Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hello London After 8 Years

Never thought that after 8 years, I back to London again. 

Well, my main intention going back to London is to participate the International Girl Guides and Girl Scouts camp which held in Leicestershire but because of the two students which I guide and lead never been to London before, hence we decided to fly earlier and have some pre-camp tour activities.

Overall, we spent a short 3 days 2 nights in London before entering the camp and here are the few main attractions we managed to cover during our stay in London:  

1) Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the home for the queen and an office for the Head of State. Although the palace is in use for the many official events and receptions held by the Queen, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every summer. We were there during the summer but the queue is overwhelming and by looking at the entrance fee, shall we give a pass. 

2016 London - Buckingham Palace
#1: Sun-drenched Buckingham Palace

2016 London - Buckingham Palace 02
#2: See the crowd also make me no mood to view the changing guard.

2016 London 03
#3: Right in front of the Buckingham Palace gate

How To Get To Buckingham Palace
There are five main tube stations that surround Buckingham Palace but bear in mind, you still need to walk merely around 10 minutes from the tube stations to the palace:
1) Victoria Tube Station (under Victoria, Circle and District Lines)
2) St Jame's Park (under Circle and District Lines)
3) Westminister (under Circle, District and Jubilee Lines)
4) Hyde Park Corner (under Piccadilly Line)
5) Charing Cross (under Bakerloo and Northern Lines)

2) Borough Market
Located very close to London Bridge, Borough Market is most renowned wholesale and retail food market in London. It is London's one of the largest and oldest food markets. Here, you can find more than 100 stalls and stands selling wide range of products including fish, meats, vegetables, cheeses, breads, coffees, cakes and patisseries.

2016 London - Borough Market
#4: Borough Market, not far from London Bridge

2016 London - Borough Market 02
#5: Fresh seafood but I'm not interested 

2016 London - Borough Market 03
#6: Can't resist the owl biscuits. So cute!

2016 London - Borough Market 04
#7: More cakes

How To Get To Borough Market: 
London Bridge Station. Borough High Street Exit (West Side)

Opening Times
Monday - Tuesday: 10 am to 5 pm
Wednesday - Thursday: 10 am to 5 pm
Friday: 10 am to 6 pm
Saturday: 8 am to 5 pm
Sunday: Closed

3) Tower Bridge
Do I still need to introduce this? However, quite number of people has mistakenly referred this bridge as London Bridge but it was not. London Bridge does exist but it just a pretty normal bridge and it's situated very close to Tower Bridge. 
2016 London - Tower Bridge
#8: Too bad it was cloudy and no clear blue sky 

2016 London 06
#9: A pose with the iconic bridge is a must, although I took before 8 years ago

2016 London 08
#10: Across Tower Bridge

How To Get To Tower Bridge
1) London Bridge Station (under Northern and Jubilee Lines) and short walk away toward Tower Bridge
2) Tower Hill Station (under District and Circle Lines)

4) Big Ben
2016 London - Big Ben 01
#11: Big Ben, another famous iconic of London shouldn't be missed by anyone

2016 London - Red Double Decker
#12: The red double decker

How To Get To Big Ben
The nearest tube/station/underground is Westminster. Once you come out from the main exit, Big Ben Towers are just right above you. So incredible!

5) Piccadilly Circus
The busy square in the heart of London but the main reason we were here mainly for the giant and bright iconic advertising hoarding. When my friends and I were in London 8 years ago, we couldn't make it here cause we're ran out of time but seeing this place couple of times in postcards and Internet, I know this is one place I shouldn't miss if I return to London for second time. 
2016 London - Piccadilly Circus 01
#13: Giant and bright iconic advertising hoarding at Piccadilly Circus 

2016 London - Piccadilly Circus 02
#14: The famous statue of Eros, this is well-known for its popular meeting point

6) Chinatown
From Piccadilly Circus, my students and I walked down to China Town cause my two students were craving for rice. Truly Asian these two gals! All along the way, there are many souvenirs shop selling all those typical knick-knack such as T-shirt, fridge magnets, keychains and more. Of course, you need to survey from one shop to another cause not all the price are the same. 
2016 London - China Town
#15: Chinatown for the second time

7) Oxford Street
In between our trip, we did stopby at Oxford Street, a famous shopping street with more than 300 retailers from designer outlets to department stores. Initially I plan to shop at Primark here (all their clothes are super duper cheap) but I have no mood to shop at that particular moment as I was just went through a rough breakup. 
OROGOLD-Londons-Oxford-Street

8) Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter
This studio tour was upon requested by my two students and since I did watch all the seven series of Harry Potter, I thought it was a great idea to put this as one of my London itineraries. Although it's quite far away from London city where we travelled by our own by taking subway, then switch to train and bus which took more than a hour, but no regret of coming here. Not just me, even many people are envy with my students who managed to visit Harry Potter studio. I will blog more about this in the upcoming post.
London Warner Bros Studio Tour 01
#16

2016 Warner Bros Studio Tour Harry Potter
#17

For more info about this studio tour, do check out their website here.

Where We Stayed?
Thanks to my blogger friend who is also a frequent traveller, Tommy Ooi for helping me to book Novotel Paddington cause it's quite hard for me to find a room for three at the very last minute. Although it was slightly pricey, but my students and I thought we might need a little bit of comfort sleep and rest before entering the camp for a week. A real camp where we sleep inside a tent with sleeping bag for exactly a week. 

20161
#18: Novotel Paddington with breakfast along

You can check out my old post about London where my friends and I went 8 years ago. 
2016 London 07
Last but not least, spot any differences of me 8 years ago and 8 years later? Still chubby chubby

This blogpost is specially dedicated to one of my Instagram followers as she requested for London itinerary. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Foodie Friday: Food Must Have When Visit Kuching

UPDATED VERSION as at 5th May 2017
NOTE: Non-Halal Food Post

Food Must Have When Visit Kuching-2

Kuching has a number of notable and famous local dishes that mostly served in hawker stalls. In this updated version, I even listed down which shops/stalls are recommended to try for their respective dishes. I didn't manage to visit all but you are welcome to give feedback and comments which shops/stalls you think served the best one. 

1) Kolo Mee
Kuching Foods - Kolo Mee
Who doesn't know this, the most famous noodle of Sarawak - Kolo Mee? A flash-boiled egg noodles that classically served with crushed garlic and shallot, minced meat, sliced of barbecue pork known (char siew), white vinegar and sometimes with chicken cutlets.  This is one of my favourite food that I can have it almost every day whenever I was in Kuching - whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even for supper. You can have this simple noodle as low as RM3.00 per bowl in Kuching. It's dirt cheap and sometimes the hawker is generous with the amount of char siew.

Kuching Kolo Mee Red Sauce

Usually, this simple noodle comes in two flavours - whether in plain or seasoned with red sauce (basically it's the char siew sauce which makes the noodles taste slightly sweeter). In certain stalls, you could request to be served in soy sauce or even in black vinegar. 

Recommendations for Best Kolo Mee
- Sin Lian Shin at 182, Green Road
- Oriental Park Cafe at Cathay Street
- Kim Joo at Carpenter Street
- Mee Kolok Mohammad Lim at Jalan Green Hell (For halal kolo mee)

2) Kuching Laksa
Kuching Food - Kuching Laksa
Cooked in shrimp based broth which made from sambal belacan, lemongrass, tamarin, garlic and thickened with coconut milk, this dish is served along with vermicelli rice noodles (bihun), omelette strips, shredded chicken, prawns, beansprouts and sliced deep fried tofu. This is one of Anthony Bourdain's Top 10 favourite dishes. 

Recommendations for Best Kuching Laksa
- Golden Arch Cafe at 3rd Miles
- Choon Hui Cafe at 34, Jalan Ban Hock (Anthony Bourdain, the world-renowned travelling & celebrity chef came here twice just for the laksa. Don't forget to try the popiah and kaya toast too
- Chong Choon Cafe at Jalan Chan Chin Ann (6.30am to 12pm)  

3) Kueh Chap
Kuching Foods - Kway Chap
Kueh Chap, a flat and wide ricecake strips served in a herbal broth with assortment of pork internal organs, pork meat, skin, deep fried tofu, and hard-boiled egg. 

Recommendations for Best Kueh Chap
- Lao Ya Keng at Carpenter Street
- 3rd Mile Market at 3rd Mile
- Bintawa Kueh Chap (Tabuan Jaya) at Tabuan (4.30pm to 10pm on Tuesday to Sunday)
- Woon Lam Cafe 1999 at Jalan Song Thian Chiak

4) Tomato Kuey Teow
Kuching Foods - Tomato Sauce Kway Teow
Another favourite of mine, Tomato Sauce Kuey Teow. Some people found it weird to eat this rice noodles served in the tomato sauce-based gravy but for me, it is one of the most heavenly delicious dish I love the most in Kuching. Some of the stalls in Kuching do serve in crispy deep fried noodles or bihun and you can request whatever ingredients you want to add into this meal. For me, I prefer chicken, pork and fish cakes.

Recommendations for Best Tomato Kuey Teow
- Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre at Jalan Padungan
- Fu Yu Kopi Shop at Sekama
- Stutong Baru Tomato Fried Kiaw
- Hui Sing Hawker Cenre

5) Belacan Bihun
Kuching Foods - Bihun Belacan
Belacan Bihun - a rice vermicelli served together with cuttlefish slices, century egg mixed along with sweet and spicy shrimp based broth (belacan).

Recommendations for Best Belacan Bihun
- Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre (Stall No. 14) at Jalan Padungan
- Swee Kang Jalan Haji Taha at Haji Taha Road
- Old Rex Cucur Udang Cafe at Rubber Road

6) Traditional Kek Lapis (Layer Cake)
Kuching Food - Kek Lapis
Most of the food above are inconvenient for you to bring back or even give to your friends and family as souvenires, unless they have to go Kuching by themselves. But no worry, as there are always something you can bring back as a gift from Kuching, none other than Kek Lapis or Layer Cake. There are many flavour with different kind of patterns and motifs. Most of the shops they will give one for free when you purchase at least 10 kek lapis. 

Recommendations for Best Kek Lapis 
- Kek Lapis Dayang Salhah at Jalan Gersik 
- Mira Cake House at Jalan Brooke (Opening Hours: 
(Take a boat across from the Waterfront 7-Eleven and turn right until spot a green mosque. Kek Lapis Dayang Salhah is just behind the mosque while Mira on the left side. There are signboards for both. No worries)

7) Kompia
Kuching Kompia
This Foochow snack is famously found in Sibu but in case you don't have time to go Sibu, you can find it in Kuching too. It's a soft and crispy bagel coated with sesame seeds filling with minced pork cooked in a sweet gravy. Now they have many different flavours like stuffed with garlic, ham and more. Most of the stalls selling each for RM1.00 only.

Recommendations for Best Kompia in Kuching
- Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre (Stall No. 7) at Jalan Padungan

8) Kampua Mee
Kuching Kampua Mee
Another famous Sibu staple food which look like Kolo mee but the significant differences would be Kampua mee is more thicker and less curly than the latter one. In term of taste, kampua mee is more dry than kolo mee. Commonly served with sliced of barbecue pork and the noodles can be served in plain or soy sauce.

9) Sio Bee
Kuching Sio Bee
Sio Bee is Kuching's version of siu mai. I never noticed this until my recent trip back there. The difference between siu mai and sio bee is that siu mai contains both pork and shrimps while sio bee is completely stuffed with pork only. No wonder they taste totally different from siu mai when I had my first bite.

Recommendations for Best Sio Bee
- Sin Kwang Heng at Open Air Market opposite Electra House

10) Sarawak Popiah (Spring Roll)
Kuching Food - Sarawak Popiah
Popiah Sarawak Style might look so common like the one in West Malaysia and Singapore but actually their fillings are more toward dry version.

Recommendations for Best Sarawak Popiah
Choon Hui Cafe at 34, Jalan Ban Hock

11) Three Layer Milk Tea
Kuching Foods - 3 Layers Teh Special

Three Layer Milk Tea locally known as Teh C Special. This three lay­ers are often made up of tea which is on the top, evap­o­rated milk in the middle and Gula Melaka syrup in the bottom part. Not just three, there are some shops even served in five layers. Cool!

Recommendations for Best Three Layer Milk Tea
- Everywhere in Kuching

12) CocoCane

Kuching CocoCane
Cococane is a combination of freshly squeezed sugar cane with scrapped coconut flesh and coconut juice. The drink is so refreshing and cooling and best to drink to beat the hot weather. Besides Cococane, you could also opt for Honey Sea Coconut juice.

Recommendations for Best Cococane in Kuching
- Song Kheng Hai Hawker Centre (Stall No. 24) at Jalan Padungan

13) Sunny Hill Ice-Cream
Sunny Garden Ice-Cream 03
This famous and legendary ice-cream parlour has been operated for more than 50 years and many local were actually grew up with the companion of this ice-cream shop. There are only certain of flavours will be served on the specific days and most of the time, only two flavours are served; strawberry flavour on every Monday and Tuesday, pandan or corn flavour on every Wednesday to Friday and chocolate flavour on every Saturday and Sunday. Whereas for vanilla flavour, it will be served on every single day.

Business Hours:
Sunday - Thursday: 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Saturday: 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Check out my old post on Sunny Hill Ice-Cream

14) Ice-Cream Gula Apong
Kuching Food - Ice Cream Gula Apong
Palm sugar, or gula apong is the sweet substance processed from the sap of the nipah palm. Nipah palm grows naturally and abundantly along the coastal areas throughout Sarawak. You can topped Ice-Cream Gula Apong with variety of topping such as crunched peanuts, orea, cornflakes and nestum.

Recommendations for Gula Apong in Kuching
- Open Air Market at Jalan
- DP Ice Cream Gula Apong

15) Ah Yeo Ice Kacang
Kuching Foods - ABC
From my point of view, Ah Yeo Ice Kacang served the best ABC in Kuching. I'm not a really big fan of ice-kacang but Ah Yeo changed my mind. So far, they have created more than 200 variety of menus with special and funky name. I was so surprised but at the same time, laughed for non-stop when I heard the name. Their ABC are freaking dirt cheap too where you can get as low as RM2.20. Gosh!

Kuching Food - Ah Yeo Ice Kacang

Address: Jubilee Ground Hawker Centre
Opening Hours: 11am to 5pm

Another famous one is Swee Kang Ais Kacang but I haven't try it yet. Will be in my list to do when going back Kuching again. 😁

16) Midin
2440368423_17ba2b9cfa
Midin is a local fern picked from the wild and used a vegetable. Typically, it is stir fried with garlic and even with belacan and chilli. This dish is commonly found in any coffee shops or restaurants.

There are more food I haven't try yet especially the native dishes such as Ayam Pansuh/Manok Pansoh and Kacangma and I can't wait to be back to Kuching again for another food adventures. Beside the local dishes, there are also few cafes that are worth to try when one in Kuching. This will be next in my upcoming post. Oh boy! I can feel that my waist is expending soon. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

DT Is Back To Blog!

Anyone miss me? 😜

In Norway last year September

Something happened last year which causing me to private my blog and I decided to take a break for almost a year. Of course, I do miss blogging but I think it's best to put aside my blog for a while, settle few things first and slower down my current lifestyle as age is catching up now.

Although my blog is in long hiatus mode, I still travelling as usual:
1) Went London last year July for Girl Guides International Camp - Back to London again after 8 years. 
2) Went Sweden & Norway for two weeks last year September - Norway marked as the 36th country I visited so far. 
3) Short break to Singapore, Miri & Kuching

On top of that, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my blog readers and friends who actually sent email, comments and messages asking me what is going on to my blog. Sorry for the long hiatus and making my blog to private mode without any announcement which causing many of you unable to read my blog. However, feeling so touch when I found out that most of them love reading my blog. Thanks for the kind words, support and encouragement. I will try my best to catch up all my backlog travelogues as my last travelogue stop at 2014 Northern Thailand.