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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / firdy

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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!

bali itinerary 2014

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, totally by accident
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
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.

Address:
Babi Guling Sanur
Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai, Sanur (Opposite McDonald’s)
Bali

GPS8.682743, 115.259062

you can refuel at the gas station, of from these road side "premium" bottles
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 Beratan is at around 1200+ meters up, as high as Genting Highland
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
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.

Address:
Warung Ayu
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
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!
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
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.

Address:
Bali Asli

Jalan Raya Gelumpang
Gelumpang village
Amlapura
Karangasem
GPS: -8.426548, 115.607427
Tel+62 8289 7030098

Tirtaganga water palace, just a short drive from Bali Asli
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
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.

Address:
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 :D
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
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.

Address:
Soto Ayam Suroboyo
Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai No. 210,
Sanur, Bali
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.

 

And it was another Xmas Eve Party at SS3, a yearly tradition that we’ve had since 2004 (except for 2010), if you’re counting, this was the 8th time on the same venue with the same concept – plenty of drinks, a bit of food, and a tricky gift exchange program by midnight.

The idea is for everyone to have some fun counting down to Christmas day, and at the same time an excuse to have a few drinks and mingle among like minded friends.

xmas eve party at SS3, 2012
xmas eve party at SS3, 2012

Carlsberg Malaysia was kind enough to sponsor us some beer for the night – we had 2 cases of Carlsberg, Asashi Super Dry, and Kronenbourg Blanc each. Thank you Pearl, Calvin, and Serin!

I made full use of the Jagermiester freezer and Carlsberg beer tower I won from the Jagermiester Halloween Party a couple months ago.

I made some bergedil, haze marinated pork for bbq, Fresh made santa berries
I made some bergedil, haze marinated pork for bbq, Fresh made santa berries

Other than the beer, we prepared some food for the night. Haze marinated more than 3 KGs of pork for BBQ and prepared a small slab of roast pork, I made some bergedil, and Fresh prepared her little cute Santaberries.

It wasn’t a dinner event, so these were just beer food.

Jeniffer & Jenine; Fooi, Sam, Kerol, Terence; Shany & Desmond, Eiling, Horng
Jeniffer & Janine; Fooi, Sam, Kerol, Terence; Shany & Desmond, Eiling, Horng

Guests started coming in just slightly before 9 pm. In fact, David and Michael actually went to my place while we were out having dinner, talk about being too punctual.

Fresh, Huss, Janine, Winnie & Terence, KY, Erin, Yuki, Martin
Fresh, Huss, Janine, Winnie & Terence, KY, Erin, Yuki, Martin

The returning party goers were:

KY, Haze, Horng, Yuki, Kim, Gareth, Terence, Kerol, Ruby, Michael, Li Ling, Lance, Eiling, Yee Hou, Firdy, Zess, Shiang.

Fiqa, Eiling, Ruby & Desmond, Terence, Vindy, Cherlyn, Desmond, Terence

Fiqa, Eiling, Ruby & Desmond, Terence, Vindy, Cherlyn, Desmond, Terence

New Faces were:

Fiqa, Huss, Fresh, Erin, Martin, Jennifer, Janine, Winnie, Fooi, Desmond, Sam, Geoffery, Shany, Cheryn, Vindy, David, Gary

So that was 17-17 with a total of 34 people, a pretty nice turn out despite a few notable absence due to work, travel, and family commitments. You know who you are, and we hope to see you next year.

David, Yee Hou, Desmond, Michael, Kerol, Horng, Firdy, Gary
David, Yee Hou, Desmond, Michael, Kerol, Horng, Firdy, Gary

We had another fun filled gift exchange program with the following rules this year

  • every participant contribute a gift worth over RM 49.90, and then draw a number from the box
  • smallest number start by picking and unwrapping a gift
  • next number can snatch the opened gift, whereby the person who lost it gets to choose another gift, or snatch another opened gift
  • maximum of 3 snatching sequence per round

The most snatched gift was a sweet Puma Ducati bag from Fooi that’s actually retailed at over RM 300, Lance went home with it. Other memorable gifts include portable air bed, Chinese liquor, ice cream, Thor’s Hammer bottle opener, a couple of salami from Australia.

Terence ended up with a pair of blue lingerie, who would have thought, right?

Gary, Geoffery, Horng; Yee Hou, Fresh, Yuki, Haze; and finally, the drunken man
Gary, Geoffery, Horng; Yee Hou, Fresh, Yuki, Haze; and finally, the drunken man

The men in blue visited us by around 2 am and that’s when the party was winding down. The ending of this party is almost exactly the same as the one in 2008 where we had a dude in Afro K-O-ed on the floor. It was a blast.

See you guys next year!

Last week I was invited to a buka puasa dinner at Paya Serai. It is a little bit like going to pasar ramadan at Kelana Jaya, there are over 100 dishes of mainly local delights to choose from, but instead of on a street, you have a comfortable air conditioned dining area, plus you pay a one lump sum instead of having to do so many transactions.

In another word, it is a buffet (duh!)

buffet spread at Paya Serai, PJ Hilton
buffet spread at Paya Serai, PJ Hilton

For the Ramadan month, the buffet spread at Paya Serai is spearheaded by Chef Noor Hisham, so in addition to the international dishes, there are more emphasis on traditional Malay cuisine, which is entirely appropriate if you ask me.

awesome ulam spread, and sambal tempoyak too
awesome ulam spread, and sambal tempoyak too

I usually start my buffet with cold cuts and oysters (which they serve here too), but at Paya Serai, I can never resist their superb selection of ulam and sambal – especially sambal tempoyak. I don’t know if you can find this fermented durian sambal in any other hotel, it is positively pungent and supremely addictive for those who has a taste on the wilder side.

tempura and such, various kuih muih, ice kacang too
tempura and such, various kuih muih, ice kacang too

A couple dozen types of Nyonya and traditional Malay kuih muih is something not to be missed as well, and over here they have them in small convenient pieces so you don’t over stuffed your stomach too soon.

There’s a tempura stall and some sushi for those who felt like a buffet isn’t complete without Japanese food, but I didn’t have any but didn’t miss them.

paku, curry, and lala
paku, curry, and lala

Among the many dozens of traditional lauk, I was surprised to find paku in the spread, it’s one of my favorite vegetables and was always awesome. Their lamb curry, lala, paru (cow’s lung), and satey were pretty good as well.

I didn’t find baigan bhrata, a Northern Indian eggplant dish to be very delicious, but I guess a couple misses among over 100 dishes is certainly acceptable.

these four plates, and I was stuffed :S
these four plates, and I was stuffed :S

Other than the normal buffet spreads, a few stalls were set up at the front of the restaurant too, offering laksa, nasi lemak, roti jala, and even apom. I tried the nasi lemak and it was pretty good (with beef rendang of course)

The buffet certainly had a lot more dishes than I could bargain for, and we eventually reluctantly leave even though there were more to be tasted. What to do, stomach already completely stuffed, haigh.

more food, and with the guys
more food, and with the guys – Tian Chad, Firdy, Wilson

The buffet is from 7 pm to 10:30 pm. Pricing are as follow:

  • adult: RM 70++, child below 12: RM 49++ for the first 3 days
  • adult: RM 119++, child below 12: RM 60++ for the next 1 week
  • adult: RM 129++, child below 12: RM 70++ after that

Do call for reservation cos it gets packed!

map to Petaling Jaya Hilton Hotel

Address:
Paya Serai
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS3.10235, 101.64087
Tel03-7955 9122

 

One of my favorite dinner Bak Kut Teh destinations was always been at PJ old town. For the longest time, I actually didn’t notice the existence of Meng Kee Bak Kut Teh despite having been to Heng Kee just a stone’s throw away in numerous occasions.

meng kee bak kut teh at pj old town
Meng Kee Bak Kut Teh with all sorts of ingredients to choose from

Meng Kee is located right opposite Public Bank at Old Town at a corner shop that is basically almost all alfresco with no table within the walls. The whole set up is more old school, quite a lot more disorganized, and even busier than Heng Kee.

On the Monday night we were there, it was packed and we actually had to wait for some 10 minutes before a table was available for the six of us. It took a further 20 minutes or so before our food was served.

bak kut teh, mushroom, ribs, pork belly, vegetable
pork ribs, vegetable, 3 layer fatty pork, braised mushroom

Just like the other Old Town bak kut teh, the dishes are served in plastic bowls instead of clay pots. Personally I don’t find any distinction between having my meat in a clay pot or a bowl. You should eat bak kut teh fast enough that the soup stay warm irregardless of the type of container used.

We ordered 3-layer fatty pork, ribs, braised mushroom, vegetable, a small portion of intestines and tripes, and tofu.

KY, ginny, mellissa, anne marie, yee hou, firdy
KY, Ginny, Mellissa, AmCheong, Yee Hou, Firdy

The meat, fatty pork, ribs, innards, alongside with the teow chew style bak kut teh soup was good, on par with some of the bests out there. The mushroom and vegetable was alright too, though not particularly special. Tofu was a little too oily but I think it was due to the fact that they rushed it.

There are people we claimed that Meng Kee is better than Heng Kee, but honestly speaking I find no significant difference between the two and would probably prefer the latter’s slightly more comfortable dining experience. That said, Meng Kee does have the more old school nostalgic feel to it that works in its favor for that all important psychological effect.

meng_kee_bkt_map
Meng Kee BKT is located opposite Public Bank at PJ Old Town

Address:
Meng Kee Bak Kut Teh
Jalan Pasar 1/21
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS: 3.086565,101.646044
Tel: 017-291 1745

About a gazillion years ago (which means slightly less than half a year in late January), a bunch of us decided to give Pinky a farewell dinner at Xiao Fei Yang steamboat restaurant prior to her departure to Melbourne for further study.

The restaurant is located just behind Berjaya Times Square on Lorong Thambi Dua, not far from the best roasted pork in town at Wong Mei Kee.

xiao fei yang steamboat
the condiments and two types of soup, spicy!

Though located in the older part of KL with horrible parking situation, Xiao Fei Yang benefits from having an empty lot just right next to the restaurant. If you’re willing to part with RM 1-2, there shouldn’t be a problem.

While not decorated with fancy furniture and design, the restaurant is clean, air conditioned, and pretty comfortable. But as with most Chinese buffet that is in air conditioned area, you risk smelling like what you just ate since Korean-style ventilation is non existent.

steamboat
lamb, beef, fishballs, mushroom, noodle, fu chuk (tofu skin), etc

Steamboat at Xiao Feing Yang is closer to Sichuan (like the one at Jin Shan Cheng, Sunway) and Mongolian (check out Inner Mongolia steamboat at Pudu) style. The restaurant claims that the soup is boiled for 12 hours with some 30 different Chinese herb, it is supposed to have beautifying and healthy effect on you.. but I only worry if it’s tasty anyway.

Mell, KY, Pinky, Tim, and Audrey having steamboat
Mell, KY, Pinky, Tim, Audrey

The ten of us ordered lamb, beef, and possibly pork. There were also fish ball, meat ball, two types of tofu skin, cuttle fish, mushroom, vegetable, seaweed, and noodle. There were other more exotic ingredients but I guess some of these guys aren’t exactly the most adventurous when it comes to food.

As for the soup, we had both the herbal and the spicy version. Basically the spicy version is just the herbal soup with chili oil added. They come with quite a lot of herbs I can’t name (I remember seeing green onion and red dates), and they add up to give the soup a very sweet and rather sumptuous taste.

Xiao Fei Yang steamboat with Firdy, Robb, Zach, Vernice, Carol
Firdy, Robb, Zach, Vernice, Carol

The thing that I like most about the steamboat is the condiments. Chili paste and fermented tofu paste with freshly boiled lamb or beef can be very addictive. A word of advice though, always start with the clear soup and work your way to spicy but not the other way around.

map to xiao fei yang steamboat at Pudu

It was a pretty satisfying dinner even though we didn’t order anything luxurious (ie: more meat, maybe seafood too?). The bill came to be around RM 20 per person if memory serves me correct. Xiao Fei Yang is not very different from the other two steamboat places mentioned, a place that is worth going if you’re into spicy steamboat with plenty of meat.

Address:
Xiao Fei Yang restaurant,
18, Lorong Thambi Dua,
Pudu, Kuala Lumpur 55100

GPS: 3.139616,101.713185
Tel: 03-2142-6789