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Following my only dive trip at Pulau Kapas back in 2017, I actually managed another underwater excursion in October 2018 while on a work trip to Kota Kinabalu that involved staying over the weekends.

Since this is still a blog documenting my travel & food adventures, here’s the short entry to serve as sort of an online dive-log of mine. Do check out the short video I made using the Olympus TG-Trekker, which since died after that trip for reasons unknown (I gotta call the service center, been weeks!)

Anyway, back to the trip.

Kota Kinabalu is a great city to live in if you love to go underwater. The jetty heading out to the islands is conveniently located just a few minute’s drive from the city center. In fact, you can realistically walk there.

a lousy day out diving is better than any day at the office!
a lousy day out diving is better than any day at the office!

The dive trip itself was arranged by Yann May with the local guide (Johny), and during this trip we were the only two divers, which made for a relaxing trip that doesn’t involved being hurried or having to wait for others.

You can get a 3-dive package for RM 250-300 or so around here, usually with a meal thrown in.

star fish, shrimp manicure, angry puffer, clown fish

While visibility wasn’t the best during our dives, they were relaxing, and we did see a few eagle rays (first minute of first dive!), some clown fish, cleaning shrimps, starfish, pencil fish, lion fish, puffer fish, and more, mostly documented in the video.

I should plan for a few more dive trips for 2019!

Another post on late night street food options at Macau following the entry on Keong Kei Lamb Stew is this busy little corner by the intersection between Tv. do Mastro & Av. de Almeida Ribeiro by the name of Ming Kee Beef Offal, or 明記牛雜美食 in Mandarin.

If you find the road names challenging, so do I.. GPS location is at the bottom of the page, however.

Ming Kei Beef Offal, Macao
Ming Kei Beef Offal, Macao

This place was “discovered” the same way I do with many food places – by bumping into it on the way from some attractions to the hotel.

Every night, without fail, this place will be packed full of people forming up a queue patiently waiting for their turn to “tapao” what this old couples were offering. So by the third night, it was decided we have to try this.

As it turns out, other than beef offal (including triple, intestine, heart, lung, tendon etc), Ming Kee also offers a variety of different ingredients such as cuttle fish, tofu pok, chicken feet, meatballs, lap cheong, mushroom, imitation abalone, white radish, vegetable, and more.

not just beef offal, but vege, mushroom, and more
not just beef offal, but vege, mushroom, and more

We lined up and some half an hour later, made an order of “everything but also radish + vege + chicken feet + tofu skin” that sorta somehow turned out to be offal + tendon + tofu skin + chicken feet that came in two Styrofoam boxes (these stuff should be banned already… )

tendon, beef tripe, ear, and tofu skin
tendon, beef tripe, ear, and tofu skin

We brought it to the hotel lobby and also ordered two cups of bamboo salt bee tea thingy (which is supposed to have cooling property) to go with the beefy goodness.

This time around, the offal were quite delicious, it was generally rather soft and packed with quite a strong flavor. I’d have wanted the tendon a bit softer, and it’d help if the chicken claws weren’t still have nails in them and being way too tough.

bee salt herbal tea, supposed to cool you down
bamboo bee salt herbal tea

The beef supper was around 190 MOP if I’m not mistaken, and another 35 MOP for each cup of the weird drinks. Worth a try tho.

ming-kee-beef-offal-macau-map

Address:
明記牛雜美食
Ming Kee Beef Offal
Tv. do Mastro, Macao
GPS: 22.194939, 113.538013
Hours: 5 pm – 1 am

Last November I made my second trip to the gambling capital of the world – Macao. My previous trip was all the way back in 2014 so I guess it’s about time to revisit one of the most walk-able cities in the world.

While Macau is famous for their casinos and many churches, what interests in, as usual, is the local food. Today we’re going to talk about one of the more popular night hawker spots on the peninsular – Keong Kei Lamb Stew.

Keong Kei Lamb Stew, Macau
Keong Kei Lamb Stew, Macau

Keong Kei (強記秘製羊腩煲) is located just a few minutes’ walk from the famous Ruins of St. Paul, the tourist attraction that almost everyone will certainly visit while at Macau. Operating from 6:30pm to midnight, the stall has tables set up by the “Y” intersection of the road, just like how a proper “tai pai tong” should be.

On a chilly night in autumn, the place does get quite packed and you often may need to wait for a bit for an empty table. Once seated, you can then make your order of lamb stew (usually comes with tripe, ribs, and so forth) that comes in a clay pot sitting atop a portable clay stove fueled by charcoal, which also serves as your hand warmer.

would you love to have some lamb tripe?
would you love to have some lamb tripe?

Additionally, you can also order fresh romaine lettuce and tofu skin. The operator pretty much assumed everyone will know what they have and not have, if you’re new, do ask, they may not be the friendliest business owners in typical Macau fashion, but they don’t bite.

clay pot on charcoal fire on every table
clay pot on charcoal fire on every table

I personally do enjoy the lamb stew soup and the vegetable, and thought that the meat was a little too tough for my liking, despite having it stewed on top of charcoal fire for quite a while. Perhaps this is how the locals like it. The condiment of chili paste with fermented tofu, however, was quite lovely.

usually a good idea to add some greens to the mix too
usually a good idea to add some greens to the mix too

If you find yourself in Macau, this is definitely one of the more authentic spots to have your supper. A small pot is priced at 130 MOP and bigger ones’ at 230 MOP (exchange rate was at around 1 MYR = 2 MOP), while seems expensive in Malaysian standard, this isn’t any more expensive than other similar hawker fair in Macau.

Happy hunting and happy 2019!

Keong Kei lamb stew map, Macao

Address:
Edificio Ngai In Kuok,
Tv. das Janelas Verdes, Macau
GPS22.196024, 113.539918
Hours: 6:30 pm to midnight

Last weekend when we stopped by Langkawi for a short work trip, we took the opportunity to visit the biggest aquarium in Malaysia – Underwater World Langkawi.

Underwater World Langkawi
Underwater World Langkawi

I’ve always been a fan of fishes and aquariums from a young age. In high school I joined the aquarium society and was in fact the president of the club for a year (interesting trivia, I know)..

For flights–> compare airfares on Wego
Hotel –> prices for hotel rooms

As for big aquariums, I’ve visited Aquaria KLCC (even dived in it), Siam Ocean World in Bangkok,  Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and at one point, I even held the yearly pass for Newport Aquarium at Kentucky, so clearly I wasn’t going to miss the chance to visit Underwater World Langkawi.

As it turned out, the decision was a correct one, what we got to enjoy was well worth the RM 36/pax entrance fee (for Malaysian). Check out the short 3 minute video above.

penguins!
rockhopper and black-footed penguins!

The aquarium covers some 60,000 sq ft separated in several sections, starting with reptiles and some freshwater fish right after the entrance area. Here you get to see the biggest freshwater fish species – Arapaima Gigas, among others such as the freshwater stingray, red tail cat fish etc.

getting up close with the sharks, and the mesmerizing octopus
getting up close with the sharks, and the mesmerizing octopus

Next up is the tropical rain forest, which houses not only fish but birds and and small animals. Our favorites being the marmoset, which looks a bit like super tiny Chinese opera actors if you ask me. There are also flamingos, swan, mandarin ducks and more.

The temperate and sub-antarctic sections are the main draws here, cos for many this would be the first time being up close with seals & penguins. There are in fact two penguin areas, one of each for rockhopper and black-footed penguins.

giant garupa, mud skippers, jellyfish and more
giant garupa, mud skippers, jellyfish and more

Like many big aquariums, there’s a tunnel at Underwater World Langkawi as well. Here you’ll see several species of sharks, giant grouper, turtles, stingray and more swimming about merrily. To be honest, I thought the tunnel at Aquaria KLCC was a bit more impressive, but this is a much bigger aquarium with more to see otherwise.

After the tunnel, there’s still yet more sea lives on showcase at the various tanks, including spider crab, octopus (very mesmerizing), jelly fish, reef fish, trevally, batfish, mudskippers, shrimps, and of course, clown fish.

Overall I thought it was a very fun experience and I’d recommend it to anyone, but especially those who loves the ocean.

map to Cenang beach, Langkawi

Address:
Underwater World Langkawi,
Zon Pantai Cenang,
Mukim Kedawang, 07000 Langkawi
GPS: 6.287737, 99.728655
Tel: 04-955 6100
Hours: 9:30AM-6:30PM weekdays, 9:30AM-8:30PM weekends

Earlier this month I went to yet another island in the East Coast of Malaysia for a little bit of R&R as well as put a bit of time breathing compressed air underwater. For this trip, everything was arranged by my colleague, Rich, I sort of just tag along. A vacation where you don’t have to plan for anything? Sign me up!

Our destination – Pulau Kapas.

Kapas Turtle Valley resort, Pulau Kapas, Terengganu
Kapas Turtle Valley resort, Pulau Kapas, Terengganu

Pulau Kapas is one of the lesser known islands of Terengganu. Located just 6 km or so from Marang Jetty, it is only some 10 minutes on the ferry (every 2 hours), which makes it really accessible even for those who may be prone to sea sickness. Furthermore, with East Coast Expressway in operation, getting there is easier than ever, around 400km on dual lane expressway with another 20 or so KM trunk road.

snorkeling, sand castle, and playing with hermit crab
snorkeling, sand castle, and playing with hermit crab

Kapas Turtle Valley is run by a Dutch couple who called Malaysia home. It is a fairly small resort with capacity of less than 20-30 guests at any one time. It is also located at semi-private sort of beach with other resorts accessible via a short walk across the small hill in 10 minutes, perfect for those who loves a bit of privacy and quiet time.

You’ll be expected to spend close to RM 100 per night per person to stay at KTV, with breakfast inclusive. The bungalows are comfortable, bathrooms are big and quite luxurious for island standard, and you do have electricity around the clock.

food at Kapas Turtle Valley was excellent
food at Kapas Turtle Valley was excellent

What I love most though, is the food prepared by Sylvia. Breakfast usually consists of very good pastry, dutch cheese, egg, and juice, while lunch & dinner is as per order (usually from 3 choices) and priced reasonably. Her dishes are at least on par with some of the better restaurants in town, and that is certainly quite a luxury on an island, with a budget.

kayaking looks a lot easier in photos
kayaking looks a lot easier in photos

Holiday on island is about rest and relax, reading a book, listening to the waves and such, but if you’re restless, or you’re between 3-6, there are still quite a bit to do.

Making sand castle, catching hermit crab, snorkeling at the house reef, kayaking, throwing freebies, or even sailing on a catamaran is an option.

Aqua Sport Divers, the only dive center at Pulau Kapas
Aqua Sport Divers, the only dive center at Pulau Kapas

We spent 5 days and 4 nights at Turtle Kapas Valley, and only decided to put in some diving on 3rd and 4th day.

Aqua Sport Divers is the only dive center on the island, and some 25 minutes walk from where we stay. Fortunately, they are more than happy to ferry us on a small speed boat to & fro from KTV to dive center.

nemo with anemone, always one of my favorite shooting subjects
nemo with anemone, always one of my favorite shooting subjects

As for the dives, underwater visibility at Kapas isn’t exactly stellar, mostly due to the fact that the island is a mere 6 kilometers away from peninsular Malaysia, but they were more than decent.

Over the 3 dives, we spotted moray eel, barracuda, humphead wrasse, clown fish, jelly fish, big puffer, blue spotted stingray, and more. There were even a story about a group getting a glimpse of a whale shark a couple weeks prior.

UW pics taken with Olympus TG-5
UW pics taken with Olympus TG-5

I loaned a couple cameras from Olympus that are fit for underwater purposes. The Olympus TG-Tracker for video, and Olympus TG-5 mainly for stills. They were very convenient, pop the SD cards in and you’re good to go, no meticulous checking of seals or carrying my huge set up of my (now dated) Olympus E-PL3 with underwater housing. The picture quality isn’t as good as a micro 4/3 format for sure, but there were more than acceptable, and of course, carrying a small pouch with 2 cameras is much easier than a whole luggage full of gear for just one.

Overall it was an awesome trip, thanks to Rich & San San for organizing, will look forward to more R&R trips such as this one.