A Bubbly Affair

With a few allowed vacation days during my internship, I planned for an extended weekend in Taipei! This was very much a solo-project and I had butterflies in my tummy from pure excitement as I flew across the waters. I studied my traveling guide meticulously on the plane, giving me wonderful flashbacks to my travels in China and my exchange in Hong Kong – if you are new to wildwonton you can read about those adventures here and here (and a heartily welcome to the rants). And though Taipei is nothing like my past experiences I was overjoyed to be back in Chinese-character-land. Boy, have I missed those perfectly timed transportation systems, those spring onion pancakes for breakfast and to genuinely feel the excitement of a different culture, wash over me as I explored those streets and lanes.

A small warning as we begin: My first impressions of Taipei, as relayed here, are void of any critical distance – I only just returned to KL as I am writing this, and the post is thus naturally filled with a insistent high from traveling and with leftover-excitement-butterflies in my tummy. But Taipei was definitely a city after my taste: it is no wonder foodies hail it as the ultimate food destination. It will therefore not surprise you either that I spent a majority of those 4 days hunting down food! If you don’t have long in Taipei I would definitely suggest that you hover around Yong Kang Street for a few hours as you will find many great samples in this area. I skipped the Din Tai Fung queue (if you have the time, get in that line!) and jumped around the corner for some dumplings at Kao Chi, serving all the Shanghainese classics. As I can’t compare, I will only say that my tummy had no objections. The crispy sides of their signature pan fried pork buns was a new experience to my taste buds and they genuinely enjoyed them (sorry, no documentation they went straight into my tummy). As they are fried in an iron cast pan they get a lovely crisp underside, while the top retain the soft delicacy, if you will, as you know it from your traditional dumplings. I also sampled spring onion pancake from a famous vendor further down from Kao Chi (on a corner) – just look for a long line! I of course also sampled the must above all musts: some beef noodle soup. As I was slurping away, I remember thinking to myself: I can’t believe how lucky I am to sit here in Taipei! Also, lets not forget about the bubble tea… I had at least 2 a day and particularly liked 50 Lan! After having perused Yong Kang to the fullest, I also ventured further out to Gongguan to try the infamous gua bao, a slow-braised pork hamburger, filled to the brim with crunchy coriander and some peanut butter-like goodness. My hunt also took me to a full-blown Hello Kitty experience and all the way out to Maokong (and up the mountain with the gondola) to sample some of that fine Taiwanese tea. If you want a more modern take on tea (and not in a traditional teahouse setting, though why would you not want to try that also?), I gave Smith&Hu a visit. Probably the best scones I ever had, and let’s not overlook that amazing tea selection. My visits to numerous night markets (I went to one every night, however I would never have found Raohe Market without Javis, a kind local who took me under his wing for the evening – Hi Javis, if you are reading this!) stuffed me up to the fullest. In general, rest assured – you are bound to have a great food experience in Taipei.

I of course also covered some of those non-food musts while visiting the island. I took a half-day trip up to Tamsui – a historic town, best known for Fort San Domingo which was established by the Spanish. Walking around the narrow lanes was thrilling and the beautiful riverside and numerous bike paths makes it an ideal setting for outdoor activities too. In Taipei, I managed to cover a fair amount of ground. Chiang Kai-shek and the 2-28 Peace Memorial Park served as a window into the darker history of Taiwan. Other musts on my path included, Bao’an Temple, Dihua Street (known for its Chinese medicine shops) and the National Palace Museum (home to the world’s largest collection of Chinese art). Two locations stood out to me, however. One was Huashan 1914 Creative Park, a location I almost decided to skip (but boy, am I glad I didn’t!) The Creative Park is a 20th-century wine factory which has been restored into the ultimate retro venue, where like-minded creative people gather, whether it be for sketching, playing music, dancing or any other art form you can possible think of. The venue hosts numerous cute cafes and boutiques, and I quickly lost all track of time. The day I was there the park was filled to the brim and made for an excellent people-watching spot. Also, a cool exhibition on Miffy was clearly drawing in Taiwanese families as their event of choice for the weekend and I could definitely see myself coming here often if I ever got to live here. Another outing which stood out to me was my short trek up Elephant Mountain to catch that classic shot of Taipei 101. I don’t regret a single drop of sweat that was spilled to reach that vantage point in the summer heat.

As I am nearing the end of this post can we just take a minute to appreciate the brilliance of the Taiwanese? Any country that invents bubble tea and instant noodle is a favorite in my book.

My adventure in Taipei has definitely left me wanting more. I unfortunately did not get to visit Yangmingshan National Park – despite such beautiful nature being right at the doorstep of Taipei – and therefore feel like I need to come back! The island offers so many lovely spots, and could easily provide an excellent opportunity to take a tour around the entire island by train. I hope Gid is up for some mountain hiking and some train riding someday!?



Khmer Fascination

Exceeding Expectations

Having already traversed a big chunk of the Asian corner of the world – and having spent more than a month in Malaysia on my first backpacking trip – I came to Kuala Lumpur with absolutely no expectations of discovering new places (and let’s be honest, New York City made my bank account implode). Not that I am done exploring, or feel like I have saturated this side of the map for new adventures; no, I simply did not factor new exciting places into the equation that was my KL internship. Least of all, I did not think I would set foot in Cambodia. Having been to Thailand on numerous occasions (at one point in time, I almost moved here with my family), this country is definitely close to my heart. I find it distasteful what kind of reputation Thailand has gotten in recent years, with the massive influx of (often obnoxious) tourists with sad intentions. For that reason I have often defended and placed this location on a pedestal, not only because I find it so simple to be at ease here, but also because people have almost forced me to be apologetic about liking it. However, apologetic is the last thing I want to be – whether it be in my life or in this post. No, what I am getting to is how this defensiveness has somehow managed to blind me, or overshadow destinations like Laos and Cambodia, making me disregard these destinations as being lower down that list of must-visits (listomania, that is me). But as Gid and I agreed, it was time to experience a new setting, and when that choice came down to Cambodia, that was probably one of the best lessons of my stay here so far. It is so easy to be consumed by presumptive ideas or to fall under the trap of generalizations. Going to Cambodia was not only a wonderful vacation for Gideon and I to spend some time together away from KL, but it was also a reawakening for me; a newfound love for Asia and the uniqueness and variety that exists in all shapes and forms here. Just to give one example: had I known what Khmer cuisine tastes like, I probably would not have wasted all this flying OVER Cambodia…

Not having set foot on any East Asian countries apart from Philippines, I was pleasantly surprised that 2015 would bring me to both KL and Cambodia. For a long time, it had been a dream of mine to visit ruins and temples, and it so happened that I could do it with the best travel partner one could ever ask for: Krissy. I really did not know what to expect, though. I was mostly excited to melt in the sun while visiting the temples of Angkor heritag park. As we walked out of the arrival hall of SRIA, we were greeted by our hotel staff with a bouquet of flowers and the most humble of bows. We flew early morning and were quite tired, but after such a warming greeting, we knew then and there—and as Krissy and I looked at each other in excitement—that our stay would be nothing short of amazing. 

Forever Foodies

After the many belt-loosening meals we had in KL, it was a pleasant surprise for Krissy and I to sample Khmer cuisine. From street food vendors to gourmet eateries, this city provides the perfect setting for culinary adventures. With so much to try, where do you begin? Well, our research revealed that Fish Amok was an absolute must-try. This was great, since Krissy and I always welcome seafood in our bellies. Fish amok is a mixture of kroeung (a delectable curry paste made from a base of lemongrass, turmeric root and galangal) and sliced white fish, normally steamed in a banana leaf bowl to form a mousse. Upscale restaurants serves it as a mousse, while more local places offer it as a kind of stew. We definitely recommend trying this dish at The Sugar Palm, nown for serving one of the best fish amoks in town.

My stepdad is a chef, and I would like to think I grew up with a palate refined to diverse flavors; however, Khmer cuisine excited my palate like nothing I have tasted before.  Two other places that impressed our socks off are Chanrey Tree and Chamkar (vegetarian). Chanrey Tree has a very stylish atmosphere, great for evening dates. The meals we ordered were delicately plated, and careful attention was given to choosing ingredients that really bring together the dish as a whole. Our main course here was Prahok Ktish, a Cambodian delicacy of fermented fish, pork, thinly sliced river fish braised with coconut cream, baby eggplant, served with blanched vegetables crudites. It is difficult to find words to justly describe this dish; its flavors were a perfect blend of spicy, sweet and tangy. As for Chamkar, you are doing yourself a great disservice if you do not try their curries. When the world offers such mouth-watering cuisine, it is impossible to be anything other than forever foodies. 

Temple Day 1: Rubble Raiders

I felt like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider as we entered the Angkorian heritage site. We bought a 3-day pass, as our main purpose whilst being in Siem Reap was to explore all the temples. We definitely need to come back another time and travel through the rest of the country, North to South. But this time around, the main objective was to focus all of our attention on the magic of Siem Reap. I think it is no exaggeration when I say that both of our jaws dropped as we entered the first temple site, Preah Khan. It is very humbling to walk a historical site. Every brick used in the construction of these temples have over the years acquired different hues of colors, and put together it becomes a Monet masterpiece. The carvings are so miniscule and precise, that it is difficult to believe how they managed to construct such sites, and just how the carvings have lasted all this time. Preah Khan is one of largest complexes within Angkor, and has some of the finest carvings (+ fewer visitors here). It was our very first ruinous temple, and I will never forget that feeling of walking among the most beautiful stone rubbles in the middle of the jungle.  On our first day we also visited a lot of smaller temples like, Preah Neak Poan and Ta Som. Though everything looked like it was by chance – fallen stones and bricks scattered here and there, a temple placed randomly in the middle of the jungle – it somehow all made sense.  As we came to Siem Reap at the end of May – the threshold between dry season and wet season – the nature surrounding us was undeniably barren as most of the waterholes were dried up. However, you could still sense a tingling feeling lingering in the nature around us, an impatient yet hopeful anticipation of what kind of weather was to come. We ended our first afternoon early, due to the sweltering heat and the dry air, which slowly but surely took its toll on us as the sun crossed the sky. It is a scary thought how such a blistering sun can suck out all life of you. What pieced us together was our sweet Tuk-Tuk driver who happily reminded our tired bodies of what kind of magical place that we were exploring, as he was taking us back to the bustling civilization of Siem Reap.

Temple Day 2: Will you go to Ta Prohm with me?

I have always been a big fan of adventure. From Indy’s archaelogical escapades on film to Nathan Drake’s daring pursuit for treasure in video games. It was therefore only fitting for Day 2 to bring us to the temple of Ta Prohm. Neglected and embraced by the jungle, Ta Prohm transported Krissy and I to another world and another time. The atmosphere was raw, mysterious, eerie and picturesque all at the same time. Perhaps the temple’s most distinctive feature, and the reason for it being featured in the Tomb Raider movie, are the trees growing into the ruins. The massive trunks rise up to the skies, branching out into canopy of green leaves that provide shade in the sweltering sun. The trunks trail the stone walls and its roots form serpentine claws, coiling, slowly reclaiming the stone temple. Blurring the line between fiction and reality, this temple seduces you into feeling a part of a greater narrative, an old tale of adventure and exploration. 

My highlight of day two was definitely visiting the temple of Bayon. As you explore this site, beware of lurking eyes and staring glances – in fact, you should be prepared for 216 faces, to be exact – all glaring down upon you as you visit their humble abode. Bayon is the central temple of the ancient city of Angkor Thom, representing the intersection of heaven and earth, and certainly had a jaw-dropping effect on both of us (again). There is just something about those beaming faces, looking out in every direction of the world, which cannot fail to mesmerize you. It is no wonder that the smiles have captivated so many, and that Bayon is often referred to as the Mona Lisa of Asia. The serene smiles surely lured us into staying a bit longer at this site. As midday came and went and the sun was at its highest, I want to reiterate a recurring theme of this post: the scorching heat. I think for all those global-warming-skeptics out there, I want to place each and everyone of you on the long path leading across the moat and into the temple site of Angkor Wat, and make you all walk back and forth from midday until around 2pm. Then look me in the eyes, and tell me that Mother Earth isn’t overheating!

After Bayon temple, we worked our way towards the three-tiered temple Baphuon. Conquering our fear of heights, we traversed the many steps up a steep staircase to get to the topmost tower and get an expansive view of the surroundings. Just as we thought it could not possibly get any hotter, an interesting shift in weather suddenly occurred. The skies grew dark, and we felt the wind getting stronger. We knew right away that it would rain, but we were not prepared for the heavy downpour that it turned out to be. It was a fantastic experience: we were soaked head to toe, our bags and their contents were soaked (Sorry again Mads and Sidsel for crumpling your book!) but we were mostly laughing because it was actually fun being there at that time. As the clouds retreated and the rain stopped pouring, our eyes were met with a different Angkor. The sharp sunlight was gone, and the overcast sky left the leaves and the ruins saturated with color. It felt as if everything suddenly bloomed into existence. It felt like Angkor had come to life, working its magic on the people lucky enough to witness it at that very moment.

Temple Day 3: A Setting Serenity

As we got up, at what felt like the middle of the night, and slid in on the plastic seating of our Tuk-Tuk, I could feel the excitement rush all over me. It was an hour before dawn and darkness embraced us like a cloak, as we drove through the jungle, only the sounds from the motor serving as a reminder to my imagination that it shouldn’t run off with me completely. Gideon of course joked about tigers and other lurking beasts, but we made it safely to the holy site of the temple to rule them all, Angkor Wat. Yes, we did the obligatory sun rise scene at this magnificent site. And yes, we shared the view with a horde of tourists as thick as pea soup. But there is a reason why this iconic Khmer complex is loved by so many during those golden and colourful minutes. As you stand there, staring out into the darkness, watching the silhouette of the temple become clearer and clearer as light is slowly but surely embracing the pinnacle structures, the speed of the changing colours against the backdrop of Angkor Wat makes no sense. Oh the tranquility! I remember wondering what it must have felt like as the first archaeological team stumbled upon the largest religious monument in the world. They must have had that same goofy smile that was on my lips at that moment, as the sun was done doing its rising-business. You might read all of this and think that the temples will at some point in time become boring to explore. And yes, temple fatigue is a common exhaustion which many of the online reviews mention out there in cyberspace. While this is true for most, and while I cannot reject the fact that we mostly decided to call it a day early in the afternoon, I can genuinely and honestly say that 3 days were perfect for us. Even though you might feel like you hit a temple-plateau after x amount of time, there always comes a corner, a temple-embracing tree, a detailed bas-relief, a colourful contrast or a view over the jungle which makes you astounded that you are actually lucky enough to visit this famed heritage park. As we drove through Angkor one last time in our Tuk-Tuk, with the course back towards Siem Reap city centre, Gid and I agreed that we would not have been without a single rubble on our trip.


Thank you Cambodia,

Spending 3 days on rubble raiding was just the right amount of time for Krissy and I. In addition, some planning allows you to see what else Siem Reap has to offer. For us, it was an educational experience to visit the National Museum where we learned more about the temples and for whom they were built. The Old Market and various side streets are definitely worth exploring. If you have time, we urge you to experience Phare, the Cambodia Circus. We bought tickets to a show, where we experienced the chilling narrative of Sokha, a child haunted by the visions of the atrocities and destruction by the Khmer Rouge. The performers executed a brilliant and raw performance, showcasing the best of contemporary Khmer acrobatics, music, choreography and drama,  and providing great insight into Cambodian lives and society. 

The time Krissy and I shared in the charming city of Siem Reap will long remain in our hearts. It is a city full of life, wonder and amazing adventures. Cambodia, we’ll see you again! We’ll be back to explore the capital, Phnom Penh. 

// Krissy & Gideon

KL cityscape

Memories of Kuala Lumpur

I find it a bit difficult to describe my time in KL. There was a lot to take in, familiar and otherwise. New places to see, new cuisine to try, activities to do. But on top of it all was this cathartic-like relief that I felt once my eyes set upon Krissy, who was patiently waiting for me at the arrivals hall. When I saw her waving at me, I remember having the biggest smile on my face.

Us being apart during NYC and now KL has been very tough, but all the worries and troubles were flushed away upon that long overdue embrace. Finally, I felt complete again – I’m sure many of you know the feeling; like you’re on top of the world and you feel everything will be okay. And so being there, on top of the world, I find it difficult to capture the words that can justly describe all the things that we saw and all that we experienced. Because that is the purpose of having a blog, right? Well, the best way I know how to relive and reminisce those precious moments is through photographs. Taking photographs is capturing and savoring life, every hundredth of a second.

Surprising even to myself, I had actually never stepped foot outside of any East Asian airport apart from in Manila. I was eager to get out of the airport and see what KL has to offer. Krissy and I took the bus from KLIA to the city center. My overall impression is that KL is very similar to Manila, and so right away I felt at home. I love when Krissy goes into planning mode when people visit her. We had an excel sheet with things to do and places to eat during my relatively short stay. Although planned, our schedule was flexible in that I could experience “must see” places, but also give us time to just relax and enjoy each other’s company and make new memories together. What I appreciate the most is how Krissy made sure that I got to experience her life in KL; where she works, the route she takes to get there, where she likes to eat on Sundays, which malls she likes to visit, which alleys are shortcuts, who she lives with (awesome people!), etc. All those things that she has become accustomed to during her stay, but that I know very little about (apart from stories I hear from her). But being there and doing these things with her was very different, and it made us feel closer. She also made sure that there were activities or restaurants that she waited to try until I got there, so that we would be creating new memories together. Isn’t she awesome? One of the hardest things in a long-distance relationship is experiencing new things when you’re not together. When you can’t immediately talk about how you feel or have that instant understanding. Undoubtedly, it leads to growing apart, so it’s important that you share thoughts, impressions, and feelings with each other. Just some advice for others out there. We have, after all, done this before. ;)

I arrived early morning, so we went straight to sight-seeing. We started off with the Petronas Twin Towers, and were treated with a mini concert performed by University students to honor traditional culture and music. In the late afternoon, Krissy took me to a bar called Heli Lounge Bar located on the 34th floor of Menara KH. The amazing part is that you get to go to the very top of the building, to a helipad turned lounge and enjoy your drinks there. Now I suffer from acrophobia, so I was hesitant and nervous to go up to the open-air bar. But life is more exciting when you challenge yourself. So up I went, clinging tightly to the stair railing, wishing profoundly that gravity keeps doing its job. When we got up to the top, my head was swirling and so was my stomach. However, the sense of accomplishment and the view that we were met with took all the fear and nausea away (well, almost all). We found ourselves standing at the very top of the building, surrounded by an unobstructed 360-degree view of KL city center and the encompassing districts. Let me try to describe how I saw it: As the sun dipped behind the horizon, the cityscape was bathed in golden light. Only threads of light lingered in the sky, weaving its way past the rolling clouds. The sky glowed yellow, then orange, then blue, until the colors fused, leaving behind a chalky mauve sky that blanketed the softly silhouetted skyscrapers. I hope my words and the photos do to the beautiful scenic view.

As great as KL sounds during the day, the festivities and the nightlife really bring out a new side to this city. Krissy lives very close to Jalan Alor, a road boasting in abundance of hawker stalls and delectable eateries, and especially hustling and bustling once the sun goes down. We had dinner at Wong Ah Wah together with Mads & Sidsel, the lovely couple living in the same apartment. The internet was raving about WAW’s chicken wings (RM 3.00 a piece), so those had to be sampled! The wings were marinated and cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection. It is safe to say that Jalan Alor is renowned for the amazing street food. However, this vibrant street is not just a showcase of some of the best Malaysian cuisine; sampling the food means sampling the culture as well. I found that what makes Malaysia so special and diverse translates into its cooking. Bring your appetite and revel in the sound sizzling woks and the all-pervading scent of charcoal fire.

Another food haven is Imbi market, located right in the heart of KL. There is a wet market and then a section with only hawker stalls, plastic tables and chairs. I love it! We had Crispy Popiah, Nasi Lemak, Wantan Mee, and Kopi O (black sweetened coffee)! Sitting there looking at locals – young, old, small groups, big groups – eating and enjoying good food, it felt really great and humbling to be a part of a charming, local breakfast tradition. We visited Batu caves, a series of caves and Hindu temples and shrines. Monkeys frolic freely, but behave aggressively when tourists mess with them (I don’t blame the poor monkeys). We took the cave tour, where you wander inside a pitch black cave with only your little flashlight to guide you along the trail. Stalactites, stalagmites and over 200,000 bats greet you as you walk the trail with your guide. We visited the Bird Park, a free-flight aviary featuring parrots, storks, egrets, peafowls, hornbills, ducks, flamingos, etc. Make sure to bring lots of water and mosquito spray!

I also recommend taking the heritage walk, where along the way, you may run into Old China Cafe. As you step through the swinging saloon doors, you’re met with the rustic interior that still feature some of the original furnishings. Here you can have a taste of classic Nyonya food. We highly recommend the Beef Rendang and Nyonya Lasak.

Here are pictures of other food that we ate (name and location provided as captions). With so many new things experienced, new cuisine sampled, feelings of love and joy, it was difficult to put it all in writing. See, the blog is partly for our readers to keep up with what we’re doing, but also for us as a couple to cherish memories and moments during our trips. And certainly, thinking about what to write and browsing through these photographs brought me right back to the wonderful time I spent in KL with my beloved Krissy.

On that note of good times and good food, I will end my post with this advice: Come visit KL! If you’ve been there before, then please share with us your favorite places to eat at or favorite things to do! Krissy is still in KL, and I’m sure she would love some tips.


Ps. There has been some slight redesign of the blog. We now also have an Instragram account that you can follow if you click on the Instagram icon at the top of the page, next to the search. We hope you like the changes! :)

Through the Lens

Through the Lens

I always wanted to get more into photography. While I always felt I had some idea about what makes good composition, I never really bothered to know more about photography. I therefore wanted to get more into the art and the technology. For many years, I used a point-and-shoot Casio camera, and I felt that it served me well for what I needed. However, I wanted a camera that could give me more flexibility as I delve deeper into the wonderful world of photography; something that isn’t as daunting as a full-frame DSLR camera. After digging around on the internet, I narrowed my search down to Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (or Compact System Camera). These types of cameras come with a compact body but has a sensor size that is comparable to that of some DSLR cameras. I found a good deal on a used Sony Alpha NEX-5N including the 18-55mm kit lens and a Sigma 19mm F2.8 EX DN lens (which at that time I didn’t know was a great prime lens for the Sony E-mount).

In the last two months, I’ve been amassing great knowledge about photography and camera settings like a sponge. Now I have a fairly good understanding of camera sensors; exposure settings involving aperture, shutter speed & ISO; metering modes; depth of field, and so on. There is still so much to learn, and I’m really excited about the journey. My foray into getting better at photography would no doubt lead me to learning about vintage lenses, which can be used on the mirrorless cameras using a cheap adapter. Why use vintage lenses? Well for one, the quality and build of vintage lenses are top notch, and are marginally cheaper compared to their equivalent modern counterpart. Also, vintage lenses often create unique effects and colour rendering on photos. Since I’m still learning, I find it a good thing to be manual focusing, as it gives me more control over my shot. Sure, it’s a slower process and I might miss a good shot, but it really helps me to stop and think about what I want to shoot. So I found myself scouring eBay for all sorts of vintage lenses with different apertures and focal lengths. You get really into it – at least I did. Haha! Apparently there are common “diseases” that afflict photographers:

  • Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS)
  • Lens Buying Addiction (LBA)
  • Photo Forum Addiction (PFA)

I found the acronyms from this site, where these common ailments are described. I find that it’s all part of the journey. I really like keeping up to date with technology and gadgets, and this is no different. Knowing what kind of gear you can use with your camera, what kind of lenses are available, and how other people shoot all helps make you a better photographer. I got a really good deal on a Helios 44M-6 58mm f2 manual focus lens for very cheap. The lens has a FOV corresponding to 87mm on the 5n’s crop sensor. Below is a photo of what I have so far.

Lens party

But at the end of the day, for a novice, the common mantra is “Gear doesn’t matter.” Make do with what you have. Use the camera and gear you have until you’ve completely mastered it. As a novice, learning how to control what you see through the lens is what makes you a better photographer. When your gear starts to limit what you can do, then it’s time to upgrade!

So I went for a nature walk in Skodsborg, north of Copenhagen, along with my two Bromies, Claus and Anders. I got to shoot with the Helios and the Sigma. I really like the swirly bokeh that the Helios renders. The Sigma is great for wide angle shots. I picked out my favourites from all the shots that day, and edited them using Lightroom.

Enjoy the photos and stay tuned for more!


Picture Postcard

No photoshop Try to picture one of those tacky postcards: white, sandy beaches, palm trees marking up the shore line and the turquoise sea water battling it out with the sky to see which blue nuance is the brightest. At Perhentian Islands, postcards don’t do reality justice. I stayed a whole weekend in this paradise where my fellow travel-companions and I quickly got spellbound by the island-vibe, where time seems to slow down and errands and to-do lists get tucked away somewhere in the back of the mind. Little was on the agenda other than slurping mango smoothies and soaking up some sun with the occasional dip in the sea. We also took a 3 hour snorkeling trip to other, smaller islands lying around the Perhentian Islands, offering colourful fish and untouched corals. It is safe to say that it was an unforgettable snorkeling experience, with a blue marlin jumping near our boat, turtles coming up for air as we were lying in the water and of course, not to forget, the finding of many a cute Nemos. Picture Postcard To make sure that we didn’t miss our flight back to the city we decided to take the jetty back early on Sunday and go explore Kota Bharu and its famous central market, Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah. This colourful wonder offers a wet market with the usual produce like fish and veggies, and it was also here that I got to try the famous Nasi Kerabu, a beautiful blue-coloured rice dish that is really popular here in Malaysia. As you ascend the stairs in this building you get to the dry market – a myriad of small pathways that will lead you around dried snacks, cooking utensils and beautiful batik clothing. It is easy to get lost in here and lose all sense of time. <3 Getting over my dengue fever also gave me back my appetite, and food suddenly became appealing to me once again. That opened up for countless food adventures around the city – everything from local Malay to fine Japanese food. One such local adventure was a trip to the nearby Imbi market, which hid itself from us for some time but proved worth the chase once we found a spot at one of the glitzy plastic chairs and tables, barely shaded by the sun. The heat was heavy, but with a plate of Sisters Crispy Popiah in front of me, I forgot all about the sweaty circumstances. Other edible delights included an amazing experience at Gangnam 88 in Mont Kiara where kimchi stew and bulgogi blew my mind and made me want to fly away to Kpop-land right away. Dim sum also crept its way back into my life, and I realized how much I have missed this usual Sunday ritual from when I was living in Hong Kong. This weekend we simply had to try the afternoon high tea session at The Majestic Hotel, with fine bone china of teapots and teacups and a circular tower of goodies. Of course, the only correct way to eat your cucumber sandwich is with a pointy pinky. Yes, the colonial feel is a bit much, and yes it is a bit pricey, but once you dig into that scone you have already convinced yourself that you have to come back. High Tea session The 2015 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix also came to Kuala Lumpur, attracting thousands of enthusiasts from around the world. Not being a car or adrenalin junkie, I did not plan to go to this big event, but was lucky enough to be invited along on some free tickets. And though I must admit I never understood the fascination e.g. why my dad would want to spend a whole Sunday watching cars driving around and around and around on a pit (and still don’t), I am happy that I was fortunate enough to try it and “tick it off” the list of musts. One weekend was also spent traversing all of the acres of the ‘Lake Gardens’, also called Perdana Botanical Garden. I was very surprised by all the colours and how bright the greenery was. Due to the intense heat that follows you everywhere you go, I often have a difficult time accepting how green Kuala Lumpur actually is. Of course the almost daily afternoon showers give plants and trees the necessary sustenance, however, these rain showers always seem to escape my memory (which might also explain why I always forget an umbrella). The garden area is absolutely stunning and offers an orchid section, a hibiscus section, a small deer park and everything in between. Walking around the big lake in the center of the park made me reminisce about my time in NYC the past few months, wondering if this heritage park is KL’s equivalent to my beloved Central Park. Botanical gardens KL is still treating me real good and apart from the usual cab driver trying to press me for an extra ringgit or two, the past month has offered me some amazing memories, like a funky jazz night at No Black Tie, a mojito at Marini’s rooftop bar, not to forget the many snacks and deserts that find their way to my tummy. If you are a resident in KL, please share with me your favourite food spot, and any local must eats– always up for a new food adventure. Follow me on instagram if you are a foodie yourself. Until next time! /Krissy

Getting My Batik On!

Getting My Batik On

The first month in Kuala Lumpur flew by, confirming once again that time is my worst enemy!

I arrived mid-February, ready for a life as an intern in one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the country. My fellow interns – who also happen to be my roomies – took good care of me and showed me around through all the alleys and crooked streets that make up KL. Also, one of the interns managed to persuade his girlfriend to come along for 6 months, making up a great male-female ratio in our apartment, and I predict late night beer talks, and fun, weekend shenanigans the next 6 months.

One such memorable shenanigan already unfolded in the cooler regions of Cameron Highlands, a 4hrs bus ride outside of KL. While getting there was quite the challenge (as the gear lever proved uncooperative), the gentle hills served as an open farmland, with rows-upon-rows of tea shrubs. The perfect and cooler weather conditions provide the perfect home for hundreds of floral species, and traversing around the mountains makes for a breathtaking excursion. We stayed at a cute cottage-like bed and breakfast in Tanah Rata, which served as our base for exploration. We spent most of the weekend hiking through the forests with mud up to our ankles – the best way to spend a weekend! The views were stunning and it felt great to walk the distances on foot, rather than hiring a touristy-bus tour. Leisure time was spent at a strawberry farm – after all that hiking the red, shinny berries never tasted better.

The view
And now, lets turn to the tea… The second day we walked to Boh Tea Plantation, to get a colonial-inspired scone and sandwich. Now I don’t want to waste any more space on the food, but instead turn to the best peach ice tea I ever had in my life – the Boh peach tea! If you are ever able to get your hands on this stuff (it is available also in most supermarkets in KL to our great delight upon return), please fill up your suitcase – every single drop of ice tea is worth it!


The first few weeks of the internship also coincided with this years Chinese New Year, the year of the goat. This naturally served as a window of opportunity to visit Thean Hou Temple as it was decorated with the most beautiful, Chinese red lanterns during the festivities. Thean Hou is probably THE Chinese temple to visit while in KL as it offers some great views over the city. With all the big malls and streets being decked out in Chinese decorations, the sea of red proved a beautiful, welcoming gesture.


Other, first month highlights include eating my own body weight in food within all the different Asian cuisines: Malay, Chinese, Vietnamese and the list goes on. Goreng and fresh, whole fish are a must, and with Jalan Alor and other street-food options right around the corner from our apartment it is most likely that I will put on some weight – no regrets though!

Another must - nasi lemak <3
Another must – nasi lemak <3

Apart from all that goodness, Malaysia has also tested and tried me this past month. The greatest test was undoubtedly no bigger than 0.3 to 2 cm – a bloodsucking, stupid little mosquito carrying the infamous tropical disease also known as dengue fever. I wish this upon no one, and after spending three days in the hospital, with a water drop in my wrist and under constant observation; I left the hospital scarred for life with a collection of blue marks from the many blood tests. Let the mosquito-spray frenzy begin!