#Caturday: Lion in a cage

zoo in dubai

Location: Dubai Zoo

Dubai’s zoo wasn’t really worth visiting because the whole place isn’t sheltered. You have to animals in cages under the hot desert sun.

The animals seem that they are too hot too move and you’ll have to contend with visitors who do not have zoo etiquette. Nearly all of them were banging on the cages of the animals as if it would animate the prisoners inside. I kept wishing the tiger would jump up and bite their hands or something.

Dubai zoo's wall

One of the exhibits was a lioness who was just lying around doing nothing.

Dubai lioness

Look at more Caturdays:

Fat cat in Hong Kong Hostel
Assassin cat in Miraflores, Lima
Caterpillar-in-training in Florence

Glutton at Jogoya buffet, Kuala Lumpur

jogoya buffet

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re flying to Kuala Lumpur for an amazing all-you-can-eat buffet.

 

Here at YQtravelling, I don’t usually talk about one particular restaurant on FoodFridays.

Usually, it’s either a dish or a particular place where I’ve eaten. Today everything will change because I went to the most amazing buffet place while mom and I were out in Kuala Lumpur on September 11.

Prologue

My mom loves sashimi so when I told her about eating in KL, she requested that we go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and EAT ALL THE SASHIMI!

I did a bit of research and found a buffet restaurant near where we were heading to. (Mom needed to do some paperwork in KL, that’s why we went on the 1-day trip.)

From Jogoya’s website, I found out that they have a RM56++ lunch and supper promo where we can eat all we want for 2 hours. Initially I thought that if we paid the regular fee of RM89++ we were able to sit from 11:30am to 4:30pm, but I think I got it wrong. Anyway, 2 hours of stuffing our faces is more than enough.

The restaurant is located in Starhill Gallery which is kind of a maze since it wasn’t obvious how we could get onto the third floor. (We’re indeed a pair of country bumpkins.) We got directions from one of the security guards and found the place.

At Jogoya, you pay before heading and the person would jot down your deadline on your receipt. I’m not sure if they will remind you about the timing if you happen to stay a bit longer since we left before out time was up.

Jogoya’s decoration was nice, the furniture were all dark brown. We were seated at the two-persons seat area and there weren’t a lot of customers around.

Beginning of a feast

Starters of sashimi and raw oyster
Starters of sashimi and raw oyster

At first, mom and I piled only salmon sashimi onto our plates as the sashimi stall was nearest to us.

Sashimi as appetizer
Sashimi as appetizer

Later, when I went out to check what other things were available, I was amazed. This wasn’t just a buffet place. This was a food court disguised as a buffet restaurant.

Many of the stalls would stir fry or steam dishes for you. Others served cooked soups in little bowls. Two ice cream stalls were around, one serving Haagen Daaz out of buckets while the other selling New Zealand natural ice cream and waffles.

Jogoya's dessert stall is like a bakery
Jogoya’s dessert stall is like a bakery

The dessert stall had a display fridge that you find in bakeries filled with small cakes and pastries. The drink stall had sweet iced drinks and there was even a several drawers of tea bags which you use with the teapots there.

I’ve lost count of how much salmon sashimi mom ate. I was almost filled to the brim with food so I only had one (!) green tea ice cream with a tiny serving of bread pudding.

Mom brought over a plate of fruits with purple dragonfruit and watermelons. After the fruits, our brain started signaling to us that we were done with the meal. Of course, I washed everything down with green tea and rose tea.

There was a promotion going on when we were there. We paid a total of RM130 for the two of us, after the service charge and tax. I’d say it’s a very reasonable price considering they have salmon sashimi (which didn’t taste fantastic but we just make do with what we have).

I’ve read reviews about Jogoya where the reviewer had food poisoning because he/she visited the place for supper. We didn’t have major problems on the day but the next night, I had stomach problems and even threw up my dinner. I’m not sure if there is a correlation between Jogoya and my sickness but just take note if you have a weak stomach.

Do you like all-you-can-eat buffets? Which is your favorite restaurant for buffet?

If you enjoyed this post, you might like:

Lamuko’s Lokanta: A delightful Japanese restaurant in Pamukkale
亚罗斯打人早餐吃什么?晚餐[YQ游大马]

Travel planning for weekend trips [Weekend Traveller series part 4]

Welcome to part 4 of the Weekend Traveller series, a fortnightly segment where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more without using your work leave.

Trip planning is stressful. What if you cannot eat all the food, see all the sights or buy all the things?

Travel planning is essential for weekend trips.
Travel planning is essential for weekend trips.

Actually, you don’t have to eat all the food, see all the sights or buy all the things while on a weekend trip. The whole point of being a Weekend Traveller is that you will be able to travel frequently and do all those things on multiple trips.

However, it doesn’t mind that you should throw all travel planning out of the window and wing it. The times I haven’t made plans for my weekend travel are times which I did not have productive trips (Kuching and Jakarta comes to mind) and that makes me very annoyed.

On the other hand, my Bangkok trip was almost perfect because I did take time out to plan and even make my own travel guide (that’s a post for another day).

Narrow down your travel to-do list

Once you have decided on your destination (another potential headache if you are tracking budget flights), it’s best to plan for your stay if you want to have a productive trip.

There are some who recommend not planning and just going with the flow when you arrive. This will work if you have plenty of days to spare. If you only have 48 hours, walking around aimlessly while hungry is not a good plan.

[This guide is partly inspired by Taiwanese travel writer 943 who wrote an awesome book on round-the-world travel on cheap.]

I will use my 2-day Bangkok trip in October 2012 as an example because it was my first trip there.

List down the sites you want to see. You can think big at this stage. My initial plan was to eat a lot of Thai dessert (something I didn’t manage to do in the end), visit Khaoshan Road, pray at Erawan Shrine and get a massage.

Then I realized that getting a S$190 air ticket only for a massage was not worth it and I threw in other sites based on recommendations by friends, the internet and guidebooks.

I ended up with more sites in my list: Grand Palace, Chatuchak Market, Chinatown, ride on boat public transport, Cabbages & Condoms restaurant, Terminal 21, Platinum Mall, MBK.

The updated list was much better than the first but it was too ambitious. I mean, how many malls can you visit in a day without overdosing on air-conditioning?

Narrow down your sites using a pros-and-cons list. I list down the places to go and write down the pro’s and cons of visiting it as well as what other sights are nearby. You can find out what is nearby when you have a travel guide that lumps sights based on how they are clustered.

My Bangkok list looked like this:

> Chatuchak
+ (because everyone says so)
– I hate crowds. It is far from the city. Mom didn’t like it.
Nearby sites: NOTHING

> Platinum Mall
+ Recommended by a friend, lots of people shop there
– I don’t like shopping.
Nearby sites: Erawan Shrine.

> Grand Palace
+ It’s shiny!

– Entrance fee
Nearby sites: National Museum, Khaoshan Road

> Khaoshan Road
+ Fake IDs
– Loads of unkemptly backpackers
Nearby sites: (See above)

Chinatown
+ It’s Chinatown
– A bit far from other stuff
Nearby sites: ???

Cabbages & Condoms
+ Fun name and for a good cause
– Is it in the middle of nowhere? (I later discovered that it’s very near my hotel.)
Nearby sites: ???

In the end, I added National Museum to my To-Do list and took out Chinatown and Chatuchak. Since Erawan Shrine and Platinum Mall are near each other, I decided to go to both despite not liking shopping. By narrowing down my list, I only focused on bits of the city and did not have to run around a lot.

After having your real list of To-Do, it is time to make your own travel guide. I’ll be sharing how in another 2 weeks’ time. See you!

Do you somewhere to go for a weekend trip? Which parts of the city will you focus on?

Brush up on your weekend travel skills:

Part 1: Pros & cons of weekend travel
Part 2: Where to go for Weekend Travel?
Part 3: Choosing transportation for weekend travel
Part 4: Travel planning for weekend trips
Part 5: Make your own travel guide for a weekend trip
Part 6: How to pack for a weekend trip
Part 7: How to use Foursquare to plan a day’s travel
Part 8: Why a weekend trip is the best time to start solo travelling
Part 9: I’m going to Melaka for a weekend trip

#FoodFriday Appreciating asado, the Argentinian barbeque

asado

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re going to Argentina for a hell lot of barbecued meat.

Before I went to Argentina, I thought I knew barbecue. To me, BBQ is a time when friends gather around and put dainty raw meat such as chicken wings, hotdogs and maybe some slices of meat on top of some charcoal.

Only wimps eat BBQ chicken wings.
Only wimps eat BBQ chicken wings.

Then on my second night, the Buenos Aires hotel I stayed at had a BBQ Thursday. Just hand over 70 pesos and you can eat all you want. When I heard of the event, I thought about how many chicken wings I can eat (many many!) and was glad that beef is popular in Argentina. Now I can replenish my iron supply!

But when I saw the barbecue pit and the meat on it, I realized how wrong I was about Argentina’s BBQ. Those were not chicken wings on the grill, those were huge chunks of meat (fatty parts included without apologies), wrist-sized sausages and half chickens.

Oh, I have to explain. Here, carne (meat) refers to beef.

BBQ pit at my Buenos Aires hostel
BBQ pit at my Buenos Aires hostel

Some of the guests from the US requested beef that was bleeding, not realizing that different cuts are used for BBQ. Unfortunately, the guys at the hostel didn’t really cook the meat enough so I was feeling a bit queasy after just a few bites.

Not very appetizing asado at the hostel BBQ
Not very appetizing asado at the hostel BBQ

Later in the supermarket, I saw a huge part of the meat section devoted for barbeque meat. They looked more like large intestines than meat.

Much better asado at restaurants

After the asado at the hostel, I was quick to dismiss Argentinian asado. But one day, I met the best barbecued meat of my life at a restaurant in Iguazu.

The restaurant is called Vaca Verde (Green Cow) and the owner was a really friendly old man who recommended the house’s asado.

Proper parilla in restaurant
Proper parilla in restaurant

The meat that came out looked a bit charred but the taste was marvelous. The slightly burnt skin tasted sour but the meat was sweet. I gobbled down my share quickly but I wanted more. More of this beautiful meat.

I dreamt about this plate of asado once. It was beautiful.
I dreamt about this plate of asado once. It was beautiful.

After the meal, my brain was still hooked on it. I even had a dream where I was served something that tasted exactly the same. Alas, I have not had the dream since then.

Which country serves the best barbeque? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Things I’ve missed about home

what i miss home

I’ve been home in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah for about a whole month now. That’s the longest I’ve been home since I started working in Singapore in 2009.

Before coming home for this long stretch, I was confused about where home was for me. In Singapore, I had a rented place, a job and friends but in Sabah, I have my family, my old bed and friends too. You see why it’s a bit confusing for me to pinpoint which exactly was home.

But after 4 months on the road and coming home, I’m glad to say where home is. It’s temporarily Sabah, and specifically my parent’s place. Eventually, I will still need to get out of here and find a job.

Until I do move out of the country, here’s a list of things I’ve missed about being home (in Sabah):

Clothes dried in the sun

I've got a pocket full of sunshine.

There’s a branded softener that even has a scent with the word “sunshine” in it. That’s how popular the indescribable scent of sun-dried clothes is.

At home, we have a backyard where we hung our clothes. When there is a lot of sunlight in the day and you collect the clothes at the right time, the clothes feels soft and has a strange chemical-like smell. (Or maybe that’s just our soap…)

Back when I was in Singapore, I didn’t have a lot of space to hang my laundry. In the tall rise HDB (Housing Development Board) flats, I either hung them inside or outside where most of the times the clothes are shaded. Wind-dried clothes just aren’t as good as sun-dried ones.

While travelling, my only option for laundry was to handwash them in the hostel bathroom sink and hang them from the laundry rope I tied to the under-bad planks of the upper bunk. The clothes dried reluctantly in dorms but I still wore them because they were my only 5 (or is it 6?) garments I have with me.

Only twice in the entire trip did I “splurge” in laundry when I sent them to the cleaner’s in Arequipa. I even had to shop for the cheapest laundress. When I spilled my laundered clothes onto my bed, I was delighted at how clean they were and I might have waltzed with my jeans for a bit.

Good Chinese food

Roughly translated as "Raw meat noodles".

I always thought that I was very open about food and wasn’t a food snob when it comes to how “authentic” a dish is. But right before I was flying to Hong Kong, I started vividly imagining all the Chinese food I would get to eat. I would space out on the bus or even at a restaurant and see plates of rice with crispy pork, noodle soups (Peru doesn’t do good noodle soup).

While the food choices back home aren’t as much as in Hong Kong, I enjoy eating all the food that are familiar to me and visit new places.

Driving and having a car

Times I don't have a car

In Singapore, I didn’t need a car to travel. The public transport is so perfect that I didn’t even have to take taxis much. I love that part.

However, not every place I went to during the trip had good public transport so I walked a lot. A lot. I didn’t rent any cars on the road because I cannot afford to splurge when taking buses are a lot cheaper and safer.

Here back home, we need a car to get anywhere. I’ve forgotten how nice it is that you don’t need to walk a whole kilometer because you don’t have door-to-door transportation. I could get used to this.

My parents

I didn’t get to see a lot of my parents when I was working. A phone call here and there doesn’t really match seeing them face-to-face.

Recently, I think I’ve been seeing them a little bit too much because we are starting to get on each other’s nerves.

Oops.

Do you live away from home? What do you miss about home? Share them in the comments below!

Read other posts on YQtravelling:

museums backpacker homestay
Museums reflect how I travel My first backpacker moment Homestays are not for me

Caturday: Fat cat in Hong Kong Hostel

fat cat at hong kong hostel

Fat cat

Back when I was in high school, there was a Hong Kong drama about a man with special needs but with a golden heart. The character’s name was Fei Mao (Fat Cat) so I thought it was funny when I saw this rather fat cat in my hostel in Hong Kong.

The cat had a huge belly and a bell at its throat so it rang musically where ever it went. One of its hobbies was to scratch the side of the fake-leather couch.

fat cat scratching couch

In the hostel, there was also a sign warning people against feeding the cat. I later found the cat being ushered into some other person’s flat so I suspect the hostel doesn’t own it.

Other Caturdays:

#FoodFriday Making Mayan hot chocolate at Chocolate Museum

hot choc

On my first day in Cusco, Peru, I didn’t have anything planned so I looked at the tourist map to see where I could go. Among the list of museums was the very curious chocolate museum. Since it was near where I was staying, I decided to visit and learn more about chocolate.

The museum is located on the second floor and you need to enter from a passage on the side of the building. The museum isn’t really a museum but a shop/café with a few panels with information on chocolate.

Maybe i t was my ninja sightseeing skills, no one from the museum brought me around to look at things. I later noticed that other tourists were swarmed by fawning employees. In the end I decided to take a seat and have a coffee, or a hot chocolate, to waste a way a bit of my time.

The most intriguing item on the menu was the Mayan/ European hot chocolate. Based on information in the museum, we know that Mayans drink their chocolate with chili powder while the Europeans add honey.

You are presented with the ingredients for both versions of the hot chocolate:

Clockwise from top: Chili powder, honey, mug with spoon, warm milk and chocolate paste.

Ingredients for Mayan hot chocolate

There’s no correct way to make Mayan hot chocolate so I dumped a lot of chili powder in. It didn’t taste as peppery hot as I expected so I was slightly disappointed. It did turn the regular hot chocolate into something festive with its red chili powder.

Spicy Mayan hot chocolate

Where can you find Mayan hot chocolate

Choco Museum in Cusco

Other yummies in South America:

Choosing transportation for Weekend Travel [Weekend Traveller series: Part 3]

where to go

Welcome to part 3 of the Weekend Traveller series, a fortnightly segment where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more without using your work leave.

Last week, we talked about deciding which places to go for the weekend. Today, we will learn the pros and cons of different transportations for your weekend trip.

Planes are great for long distance travels
Planes are great for long distance travels

Plane

For long distances, planes are your best bet but the ticket prices can be quite expensive if you do not do a lot of planning. I usually buy my air tickets for budget airlines about 6 months in advance when there is a sale. I try not to buy full price tickets because it’s not worth the money.

Pros of planes for weekend travel:

  • Fast
  • Comfortable (compared to 6 hours of bus or train)
  • Not affected by traffic jam

Cons of planes for weekend travel:

  • Expensive ticket price [Solution: Buy tickets only during promo periods, do not buy luggage for budget flights.]
  • Terrible arrival/departure timings [Solution: Check other airlines or skip the destination]

Trains for weekend travel are usually bigger than this.

Train

If you have good train connections to the places you want to visit, taking the train might be a good option. I love taking night trains because I save on the cost of a night’s accommodation.

Pros of trains for weekend travel:

  • Relatively cheap prices (at least in Malaysia)
  • Not affected by traffic jams on the road
  • Trains with bunks==better sleep

Cons of trains for weekend travel:

  • Limited tickets for weekend travel [Solution: Buy your tickets in advance]
  • Shaky train, snoring passengers==not enough sleep [Solution: Sleeping pills? Deal with it.]

Night buses are not the most comfortable but they are cheap.

Night bus

I put night bus instead of I figure that you will need night buses for long distance travels.

Pros of buses for weekend travel:

Cheap

Cons of night buses for weekend travel:

Bad sleep [Solution: Even I cannot solve this. I just suck it up]

Affected by traffic jams [I was once 5 hours late because of a massive jam. Lesson learned: Take the train ]

Beware of pedestrians when driving

Driving

My mom and I had a mini road trip to the most northern part of Borneo island [LINK: Kudat Marina]. I would choose trains and buses over driving for a weekend trip because it’s more tiring. But if the place you are going to doesn’t have good

Pros of driving for weekend travel:

  • You have a car to drive around

Cons of driving for weekend travel:

  • Driving is quite tiring, especially for long hours

The deep blue sea awaits.

Boat

If you’re planning an island getaway for the weekend, taking a boat is probably your only choice so I won’t go into the pros and cons.

I haven’t been on any island trips for the weekend but the planning process should be the same: pick a nearby place and a good package so you don’t spend too much money.

Check out the rest of the series here:

Part 1: Pros & cons of weekend travel
Part 2: Where to go for Weekend Travel?
Part 3: Choosing transportation for weekend travel
Part 4: Travel planning for weekend trips
Part 5: Make your own travel guide for a weekend trip
Part 6: How to pack for a weekend trip
Part 7: How to use Foursquare to plan a day’s travel
Part 8: Why a weekend trip is the best time to start solo travelling
Part 9: I’m going to Melaka for a weekend trip

Caturday: The girl, the dog and the cat

recoleta cat

Location: Buenos Aires

In Recoleta Cemetery

This cat refused to budge even when some tourist tried to push it off.

This tomb is found in Buenos Aires’s famous La Recoleta cemetery.

Other posts:

Caturday: Black Beauty at Istanbul Archaeological Museum

Caturday: Lazing cat outside of Haghia Sophia, Istanbul

Caturday: Sunbathing cat in Argentina

#FoodFriday Peruvian seafood soup

pescado

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re slurping some soups made of fruits of the sea in Peru.

Some time ago, I talked about Latin America’s ceviche, a dish with raw fish cooked in lime or lemon juice. Today, we’re still eating food from under the sea but it’s cooked using fire.

I love soups and this extends to noodle dishes in soup. There is something very comforting about a food that doesn’t require you to chew too much.

I also like my soups tongue-burningly hot because that’s when I know that I am alive. I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to soup.

Seafood soups in Peru

Seafood soups in Peru were unlike the Chinese soups that I’m used to. Instead of clear soup, we have a stock that is bright orange. The ingredients always seem to threaten to escape from the bowls which are huge.

Seafood soup of the house in Lima

Chupe de pescado--Fish soup!

Read more:

#FoodFriday I love ceviche!

Where to find cheap food in Aguas Calientes [#FoodFriday]

#FoodFriday Lactose-less milk in Peru