Happy New Year 2019

9 days into 2019, is it too late to say Happy New Year.. hope not ūüėĀ

Since last I wrote here, I’ve gotten myself a job. I’m still getting used to it especially after so many months of idling and doing little.

It’s a chance to get busy as I was becoming lazy. I was very lucky to have the love and support of my family during this time. It would have been so much more difficult for me if it hadn’t been for my family.

This was also a time that I saw how some people who I thought were friends, were actually just superficial acquaintances. Kinda glad that I saw it and even more glad to shed anymore contact with them.

I’m planning to catch up with writing since I’ve got many other places and things to write about.

I’m actually writing this on the train, on my way to work. It’s a long trip so it’s pretty good use of the time.

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Idli Only Cafe

This is a small cafe in Bangsar suburb of Kuala Lumpur. It serves (I believe) South Indian food and as it’s name suggests, it’s specialty is Idli which is¬†a little steamed cake made of fermented black gram and rice; the fermentation, according to online sources, breaks down the starches and makes them easier for the body to process.

But there are other delicacies as well, including thosai (type of pancake made from fermented batter), curries and stews. The food is delicious and the ambience cozy.

Among our favorites is the Manchurian Idli which is fried idli in a sweet and sour sauce and is served with the usual condiments of dhal and coconut chutneys. The portion is reasonably big and will satisfy most appetites.

Also delicious is their Butter Podi Idli in which they will fry with a butter sauce. The outside is crunchy and fluffy inside. Not all their variations may suit everyone’s palate but they also have the regular or rawa idlis too. And if you come with a big appetite, do try their fish curry and mutton varuval.¬†And to accompany their meals, a bru coffee or a masala tea really hits the spot. Personally, I prefer the bru coffee or their normal tea.

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Their prices are quite reasonable and service is good but it may get a bit slow if it’s crowded. The dishes, especially the idli are prepared upon order and will take a bit longer to get to you but at least the food and drink are piping hot when served.

They open at 8.30am, get there early and you’ll miss the big crowds. Give it a try, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Happy 12th Anniversary

Today is my 12th wedding anniversary. Time has just flown by, it’s a little hard to imagine. I like to believe that I love my wife as much as I did on our wedding day but actually, I think I love her even more now.

She has stood by me esp with my recent employment troubles. She has been my best friend, my lover and the one I wanna grow old with…I’m not able to buy her a gift this year but I’d really like her to know how much I love and appreciate her.

Hat Yai

The largest city in Songkhla province and the fourth largest in Thailand. It is close to the Malaysian border and is a well known travel hub, medical centre and shopping destination. It is quite popular among Malaysians and Singaporeans which can make prices here slightly high. We arrived here in December and in hindsight, it was the wrong time of year to be here as it was the rainy season. And rain it did.

We stayed at a hotel across the road from Central Festival Mall. The room was spacious and the large bathroom included a bathtub too. We were supposed to arrive earlier in the day but the airline had rescheduled our flight to much later. The shared van we took from the airport dropped us across the road and we had to walk over to the hotel.

We had chosen this hotel as there were night markets nearby as well as the mall and also a hypermarket. So, after checking into the hotel, we went out to explore the Asean Night Bazaar which was close by. However, to our disappointment, the bazaar was not open. We found out later that it only opened on the weekend. We had boat noodles for dinner and it began to drizzle. We headed back to hotel and it continued to rain all night, until the next morning.

We went down for breakfast and due to the small restaurant, we had to wait for our turn to eat. The breakfast itself was mediocre as the food selection was quite limited. Anyway, after breakfast we planned to head out to the market in the city centre but the rain had not stopped. A fellow tourist told us it had been raining everyday since he arrived.

Getting a tuk-tuk turned out to be quite expensive so my wife and I donned our raincoats and walked out to catch a songthaew instead which cost a fraction of the tuk-tuk price. The songthaews in Hat Yai come in several colors eg red, black, white, etc and will follow a route like buses.

Luckily, the market was not open air as it continued to rain for the rest of the day. We spent some time wandering through the market and surrounding shops. We then caught another songthaew and went to Central Festival. We ended spending quite a bit of time at this mall due to the constant rain which made it a bit difficult to move around. And at the mall, we would hang out at the Doi Chaang cafe because they had a buy 1 free 1 discount. By the way, their coffee is pretty good.

It was lucky that we had brought umbrellas and raincoats as the rains were constant. It would pause occasionally but start again after awhile. But we still managed to get out one morning to the Hat Yai Municipal Park to visit the temple at the top of the hill. We got ourselves a songthaew to go there and paid 200 baht for the trip. At first we felt it was a bit pricey but then realized it was quite a long trip especially to get to the top of the hill and the driver would wait for us too. The view from the top of the hill was all clouded up due to the rainy weather.

The rains paused as we headed down from the hill so we went to the market again. We got to walk around the shops near the market but it wasn’t for long. The rains started and we caught a songthaew to Central Festival. We hung out there till the rains stopped in the evening while we headed out to the night bazaar and the Greenway Food Station. The food was good and very varied. We have always enjoyed going to Thai markets.¬†While we did enjoy ourselves, the rain did affect us quite a bit. It made it gloomy, cold and wet. I’m sure Hat Yai in better weather would have been even better.

Note : I seem to have misplaced the pictures I took, still looking …

Rekindle

This cafe has two outlets, one in SS2 and another at Uptown Damansara. Both are in Petaling Jaya and located just minutes from each other. Both offer the same menu but my wife and I usually visit the one at SS2. The outlet at SS2 is closed on Mondays whereas the one at Uptown is closed on Wednesdays.

Their coffee is pretty good and quite reasonably priced. And they have a large selection of cakes as well as some sandwiches. The ambience is cozy and you can chill, chat while enjoying your cakes and coffee. However, at times, it can get a bit crowded and noisy.¬†There’s something about it that draws us back here.

The Kasturi, Cherating

Cherating is a sleepy resort town on the East Coast of Malaysia, between three to three and half hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. There are many resorts all along the coast, many located right at the beach. My wife and I stayed at The Kasturi, a small luxury resort sitting on 15 acres with the sea in front and the forest behind.

The resort is off the main road and through a forest with good security including guard dogs. We had reservations and were expected, so security guided us to the parking where they told us that a buggy would pick us up for check in. And right as I parked, the buggy showed up to collect us and our luggage to be brought to the arrival pavilion. After a delicious welcome drink and taking care of the formalities, we were then taken by buggy to our accommodation.

We stayed at an Ocean View Suite which was at the main building with an amazing view of the South China Sea and the pool. It was quite a well appointed suite with the added convenience of the breakfast buffet at the poolside restaurant just downstairs. It was going to be a relaxing weekend getaway for us.

The suite had a well stocked complimentary minibar with a coffee maker. And the bathtub and shower were partially outdoors. There were double vanities and all the toiletries we needed. They had a local fruit basket waiting for us and the aircond had nicely cooled the room, very appreciated as it was quite a hot day.

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For me, the main reason you would come here is to relax, to unwind, to stroll along the beach or swim in the pool. There is a spa and gym available and if not mistaken, even kayaking but there are not many other things to do here. It’s the beach, the pool, your villa/suite or the main building with the restaurant, gift shop and lounge/bar, which by the way, was not open.

However, that said, my wife and I did enjoy relaxing and unwinding here. Our suite was quite spacious and very comfortable. You could walk through the forest as the resort has a connecting raised platform or stroll along the sandy beach.

The resort provided us with a daily complimentary breakfast at the Kenyang restaurant but we chose to have our lunches and dinners out of the resort. We drove out to a restaurant a few minutes away which was eclectic fusion place that served Chinese, Western and Thai dishes.

Due to a particularly heavy monsoon in the beginning of the year, the beach and some parts of the resort had sustained some damage. And in order to limit any further erosion of the beach, the resort had to build a seawall. Luckily for us, it was a long weekend and their construction crews were away.  Although a necessary evil, the seawall changed the view and was a bit of a turn off.

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And as much as my wife and I enjoyed our stay, there were several things that could and should (especially at these rates) have been better. A lot has been said about the design, architecture and build of what the resort itself claims is the finest luxury resort on the East Coast but they need to be paying closer attention to all the details, especially the little ones.

Although the staff were all very nice, pleasant, helpful and eager to please, they did miss those details. Details like the corroded kettle, stained blinds and unlockable balcony doors in our suite, it all should have been spotted by housekeeping and replaced/cleaned.

Also, the TV would not work due to lack of signal or loose cable or something. We called reception about it on the first night but they took quite some time to show up so we just asked them to come the next day. And after they corrected it the next day, there were still instances when the complicated programming just froze and you would end up pressing every button on the remote to get anything to happen. On top of that, the sound quality was poor. Rather surprising and frustrating.

Then, water to started to drip from the aircond, not much but that’s not something that it should be doing. And at night, it would make loud clanging noises that sounded like the wardrobe cabinets being slid open/close. It was very disconcerting especially since those cabinets were located in the partially open air bathroom and you may think someone was actually in there opening/closing those cabinets.

The wardrobe itself offered lots of storage space but all the drawers could not be utilised since the cabinet doors didn’t open enough to allow the drawers to slide out. It seems like they built the cabinets, put the doors on but didn’t stop to check to see if the drawers could be opened. Quite absurd and quite a waste.

Finally, it was also very surprising for a resort like this to not have hot water available for baths and showers. It was available during the day but not at night. And the staff could not explain it or correct it. All this underwhelming and we do not see ourselves staying here again in the foreseeable future.

Black Ink No 6

This cafe was located Off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, behind Megan Avenue. It is quiet, cozy and right next to an art gallery. Parking is free but rather limited. It would be easier to park if you visit early on a weekend.

The must try is the Volcano coffee which is delicious and creamy.¬† It’s basically espresso with cold milk, topped with overflow fresh whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. It also comes with matcha and chocolate.There are other beverages available but this is what my wife and I would order.

Their menu is not extensive and consists mainly of breakfast and brunch with rice bowls. Their rice bowls are quite delicious and reasonably priced. Our favorite is the Yum Yum Bowl, which is marinated sirloin steak with short grained rice, onsen egg and radish sauce. The steak is moist, tender and done just right – medium rare.

It’s not a fancy cafe with big menu but it hits the spot and is just right for those looking for a cafe to hang out and have quiet conversation.

Note : We’ve not been there in awhile and a quick search on Google indicates they are closed or have moved.

Edited : The cafe has moved to Megan Avenue and is now a kiosk style outlet, therefore they are no longer serving meals. Only drinks and pastries. A bit sad then since their rice bowls were good.