What has YQ been up to? June 2014 update

Hello,

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Why? Because I haven’t been travelling much so I don’t know what I could share with you good folks.

Anyway, I wanted to give a short update on what’s been happening while I was YQnotTravelling.

I pose with Daruma

I pose with Daruma

Update about my job situation

Since my last major posts about the pros and cons of quitting your job to travel, I have found a job in the travel and tourism industry! *toast a glass of bubbly*

Strangely, there is no official job title for it since the stuff on my name card doesn’t really match my real job. So I introduce myself professionally as a “Content Marketer” but the actual duties are that of a “Blogger”.  It’s still unbelievable today that I’m an actual Blogger (with a big B).

Fun things I’ve been doing

Enough about boring work stuff, now it’s time for the fun stuff.

Since I was hired in March, I couldn’t take long periods of leave for travelling so I had been stuck in Singapore for a while.

I might have Stockholm syndrome since I don’t think life was that boring in the previous months:

  • I went to a friend’s wedding in May

chiawoon wedding.08

I travelled to small town Raub in Pahang for a friend’s wedding. It was great meeting my old friends and getting to feast at the wedding dinner. Om nom nom.

  • I went to another friend’s wedding in Singapore

kei weddingMore happy things happened!

  • My sister is getting married

sis marrying

The official wedding dinner is happening next year but they’re going to register this year. More and more happy things happened.

  • I discovered that Singapore has improv classes

I absolutely adore improv ever since I saw it on Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Improv-A-Ganza is awesome too, with the same cast). I didn’t know it was a real thing that I could actually do.

Then I found out that The Improv Company teaches improv. I’m going to sign up for their longer course when their schedule suits me.

  • I’ve bought music from Amazon France

I have a thing for French musicals and the paranormal. That’s why I was hooked on Dracula, l’amour plus fort que la mort.

I had to jump through multiple hoops to get the soundtrack for Draculabut I have it now! And I play it again and again. This beats trying to listen on Youtube.

What do you want to know about Singapore? I’ll find out for you!

Since I’m stuck in Singapore for a while until any major trips. I thought it would be good to share with you some of the places in Singapore to visit or things to do.

klia2

Snapshots of KLIA2–AirAsia’s new airport at KL

Walking time to departure gates at KLIA2

Most important photo of this post: Walking time to departure gates at KLIA2

KLIA2 is the new terminal for budget carriers flying in or out Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia’s largest budget airline AirAsia moved its operations from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) to KLIA2 on May 9.

I was flying to KL on May 10 so I had the chance to see the airport while it was still new. Here’s a peek at what the new airport looks like.

Why KLIA2 is so huge?
Before flying, I’ve read advisories from AirAsia telling travellers that the boarding gates are quite far so everyone needs to be early. The walk from the arrival gates to the main terminal did feel quite long, although the view of airplanes from the large windows helped pass time.

Things were still kind of bare when I was at KLIA2. I didn’t get much photos of the arrival hall because I wanted to catch my bus to KL Sentral.

KLIA2 FAQ person

There were these human-FAQ walking around at the airport. They’re helpful with directions and bad at finding a normal trashcan.

The buses are located at Basement 2. I had booked a shuttle bus to KL Sentral from AirAsia. Turns out I could just hop on the bus and show my ticket.

Leaving KLIA2

AirAsia checkin counter at KLIA2

Not many people check in their luggage so the counters are bare.

I had more time to take photos when I was leaving KL. The departure level is the highest of the building and getting here takes more time than I expected.

I like that there are a lot more restaurants at KLIA2 than LCCT. Finally, more food choices. But I only got a cup of latte from McCafe since I ate multiple meals before leaving the city center.

After having my coffee, I had a really difficult time finding a normal trashcan to throw my cup. The human-FAQ couldn’t help me and only pointed to the recycling bins.

More than 95 percent of the trash cans are recycle bins.

KLIA2 is overdoing the recycling bins. It seemed like every corner I see one of these but not a regular trash can. Recycling won’t work if everyone throws their regular trash inside.

International Departure at KLIA2

Departure lounge

Walking time to departure gates at KLIA2

Walking time to departure gates at KLIA2

Long walkway at KLIA 2

The walkway to the international departure lounge was pretty far. The shops weren’t opened so the walk was boring.

KLIA2 depature hall

Empty KLIA2 depature hall

Resting lounge at departure lounge at KLIA2

Resting lounge at departure lounge at KLIA2

map of westeros

How can I get to Westeros? : Prompt 16 of #indie30

Prompt #16: What city in Europe would you like to visit the most?

Having visited Paris in 2011, I can’t really think of any other European city that I would like to visit. I think my imagination has been eroded from too much travelling.

Although I don’t have a a particular city in Europe that I’m dying to visit, if I were dying, I would choose to go to the fictional land of Westeros in Game of Thrones (which is kind of in Europe and filmed in Europe).

Map of Westeros

Credit: Robert whose handsome face I’ve cropped out

Compared to my current life, Westeros has 1000 times more swords and an infinity times more shadows dragons. Those are good enough reasons to go.

I would love have been a part of the storyline but based on my karma, I’d probably end up as Character Who Crosses The Road in the books or the film. Plus, I wouldn’t have survived a day in Flea Bottom.

Actually, come to think of it, I don’t feel like dying that soon. The one reason I want to be in Westeros is so that I can wear fantastic braids all year long (which I have been doing in a mini scale these days).

More on Game of Thrones filming locations:

 

This post is part of 30 Days of Indie Travel Art Project.

korean fried chicken.41

Travelling in Asia: Prompt 15 of #indie30

Prompt #15: If you could pick any country in Asia to go to, which one would you pick and why?

I haven’t been to all parts of Asia but I don’t seem to find the motivation to explore all corners.

I guess living in this continent gives a false sense that it would be easy to travel around so I wouldn’t need to hit all the countries any time soon.

So for today’s choice, I would love to head back to Japan and see the other parts of it that I hadn’t been.

I’ve heard a lot about Hokkaido. It’s supposed to be a land where all seasons are beautiful.

I would love to heard there when lavender season is in. (I wanted to do that even back in 2011’s indie30.) I would love to be there when the King Crabs are fleshy.

Image credit: Jennifer

The only period I wouldn’t want to be in Hokkaido is winter. I dread the cold. Thank goodness the onsen-loving Japanese macaques don’t live there or else it’s a very tempting visit.

Other Asia to-visit list

But if it’s for going to somewhere I’ve not been, South Korea would be my top choice since it is the land of skincare products.

I’m not particularly fond of spicy food which Koreans love. But if it’s spicy fried chicken, I’m up for it. The marinade is so so good.

Korean Fried Chicken

I would also love to visit the cafes in South Korean and drink lattes until I am jittery from caffeine.

Is there any place in Asia that’s on your list? Share it in the comments below.

 

This post is part of 30 Days of Indie Travel Art Project.

One related post: 11 travel blogs from Asia to follow

FoodFriday: The teas of Peru

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 having a cuppa in Peru.

Teas of Peru

From top to left: Anis (Anise), anise, herba luisa (lemon verbena), te puro (black tea), manzanilla (chamomile)

While in Arequipa, Peru, I studied Spanish at a language school for two weeks. I stumbled upon EDEAQ through Google. It’s a great place to learn Spanish since they have 1-on-1 lessons that are much cheaper than the group lessons I had in Buenos Aires.

At EDEAQ, there is one tea break between the morning classes. After the tea break, you switch to another teacher.

During the tea break, I discovered that Peruvians drink a lot more types of tea than other places I’ve been to. (Even in China, I don’t think they bring out such choices of tea.)

These tea taste weird for my palate. I feel that anise should only belong in cooking but they drink it in Peru (and probably other places around the world!) Hierba luisa reminds me of lemongrass while manzanilla tastes like regular chamomile.

coca tea from peru

There was another very exciting tea that I had in Peru. That is coca tea (mate de coca). This tea is very useful for altitude sickness and motion sickness (not that it helped when I was on the bus to Nasca since I threw up as soon as the liquid hit my stomach.)

What makes this tea exciting is that it is made from coca leaves which is the same ingredient used in making cocaine. But this does not mean that every traveller sipping from coca tea bags are on drugs.

From Wikipedia entry of coca tea:

A cup of coca tea prepared from one gram of coca leaves (the typical contents of a tea bag) contains approximately 4.2 mg of organic coca alkaloid. (In comparison, a line of cocaine contains between 20 and 30 milligrams.)

What is the weirdest tea that you have tried?

El Salvador chocolate drink cubes

FoodFriday: Chocolate drink cubes from El Salvador

El Salvador chocolate drink cubes

El Salvador chocolate drink cubes

While in El Salvador’s supermarket looking for souvenirs, I found these interesting chocolate cubes (cylinder?). It was pretty cheap, about 50 cents each.

I bought four of them, imagining that I would have hot mugs of warm cocoa when I get back.

When I did make a batch at home, it turned out disgusting. I dissolved one cylinder in a mug of hot water. The liquid was pale brown like mud and smelled like burnt rubber.

I poured the cup away and tossed the rest.

Have you ever bought terrible food while abroad?

Cagaloglu Bath

Getting a Turkish bath in Istanbul

[Hi, before you continue, I have to warn you that this is is a rather TMI (too much information) post. It has the most concentration of the word “naked” out of all my posts. In case you are curious, I’ve used the world “naked” before.

You are welcomed to imagine whichever person you want to see naked while reading the post, if that makes you feel better. You have been warned.]

This is an elaboration of my second last day in Turkey.

Cagaloglu Bath

Cagaloglu Bath

One of the things you need to do in Turkey is to get a Turkish bath at a Turkish bath (hammam). For those aren’t sure what a Turkish bath is, it’s a bath where someone–hopefully Turkish for an authentic experience–scrubs you really hard with a loofah and let you lie for a short period of time on warm tiles.

Yes, you pay someone to scrub you in the nude.

The last time I let anyone bathe me was when I was a kid and didn’t have full control over my limbs.

I’m not usually a shy person when it comes to bathing matters. After spending a bit of time in Japan, I am comfortable with walking around naked in Japanese and Taiwanese onsens. But getting someone to rub my body with a loofah is probably a test of my limits.

Even though I have Turkish bath on my to-do list, my mom who was travelling with me in Turkey wasn’t keen at all. She’s the type who get squeamish in onsens so I understand that. In the end, I have to visit the baths on my own.

According to my research (reading loads of mixed reviews on Tripadvisor), there were a few baths around my hotel area. I eyed two and started looking for them.

I found Cagaloglu Bath’s side door after a long walk up and down Istanbul’s slopes.  Fortunately, it was also the ladies’ side door. Entering the entrance, I passed by a poster of Kate Moss posing on some tiles before the screen that divided the bath and the outer world.

1,000 Places to See Before You Die

1,000 Places to See Before You Die

A long poster hanging on the second floor told me that it was one of the “1000 Places To See Before You Die”. That probably means that I’ll be paying for a lot of ambience too.

The little court had a few marble tables and stools. There were a lot of ladies sitting around looking bored. They wore the uniform white polo t-shirt and some brown pants.

I asked the lady at the counter for the price. Looking at the chart, I did a quick calculation and realized that it was quite out of my budget. But I already had my feet in the compound and I feel compelled to sign up for a session even though it would mean less lunch for me. I chose the cheapest package that included a scrubbing session.

Counter Lady said I could pay later and shouted to one of the ladies. The woman who answered reminded me of Rebel Wilson.

I was shown to a room and told to change. The room had a sleazy look to it. A bed with a plastic-like dark green fabric was pushed against the wall. A small dresser with a feedback form was next to the bed.

The room had a glass window which was frosted on the bottom half to protect the modesty of whoever was inside. Not that we need any modesty since we would be buck naked in the sauna room anyway.

So I changed out of my clothes and wrapped a towel around myself. Since I was paying a night’s worth of a hostel stay, I wore my glasses so that I could admire the marble hammam. But as I closed the door, Rebel pointed to my glasses and mimed taking them off. So much for getting my eye worth of the hammam.

I was told to wear clogs and I shuffled like some Ch’ing dynasty lady with lotus feet. Rebel helped by grabbing my arm and steadying me.

I walked with blurred vision, passing an empty chamber before going into the hammam itself. Rebel brought me to the round stage-like marble place and slapped the surface. I interpreted that as asking me to lie down.

So I lied down on the warm marble and tried to relax. It was a bit difficult because the marble is hard. Being half blind without glasses didn’t help with my experience. Everything on the ceiling looked like a blurry bouquet of lights as the sun streamed through some of the circles on the roof.

Roof of a hammam

Roof of a hammam. It was prettier inside the bath.

After a while, I flipped myself over like a piece of steak to warm the front of my body (while covering my backside with my towel). My neck twisted uncomfortably as I rested my cheek on the marble. I didn’t know I have cheekbones until the marble pressed against them.

I tried counting how long I was told to grill myself. It didn’t seem very long before Rebel appeared. She was armed with a loofah mitten and a bucket.

She flipped me around so I was facing the ceiling again. With a bit of warm water sloshed on me, she began her car polishing moves. Every inch of my skin was scrubbed.

Halfway during the scrub, Rebel grabbed my hand so I could feel the bunch of dirt that she had scrapped off me. There seemed to be a crazy amount of dead skin on me. I thought back the times that I had showered and wondered why there weren’t as much dead skin.

Then I was flipped over like a burger patty. My back, backside and legs were scrubbed. When all was done, Rebel patted my shoulder and escorted me to the shower area.

The shower area is basically a corner of the hammam. The bath lady waits for the pail to fill with warm water before giving you a good shampoo.

When I was lying down on the tiles, it was OK for me to close my eyes and not look at what Rebel the Bath Lady was doing to my body. But now that we were standing up, I awkwardly looked at the top of her head.

As Rebel finished my shampoo, I saw her give my body a look and give a nod. I felt it was an approving nod, or wasn’t it. I wasn’t sure what to do so I awkwardly smiled at Rebel instead. Then I was wrapped in a towel and shooed back into the room.

Back in the brothel-like room (where no one gave me a “happy ending”), I counted my coins for Rebel’s tip. My notes were too large and luckily my coins were just enough for tip.

Fountain

I shuffled out of the “1000 Places To See Before You Die”, feeling sparkling clean but strangely molested.

I later discovered that the ladies’ entrance I went into was a dwarf compared to the real entrance which was very beautiful. I felt cheated that I wasn’t asked to leave from the main entrance.

Read more about other people paying to get scrubbed by strangers:

south east asia aquarium cheap ticket

Where to buy discounted entrance tickets for S.E.A. Aquarium

[Update Jul 2, 2015 Check out RWS’s promos for S.E.A. Aquarium.]

Even though I’ve stayed in Singapore for almost nine years, I didn’t know that it was possible to buy cheap tickets to various attractions. I always thought that I needed to pay full price, and thinking about it makes my miserly heart cold.

Luckily, my friend Lilian showed me where I could get discounted entrance tickets. Lilian who is now back in China (and whose wedding I attended) wanted to visit the South East Asia Aquarium (SEA Aquarium) before leaving.

Continue reading

Bottle of Inca Kola

FoodFriday: Inca Kola in Peru

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

Today’s feature is not food but a mysterious drink from Peru. Let’s check it out.

I have a soft spot for soft drinks despite knowing how bad they are for my health. I try to avoid them as much as I can but I occasionally reward myself with a cold can of Coca-Cola.

Of course all diet rules are out while travelling so I tried Peru’s famous soft drink Inca Kola. I usually order this drink to accompany my meals in local restaurants.

Continue reading

How Malaysians celebrate Chinese New Year

I’m back in Malaysia for Chinese New Year. Here’s a post from last year about how I spend my CNY. Gong Xi Fa Cai.

YQ travelling

Chinese New Year lantern

Today is Chinese New Year eve, the second most important day of Chinese New Year (CNY).

CNY eve dinner is an important time for family to gather together, eat good food and be nagged by elders. [Note to YQ: Do not be a patronizing aunt when you grow up.]

Enough bitterness, I want to share a two-part series of collaborative posts to mark CNY.

Early this week, I asked on Facebook for information on how different people celebrate Chinese New Year in different countries. For the feature, I was planning to have many Chinese folks in different countries to talk about their traditions.

Unfortunately, not many random strangers on the internet took up the challenge. I guess this might also be a good thing since it makes the post more cosy.

How Malaysians overseas celebrate CNY

First up is Max Yam from maxayam.blogspot.sg. Max is a fellow Sabahan who…

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