Recap of 2012 travels

2012 travel yqtravelling

Hello everyone,

It’s the last day of 2012. For today, I am recapping the journeys I made in 2012, along with a few related entries.

(Some of the cities do not have related blog posts because I am working on a really limited internet connection back home in Sabah. I’ll follow up with the posts once I reach the land of high speed internet–Singapore.)

In case you find this entry a little TL;DR, I want to wish you a happy 2013. May the new year be filled with (productive) travels.

Ciao!

-Yun Qing

January 2012

Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

yqtravelling january seremban negeri sembilan
Seremban

In a nutshell: The Seremban which D and I visited was sleepy. There wasn’t much going around as it seems like most of the people prefer to look for a living in Kuala Lumpur.

Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

Port Dickson
Port Dickson

In a nutshell: The reason I dragged D along to PD was to wash my feet in the ocean. My family has a ritual of stepping into the ocean when the new year comes to “wash away the bad luck”. PD wasn’t as fantastic as what my primary school sample compositions tell me. I much prefer the beaches in Sabah.

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu for the Chinese New Year
Kota Kinabalu for the Chinese New Year

In a nutshell: Back home for Chinese New Year which is the most important festival for my family. I didn’t visit any new places while in Sabah.

February 2012

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur

In a nutshell: Impromptu trip to meet up with Nguyen in KL. It was great fun meeting her again after my trip to Saigon after graduation.

March + April 2012

Yogyakarta + Solo, Indonesia

Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta

In a nutshell: Back in Indonesia after D and my first trip back in 2009. It was great seeing the ancient monuments in Borobudur and Prambanan.

Solo, Indonesia
Solo, Indonesia

In a nutshell: The side trip to Solo was fun too since we visited Candi Sukuh and watched Orang Wayang.

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Ipoh
Ipoh

In a nutshell: Finally back to crossing Malaysian states off my list. Ipoh will forever be remembered as the town with great food (almost as good as Penang) and a “castle” that is not really a castle.

May 2012

San Jose, California, USA

San Jose
San Jose

In a nutshell: On a business trip to cover an event in San Jose. I had the chance to visit Cupertino and see the Winchester Mystery House. I didn’t get to see much of the city because I was stuck in the convention centers getting my bills paid.

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco
San Francisco

In a nutshell: Side trip from San Jose after the business trip. I had planned to visit Napa Valley for a night but decided to stay in SF for the whole week. I saw two great shows, visited many fine museums and cycled a little.

June 2012

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu

In a nutshell: Back home for a classmate’s wedding. didn’t get to visit other areas since I was back for only the weekend.

July 2012

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam

In a nutshell: A 5-day trip to central Vietnam. I had planned to visit another historical town, Hue, but decided to spend all the time in Hoi An. I ate a lot, drank a lot of coffee and cycled a lot.

August 2012

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta
Jakarta

In a nutshell: A short weekend trip to the capital of Indonesia. We weren’t caught in traffic jams as we took the TransJakarta public bus. I didn’t do a lot of research so we ended up walking aimlessly.

September 2012

Tokyo + Kamakura Japan

Kamakura, Japan
Kamakura, Japan

In a nutshell: A day trip to historical Kamakura on the day I reached Tokyo. I love the little town with its little big Buddha and quaint streets.

Tokyo
Tokyo

In a nutshell: A 4-day business trip but I pre-extended the weekend before work. I had the chance to overnight in Ooedo Onsen Monogatari and catch Gintama Land before it was over.

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Kuching
Kuching

In a nutshell: Returned to Kuching. Trip wasn’t as great but I got to meet J the night before.

October 2012

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok
Bangkok

In a nutshell: My first visit to Thailand. I narrowed down my to-do list to a few sites and spent a productive weekend.

Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia

Alor Setar
Alor Setar

In a nutshell: State 9 of my Visit Malaysia project. A small town where our fourth prime minister, Dr Tun Mahathir, was born. Visited the Alor Setar tower, the second tallest TV tower in Malaysia, and saw a bird’s eye view of the town.

Padang Besar, Perlis, Malaysia

Padang Besar
Padang Besar

In a nutshell: State 10 of my Visit Malaysia project. Went to the market bordering Thailand. I was a little disappointed that the market didn’t straddle the border with stall owners on one side accepting ringgit while the other baht.

November 2012

No major travelling for the month. It wasn’t as bad as I expected because I had other things to busy myself with during the weekend. For example, reading Web comics, watching Youtube, eating, reading things online etc.

December 2012

Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia
kudat
In a nutshell: Back home for the Christmas holiday because of forced leave implemented by the company. Went on a roadtrip with Mom to the north of Sabah. We read a lot, ate a lot of fruits while at the hotel. Also visited the “Tip of Borneo”.

How has your year of travelling been?

#FoodFri 10 yummy things I ate while travelling in 2012

It’s the last #FoodFri of 2012. Here at YQtravelling, I want to take a trip down memory lane and bring back memories of the best food I’ve eaten this year.

Seafood in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Crabs
I’m starting the list with a staple dish when I am back home for the holidays–seafood. In my case, seafood usually means crabs because they are cheaper than prawns and much fleshier than clams.

As for seasoning, I do not have a favorite and will eat crabs anyway it is cooked.

Read more: #FoodFri: See food, seafood

Tandoori chicken in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In February, I was in KL with Nguyen. We, along with a friend working in KL, went to an Indian shop for dinner. I’ve been craving food from that store every since but I’ve not been able to visit again.

The naan that came along with the tandoori chicken was baked to perfection. The roasted red chicken was good on its own or with the naan.

Read more: Glutton in Kuala Lumpur

Salt baked chicken in Ipoh, Malaysia

I regret not taking photos of the salt baked chicken which L and I had in Ipoh. We bought it as an afterthought, thinking we might have something for supper while we wait for the day to end.

The chicken was still warm when we tore open the paper box. It was wrapped in wax paper. We had a little difficulty separating the chicken from the paper–bits of skin clung to the wax paper. The chicken tasted like steamed chicken that had been rubbed with salt. However, the skin was flaky like it had been baked.

We ate the whole chicken with our fingers while watching Johnny English in the hotel room.

Read more: Glutton in Ipoh

Banh Mi in Hoi An, Vietnam

Even though cau lao is most famous dish in Hoi An, the best that I had was made by the owner of the homestay. Her cau lao had heaps of meat and vegetable with generous sauce drizled all over.

Since you cannot buy her cau lao off the streets, I want to share the other great food I had in Hoi An: Banh mi.

I found out from Trip Advisor that there is a famous banh mi stall in Hoi An. The only reason I went was because Anthony Bourdain visited the stall before. I memorized the directions on the Web before peddling to the street. It took me a while to find the stall since it was tucked in between other shoe stalls.

I bought one with everything, another with pate and an empty bun. I cycled to the opposite bank and found a spot under a tree. My picnic was great. The bread was flaky and the filling juicy. I gobbled the two stuffed bread down in no time.

Read more: #FoodFri Glutton in Hoi An part 1
#FoodFri Glutton in Hoi An part 2: Restaurants

Sicilian pizza in San Francisco, USA
Sicilian pizza
I wolved down the rectangular clam chowder pizza while sitting on a patch of grass (in the shade, of course).

I don’t know if the pizza’s taste was augmented by the location that I was eating. In any case, the pizza was crunchy and cheesy.

Read more: Glutton in San Francisco

Avocado juice in Indonesia
Indonesian avocado juice, jus alpukat
My trips to Indonesia had always been with D. I don’t remember how we found out about the magical avocado juice but I am glad we did.

In Indonesia, even the small roadside stalls (warung) serve avocado juice. The cook scoops out creamy avocado flesh into a blender and mix it with ice (and maybe tons of sugar syrup). Then, she (most of the warung owners are ladies) decorates a glass with chocolate condensed milk.

The green blended drink is poured into the chocolate syrup glass. A straw follows.

Avocado juice feels like a creamy milkshake but with a green-ish taste. At first sip, you are surprised by how chunky it feels even though everything is puree. Then you slowly take more gigantic sips because you cannot get enough of it.

By the fourth sip, you are surprised that you only have an inch left in your glass. You wave down a server and order another glass before your meal arrives.

Mie in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Indonesia mie, noodle
D and I were looking for a lunch place at the mall in Yogyakarta. We decided to have lunch at Mie Nusantara. Little did we know, it was the best noodle and that we would have (at least until now).

The noodle was springy and yummy with its black sauce. The gigantic fried meatballs were chewy and was nothing like the regular siewmai that I have back home.

We thought that other stores in Indonesia would have the same quality of food. Unfortunately, we went to a Mie place in Jakarta where we found the worst noodle ever.

Bean curd in ginger syrup in Bangkok, Thailand
I passed by the little hole-in-the-wall on the way to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The spicy ginger syrup beckoned me with a wave like cartoon smoke.

I coughed through the meal because of the ginger. Strangely, the bean curd had hints of peanut in it even though I am quite sure they used soy bean for these dishes.

Flavored beer in Tokyo, Japan
japan beer, flavored beer
During my October trip to Tokyo, I didn’t have any mind blowing meal. The sushi at Tsukiji was a little bland while the udon at Shinjuku was too salty.

But, I did manage to buy a can of flavored beer (or it is considered alcohol, not beer). I fell in love with these low-alcohol fizzy drinks the first time I was in Japan. Every trip, I make sure that I buy a can (mostly from convenience stores) and get a little tipsy before bedtime.

I quite like Japanese-styled pudding (pictured with the beer). I am not quite sure if I should eat the caramel part before the custard or the other way around.

Everything else
To be honest, I’ve thought really hard about which food to put as the last in the Top 10 entry. Nothing special comes to mind so I am putting this generic entry.

Even the bad tasting supermarket sushi in San Francisco deserves a mention because without tasting something as foul, I would not be able to recognize what good food tastes like.

I am thankful that I am able to eat something other than McDonald while travelling. I am thankful for not being allergic to food types which gives me a chance to eat all sorts of interesting things while on the road.

Do you have a special dish for the year 2012? Share it in the comments below.

A look back at my 2012 travels

Lavender bush at Sausalito

Hello everyone,

I’m back home in Sabah for the holiday. My parents cancelled the house’s broadband service so I am stuck with using 3G on my phone. This means no aimless Youtube surfing or blogging.

Luckily, I’m now in a hotel lobby that has Wi-Fi so I can publish this post. My mom and I are in a 2-day roadtrip to Kudat.

Anyway, it’s the last week of 2012 so I want to bring you back to the different trips that I made this year. (A full recap of the towns I’ve been to later this week.)

First and last trip of 2012
First: I was travelling with D to Negeri Sembilan’s Seremban on New Year’s eve. We continued to Port Dickson the next day so that I could wash my feet in the ocean. (It’s a tradition for me.)

Last: I’m back home for the December break! I guess the Kudat trip I’m in now counts as the last trip for the year.

Best and worst Malaysian state this year
I haven’t been visiting as many Malaysian states as I promised myself last year. If I have to pick a favorite state (or town) this year, it would be Ipoh, Perak. Ipoh has lovely food and even one (kind of) historical ruin.

I’ve liked all the states which I visited but I totally hate the 13-hour bus ride–including 6+ hours of post-holiday traffic jam–that spanned from Kedah to Kuala Lumpur.

Longest bus ride
Related to the above, the longest bus ride I took was from Alor Setar to Kuala Lumpur. It caused enough travel trauma that I didn’t travel since then. (Kidding, I haven’t travelled in November because I’m trying to save more money.)

Longest flight
Tokyo to San Franciso: 9h, 30m, 8,224 km.

I took Delta for my business trip to the USA. The flight was better than I expected because they serve Coca Cola in cans. Gulp gulp gulp.

Unexpectedly nice and not-so-nice city
San Francisco was more awesome than I thought it would be: the buildings, the museums, the shows, the sea. Plus, lavender is planted as street plants there. I am sold!

Lavender bush at Sausalito
Lavender bush at Sausalito

Unfortunately, Jakarta wasn’t as exciting as I hoped it would be. The food wasn’t as fantastic as Yogyakrta.

Best and worst paid accommodation
I’m leaving out hotels that I stayed in as part of my business trip because it’s not fair to compare heaven with earth.

The best place I’ve stayed in this year is Manohara Hotel when D and I were in Yogyakarta. Well, the price is correlated to how great the beds are. The second place goes to Tune Hotel Asoke which was really 5-star hotel for 1-star price.

As for the worse accommodation. The Port Dickson room had thin walls and a common shower with only cold water. It was next to a night market which blasted music till 3 a.m.. The other guest had a kid who was screaming in the morning. But…the worst hotel award should go to the hotels in Yogyakarta where D and I caught bed bugs.

Funniest and least funny memory
Funniest: In Prambanan city, a random man called out to D and I from his stall: “AJINOMOTO!” It’s like a man shouting at two random white persons: “COCA COLA!”

Least funny: Being chat up by a hobo-like person on the San Francisco bus. I had to switch my seats to the front so I was sitting near the driver. The kind lady sitting at the front made up for the weird chat.

Yummiest and most disgusting meal when travelling
Cannot choose. TOO MUCH GOOD FOOD during the year.

As for worse meal: supermarket sushi.

Most and least productive trip
My weekend in Bangkok was really well planned, if I do say so myself. I’ll share the itinerary one day.

The least productive trip is either the Kuching trip or the Jakarta trip. I think Kuching might top the list because it was my second time there.

Well, that is all with the recap! I have to go. My people need me!

How has your year of travelling been?

Penang ferry ride from Georgetown to Butterworth and back

Penang ferry

Penang’s ferry service is supposedly the oldest ferry service in Malaysia.

My parents and I went for a ride during our trip to Penang. We planned to take the bus back on the bridge but we couldn’t find the bus so we took the boat back again.

Ferry and cars
Ferry and cars

Blue ferry
Blue ferry

From Georgetown, there is no fee for passengers.

But it was about RM1.20 on the way back.

No fishing
No fishing

Passengers share the upper deck with cars. There are only a few seats by the side of the ferry and these are usually taken up if you do not run fast enough.
Inside the ferry with the cars
Inside the ferry with the cars

Inside the ferry with passengers
Inside the ferry with passengers
Life jackets on ferry
Life jackets on ferry
Child's life jacket
Child’s life jacket

Vehicle catcher
Vehicle catcher

Since I do not take water transport much, I really liked the ferry ride to and from Georgetown.
Ferry
Ferry

How about this angle?
How about this angle?

For those who are too lazy to plan things to do in Penang, consider taking the boat. The scenery might be better at night when the city sparkles.

#FoodFri Traditional Taiwanese breakfast

Traditional Taiwanese breakfast

My parents and I stopped by a Taiwanese breakfast place when we were in Taipei in 2010.

Salty soy milk, pan fried buns and fried dough 烧饼油条 豆浆 水煎包
Traditional Taiwanese breakfast

The shop was divided into two sections. In front, the shopowners cooked while the back was reserved for customers to sit. The customer sector was warm from the cooking in front which was good because we were caught in a drizzle before that.

I requested for shuijianbao (水煎包) which were pan fried small meat buns. I had loved meat too much to forgo it even for breakfast.

Here’s a breakdown of the meal:

Savory soy milk

Salty soy milk 咸豆浆
Salty soy milk

Instead of the sweet warm soy milk that I had been used to, I was served salty warm soy milk. It even tasted slightly burnt which didn’t help a lot with the taste.

水煎包 Shuijianbao

Pan fried mini meat buns
Pan fried mini meat buns 水煎包

Even though eating something as oil as mini pan fried meat buns wasn’t good for the stomach early in the morning, I had to have some of them before I start the day.

The buns were tasty and had vegetable filling. Compared to xiaolongbao, shuijiabbao is less soupy and has a thicker flour skin.

烧饼油条 Shaobing Youtiao

烧饼油条 Fried dough wrapped in fried dough
Fried dough wrapped in fried dough

Before that meal, I had never seen the shaobing youtiao combo in real life. I was used to eating the two twin fried doughsticks called youtiao but I’ve not tried it as a pair.

It was rather unusual, eating fried dough wrapped in fried dough. I think I left most of the shaobing youtiao for the parents.

After the meal, I concluded that I was more used to the traditional breakfast found in Singapore and Malaysia.

Other Chinese food featured on #FoodFri:

5 ways to take a selfie when travelling solo

For those who are not well versed in internet speak, here is a definition of “selfie” from urbandictionary.com:

A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website.
You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them…

I like taking photos when travelling but I do not have a lot of photos of myself.

In fact, I checked my Hoi An albums and found that out of the 440 photos I took, I was in 5 of them.

The reason I do not have as much photos of myself when travelling solo is that I am easily embarrassed and I do not ask strangers to take photos of me.

While I’ve not taken many photos of myself, I’ve devised a few ways to take a selfie when travelling:

1. Arm stretching

How to take a selfie

Basic level of taking a selfie is holding your camera at arm’s length. Make sure that not too much double chin appears.

2. Mirror mirror

How to take a selfie
Another basic level of taking a selfie is taking a photo of your reflection. This works best in museums with reflective surfaces or glass doors.

It’s best to crop the photo before you share it on the Internet or print it out:
How to take a selfie
The key to a good reflection selfie is to look at the camera lens or you will look distracted.

Take care to take photos of a smooth reflective surface, or you will end up looking like something else.
How to take a selfie

3. Balance it on things

How to take a selfie
An intermediate level way of taking a selfie is settling your camera on a surface and pose from a distance. This way, there is less chance of your double chin being exposed as it does in Tip 1.

Taking a photo this way requires an empty area, with no one to gawk at the poor tourist smiling at a camera on a timer or to steal your camera.

First set your camera’s timer (10 seconds is more than enough). Find a flat area to balance your camera. Look into the view finder/screen to guess where you should stand. Press the button to get the timer running. Run to the place to take a photo.

4. Hang it on things

How to take a selfie
Another intermediate level selfie. While I do not recommend hanging a DSLR from a skinny twig, it is possible to hang light snap and shoot on its strap and set the timer.

While waiting for the shot to take, pray hard that the camera doesn’t turn to the other direction or it will take a photo of the opposite direction.

5. Take photo of shadow

How to take a selfie
This is the most boring of selfies. A photo of your shadow isn’t the most exciting but at least there is a part of you in the picture.

It works best if you have a unique headshape or weird shaped clothes.

Do you have any selfie-taking tips for solo travellers?

A walk among the dead in Montparnasse cemetery

Montparnasse cemetery, cross against a blue sky

[To increase the level of spook, check out My visit to the Empire of Death before this post.]

I didn’t plan for my third day in Paris to be full of death.

In the morning, I visited the Catacombs. When I was doing my travel research, one guidebook or another recommended Montparnasse cemetery where among the dead laid Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.

I do not know much about de Beauvoir, apart from her being a famous feminist and a on-and-off partner of Sartre. I learned fake existentialism from a French-teaching armadillo on the University of Austin Texas’s Web site.

I do not remember how I got to the cemetery. I might have taken the train to Rapsail stop, since Google Maps is telling me that it’s a 1.5km walk from the exit of the Catacombs.

Following my trusty portable map and some road signs, I reached the Montparnasse cemetery area. There was a high wall separating the dead and the living. I wish it was a short gate so I could have jumped over it and get finished with my itinerary.

Secret door of Montparnasse cemetery
Secret door of Montparnasse cemetery

There was a high wall separating the dead and the living. I wish it was a short gate so I could have jumped over it and get finished with my itinerary.

I walked the a long stretch of road to the gates. For someone who do not know what is behind the walls, the vine-covered bricks might mean a private garden lay behind. A garden of the dead.

Plaque about Cemetiere de Montparnasse
Plaque about Cemetiere de Montparnasse

When I did reach the gates, I studied the map of the cemetery. The map was too high up for me to take a good picture to use as a walking guide. Instead, I studied where de Beauvoir and Sartre laid and mentally mapped my way there.

Map of Montparnasse cemetery
Map of Montparnasse cemetery

Looking for de Beauvoir

It wasn’t that easy finding their graves. I was expecting something grand with wreaths decoration which was why I missed out the grave when I walked past it a few times.

The tombsone was a pale marble, hidden among the other gray grave markers. Craved on the tombstone in gold were the names of de Beauvoir and Sartre and their birth year and death year. (Is there such a thing as a “deathday”?)

Grave of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre
Grave of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre

Grave of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre
The tombstone was small, I had expected something flashier given how big they were when they were alive. There were a lot of souvenirs on the tombstone. If it weren’t for the seriousness of being in a graveyard, I might have laughed out loud at the gifts.
Souvenirs from fans of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre
Souvenirs from fans of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre

Souvenirs from fans of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre Love the family portrait
Souvenirs from fans of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre
Love the family portrait

I particularly like the drawing of de Beauvoir and Sartre. A few lines from a de Beauvoir admire were scribbled on a piece of paper, probably torn out of a journal bought especially for the trip to Paris. A train ticket stub. A withering flower.

I regret not buying a bunch of flowers near the gates of the catacombs although it’s a little silly since the dead would not be able to smell them.

I didn’t expect de Beauvoir and Sarte to share one grave, like they aresharing an apartment. I thought that they each had their own plot of land, instead, they laid next to (or even on top) of each other.

Knowing what had passed between them during their final years, I wonder if the people who buried them were too romantic and decided that they must be together even in death.

While looking at the grave, I was overcome by sadness and wiped a few tears. What does it mean to live and be famous when in the end, we all would die and end up buried in the ground.

A walk in the park

Road sign in the middle of Montparnasse cemetery
Road sign in the middle of Montparnasse cemetery

After contemplating life at the grave of de Beauvoir, I decided to walk about in the graveyard.
Cross in the sky
Cross in the sky

The graveyard was shady, and very much like a park or a garden. I sat down at one of the benches and regretted not buying a picnic. Come to think of it, I might have lost my journal in the graveyard. I guess that’s much more poetic than losing it in the public toilet.

There was a grave marker in Chinese but I do not know the history of the two people who laid inside.

Chinese grave at Montparnasse cemetery
Chinese grave

There was another lady in the graveyard that day. She was refilling her bottle at one of the taps. I was worried that she might be drinking non-potable water.

The cemetery ground was large. I didn’t find other famous people’s graves even though there are supposed to be more.

I did find some lovely graves.

Tombstones in Montparnasse
Tombstones in Montparnasse
Familles Daniel Meyer et Ernest SAMUEL
Familles Daniel Meyer et Ernest SAMUEL

Graves in Montparnasse
Graves in Montparnasse

Yes, really large.
Cordoned tower of Montparnasse cemetery
Cordoned tower

Family grave
Family grave at Montparnasse cemetery
Grave with leaves
Grave with leaves
Statue of sad lovers
Statue of sad lovers at Montparnasse cemetery
Obelisk
Obelisk at Montparnasse cemetery
Fresh flowers
Fresh flowers at Montparnasse cemetery
Tombstones at Montparnasse cemetery
Tombstones at Montparnasse cemetery

I was surprised to see an apartment next to the graveyard. Being raised in a Chinese culture, any accommodation next to a graveyard means “bad things will happen”.

But Montparnasse didn’t look that much like a graveyard, so I suppose not much bad things will happen.

Bad feng shui?
Bad feng shui?

Do you have a favorite cemetery?

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#FoodFri Chicken rice from Chatterbox, Singapore

chatterbox chicken rice

Have you eaten yet? Sorry for keeping you hungry with this late #FoodFri post.

I was watching Rurouni Kenshin (good show by the way) and returned home late. I also had a cupcake before I writing this post so that took up another 5 minutes.

Let’s get the show started.

Today’s #FoodFri is the famous chicken rice from Chatterbox. It’s not your regular hawker center chicken rice, but a S$28 set served in beautiful ceramic (I can’t tell my plates) on a Japanese lacquer wood-like tray.

From the Meritus Hotel’s website:

Featuring a spread of local heritage cuisines, Chatterbox was the first hotel restaurant that made local food famous both locally and worldwide. Feast on the legendary Mandarin Chicken Rice, which has become a household name around the world and remains as one of the most desired Singaporean dish among celebrities, ministers and connoisseurs for 40 years.

chatterbox chicken rice
Chatterbox chicken rice

While the dish was too pricey, the drumstick which I ordered was smooth and tender. It was like biting into soft boiled chicken (not the tough breast meat).

The bowl which the chicken was served in was deep and the yummy soy sauce was left down the bowl. I had to set the chicken aside before I could scoop the soy sauce to go with the rice.

The soup wasn’t the regular clear water with a drop of sesame oil and some scallion. Instead, it tasted faintly of peanut.

The rice wasn’t very fluffy and felt like it was slightly undercooked. Despite these little faults (aggravated by my high expectations), I finished every thing in my plate except the raw cucumbers. Eek.

Well, now that I’ve tried the world famous Chatterbox chicken rice and ticked an item off my bucket list, I don’t think I will return to have it for a second round. I do prefer having 10 plates of $2.50 chicken rice to this one set.

Disclosure: I had this meal during a business lunch. I try not to take photos of the food served at business lunches but this was just too good not to miss.

Trip to Pinang Peranakan Museum

Pinang Peranakan Museum

What do you do when you are planning a trip to a place where you’ve been to with Person A but now you need to Person B to the same place.

That was the question I had to answer when I was planning my parents’ trip to Penang. Previously, I went to the Pearl of the Orient once with L. I didn’t really want to visit sites which I’ve visited because it would be a waste of time for me.

However, I made an exception for the Pinang Peranakan Museum.

Background of Pinang Peranakan Museum

Pinang Peranakan Museum's facade
Pinang Peranakan Museum’s facade

The museum was previously the house of a rich Peranakan family.

Even though the mansion is big, it doesn’t seem be to big enough for a family with 3 generations, including the multiple concubines and their kids. Perhaps the lower ranking people lived in the compound and not the main house.

Pinang Peranakan Museum's interior
Pinang Peranakan Museum’s interior

The museum is divided into two levels. The lower level is the place where guests visit. It includes a gigantic dining table, a room for card games and loads of antique.

Many of the wooden panels or carvings were decorated with a layer of gold (probably only paint) which made the whole floor look a little like the showfloor for houses targeted at the nouveau riche.

Deco of Pinang Peranakan Museum
Deco of Pinang Peranakan Museum

The upper floor is similarly packed with antiques but is more “personal”.

The wedding room is a little ominous with the red lighting which made the room feel like a brothel instead of the suit of a newly wed couple.

Pinang Peranakan Museum
Pinang Peranakan Museum

After seeing Singapore’s Peranakan Museum, the Pinang Peranakan Museum feels like everything was thrown together in haste for the exhibition. This isn’t a bad thing because it feels more approachable. It’s easier to imagine how the family might have lived..

I’m a star

Peranakan-related movies
Peranakan-related movies

Based on the fading movie posters at the entrance, the house was the filming location for multiple period dramas.

A popular Singapore period drama, Little Nyonya, might be filmed here. I’ve never watched the drama but after reading the character bios, I think I might like the show because it doesn’t have a “Happily Ever After” ending.

The parents and I at Pinang Peranakan Museum
The parents and I at Pinang Peranakan Museum

The compound of the museum had a few bamboo-like plants. They were decorated with the entrance stickers which were stuck on by tourists. I like that it gave the green tone of the wall and plants a pop of color.

Comparing Pinang Peranakan Museum and Singapore Peranakan Museum

If I must choose between Pinang Peranakan Museum and Singapore Peranakan Museum, I would choose the museum in Penang as my favorite.

The site feels more friendly and human because all the wares are right in front of you.

If you like reading explanations in museums then Penang’s peranakan museum might not suit your taste.

Singapore’s Peranakan Museum is housed in a beautiful building but the content of the exhibition is a little sterile. It played up the peranakan nostalgia to the highest volume.

Visiting information:

Location: 29 Lebuh Gereja George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Entrance fee: RM10
Time required to look around: ~1 hour

Like Penang? Check out my other posts on the Pearl of the Orient.

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I’m in Dec 2012 issue of Jetstar Asia magazine

cheong fatt tze mansion

Hello folks! I’m finally published in a print magazine.

Ta da! It’s Dececember 2012 issue of Jetstar Asia’s magazine (page 111). It’s a short piece on the Blue Mansion in Penang. The house was lovely but we couldn’t take photos inside. :(

YQ on Jetstar Asia, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
YQ on Jetstar Asia Magazine

OK, maybe my article is not as glamorous as a full spread photo + text article but it’s a step, isn’t it? (Although a rather small one.)

Full story appears at Jetstar online mag.

If you are interested in the competition, here are the details.

Jetstar Asia competition
Jetstar Asia competition

Wait a minute, it seems like I’ve not written much about Penang. I’ll do just that in the following weeks. Stay tuned.

Travel happy.
-YQ

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