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.

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#FoodFri Glutton in Bangkok

I’ve never been to Thailand before my trip a few weeks ago. I’ve always thought of Thai food as hot, spicy and sour.

Problem is, I can’t do hot or spicy. The last time I accidentally had a bite of chilli curry, my lips were swollen for half a day–not in an Angelina Jolie sexy lip way but a literal bee stung lip way.

So I was a little bit worried that I could only eat the desserts of Bangkok. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Turns out I got my food stereotype wrong and I had great non-hot meals during my 24 hours in Bangkok.

Day 1 in Bangkok

I only had one meal on Day 1. I skipped dinner because I was in a 1.5 hours queue for a 2.5 hours-long my Thai massage.

Tom kha kai
Tom kha kai
My first dish was a slightly overpriced tom kha kai (Thai chicken soup in coconut milk) from Cabbages & Condoms. I shouldn’t complain about the price because I’ve read about how the restaurant a bit pricey for the quality of the food. (A review of the place will come soon).

Tom kha kai was one of the few non-spicy dishes on the menu. It was an interesting soup. Slightly sour from lemongrass, it had an overpowering coconut taste. The coconut milk had curdled.

I supposed it was meant to be shared because by the time I had my last bowl of soup, my stomach felt like bursting.

Strawberry smoothie
Strawberry smoothie
I picked up a glass of strawberry syrup with ice from a stall set up for the vegetarian festival.

The drink was ok but the strawberry tasted a bit off.

Day 2 in Bangkok

I wasn’t very hungry in the morning from yesterday’s lunch. But I made myself have some food since I know that the Grand Palace is pretty huge.

I chose one of the hole in the wall which is on the way to the palace from the jetty.

Duck horfun
Duck horfun
I didn’t know what was on the menu. The lady of the shop asked, “Noodle? Rice?” I asked for noodles and said “yes” to duck.

My dish of duck horfun noodles came with shallow soup and a duck drumstick. It smelled good and tasted amazing.

The horfun was smooth and the duck tender. Even the soup was good.
Le menu at duck noodle shop
I paid 60 baht for the bowl, since I think it was the most expensive dish on the menu.

After my breakfast, I went to two shops down for a breakfast dessert. The spicy ginger soup seduced me into the shop. There was another large pot with white beancurd.

I pointed at the big pot of soup outside, and signalled “1” with my index finger and said “no” to the croutons.

Tao huai nam khing
tao huai nam khing

I later found out that the dish is called tao huai nam khing. Bean curd served with ginger syrup.

The ginger syrup was both hot temperature-wise and gingery-hot-wise. I choked on the spicy ginger taste a couple of times but I finished the bowl because I learned that ginger is good for health.

The beancurd didn’t have the usual soybean taste. Instead, it had a hint of peanuts. I couldn’t figure out if they used peanuts or if their soybean just tastes different.

Tao huai shop
The little shop seems to be famous. There were newspaper clippings and photographs of the owner with a celebrity with a bowl cut.

Pad Thai
Pad Thai
I had the first pad thai of my life at the small restaurant in the compound of the National Museum.

I initially thought pad thai was just like char kway teo and was surprised to find the rather pale-looking dish with peanut grounds.

It was sour and oily but still yummy. I believe it was only 30 baht.

McDonald’s at the airport
Thai McDonald's at the airport
OK, I broke the Number 1 Rule of Eating in a Foreign Country: Do not eat globalized fast food.

My excuse was that it was the only affordable meal in the airport. I didn’t want to go hungry on my 2 hours and 45 minutes plane ride back and end up eating Popeyes when I reach around 10pm.

The food tasted exactly like it does in Singapore and Malaysia. But my drink seemed to be upsized.

Since I broke the rule of travel-eating, here is a photo of a Thai Ronald McDonald who is greeting passers by in a Thai way.

mcdonald bangkok

What’s your favorite Thai dish?

Bangkok’s Grand Palace is the Versailles of the East

I made a travel plan for Bangkok because I did not want to commit the same mistake as I did in Kuching.

My plans for the Sunday was to see the Grand Palace and then walk north to the museum and then to Khaoshan Road. It was a relaxed plan since I didn’t want to stress myself.

My friend N told me that it would take more than 2 hours to admire the Grand Palace. Looking at the 2×4-inch map on Lonely Planet, I wasn’t too convinced.

I set off for the palace after a meal of noodles and beancurd at two of the hole-in-the-walls outside the palace gate.
Behind the walls

When I reached the white walls, a loudspeaker spoke in a patient voice reminding tourists that there is only one ticket seller and trust no one. (It’s to prevent tourists from being cheated by swindlers.)

There was a bit more walking from the walls to the ticket selling booth. There were quite a lot of people around since it was Sunday.

The queue was short though, everyone seemed to crowded away from the ticket booth. I paid my 400 baht and got a lot of tickets.
Pricey Grand Palace tickets

I wasn’t even sure what most of the tickets were for.
Grand Palace tickets

I read that visitors need to dress modestly when visiting the Grand Palace so I brought along my own sarong cloth. I tied it haphazardly around my waist with one side higher up than the other.

When I headed in, I was stunned.

There was a small shrine dedicated to a medicine man. But the shrine was so over-the-top sparkly from the tiles that I just stared at it with my mouth open.


I’ll let you look at the pictures instead of babbling about.

Mini shrine

Relaxed doc

Versailles of the East

I immediately thought of Versailles when I saw all the golden walls.

The castle of Louis XIV The Sun King must also be as grand as these.

Gold stupa
Gold stupa

Violet building at Bangkok's Grand Palace
Violet building at Bangkok’s Grand Palace
green+ gold building
green+ gold building
Another building
Another building

The map that came along with the brochure was not that useful because I promptly forget which building I was looking at when the sparkling walls blind me.

Random colorful wall
Random colorful wall
Green wat
Green wat
Tiles of Bangkok's Grand Palace
Tiles of Bangkok’s Grand Palace
Tiles of Bangkok's Grand Palace
Tiles of Bangkok’s Grand Palace

Statues of mythical beings

Guardian at Bangkok's Grand Palace
Guardian at Bangkok’s Grand Palace
Many green guardians at Bangkok's Grand Palace
Many green guardians at Bangkok’s Grand Palace
White guardian at Bangkok's Grand Palace
White guardian at Bangkok’s Grand Palace
Garuda at Bangkok's Grand Palace
Garuda at Bangkok’s Grand Palace
Many gold guardians at Bangkok's Grand Palace
Many gold guardians at Bangkok’s Grand Palace
Intricate shrine at Bangkok's Grand Palace
Intricate shrine at Bangkok’s Grand Palace
Hydra at Bangkok's Grand Palace
Hydra at Bangkok’s Grand Palace

Emerald Buddha

There’s a Chinese phrase “镇庙之宝” which loosely translates to the treasure that holds the temple. It’s the treasure which attracts people to a certain place.

At the Grand Palace, there is a temple for the Emerald Buddha. It is housed in a gorgeous building and on high steps so no one can go near.

There’s not photo taking inside the temple. Visitors sit on the floor and are not allowed to point their feet towards the small statue.

Emerald Buddha shrine (?)
Emerald Buddha shrine (?)
Entrance to Emerald Buddha shrine at Bangkok Grand Palace
Entrance to Emerald Buddha shrine at Bangkok Grand Palace
Exit of Emerald Buddha shrine at Bangkok Grand Palace
Exit of Emerald Buddha shrine at Bangkok Grand Palace

Cool stuff in the Grand Palace

ALTrashcan in Bangkok's Grand PalaceTTEXT
Trashcan in Bangkok’s Grand Palace
How not to sit on the banister
How not to sit on the banister
Closed to tourists
Closed to tourists
Ramayana murals at Bangkok's Grand Palace
Ramayana murals at Bangkok’s Grand Palace
Seniors tour group with German-speaking guide
Seniors tour group with German-speaking guide

I spent about two hours in the palace grounds and I got hungry.

Next stop, the National Museum!

Have you been to the Grand Palace? How was your experience there?

Sights (no sound) of Muar, Johor

D and I visited Muar during the Christmas weekend. It was our first trip which we have made no real plans: no pre-booked bus tickets, hotel nor list of places to visit.

We mainly feasted on Chinese food (another blog post) and walked around the town going into random boutiques (they have A LOT of random boutiques).


Full account of the trip up later this week (I hope!)

Travel tip: Cheap prepaid phone in Malaysia (Digi)

[UPDATE OCT 1 2012: Digi’s plans have been changed a lot since I wrote the post so I’m including the new price plans]

Usually before a trip, I try looking for a cheap prepaid phone plan or SIM. If you are like me, you probably think you cannot live without 24-7 Internet connection even when on the road. (That’s not quite true as I somehow managed to survive on hotel Wi-Fi and generousity of the Apple Store in Japan.)

Here’s what I use when I go back to Malaysia, either for a day trip to Johor or a week back home, I switch back to my old Malaysian SIM card. It just makes more sense.

I’ve been with Digi for many years not because it’s the cheapest prepaid around but because my whole family uses it so we get cheaper calls, SMS.

Continue reading “Travel tip: Cheap prepaid phone in Malaysia (Digi)”