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It’s balut time!

December 5, 2012 34 Comments

One of the most well known exotic Asian food must be balut from the Philippines. For those who hasn’t heard about this weird and wonderful traditional Pinoy dish, it is simply steamed duck embryo.

balut from manila

In my first trip to the Philippines back in 2009 I didn’t have a chance to try this delicacy, so when I went there again last week for Operation Smile (amazing experience, will write about that in depth soon), we make sure that balut is on top of our to-do list.

Well, here’s a video of the experience:

While balut is sold pretty much anywhere in Manila (and I suppose, most part of Philippines), they are not terribly easy to hunt down. The sellers usually operate out of a bicycle, so it’s best to ask a local where and also when you can get one.

We actually had to stop our bus once while traveling from De La Selle University Hospital back to hotel just to flag down a balut seller for some of these good stuff. A balut goes for about 10-15 peso, and usually comes with some salt, and sometimes vinegar.

check out the whole embryo separated from the egg white
check out the whole embryo separated from the egg white

As for the taste, it was like a cross between hard boiled duck egg and the tip of black chicken wings that is boiled in herbal soup till super soft. The beak can be just a little crunchy, and sometimes the feather does get in the way just a bit.

Quite gross when you think about it mentally, but really, it is delicious! I especially like the juice in balut, which probably is the allantoic fluid, or simply put, duck embryo pee. 😀

Skilled balut eater can also separate out the whole embryo from the egg to scare non-eating spectators, I shall learn to do that next time.

So if you’re in the Philippines, try a balut, or 4 (like I did)

Here’s a short video compiled from the video clips I took during the dive trip to Similan Islands. Looks like I’ll need a video light or shoot almost exclusively on shallow water under bright lit condition to make this better.

Most clips were shot with Olympus E-PL3 (except those not underwater, shot with Sony Xperia Arc), using Inon wide angle converter with dome port, no red filter (which I had and probably should have made good use of.. gah!)

Hope you enjoy!

I am a bit of a petrol head, in my drive way is an MR2 turbo, an old two seater that looks pretty decent, drives pretty fast, and basically as practical as a speedy bicycle with a basket. While I love my MR2, I had always wanted a Lotus, the little car maker that is incredibly, owned by Proton, and produces cars that can only be described as sex on wheels.

So when I was invited to join the Shell Helix Invasion Tour to Johor Bahru driving a Lotus, I jumped on the opportunity straight away.

Before you continue reading, for those who are the fan of TL;DR, may I suggest viewing this video that I spent half an hour creating?

some of the supercars that participated in the tour
some of the supercars that participated in the tour

Our journey started at Proton Centre of Excellence in Shah Alam on Saturday morning, and in the compound were over 35 speed demons – Ferrari, Lamboghini, Aston Martin, Audi R8, Porsche 911 GT3, Nissan GTR, BMW M3, Lotus Evora and Exige.

I felt like kids in a candy store, and Haze found a lot of sketching subjects.

Lotus, the "almost" affordable dream car of mine
Lotus, the “almost” affordable dream car of mine. Evora, Exige

Our ride was the Lotus Evora – a mid engine sports car with 3.5 Liter V6 motor churning a respectable 280 PS. It had a 6 speed IPS automatic and is capable of launching from 0-100 in 4.9 seconds with a top speed of 260 km/h.This car gets it done with a perfect balance of grace and power, it was at the same time very comfortable and luxurious.

The stereo system is respectable, interior trimming simplistic yet elegant, and getting in and out doesn’t require you to be a gymnast (like an Elise or Exige would).

It is also the only Lotus with 2+2 configuration (though the rear seats are only good enough if you’re around Audrey’s size, but it sure was handy as luggage space).

In short, I want it! (only if it isn’t also over RM 400k+ a pop *gulp*)

Thank you Lotus Malaysia for loaning this car. 😀

the first stop was Melacca
the first stop was Melacca

So off we went on the North South highway with the help of police escort service (I last had this at BMW drive, it was a godsend).

A moment later (yes, a moment later), we reached our first stop at Ayer Keroh Shell station for a fuel refill. It was a chance to allow my heart to slow down a little bit from pumping too fast driving the Evora. That was because the convoy wasn’t exactly slow moving, I had to be on my toes to keep up.

We then stopped by Movida at Hatten Square in Melaka from lunch. With all these cars parked right outside the mall, we managed to draw quite a crowd of passerby eager to snap photos.

p/s: I’ve heard the Lotus could do up to 240 km/h with ease.

at Kelab Alami at Tanjung Kupang, South Johor
at Kelab Alami at Tanjung Kupang, South Johor

After lunch and a bit of chillax at Movida, the convoy went South Bound again.

Zoom zoom zoom….

Our next meeting point was Gelang Patah R&R, but due to a bit of confusion, the group somehow got split into 3, and we were among one of the groups that went into Gelang Patah town and got lost. An hour or so later, however, we managed to regroup, refuel, and head to the most important destination of the trip – Kelab Alami at Tanjung Kupang with the help of police escort.

the kids giving us a proper class on nature itself
13 different kids giving us a proper class on nature itself

Formed in 2009 by Cikgu Bakhtiar Jaffar, Kelab Alami is a centre for youth development first created with the help of Shell Malaysia Sustainable Development Grants Programme 2009. The club is an outlet for (mostly poor) kids around the area to learn about environment awareness and to study the ecosystem around the Singapore Strait and Sungai Pulai.

Over a dozen kids at the club took turn to educate us about the geography as well as the flora and fauna of the area – from the various sea grass species to dugong (manatee) to shell fish. It was amazing to see rural kids being empowered and given chance to participate in something like this, not to mention that we got quite a bit of a lesson ourselves.

We were going to take the kids for a ride in the cars, but unfortunately it started pouring, gahhh. We had to jet off after the presentation by the kids.

the BBQ buffet dinner at Thistle JB was delicious
the BBQ buffet dinner at Thistle JB was delicious

Part of the convoy stayed at Thistle Hotel with some of us placed at Mutiara Hotel, but we had dinner as a group at Thistle.

Their BBQ buffet dinner was fantastic, the grilled lobsters and other seafood were much appreciated after a long day’s hard work (yeah right).

Many participants headed to The Zon for after dinner party, but Haze and I decided to head back to the hotel for an earlier snooze instead. We were pretty tired thanks to a few days of sleep deprivation (she was rushing for a Paint Lust project).

a mini autocross session with the Evora & other participants
a mini autocross session with the Evora & other cars participanting

The next morning, we head to Danga Bay for a mini autocross competition. A manual Evora was fitted with less grippy tires for the purpose.

We were given a couple demo runs by Lotus Malaysia’s Ong Kah Beng, and then off we went taking turns on the course. While not the first time witnessing these type of events, I popped my virginity in Autocross this time, and I did it with style by going on the completely wrong route on my first trial.

who would have thought I'd get a trophy too? 3rd place (out of 6.. hehe)
who would have thought I’d get a trophy too? 3rd place (out of 6.. hehe)

Thankfully, I somehow managed to improved my time on the subsequent runs and came in 3rd place among the media members (only 6 of us particpated, hehe). In the photo above, I was trying to not looked completely embarrassed.

After that, we made our way home and surrendered the car to Lotus Malaysia at Proton Centre of Excellent with a heavy heart. I will miss the Evora, and damn it I really want an Elise now.

Thank you Kong, Shell Helix, Zero To Hundred, and Lotus Malaysia for this opportunity.

The photo below is an ariel view of Waterbom at Kuta, Bali. Yes, those are the awesome water slides from the big tower amongst the tropical trees.

waterbom bali
ariel view of Waterbom park at Bali

On our first day at Bali, we spent half a day at this water park. The park has more than 17 water slides, from the pretty relaxing Superbowl to the super thrilling Boomerang and Climax, there’s something for everyone. Check out the 1 minute video to get an idea of what’s at Waterbom.

In the video, Boomerang was probably the scariest of them all. Climax though, is an almost vertical slide that drops you down at a speed of up to 70 km/h. That was scary, and unfortunately camera wasn’t allowed on that slide.

Some rides required a tube (single or double), some a sled mat, and others without any protection.

loads of fun time, plus some over priced food at waterbom bali

Park entrance is $26 USD per person, and you can pay that in IDR equivalent too. There are also locker and gazebo facility for extra charge. Meals are at least 3 times the price of what you’d expect from outside (though the fried rice I ordered were plenty delicious), but hey it’s a theme park.

We had an awesome half-day at Waterbom, and I think it is a place worth visiting for the thrill seekers. I only wish that the water slide tower comes with an escalator, repeatedly walking up to some 4-5 stories high can get tiring after a while.

Again, watch the video, and check out what we did for the rest of the day at Kuta too.

A while back I participated in Hotlink’s Bloggers Without Border challenge and pleaded for vote (with an awesome video of course) to get me to Philippines.

Many of you voted, so a big thank you to you who took the time and effort to cast the ballot for me. However, due to something that came up in this pesky little thing called “DAY JOB”, I was not able to travel to Philippines. BUMMER!

So I guess balut will have to wait, haih, hopefully next time!

Now here’s another video with my co-star Cendawan for your amusement. 😀