Category / Travel
Earlier this month on the 1st of September 2015, Malaysian Airlines officially welcomed the start of its new company Malaysia Airlines Berhad. As with many of you, my first ever flying experience was with our national carrier, with what has happened in the past 18 months or so, I personally felt that this is a significant step to the right direction for the company to once again proudly graze the Malaysian skyline.
Flying with Malaysia Airlines Berhad on the first day of business
Together with a few other writers, I was invited to take a short day trip with the new MAB to Penang.
To be honest, last I flew back to Penang was almost two decades ago when I took a flight (and was upgraded to business class, my first business class experience!) back to my hometown, down with dengue.
To commemorate the occasion, the customers on this particular flight was given a cute little pilot bear.
Malaysian Airlines Berhad CEO Christoph Mueller on Sept 1st, 2015
The CEO of Malaysian Airlines Berhad, Christoph Mueller, was on location to make sure everything runs smoothly, and to salute the aircraft before we take off, it was a proper sent off, albeit only to a location 45 mins away.
breakfast at 1997 kopitiam, Paya Terubong, Penang
Upon touch down in the Pearl of the Orient, we first took care of the most important business – breakfast!
We headed to Paya Terubong and jumped right into 1997 kopitiam. The restaurant is named after the year in which it was established. To be fair, I’ve never been here (as I left Penang in 1996 for college).
The loh mee I ordered turned out to be more than satisfying, I particularly love the super spicy sambal. and of course the availability of those soft & smooth pork skin didn’t hurt at all. The char kuih teow we shared was pretty decent, and kuih teow soup received positive remarks too. It was a pretty good start of the day.
heading up to Penang Hill
After breakfast, we went up to the highest peak of the island – Penang Hill.
There are two ways to head up to the hill – by the new & improved cable car from Ayer Itam, or use the Number 11 bus (your 2 legs) and walk your way up from the road next to Botanical Garden. Of course, we chose the easy way up.
Not to be outdone by Paris’ love locks, Penang Hill has our very own section of the same thing too, I found it pretty cute. If you didn’t bring your own locks, they’ve got a stall manned with traders who are quite eager to sell you a few models of locks, rather enterprising.
the old cannon’s still there, but the cable car is now much faster
I walked up to the highest peak and made sure to take a photo next to the cannon, reminiscing a similar picture taken at the same spot when I went up there with classmates at the age of 10 or so, time flies man.
Oh, make sure you take the lowest car on the way down, the faster speed makes for quite a pretty thrilling ride, I love it.
the famous Ayer Itam asam laksa
After Penang Hill, it was time for lunch, and since we were already at Ayer Itam, the famous laksa right next to the morning market made for an obvious choice.
I’ve had this laksa from when it was sold for RM 1 per bowl, and glad to say that it still tastes the same as it was from decades ago. Check out this old blog post of the place from almost 10 years back.
Fort Cornwallis, where Sir Francis Light first stepped foot on Penang
Fort Cornwallis was our next destination. This was the place where Sir Francis Light, the founder of modern Penang first set up camp on the island. The historical site isn’t overly interesting to be perfectly honest, but if you’re hungry (unfortunately we weren’t), the mee sotong at the adjacent food court is excellent.
Peranakan Mansion, I’ve never been to this place even though I’m from Penang
We then moved to Peranakan Mansion, a typical mansion for affluent Baba & Nyonya from a century ago. This mansion was super impressive and definitely worth every sen of the entrance fee. There are over 1000 pieces of antique & collectibles on display. I am quite embarrassed to be a Penangite who only stepped foot in this building for the first time.
If you go to Penang, be sure to pay a visit to this place.
Masjid India, the oldest mosque in Penang, and the nasi kandar next to it
Continuing the tour of Georgetown, our Muslim tour-mates took the opportunity to pray at the oldest mosque on the island – Masjid India.
As for the rest of us, it was an excuse for nasi kandar. I had nasi tomato from the Nasi Kandar Masjid stall (next to the famous Nasi Kandar Beratur which opens only at night). As with most nasi kandar in Penang, the curry was thick and flavorful, but it didn’t have as much umph as I had wanted, I guess I expected just a bit more.
Penang road cendol and rojak
For tea break, we headed to Penang road to have some cendol. There are two stalls operating across the road from each other, and to be honest, they both tasted as good as each other. Some may argue that one is “definitely better”, but I can’t tell.
Oh, the rojak is pretty good as well.
a visit to Chew Jetty before we head back to KL
Chew Jetty was our last destination before heading back to the airport. The famous residential jetty now has about half the houses converted to make-shirt shops of sort. In a way it was perhaps slightly less charming? I don’t really know what to make up of it.
My grandparents stay very close to one of these jetties at Weld Quay, so as a kid I used to roam around the different jetties with no shoes, carelessly side stepping open nails and barely secured planks. There was definitely a sense of nostalgia.
Oh, by the way, I also tapao 10 packs of laksa back to KL, and happy to report that airport security did not think it was a bad idea. 😀
Best of luck, Malaysian Airlines!
When I had my first full time job after graduating from university, I went to Kings Island in Cincinnati for the first time, and thought that it was so awesome I should get a season pass. I mean, being able to go to an awesome amusement park that’s only half an hour away at anytime, why not?
That dream never materialize due to me having lost the job (remember 911?) which subsequently meant that I had no money and having to move out of Cincinnati.
Well, that was more than ten years ago, and now I finally have season pass to an amusement park, and it’s every as awesome as my initial Cincinnati dream – a whole year’s unlimited entrance to Sunway Lagoon!
Sunway Lagoon, here we come!
To be honest, I didn’t know that Sunway Lagoon offers annual pass until I read it on Bobo’s instagram. I left a comment, one thing led to another, and thanks to the good people at Sunway Lagoon and Nuffnang, I got a pair annual pass for myself and Haze.
The pass is priced at RM 300 for adult and RM 240 for kids aged 11 and below. Compared to the entrance price at the gate of RM 150 per pax, the pricing of annual pass really offers great value.
the rides were not disappointing
We parked our car at Sunway Pyramid, had a meal at Texas Chicken, then went into the park.
First thing to do is to load some money into the entrance wristband that comes with a barcode. The wristband is used not only to identify that you did not sneaked into Sunway Lagoon illegally, but the barcode embedded on the band is also a form of cashless transaction you can use to purchase food, use the locker, or pay for premium rides (such as bungy jumps). Any leftover credit can be redeemed at exit.
Sunway Lagoon is now also practically a zoo
Sunway Lagoon has five different major areas – waterpark, amusement park, wildlife park, extreme park, and scream park.
We managed three out of the five during this visit.
The amusement park has many rides that has no-bag policy, so a locker is pretty much a requirement unless you have someone in the group who wants to watch over them. Most rides don’t have particularly long queue, and the pirate ship now goes 360 degree! You’ve been warned.
We also ended up spending a lot of time at the wildlife park, which is actually a zoo in itself. There were tiger, panther, snakes, turtle, goat, rabbit, quite a few species of primates, a huge variety of birds, otter, raccoons, and more. I do wish that some of the habitats were bigger though.
of course, there’s the waterpark
The waterpark was of course, where Sunway Lagoon got its name from, and when you’re there, you just have to try out the massive vuvuzela slide and the “5D” waterplex where you get to have water splashed on you in front of a cinema-like screen equipped with articulated chairs showcasing a wild ride.
In all it was a pretty fun afternoon, we will go back there again for sure. The annual pass is pretty neat!
Following the previous post on 5 snacks and cheap eats at Macau, it is only fitting that I cover some of the places that offers proper meals which we tried over the course of our trip to this former Portuguese colony. There are no shortage of restaurants in Macau, with a decent selection of different cuisines, but mostly variation of Chinese food, which suits us just fine.
obligatory Macau photo at St. Paul’s church
Before we talk about food, first, here’s a picture of us at St. Paul’s church, an obligation for anyone traveling to Macau I believe. The facade of the church is located just a stone’s throw away from Senado Square, which is the best place to shop for souvenirs and everything touristy in town.
Wong Chi Kei at Senado Square
And if you found yourself at Senado Square, like most people would, one of the places to dine would be Wong Chi Kei. The place is almost always pretty packed, but service is relatively quick, and like many places in Macau, sharing table with strangers is a norm.
pork ribs rice, shrimp wantan mee, mixed fried noodle
The shop offers a wide variety of single serving noodle and rice dishes, with prices starting from around 32 MOP onwards.
We tried pork ribs rice, shrimp wantan noodle, fried noodle with pork innards and squid, as well as shrimp roe noodle. I like the thin noodles and it’s texture, shrimp wantan was delicious, as with the innards. The shrimp roe has a pretty special taste to it that isn’t very different from ebiko but much, much dryer, the bowl of soup served on the side isn’t really enough to counter the fact.
Overall it’s a pretty decent place to dine that won’t break your wallet.
the shrimp roe noodle & our traveling partner in crime, Tian Chad & Bobo with their SOs
Address: Wong Chi Kei, 17 Largo do Senado, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau
GPS: 22.194078, 113.540164
“Xiang Zhi Wei” near our hotel, fantastic Hunan cuisine
For the second night, we ventured around the surrounding of our hotel and ended up at this tiny little shop by the name of “Xiang Zhi Wei“, a Hunan restaurant at Edificio Royal Center.
The selection of dishes are quite extensive here as well, with about three quarter of them being spicy, typical of Hunan cuisine. For the two of us, we ordered the brinjal with long bean and steamed tofu with egg and minced meat.
simple, spicy, and absolutely delicious
Both dishes were excellent, with the only minor downside being that the egg yolks in the tofu dish were slightly more cooked than we would have liked. The hint of spiciness in the brinjal and long bean dish was superb, and something that I would try to order in other Hunan restaurants now.
Total bill came to slightly less than 200 MOP for the dinner, which wasn’t cheap, but considering the taste it was well worth it.
Address: Xiang Zhi Wei, Edificio Royal Center, Rua de Pequim, Macau
GPS: 22.191680, 113.547411
Chan Kong Kei, famous roast goose/duck/pork/chicken etc
On the last day, we went over to another pretty famous restaurant, Chan Kong Kei, for lunch. The place is perpetually packed and again, sharing table is a norm. We also discovered that the locals usually dine about 3x as fast as typical Malaysian (probably not having to snap pictures speed up dining time quite a bit, haha).
The restaurant offers roast goose, roast duck, roast pork, bbq pork, soya chicken, and more.
roast goose with roast pork, and a side of duck blood with vegetable
We tried the roast goose with roast pork and a side of duck blood with vegetable soup on the side. The roast pork and goose drumstick were top notch (80 MOP), the meat very flavorful and even the fat has a soft and smooth texture.
The duck blood (33 MOP) though, was entirely something else, why wouldn’t we have this here in Malaysia? Pork blood is nice, but duck blood is even smoother and in every sense, more delicious (the only places that serves duck blood in Malaysia are probably a few kuih teow soup places, such as the one at Anson Road in Penang)
Address: Chan Kong Kei, 19 Rua Do Dr. Pedro Jose Lobo, Macau
GPS: 22.192082, 113.541577
We traveled to Macau in late July 2014 for a three day two night of sightseeing and food spotting trip, and I’m happy to report that when it comes to food, this former Portuguese colony surely did not disappoint.
Should you find yourself at Macau, here are some of the places you may want to check out. This is the entry where I cover snacks and cheap eats, there will be another talking about the few restaurants that we tried during the trip.
we arrived at Macau on the evening, beautiful cityscape
As for weather, Macau isn’t different from Malaysia at this time of the year (July), temperature and humidity are pretty much the same, so light clothing and perhaps an umbrella if you’re afraid of the heat is advised.
The city is one that never sleeps, and I got the impression that it was very safe to walk around at any time of day. Public transportation by bus is very good, so keep plenty of coins and small change available as change is not provided on the buses.
HK dollars as well as Macanese Pataca or MOP are accepted pretty much everywhere, including the buses. At the time of travel, 1 MOP = 0.40 MYR.
Pro tip: there are many free hotel shuttle buses going to and from the airport, you can utilize them even if you don’t stay at the same hotel.
road side stall with chee cheong fun and dimsum in the city
The first thing we tried at Macau was this little road side stall situated opposite Centro Commercial Central.
We tried the chee cheong fun with siu mai which was priced at $30 MOP. The sauce was lighter than the one usually served in Malaysia, and the chili sauce has a stronger taste of vinegar to it. We found it pretty delicious and fitting as a pre-dinner snack or post-dinner supper.
Address: outside 48 Avenida do Infante D. Henrique
GPS: 22.191888, 113.541432
the famous Portuguese egg tart at Margaret’s Cafe e Nata
When in Macau, one of the snacks that you must not miss is the famous Portuguese egg tart at Margaret’s Cafe e Nata.
The egg tarts are $8 MOP each and was really as good as everyone claimed. The pastry soft yet crunchy, and the filling smooth and super flavorful with the aroma of milk and egg at their best. We only had 2 each but we really should have brought more. It was very delicious!
There’s always a queue at the shop, but you wouldn’t have to wait for more than a few minutes before being served.
Address: Margaret’s Cafe e Nata, Rua do Comandante Mata e Oliveira, Macau
GPS: 22.191993, 113.542178
fried fish paste, pork bun, and beef tendon noodle at Sang Lei, next to Margaret’s
Right next door to the egg tart place is Sang Lei, a shop that perhaps thrive thanks to Margaret’s being constantly filled to the brim. We tried fried fish paste ($19 MOP), pork bun ($22 MOP), and beef tendon noodle soup ($22 MOP) there.
The food actually turned out pretty decent. The fish paste is pretty similar to those we get in Malaysia but tasted fresher, the beef tendon noodle was simple but if you’re a fan of tendon, you’d be delighted. The pork bun though, did not impress.
Address: Sang Lei, Rua do Comandante Mata e Oliveira, Macau
GPS: 22.191954, 113.542136
cheap roast goose “fan hap” at Sek Kei, Rua Dois do Bairro lao Hon
While trying to go to Taipa island by bus on the second day, we accidentally took the bus heading to the wrong direction and ended up at this little strip of shops at Rua Dois do Bairro lao Hon, which is located near the border between Macau and China up north.
Since I was hungry, we stopped by Sek Kei for a roast goose rice that was served in a styrofoam box commonly for those who wants it to go. Lucky for us Sek Kei actually has ONE table in their shop that I could eat. It turned out to be rather good and only cost us $27 MOP for the meal!
If you want a bargain, you can’t top this.
Address: Sek Kei, Rua Dois do Bairro lao Hon, Macau
GPS: 22.212118, 113.550351
Yee Shun steamed milk, a must try!
As for dessert in Macau, Yee Shun steamed milk is the one place that shouldn’t be missed.
The steamed milk custard ($28 MOP) has the consistency of our familiar “tau fu fa” but with that creamy aroma of fresh milk that made it so irresistible. We also tried their warm milk ($22 MOP) and papaya milk ($30 MOP) which did not disappoint either. The same place also serves sandwiches, eggs, and even pork bun.
Even as a person who’s slightly lactose intolerant, I now want to know how to make this at home!
Address: Yee Shun milk company, 60 Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau
GPS: 22.192741, 113.540461
I am blogging on behalf of Visa’s Travel Happy campaign and receive compensation for my time, but the thoughts, words, and promotions on this page are mine, not Visa’s.
After our positive experience visiting Bali in 2011, I’ve always wanted to go back again. Hence when given the opportunity to head back to the island for a 3D2N tour, I was more than happy to plan a trip that maximises what we can do.
So instead of a normal vacation, we made it a road trip!
P/S: contest to win an Agoda travel voucher worth RM 1,000 at end of this post!
Our itinerary to Bali started on a flight on Friday morning and ended on Sunday night, a total of 3 days with 2 nights spent on the island.
Instead of taking a cab to the airport, we decided to drive. Parking fair at the KLIA long term parking came up to RM 130 or so, which is still a little bit cheaper than taking a cab.
we met Firdy at Denpasar Airport where I withdrew IDR with Visa
Soon as we touched down, I stopped by the ATM to withdraw some Indonesian Rupiah using my Visa debit card for places that doesn’t offer credit/debit card payments.
Denpasar airport does not have any car rental booths, so do plan ahead if you want to rent a car, otherwise it’s another hour’s wait for the car to arrive.
We rented a Toyota Avanza for our trip. I opted for self drive (armed with GPS brought from Malaysia), but you can get one with local driver too.
Check out some of the offers exclusive to Visa for car rental here. There is also a Mobile App you can download for iOS & Android devices that allows you to check the latest Visa offerings.
Additionally, there is the Global Customer Assistance Service available where you can get emergency card replacement in as little as within 24 hours.
when in Bali, one must have babi guling
Coincidentally, we met Firdy at the airport. While we traveled cashless, this guy went one step further and didn’t even bring any luggage! He ended up joining us for half our trip.
First order of business was lunch, and when in Bali, one must have Babi Guling!
To be honest, my previous experience of babi guling at the famous Ibu Oka was not exactly very positive, but this version at Sanur (around 30,000 IDR per person) completely changed my mind about this unique Balinese dish. It was very, very good, I’d definitely go there again on next Bali trip.
Babi Guling Sanur
Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai, Sanur (Opposite McDonald’s)
GPS: –8.682743, 115.259062
you can refuel at the gas station, of from these road side “premium” bottles
From Sanur, we got on the road and cut through the middle of the island on the way to Lovina. Roads in Bali are usually pretty tight, which makes for some challenging driving.
To refuel, there are gas stations, but there’re also road side stalls that offer gasoline (referred to as “premium” in Bali) by the bottles. No prize guessing which option accepts Visa.
Danau Bratan is at around 1200+ meters up, as high as Genting Highland
By the evening, we reached Danau Bratan, one of the three lakes in Bratan caldera, which was a Volcano that was erupted hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
The lake is situated at around 1200+ meters high, making it as high as Genting Highland. It was windy and very chilly, but of course, the scenery was definitely worth a a shiver. I would love to stay a night here next time.
our dinner at Warung Ayu, Lovina, it was lovely
For dinner, we stopped by Warung Ayu by one of the beaches that is popular as a take off point for dolphin watching (which we planned to do).
This restaurant was a complete random choice, but one that turned out to be a rather awesome! We ordered traditional Balinese food and they turned out to be very, very good. I can have that grilled chicken over and over again, it was a new taste that I’ve never had before.
The server explained that it was grilled with soya sauce and Balinese sauce. I gotta try to make that some day.
Kalibukbuk Lovina, Jalan Mawar, Bali
GPS: -8.159648, 115.026056
Tel: +62 82147555034
our first night was spent at The Lovina Bali, with a private garden
We spent the first night at The Lovina Bali hotel (about RM 380 including tax), it was a pretty lovely hotel with a King sized bed, a day bed, LCD TV with DVD player, and a small private garden too.
Access to the hotel is through a beautiful paddy field, and the rear of the hotel is the Lovina beach, with a pretty decent size swimming pool too.
dolphin watching started at 6am in the morning!
The next morning we woke up rather early for the dolphin watch, one of the things I have always wanted to do. My first dolphin sighting was on a trip to Tenggol Island, and second being when we were at Maldives.
While there are places you can swim with dolphins in Bali, I wanted to see them in the wild instead of in a confined area.
For 60,000 IDR (RM 17) per person, the boat man took us on a boat way out to the middle of the ocean. It was a lot of waiting but the dolphins did come, they were somewhat cautiously curious and did not come too close to the boats. Still, it was a very exciting experience!
Bali Asli, a lovely restaurant at the East side of Bali
We hop on our car and continued the road trip after the dolphin sighting. A little over two hours and some 100 KM later, we arrived at Bali Asli in Gelumpang village.
The restaurant offers traditional Balinese cuisine with an excellent view to boot. Bali Asli also accepts Visa if you book online. We had a great meal and loved the experience. At 195,000 IDR (RM 55) per person, it was very reasonably priced too.
Jalan Raya Gelumpang
GPS: -8.426548, 115.607427
Tel: +62 8289 7030098
Tirtaganga water palace, just a short drive from Bali Asli
If you are at Bali Asli, Tirtaganga water place is just a little over 3 kilometers away. The water palace is a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by lush garden and many stone carvings.
The water palace was built from 1948 onwards by the late heir to the Kingdom of Karangsem, definitely a place worth visiting. Entrance fee is 20,000 IDR.
Ubud, one of my favorite places in Bali
We then continued our road trip, destination Ubud, one of my favorite places in Bali. The 60+ KM journey took us another two hours on the road.
We spent some time walking around the streets littered with many shops offering local arts, paintings, and more. Haze bought a wooden mask from a local artist too.
Dinner was at Melting Wok Warung. A restaurant that’s quite highly rated on TripAdvisor but one that we did not find agreeable to our taste. The food was perhaps catered more towards Western tourists with quasi Balinese + Western dishes. It wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t finish my minced chicken as I thought the chicken breast was too dry.
If you’re a mat salleh, you might love this place though, since the place was fully booked with plenty of Westerners dining in.
Melting Wok Warung
13 Jl. Gootama, Ubud, Bali
GPS: -8.509321, 115.264251
Tel: +62 82 153666087
our private pool villa at Kajane, so I can skinny dip 😀
We decided to splurge a bit and checked into a villa with private pool at Kajane, one of the nicer hotels at the main stretch of Jalan Monkey Forest in Ubud.
The villa was huge, and comes with open air bath tub, a king size bed with entertainment system, an outdoor breakfast area with a day bed, and of course, the 8×2 meter private pool which allows one to skinny dip (don’t judge.)
Pro tip – sometimes online prices can be cheaper than walk in, so I actually paid for this villa (RM 740) via my phone with Visa while sitting at the lobby of the hotel.
Breakfast was served at our villa the next morning. My English breakfast was awesome, but it seems like Balinese are terrible at Japanese cuisine as Haze’s Japanese breakfast was rather terrible. Worst miso soup ever, it was sweet.
Bebek Kruwil for lunch, and shopping at factory outlet before heading back
We checked out from Kajane and headed to Sanur for a bit of shopping and lunch.
We stopped by Soto Ayam Suroboyo and had some pretty awesome Bebek Kruwil (20,000 IDR), a local style duck dish that went very well with rice and some Balinese sambal. I really loved it, and it tastes even better than the Bebek Bengil we tried during the previous trip, not to mention about 4 times cheaper too.
Soto Ayam Suroboyo
Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai No. 210,
GPS: -8.71742, 115.215224
Tel: +62 361 7806065
Finally, we bought some cloths from one of the few outlet stores along Sanur before leaving the island with heavy heart.
So, you want to travel too?
You can and should participate in Visa’s contest by submitting your most creative travel photo with the hashtags #TravelHappy #VisaMY to your Twitter or Instagram account and stance a chance to win Agoda.com travel e-voucher worth RM 1,000 every week for four weeks. Click here for more!
P/S: at the point of travel, 10,000 IDR = 2.81 MYR.