The crowd was non-stop the whole morning, dine-ins as well as take-aways.

Mee Abu. plus teh-o-ais, RM5.20 . More like a mee rebus.
Apparently also favoured by the royalty here.

Cendol at Pekan Rabu food court. RM2.00.

After the cendol I decided to take the afternoon bus back to KL. It was a looong journey, I feel asleep a few times but I remember we passed through Taiping and at an R&R for a 30 minute rest. Reached KL at 9:30 pm, and felt really tired so I showered and rested before calling it a day.

To get to Alor Setar:

  • buy tickets from the counters at Pudu Sentral. 
  • tickets are from RM39.00 one-way.
  • get a single seater, more comfortable.
  • buses are freezing cold, bring a jacket.
With that I have one more state to do - Perlis! The Kayangan state! (though when I mentioned this, someone remarked 'but there's nothing to see in Perlis'. Oh, great :-\ 

But I'll keep it on my list anyway. Who knows? :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Things That Make Me Happy

In no particular order.

And by no means exhaustive.

Being in a bookstore.

Bows on shoes.

Double rainbows.

Calvin and Hobbes. 


Watching UP. Actually this made me cry too.

Jason Thomas Mraz :)


Books. Lots of 'em.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

INDIA : Taj and Go

I know I'd be excited to see Taj Mahal. In fact, we agreed that if anything happens to our plans, Taj Mahal must stay on the to-do list.

But nothing prepared me for that first glimpse as you go through the gate.


I mean, really. Oh wow.

(and I am not that easily bowled over)

Whether it is really a monument dedicated to love, I am doubtful. For me, it was built by a megalomaniac who made his subjects suffer for 22 years. And it was dark inside. Was it for the love of his wife, or himself?

I'd rather build a garden full of flowers and trees. Fountains and mini lakes. But then again, maybe at that time they still had forests everywhere so a building would be a grander choice. Maybe.

Leave it to me to spoil your romantic impressions of the Taj, haha

Anyway, of course it IS a superbly magnificent building, architecturally (sp?). Dear Taj Mahal, you're off my list. Been there done that.

Monday, June 18, 2012

India : Curry On

Sue me.

I failed to honour my word that I would write 'soon' about my adventures in India, and hey look how time flies it's already 11 months since my trip there! *hangs head in shame*

Well, life and work and other stuff came in the way (lame pathetic excuses I know) hence the hiatus. In recent weeks I have been contemplating a 'return' and today is the day I finally get off my lazy arse and post my first entry for 2012 can you believe it?

I would still like to talk about India at some point ... hmm, how about now? Maybe I'll just mention the highlights?

What I can still quite clearly remember about India is the food. Yummy. You know I do enjoy Indian food - spice and curry and all. Of all things that I worried about before the trip was catching the infamous Delhi Belly. That would just ruin everything not to mention the unpleasant blah of suffering in a foreign land while on the move. Thus the week before we left I armed myself with a mini-pharmacy of medications in case I get a tummy bug. Well I ended up not using any. Thank God! But one can never be too sure so it is a good idea to pack with you oral salts, lomotils, antacids and what nots, in addition to panadols, minyak angin, ubat sapu, band-aids and other things you might need when faced with a minor medical emergency.

Back to the food.

Jipp, my travel buddy said I am the Bold, Adventurous One when it came to eating choices. Yes I am, thank you very much :) (So Mourinho-like, eh?) I was very very wary at first but after a few meals I caved in and gave in to my curiosity and took the risk of trying some street food.

Here's  a rundown of what we ate. (I am having trouble uploading the pictures with this new Blogger format. Dang. How to tell a story about food without visuals? Im-possible)

  Our late night dinner was at Pahar Ganj. Why I do not have a picture of that I don't remember. Up in a restaurant that had a steep and narrow staircase. Appropriately named Mount Everest Restaurant.

We ate this on the train to Agra. It was lovely. The vegetable cutlet is the most delicious cutlet I have ever eaten. Alas, it was only one serving :( I was quietly disappointed as I have a good breakfast appetite (there goes my secret).

Our lunch in the only air-conditioned restaurant in Agra (for us on a backpackers budget). There was a steady waiting list. Everyone wanted to stay on after finishing their lunch because of the air-cond. 

While waiting for seats to be available at air-cond resto, (we were given an hour) I bought and ate this from the street vendor. Some kind of samosa. Cheap and tasty, but Jipp hated it ;-)

This was dinner in Yashi Cafe, Agra - and there was a blackout. At first we were at another rooftop cafe but the service there was atrocious. Horrible. Rude even, I thought. They seemed more eager to serve the other tourists and leave us Asians waiting so we walked out.  Oh, Taj Mahal during a blackout. What did that look like? I am trying to remember.

Arriving in Jaipur, we were determined to seek out ANYTHING else other than curries for lunch. Fortune favours the brave, we were led to KFC! (well, we saw McDs first but the store was experiencing an electricity failure or something) And they had virgin mojitos!

Lunch in Jaipur after a sweltering day out was at a restaurant near Jantar Mantar that's recommended in Lonely Planet (pinch of salt, nothing great actually) We ended up there as we were already sun-beaten and hot and grumpy. I do not have a picture of the food. Strange.

This was one of the meals we had at our hotel in Jaipur. The uncle there got used to our requests - roti, instant noodles (Maggi Masala!) chai masala etc. Simple and filling. 
This was a breakfast at one of the cafes along Pahar Ganj. Not bad. We had lunch here once as well I think. Not bad. I forgot the name. Something Bakery?


  Back in Delhi, we found the Golden Arches! Actually we made sure we locate McDs. It took effort you know. If you saw how excited we were, you'd think that this was our first McD experience! holy yum! I had the huge Chicken Maharaja for lunch. Thanks Jipp for the sundae!

Best momos everrrrr. Well not that I eat them all the time but the momos from this stall on Pahar Ganj were the bomb. Simple straightforward flavours.

This was an uninspiring dinner in Delhi. I ordered vegetarian noodles. It came like this and tasted like ... noodles drenched in tomato sauce.

Our dinner feast in New Delhi. We re-ordered after delightfully discovering how tasty the tandoori was! I loved the jeera rice amd the aloo gobi.

Alas, our final meal turned out to be .... Mc Donalds at the airport :D haha. We wanted to use up the balance of our rupees and McDs was within what we could afford.

Okay I lied. Our very last rupees were used to purchase coffee! Turns out we had enough for one more coffee at Cafe Coffee Day.

I still need to ask Jipp for a picture of what I thought was my 'best achievement in India' - buying and drinking a huge glass of cold, fresh sugar cane juice from a street vendor outside of Masjid Jama. It was way too hot, it was way too crowded, I was sweating like a pig, it was a long wait to hail a tuktuk, there were many locals buying drinks there etc etc. I gave in. After a few minutes of quietly observing their preparations methods and decided it was acceptable, I went in for the kill.

I swear my thoughts then were, if anything is going to make me sick here, this is it. I told Jipp that if anything happened, please take me to the hospital. Again, I thank my lucky stars as I did not suffer from even a smidgen of stomach discomfort.

And I tell you one thing - it was refreshingly DELICIOUS. True story.

So that's some of the food we ate.

More India and others soon. Otherwise I owe each one of you a drink.

Chai masala, anyone? :)

Note : As this is written 11 months after the trip, any inaccuracies are to be blamed on old age. Thank you.