Travels: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Central Market + White Coffee

Ahhhh, Central Market! This is probably the best place to buy souvenirs if you ask me. It’s not too busy, you can still haggle, and you can just roam around in an air conditioned building until you find what you are looking for. I always buy magnets to send home to my mom to let her know where I’ve traveled. I found the best prices for magnets here. Sounds nerd, I know. Hahaha.

Central Market is the blue building you see in the picture. I wish I got a better picture of it, but I must have been brain dead on the last day of our trip because I hardly took pictures of anything. We went through the Kasturi walk to visit the vendors outside. There are kiosks of souvenirs and fruit/food stands everywhere.

Fruit stands just like this one! I almost had a heart attack when I saw that they were selling mangosteens (which aren’t in season). I obviously had to buy some! Mangosteens are the fruit in purple. ㅋㅋ

For 5usd you can get you feet nibbled on by fish to exfoliate your skin as well. Ew. They actually have this in Korea as well. I should do a review on them later. This is VD who decided to do this by the way.

After shopping a bit, we decided we had some spare time to have a cup of coffee. Malaysia is known for their white coffee! It was really good. Yummm.

We sat down at this chain restaurant/coffee shop called Old Town White Coffee. I got a little plate of curry and bread as a snack as well.

On our way out we saw that they were having some sort of skateboarding show. It was a nice way to end our trip to see these young Malaysian kids running around on their skateboards and hanging out with their friends. Life goes on everywhere! Haha

TIP: You should really try to save all your souvenir shopping until you visit Central Market when it comes to the stereotypical purchases like key chains and magnets.

FYI: Hope you brought some change because you need it in order to use the bathroom in the building.

**This blog post is part of my 2week trip to Malaysia/Cambodia/Vietnam. Click on the link to see what else I’ve done! https://stellaface.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/travels-malaysia-cambodia-and-vietnam/

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Travels: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Petronas Towers

After we grabbed lunch in Chinatown, we decided to finally venture out to see the Petronas Towers. If there is one thing every tourist does in Kuala Lumpur — this is it. 😛

The towers are no longer the tallest buildings in the world, but it is the tallest TWIN buildings in the world. Yay! You can always see the towers no matter where you are standing in KL. It’s especially pretty at night because buildings are lit. Unfortunately we went on a Sunday and the towers were closed. Actually it didn’t really matter because you have to pay around 40 ringgits/13 usd and you have to get tickets at least a day before. Oops.

Well, we can’t go up so we might as well enjoy being outside and on the ground! Haha. There is a huge fountain area in front of the towers that I didn’t get a picture of. It was fun to watch people try to take pictures with the towers being so tall.

These are only two pictures from our many attempts to take a non-crooked picture. The second picture turned out well!

You can’t go up the towers but you can go through the entrance since it is connected to a mall. VD went into super shopping mode after finding out they had stores like GAP and Sephora.

I just goofed around. ㅋㅋㅋ

FYI: Apparently it can be kind of annoying to get tickets to go up the towers. Here is a link for those who want to find out more. CLICK ME!

 

**This blog post is part of my 2week trip to Malaysia/Cambodia/Vietnam. Click on the link to see what else I’ve done! https://stellaface.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/travels-malaysia-cambodia-and-vietnam/

Travels: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Dimsum in Chinatown

We were lucky to stay in a hostel near Chinatown. No matter what country I’m in, Chinatown is where it’s at when it comes to food or shopping or both! I always prefer both. 🙂

One of the girls I was traveling with, Sobe, really wanted to eat dimsum in Malaysia. There’s a really large population of Chinese Malaysians and so she was sure that dimsum would be on point! I’m always down for dimsum as well.

If you don’t know anything about Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur, there is one main street called Petaling Street that is the hotspot for those who want to go discount shopping. Prepare to haggle and approached by many vendors!

This is the entrance to the Petaling Street. Watch out for motorbikes and cars!

To find the restaurant we ate dimsum, go into Petaling Street and just look for this sign on your right.

They hand you a picture menu. I love picture menus!

We got there pretty late because we got lost trying to get to this other dimsum restaurant that didn’t exist. Haha. The lady just put whatever they had left on a cart and pushed it towards us.

Picture of what was available at the time. They ran out of these other dumplings we liked. Sadface.

All picked and ready to eat! It was soooo good. You could tell it was sitting there for a while, but that’s mainly our fault for not coming to the restaurant earlier. It’s hard to find decent..actually pretty impossible to find decent dimsum in Seoul, so this meal tasted even more amazinggg.

Directions: Our hostel, Reggae Mansion, is right off Masjid Jamek station. When you get out of the station, take a right and go straight. You will actually see Reggae Mansion coming up on your right corner. You really can’t miss it. Take a right at Reggae Mansion and go straight.. forever. Haha. You will eventually see the gate to Petaling Street. If not, just ask someone because everyone knows where it is. It’s fun walking around the area!

FYI: We didn’t really roam Petaling Street because we were some broke ass hoes and could not afford anything by the end of our 2 week trip. Haha. It is worth checking out, especially if you want to shop.

TIP: Save your souvenir shopping for your visit to Central Market!

**This blog post is part of my 2week trip to Malaysia/Cambodia/Vietnam. Click on the link to see what else I’ve done! https://stellaface.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/travels-malaysia-cambodia-and-vietnam/

Travels: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: National Mosque

This was probably the favorite part of my trip to Kuala Lumpur. Growing up in America, it’s easy to misunderstand different religions and cultures around the world. There are so many different opinions on everything that trying to fully comprehend a different way of life becomes almost too chaotic. It’s one of the best things about traveling though – as long as you remember that you are there to observe, not judge.

With that said, I can admit that I have little to no (real) knowledge of Islam. I was really surprised that Malaysia was a mostly Muslim population and it was a really big eye opening, also pleasantly surprising, experience for me. It’s one of the reasons why I really wanted to visit the National Mosque of Malaysia.

Enjoy the pictures!

Directions: We got to the mosque by riding the subway to Kuala Lumpur station. It’s one stop above KL Sentral station. Once you get there, you can ask anyone where it is and they will direct you. It is a wee bit of a walk to get out of the old railway station. We ended up walking through a parking deck even though it says not to. Haha.

FYI: The mosque is completely free. You just have to wait when they aren’t conducting prayers, but that was actually really cool to listen to if you do wait. You must cover up (unless you are a guy). If you are going to throw a hissy fit, just go away and don’t bother visiting.

TIP: Try to be respectful by not talking too loud. Actually a woman told us that we shouldn’t even be talking in the mosque since we weren’t Muslim. Unfortunately she didn’t know she was talking to three Americans and it’s just impossible for us to go a few seconds without talking. We did try to whisper though.

Overall: I really liked visiting this place! I really recommending take a look and poking around. There are other mosques around the area that have an older and more traditional feel to them as well. It’s in a nice part of the city and you can just walk around to enjoy other sights. I actually loved that they made us cover up. You see so many Muslim women wear their religious garbs that it was really interesting to put it on yourself. I will say, it was hot as a mofo in there and I do not know how those women do it. Faith is powerful I guess.

Hope you decide to go!

**This blog post is part of my 2week trip to Malaysia/Cambodia/Vietnam. Click on the link to see what else I’ve done https://stellaface.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/travels-malaysia-cambodia-and-vietnam/

Travels: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Little India (Brickfields)

After visiting the Batu Caves, we were super hungry and wanted to check out Little India/Brickfields for some lunch. Like I wrote before, all the subway/train lines connect to the KL Sentral Station and it’s probably the easiest way to transfer between lines. We had to go back to KL Sentral anyways and so getting to Little India wasn’t hard at all.

You do have to walk a few blocks to get to the area and it’s not official until you see these pillars! Trust me, you’ll hear the bollywood soundtracks blaring wayyy before you get there. Follow the music. Haha.

I really loved the design and color the pillars that lined the main street.

Little India Brickfields!

There were a lot of shops leading up to the street and on the street as well. Most were restaurants, video stores, sari/jewelry stores, and local grocery stores.

Lunch! Did you know that naan is usually made for dinner? So we settled on a different type of flat bread. It was brought out with different dipping sauce/thin curries. The smaller plate on the left is chicken curry. SO GOOD.

I wanted more to eat so I kind of randomly picked something off the menu. It turns out to be similar to an omelet with chicken in it. It was good, but that curry was amazing and so it didn’t really hit the spot for me.

On our way back to KL Sentral Station we saw stands selling fried snacks.

One of which were SAMOSAS!!

We ended our visit to Little India with freshly fried samosas and headed to the National Mosque.

FYI: Most restaurants there are open to the outside without air conditioning.

TIP: Carry your own toilet paper and napkins! We asked for napkins repeatedly since eating with your hands can get messy, but we got only like 3 sheets. Haha.

Overall: I thought it was a nice place to grab lunch, especially if you love Indian food. However it can be a little out of the way if you aren’t in the area already. Have fun!

 

**This blog post is part of my 2week trip to Malaysia/Cambodia/Vietnam. Click on the link to see what else I’ve done! https://stellaface.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/travels-malaysia-cambodia-and-vietnam/

Travels: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam: Pho + Coffee

I am a hugeeee lover of Vietnamese cuisine! There was a long period of time in college that all I ate at any given chance was pho. I also have been rolling my own spring rolls at home for years now. It’s AWESOME. With that said, it was like a dream come true to be able to enjoy a bowl of pho right in the heart of Saigon.

Did you know that pho is usually a breakfast meal? Pho restaurants are also divided by which kind of pho you are looking to eat. I love all things beef, so…

Ignore Sobe. This is the restaurant that we settled on. We had a sorority sister we knew from college (Hi TK!) that was nice enough to host use during our stay in the city. Her roommate took us to a place that the locals love going to and whatever the locals like, I auto-like.

The pot of broth/soup! Pho is simply rice noodles served with a beef or chicken broth, but not simply made. The broth is stewed for hours with all sorts of ingredients to get the best flavor.

Here it is! The lady came over with a bowl of uncooked slices of beef in one hand and a bowl of beef balls in the other to ask us which kind of beef we wanted. BOTH plzzzz. Omg, I drool.

The best part about pho is that you have creative control on what you put in there. There a different sauces and various vegetables.

I never eat pho without a squirt or two of a spicy sauce, bean sprouts, lime, and basil! SO GOOD.

Another renown part of the Vietnamese cuisine is their coffee! This one had some sort of chocolate sauce on it and it was the best ice coffee I’ve had in my life. Hahaha. Beware though, very sugary. Hell, you’re on vacation so just drink it.

Finish! A great meal in a great city.

**This blog post is part of my 2week trip to Malaysia/Cambodia/Vietnam. Click on the link to see what else I’ve done! https://stellaface.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/travels-malaysia-cambodia-and-vietnam/

Travels: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Batu Caves

We spent more time at Kuala Lumpur at the end of our 2week trip and had barely made plans on what to do in the city by then. We were tired, but we knew that we should take advantage of our time there even though we were kind of itching to go home. The Batu Caves came up as a place to visit in KL in several blogs and forums, so Batu Caves is where we decided to venture to!

The statue you see when you start wandering towards the Batu Caves. It’s huge! There’s also a Hindu shrine behind it.

The area is breathtaking for sure. You literally have to bend your neck back to look up towards the top of the cliffs. There’s a little entrance on the right, you can see it in the corner of the picture, where the yellow sign is hanging. You have to pay 1 ringgit (like 30 cents) to get in.

Inside that cave is a bunch of figurines and models. I’m guessing that it’s telling some story about a Hindu god? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that having all these models in the caves made the place look really average. There’s even a waterfall in the cave and it’s blocked off by a bunch of statues. I thought that was kind of poor form as the caves should be complimented, not overrun by plastic figurines.

Sobe, VD, and I at the entrance of the main caves! Behind us is the world’s tallest Murugan, a Hindu diety, statue. It was a pretty amazing sight.

Time to climb the stairs! 272 of them. 😀

The view inside. There are a few shrines placed in the cave. The main one is up the second set of stairs you see in the picture.

Here is a picture of what a shrine looks like. There were a lot of people getting their children blessed.

Guess we got caught staring because he invited us up and we got blessed as well. Hehehe.

So after roaming around a bit, we decided to walk back and check out some of the souvenir stands and we heard a girl next to us screaming. Oh, it was just a monkey.. who stole her plastic bag of bananas. Hahaha.

Picture of monkeys on our way down. I think we were so focused on making up all 272 steps without falling that we didn’t notice the monkeys. They are everywhere!

VD getting henna on her hand on our way back to the subway.

Directions: The Batu Caves are easy to get to since it’s right off the subway station and the station is the end of the line as well. Just go to the main KL Sentral Station (all subway lines go to KL Sentral) and find the Komuter train to ask for ticket. It will say BATU CAVES on the KL subway/train map. Once you get off the stop, take a right to exit the subway station and the path will lead you to the large statue you see in the first picture. Keep walking straight and you will eventually see all the stairs leading up to the cave area.

Tip: – Buy water or whatever you need beforehand or near the subway station since they jack up the prices closer to the caves. – Do remember to take off your shoes when you visit some of the other shrines around the area! We made the mistake of walking around with flipflops on and people started staring at us. OOPS. – Always bring smaller bills since the ticket machine won’t take large ringgit bills, but there is a ticketing officer to help if need be. It’s just that faster you get your ticket the better since the train takes its time to take off and so if you miss it, you’ll be waiting a bit.

Overall: I really liked the Batu Caves. The negative part would be that I don’t think the caves are really highlighted. At one point I looked up at the caves and then look around me at all the souvenir stands, food stands, hustlers, etc. Odd feeling. I still think it’s a must visit in KL though. Enjoy!

**This blog post is part of my 2week trip to Malaysia/Cambodia/Vietnam. Click on the link to see what else I’ve done! https://stellaface.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/travels-malaysia-cambodia-and-vietnam/

Travels: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Reggae Mansion

We stayed at the Reggae Mansion in Kuala Lumpur because one of our close guy friends, Squash, had recommended it. When picking a hostel, all you really need is a clean bed and a convenient location. We booked it in advance after looking it up and being impressed by the website. The prices weren’t too bad either. We stayed at the main hostel as they have two other ones in KL. We definitely could have gone cheaper, but might as well ball out when you can. Haha.

The hostel was super nice! I wish I took better pictures, but you can find whatever you need when you visit the website.

Positives:
+ Huge hostel with lots of travelers. It makes it really easy to run into people (especially other teachers) and make friends.
+ Very clean. Probably the cleanest hostel I have seen in my life.
+ Free Wifi
+ Shared bathrooms are in separate rooms.
+ The people are pretty helpful, but I found out that you have to ask the right questions as you will probably fall into their suggestions way too quickly. You’ll start figuring out the prices for things as your trip goes by and what the better deal is.
+ Code pad to get into the area where the rooms are and to your actual hallway. It gives you a small sense of security.
+ Rent system for those who need a blow dryer, adaptor, etc.
+ Hosts various tours for around 60 or 80 USD for those who just want to pay to not worry about doing things on your own. We were kinda broke, so we decided to venture out on our own. They have tours like visiting elephants, touring the city, and visiting a waterfall.

Negatives:
– The restaurant is pretty expensive. Their happy hour is disappointing as the cheapest beer is 3 to 5USD. Still drank it though… hahaha.
– The rooms aren’t like the traditional bunk beds. You are in your own cubby hole and your lucky if you get the bottom ones. The top ones are a BITCH to climb up. I had to pee at 4am once and getting down half asleep as asking to break your neck.
– No noise control or quiet hours. I get that this hostel is a “party hostel”, but you need to GTFO with that loud crap when it’s like 5am.

Right across the street from the hostel. There’s a 24 hour convenience store that isn’t 24 hours by the way.

Carlsberg beer will always remind me of our times playing card games and making new friends at Reggae Mansion. Haha. 3USD during happy hour!

Overall: You can see that the positives outweigh the negatives in this case. The hostel is right in the center of the city and really close to Chinatown. Chinatown is where it’s at! The closest subway station is just around the corner as well. I really enjoyed my stay at the hostel and would probably stay there again.

TIP: Always ask the taxis to go by the meter and do figure out the subway system. It will save you tons of money.

FYI: Reggae Mansion Racial Ban Controversy

**This blog post is part of my 2week trip to Malaysia/Cambodia/Vietnam. Click on the link to see what else I’ve done! https://stellaface.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/travels-malaysia-cambodia-and-vietnam/

Travels: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Nasi Lemak

I always ask the same two questions when I go to a different country. The first is to find out how to ask where the bathroom is in the said country’s language. The second is finding out what I should eat. Hahaha. I feel like the real way to discover a culture is to see what kind of food they are eating. I mean, would you visit Korea and not eat kimchi? Hell no.

So I asked our taxi driver what dish Malaysia is known for and he told me to try Nasi Lemak. I will warn you that it is a bit on the spicy side, but for the most part it was really good! I personally love anchovies and so the fried anchovies on the side were a nice surprise. The chicken was seasoned really well. It looks like a regular piece of fried chicken, but NO, it is sooooooo good! I just kinda mixed a piece of everything with the coconut infused rice and ate away. Cucumbers are a good idea to soften the spiciness. Try it!

 

**This blog post is part of my 2week trip to Malaysia/Cambodia/Vietnam. Click on the link to see what else I’ve done! https://stellaface.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/travels-malaysia-cambodia-and-vietnam/

Travels: Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam

I’m starting a new category on my blog called Travels! I’ve been meaning to add my two cents to the blogosphere about the places I’ve been. I’m going to list the schedule of each trip I take (kind of like a table of contents) and will *eventually* make a blog post for each bullet point. O.O Whenever I travel, I always look up reviews and blog accounts to really gauge what I can expect on my trips, so I hope others can find my posts just as helpful! Cheers.

2 week Trip: Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam

Day 1: Seoul, South Korea to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
(FYI) We had to fly to KL and stay in the city for a night before make a connecting flight to Cambodia early that next morning. In retrospect, we should have tried to align our connecting flight a few hour after or just flew directly to Cambodia to save time, but this was the cheapest option at the time.
*Reggae Mansion
Nasi Lemak

Day 2: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Siem Reap, Cambodia @6am
– Cambodian Visa process
– Tuk tuk driver/guide Barang!
– *Mekong Angkor Palace
– Floating Village
– Sunset at Angkor Wat

Day 3: Siem Reap, Cambodia
– Sunrise and roaming Ankor Wat
– Siem Reap after hours

Day 4: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, Cambodia @9am
– Bus to the capital
– Tuk tuk driver/guide Lan!
– *Mad Monkey
– Happy Pizza

Day 5: Full day in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
– S-21
– Killing Fields
– Shooting a M16
– Khmer Fish Amok + BBQ

Day 6: Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam @5pm
– Phnom Penh Royal Palace
– Vietnam Visa process

Day 7: Ho Chi Minh to Phan Thiet/Mui Ne, Vietnam @8am
– Bus to Phan Thiet/Mui Ne
– Banh Mi

Day 8-10: Phan Thiet/Mui Ne, Vietnam
(FYI) We planned our schedule to include a couple of consecutive days to lounge by the beach and upgraded to a resort because… well, what vacation is complete without some beach bum action?!
– *Lotus MuiNe
– Fresh Seafood by the Seashore
– Hotel Tour: Fairy Stream, Fishing Village, Yellow/White + Red Sand Dunes

Day 11: Phan Thiet/Mui Net back to Ho Chi Minh @1pm
– Bus back to Ho Chi Minh
– Spring Rolls + Hot Pot
– Saigon after hours

Day 12: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia @8pm
Pho + Coffee
– Roam Saigon

Day 13: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Batu Caves
Little India
National Mosque

Day 14: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Seoul, South Korea @ 11pm
Dim Sum in Chinatown
Petronas Towers
Central Market + White Coffee

Overall Feelings: I think the trip went really well actually. I went with 2 other people (VD and Sobe) and at first, I thought the schedule was really strained on time. It ended up working out at the end with having a day of travel and then having a full day to enjoy the city we were in. The trick is to always pack well and travel with those similar to you. The only thing I would change would probably the times of some of the flights. As far as finding things to do, we had already researched a bit to know what you should see. However, the best experiences happen when you just to go there and figure it out for yourself. 🙂