Friday, November 16, 2018

Foodie Friday: Hello Stranger Cafe, Kota Kinabalu

READ HERE: List of Lifestyle Cafes in Kota Kinabalu

One thing I'm looking forward for a cafe nowadays is not just a cup of good and hot coffee but also the one that serves variety of food to choose from the menu. Especially when I'm looking for my late lunch after passing the lunch hour time and need coffee so badly. Kinda addicted to coffee lately. Seems like can't survive my day without a single cup of hot coffee. 

And that's where I found Hello Strangers Cafe which turns out to be one of my favourite cafes in Kota Kinabalu recently.

Hello Stranger Cafe 1 Cafe Overview

Situated at the ground floor of The Riverson which is not far away from KKians favourite mall of Imago, it serves an interesting Asian fusion cuisines which inspired from Japanese, Vietnamese and Western foods.

Without waiting any longer, here are some of the food which I savour before from my countless visits to Hello Strangers cafe:

Hello Stranger Cafe 3 - Chicken Katsu Curry Rice
#1: Chicken Katsu Curry (RM17.90). 
Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. The Japanese curry is packed with flavours and not too spicy. Suitable for those who don't really into spicy food. 

Hello Stranger Cafe 5 - Chicken Teriyakidon
#2: Teriyaki chicken served with rice and topped with a sunny side up egg (RM15.90).
Another Japanese dishes I love but I prefer them to use boneless chicken.

Hello Stranger Cafe 6 - Butter Chicken Linguine
#3: Butter Chicken Linguine (RM15.90)

Hello Stranger Cafe 7
#4: Viet cold noodle salad with chicken (RM15.90).
This one a bit disappointed; not as per stated as their menu where served with vermicelli noodles, they gave me rice instead.

Hello Stranger Cafe 4 - Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Vietnamese Baguette
#5: Teriyaki Chicken Banh Mi (RM15.90). Available in beef too (RM17.90)

Hello Stranger Cafe 9 Viet Summer Roll with Chicken
#6: Viet Summer Roll with Chicken serve with mint and peanut dipping sauce (RM11)

From wide selection of rices and noodles to Banh Mi (Vietnamese kind of sandwiches) and even spring rolls, sometimes it's indeed giving me a hard time to choose what I wanna eat from their menu eventhough I've been here like many times. Majority of the food served are flavourful and scrumptious and that's what make me coming back for more. Perhaps for my next visit, I would love to try dishes like Thai Basil Chicken, Japanese Chicken Curry Udon, Oyakadon Chicken and more.

Price wise, perhaps some of you might think it's kinda pricey but I found out that this is what most of the cafes in KK are charging at; price for a single meal cost between RM15 to RM25 depending on your preferred choice like chicken would be cheaper than the seafood dishes.

Besides main meals, they do serve cakes as well but I decided to skip it cause I found it's kinda average and slightly unappealing to me. You know when they said appearance does matter and it does apply to food too. Probably next time when I don't feel like wanna have something heavy but something light instead, then maybe I could consider it. 

Hello Stranger Cafe 8
#7: Everything gets better with a cup of hot coffee. My fav; either Cafe Mocha or Hazelnut Latte to kick off my day. 

Hello Stranger Cafe 2 Cafe Overview

Hello Strangers Cafe
B-2, The Walk Riverson,
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday (8.30 am to 6pm)
                             Saturday & Sunday (11am to 6pm)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Trip To Wuhan & Wudang Mountain From Kota Kinabalu

Pack. Unpack. Pack. Unpack. And keep repeating.

That's what I did for the past few months. It would be a lie if I said I'm not exhausted but then, this is the fun part of the travelling process.

So right after I came back from UK & Europe, I went to China a week later. It's a short trip with my boyfriend in conjunction of his birthday celebration. And we picked Wuhan as our destination.

2018 China Wuhan Cover

Why Wuhan? Simple, cause there's a direct flight from Kota Kinabalu to there. The boyfriend is kinda lazy to transit in Kuala Lumpur lately, hence we chosen those route that fly directly from Kota Kinabalu.

To date, not just one but there are two non-stop flights from Kota Kinabalu to Wuhan directly; you can travel with AirAsia or Malindo. And to my surprise, Kota Kinabalu is the one and only city in Malaysia having this route currently cause the one from Kuala Lumpur has been ceased permanently.

2018 China Wuhan AirAsia From Kota Kinabalu
The flight duration from Kota Kinabalu to Wuhan takes 4 hours.

Since it was just a short trip, I think it's best for me to do a full post with complete itinerary instead of another sneak peek one. Bear with me cause it's going to be a lengthy post.

FLIGHT DETAILS
Airlines
From
To
ETD
ETA
AirAsia (Daily except Tuesday)
Kota Kinabalu
Wuhan
6:40pm
10:45pm
Wuhan
Kota Kinabalu
11:45pm
3:55am (+1)
AirAsia (Tuesday only)
Kota Kinabalu
Wuhan
4:55pm
9:05pm
Wuhan
Kota Kinabalu
10:05pm
2:15am (+1)
Malindo Air (Wed, Fri & Sun)
Kota Kinabalu
Wuhan
6:45pm
10:50pm
Wuhan
Kota Kinabalu
11:50pm
3:20am (+1)

We flew with AirAsia and since our flight was on Wednesday, by the time we arrived at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, it was almost close to midnight. We decided to stay somewhere nearby to the airport since we need to catch another flight on the following day. For this trip, I don't have the full details like the hotel's name, the room rate and etc cause the boyfriend planned the whole trip. Finally I took a break from becoming the trip planner/organiser.

As I'm pretty much illiterate and can't read/write in Chinese, the boyfriend booked all the hotels from Chinese website which were slightly cheaper. And our first night stay even included free transfer from/to hotel too. Oh well, the hotel was kinda so-so only but it's pretty sufficient for us to have a quick nap, shower before woke up at 5am to catch the next flight. Therefore, I'm gonna skip this part.

FROM WUHAN TO WUDANG MOUNTAIN武当山
Early morning with the free shuttle provided, we back to the airport again. The boyfriend decided to begin our trip by going to Wudang Mountain (武当山). From what he told me, there are 3 available options to travel to here; via plane, train or bus. If possible, I would prefer to travel with the high-speed rail but it would be quite costly. Hence we ended up taking flight instead.

2018 China Wuhan China Southern Airlines

Even it's just a short flight which takes an hour only, but I'm so excited cause going to experience new airlines which is the China Southern Airlines. Besides entitled to a baggage allowance up 23 kg per passenger, we're given snack and drinks. Although there are no in-flight meal and entertainment provided, but I already pretty satisfied with the baggage allowance cause I don't have to carry my 6kg backpack around the airport.

Upon arrival at Shiyan Wudangshan Airport which is the official airport for Wudangshan, we took a mini bus which located just outside the airport to Wudangshan National Park that cost 15 yuan per person.

2D1N IN WUDANG MOUNTAIN武当山
2018 China Wudang Mountain 01-1

So what's so special about this mountain causing the boyfriend to make the trip here? Situated in the northwestern corner of the Hubei Province, this mountain range is the birthplace of Taichi martial art and being listed as part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not just quite number of Chinese films have been shooting, even The Karate Kid (2010 Hollywood movie) by Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son) has been taken place here.

2018 China Wudang Mountain 02

To enter into Wudang Mountain National Park, one has to park an entrance fee of 248 yuan which I found it's one of the most overpriced parks in China. However, the ticket is valid for the entire duration of your stay and there is no time limitation. The ticket even included all the shuttle bus from the entrance to any temples within the park.

After got off from the local bus, we took the free shuttle bus straight to Nanyan with a short interchange. And after reaching Nanyan, we decided to have lunch first before tackling the mountain. You know, no eat no energy then. From what we've been through, it wasn't a difficult hike but it wasn't easy too cause it requires tons of energy to walk through all the never-ending ups and downs stone steps. Plus, both of us were carrying our backpack along the hike.

2018 China Wudang Mountain 03

It was low season when we were there but we absolutely loved it cause it was less crowd and not many people walking around the man-made stone hiking trail. We can stop at anytime we want and continue once we had quick-and-short breaks. In between the hike, we visited quite number of Taoist temples, monasteries and palaces before checking-in into our lodge.

2018 China Wudang Mountain 05

The boyfriend suggested to overnight in the small village of Nanyan before we proceed to conquer the Golden Submit, which is the highest peak in the region on the next morning. I don't know what's the English name of the hotel that boyfriend booked but what I know, I pretty love this hotel. At least there was a hot shower provided since it was freaking cold in the mountain area, especially during the night time.

2018 China Wudang Mountain 06

Once again, we woke up as early as 4am to continue with our hike up to the Golden Submit. It was pitch dark and we relied on our handphone's torch all along the hike. After 3 hours of strenuous walk, glad that we made it to the top for the sake of witness the perfect and magnificent golden egg yolk, I mean golden sunrise. It was indeed true that the best view comes after the hardest climb but I told boyfriend, no more next time after this. Seriously, I feel like dying while climbing up lots of very steep uphills. By the way in order to reach the Golden Submit, one is required to pay entrance fee of 27 yuan.

2018 China Wudang Mountain 07

Done with the Golden Submit, we continue to walk back to our hotel, immediately packed our backpacks and checking-out in order to catch the train going back to Wuhan. It was last minute decision cause the train ticket sold out initially not until the boyfriend received notification that the train ticket is open for sale again. It was one way long journey to get to Shiyan Railway Station all the way from Nanyan Town; from taking the free shuttle bus to entrance park, then continue with an hour local bus #202 to the railway station (it costs 4 yuan only per passenger, damn so cheap).

2018 China Wudang Mountain to Hankou Wuhan

Just like what I expected, it wasn't a pleasant ride at all. It's not the train problem but the people inside the train. During the four hours train ride, the Chinese citizens keep talking on the phone with loud noise and they tend to like to argue with each other. Quite number of them purposely sat on the wrong seat and there you go with all the drama inside the train. Oh my goodness!

3D3N IN WUHAN
You can't imagine how happy I was when I heard the train announced that we had arrived Hankou Railway Station of Wuhan. And this is where our hotel located too. Out from the station, I spotted McDonald's in front of me, KFC on my left and not forgetting Burger King underneath the station. Cool, I'm trying my best to love this place.

2018 China Wuhan Hankao Railway Station

So what we did and where we went when in Wuhan? Basically, just eat, play and shop. Of course, with a bit of sightseeing.

1) Hubuxiang - A famous breakfast alley in Wuhan where you can find all sorts of Wuhan's popular breakfast dishes. I noticed that this street resembles those like the one in Taiwan. Both boyfriend and I managed to try few breakfast food such as "reganmian" which means hot dry noodle and "doupi", rice fried into a cake with tofu skin and some pickled veggies.

2018 China Wuhan Hubuxiang

2018 China Wuhan Hubuxiang Breakfast Food

2) Yellow Crane Tower - The most iconic landmark of Wuhan. It is considered one of the four great towers in China. Sits atop of the Snake Hill with the fascinating view facing the Yangtze River, its cultural significance led to its being made the symbol of the city.

Entrance Fee: 70 yuan
Opening Hours: 8am to 6pm (Apr to Oct); 8am to 5pm (Nov to Mar)
How To Get There: Bus #10, 61, 401 and 402

0611-2018-1134254248206290392853

2018 China Wuhan Yellow Crane Tower 02

2018 China Wuhan Yellow Crane Tower 03

3) East Lake Scenic Area - The largest lake in Wuhan. Boyfriend bought the package to enter Yellow Crane Tower along with the boat ride, we got visited few parks within the lake. However from my honest opinion, the ride was quite dull and boring. 

2018 China Wuhan East Lake

4) Optics Valley Walking Street - This 1,350 m long walking street is the longest commercial walking street connected up to date. It combines shopping, dining and entertainment, business office, hotel service as a whole, with integrated, multi-functional, all-format, complex commercial style. Adopting the essence of the buildings in all over the countries, here you can feel like travel around the world in a day - one building with warmly Spain architecture, the next building with classic Italian design and then, Germany's Octoberfest on the other side. This reminds me of Terminal 21 of Bangkok, Thailand. 

2018 China Wuhan Optics Valley Pedestrian Street

2018 China Wuhan Optics Valley Pedestrian Street 02

If you are searching for Insta-worthy spots, then this is the right place for you.

1541309942145

IMG_20181109_192901_541

5) Jianghan Road & Hankow Custom House - A pedestrian mall looks alike Shanghai's popular East Nanjing Road. It's recommended to come here at night where thousand of little stalls selling variety of goods such as clothing, housewares, beauty products, souvenirs, food and etc. At the end of the road, there is where the Hankow Custom House situated with its famous clock tower which has been part of Wuhan's landmark. 

2018 China Wuhan Hankow Custom House

6) Starbucks Reserve - For Starbucks coffee lover, don't forget to visit the one in Chu River and Han Street for its handpicked and premium coffee-brewing.

2018 China Wuhan Starbucks Reserve

Almost every night, we went to shopping malls for window shopping. Trust me when I said window shopping cause the price of the items there were quite premium and not cheap like I expected. Oh yeah! We even went Walmart Supermarket twice to stock up snacks before leaving the city. 

2018 China Wuhan Walmart Supermarket

HOW TO GET AROUND WUHAN
Majority of the attractions and shopping streets can be reached via metro and by the time when we're there, the metro network consists of 9 lines in operation so far. We did take local bus too but only once and I personally don't recommend to take bus in case you don't understand Chinese like me. Before embarking trip around Wuhan, it is best to apply for Wuhan Tong card where you can use on metro, bus, light rail stations and certain supermarkets. A deposit of 15 yuan is required and you can top-up at any metro stations.

2018 China Wuhan Tong Card

You can ever reach Wuhan Tianhe International Airport under Line 2. However do take note that the metro in Wuhan tend to close earlier than most of the cities around the world. Hence to play safe, it is advisable to get back to your hotel by 10pm, at least.

EXTRA INFO
1) Visa is required for Malaysian. For Sabahan, you can apply at Kota Kinabalu's Consulate General of the People's Republic of China which located opposite of CityMall. For more details about fees, processing time and payments, check out here.
2) There is no time difference between Malaysia and Wuhan. It's same-same.
3) Do bring along extra foldable tote bag cause many shops apply no plastic bag policy.

THE END
And that's sum up my short trip to Wuhan including an overnight stay in Wudang Mountain. Would I be back again? Frankly speaking, probably nope in this shorter term but who knows what the future may bring, right? 

LRM_EXPORT_161182794740507_20181104_232006155
If only I can bring you back to KK, Mr Brown

2018 China Wuhan Postcards
Anyone love postcards like I do? Prefer the phototaking or painting type?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Balkans (2018): Short Trip To Zadar, Croatia

Continue with my previous post on A Day Trip To Sibenik From Split.

After spending two nights in Split which we found it's way more enough to stay there, we moved to the next destination, Zadar. As usual, I always book my bus tickets online prior to the trip in order to secure the seats. All my bus tickets for this trip including the one from Mostar to Dubrovnik bought from Get By Bus - it's secure and reliable website, in case you're wondering. Just remember to print your ticket cause they don't accept mobile notifications. 

2018 Croatia Zadar 01
#1: Croatian countryside is really stunning and breathtaking.

2018 Croatia Zadar 02
2: The bus we took from Split to Zadar - Cazmatrans Dalmacija and it cost HRK95 (approx. to RM62)

FROM ZADAR BUS TERMINAL TO OLD TOWN
After three hours and a half of the bus ride, finally we arrived at Zadar Bus Terminal which requires at least 30 minutes of walking to the center of Zadar, or the old town. In order to get there, catch the local buses #2 or 4 at the bus stop situated on the main road just outside the station. The journey takes only five minutes and cost HKR10. But then, my friend decided to walk to our hostel instead of taking the local bus. 

OUR HOSTEL IN ZADAR
We stayed in Three Corners Hostel, which located in the very center of Zadar, on the historic peninsula. All the main sightseeing spots can be visited within a few steps away and the seaside promenade is just less than 5 minutes walk. There is a small seating area within the dormitory and all the guests are provided with private locker. There is no reception within the hostel building and we received email stating that the check-in process is 50 meters away from our hostel. Well, it's a not a big fuss for us after all. 

2018 Croatia Zadar 03
#3: A 4-mixed dormitory room

Three Corners Hostel, Zadar
Date Stayed: 22 May to 23 May 2018 (1 night)
Room Rate: HRK101 (approx. to RM67) per night for a bed in 4 mixed dormitory room without breakfast (Booked via Booking.com)

Once we settled down at our hostel and done with refreshing shower too, it's time to get out to hunt for lunch and also exploring time!

2018 Croatia Zadar 17
#4: Pasta in a box - our lunch in Zadar. I love the concept where we're allowed to choose what base and ingredients we want. 

Due to its excellent size, the Old Town of Zadar is small and easy enough to get around on foot. You don't even have to bother to get around using any public transportation at all. It's historical centre is packed on to a narrow peninsula and it's so fascinating to explore.

2018 Croatia Zadar 04
#5: Walk around the atmospheric streets of the Old Town

2018 Croatia Zadar 05
#6

2018 Croatia Zadar 06
#7: Obviously sugar overdose for having gelato almost everyday when in Croatia

2018 Croatia Zadar 07
#8: Church of St. Donatus on the left side with the belltower of Zadar Cathedral on the right side. Again, we decided to climb up to belltower for another panoramic view of Zadar 

2018 Croatia Zadar 08
#9: Panoramic view from the belltower which facing the waterfront. 

2018 Croatia Zadar 08-1
#10: The other side of the panoramic view

2018 Croatia Zadar 09
#11: I prefer this view more

2018 Croatia Zadar 10
#12

2018 Croatia Zadar 11
#13: Well preserved remains of a Roman Forum. This is a common place for the locals to stroll, sit down among the ruins and enjoying a nice weather during the summer day. 

2018 Croatia Zadar 12
#14: Cathedral of St Anastasia - the largest church in the coastal region of Croatia

2018 Croatia Zadar 13
#15: Creative artwork - Nice to see and as well as the price tag too.

2018 Croatia Zadar 14
#16: Sea Organ - A man-made organ that transforms waves to create musical soundscape through a system of pipes and whistles. This is the main reason I chosen to visit Zadar. You can check out the video below. 

#17: Video credit to Meanderbug

2018 Croatia Zadar 15
#18: Next to the Sea Organ is the Sun Salutation, a circle of glass panels that captures the daylight through solar cells and convert it to a spectacular light show at night. 

It's another of our laid-back and relax trip where we're just sitting down by the seaside and enjoying the city, the people and the sunset. While there were still quite number of tourists around but it's not as crowded and packed like the one in Dubrovnik and Split too. Probably this place doesn't get much attention like the rest but then, do you know that Zadar is elected as European Best Destination in 2016? I glad I made it here, eventhough it's just a short visit. 

2018 Croatia Zadar 16
#19: A three course meal to summarise our night in Zadar

TOTAL EXPENSES SPENT IN ZADAR

PARTICULARS
AMOUNT
HRK
RM
Accommodation
Three Corners Hostel – 1 night

Transportation
Split to Zadar by bus

Admission Fees
Bell Tower of St. Domnius

Food
Lunch – Pasta box
Gelato
Juice
Dinner – 3 Course meal
Groceries

Others
Magnet
Postcards
Stamps
Souvenirs
Laundry

101


95


15


35
23
20
70
20


19
3
6
40
50

68


62


10


24
16
14
47
14


13
2
4
27
34
TOTAL (RM)
335
Exchange Rate: €1.00 (RM4.84) = 7.13 kuna on average

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