Tag: Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur – a city that should be on your bucket list

 

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Malaysia Truly Asia is home to Kuala Lumpur or as the locals call it ‘KL’.

KL is not really a destination that pops up on many peoples bucket list, right?

But damn this city is impressive.

 

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Think Singapore except

 

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bigger and brasher, without the foreign lawyers and bankers and definitely more Asian.

 

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If you’re looking for Asia’s most ethnically and culturally diverse city then this is it.

 

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At KLIA you’ll be greeted by cheery ‘Selamat Datangs’ and waved through immigration.

 

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Hop on the KLIA express.

 

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You’ll pay approximately $7 and will arrive in downtown KL in under 30 minutes.

 

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In KL, walk through the city streets

 

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And you’ll find

 

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Hawkers thriving

 

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Colonial buildings reigning dormant against towering skyscrapers

 

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Roll through glitzy,  space-age shopping malls which shelter designer threads and boutique beds

 

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then eat nasi lemak in Little India against a backdrop of bangra beats.

 

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When the heat gets too much, hop on the skytrain and fly through the heat and congestion above wide highways.

 

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KL’s a city of contrasts

 

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chaotic but organised

 

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modern yet traditional.

 

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Where you’ll find grand Malaysian architectural achievements sitting next to traditional Chinese shop-houses.

 

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and money dripping testament to Malaysia’s economic power.

 

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A place where the big and the bold unfolds

 

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Against the gritty, raw feel of local life.

 

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Markets brimming with fruits and fresh fish will sate your hunger.

 

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Malaysia has a tropical climate. When it rains it pours. Remember this or, like me, you’ll learn the hard way not to wear white…

 

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KL is a place where life moves fast and kindness flows.

 

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A heady mix of cultural and religious traditions.

 

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A city which celebrates diversity.

 

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Where an outsider can do her best to try and understand.

 

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In KL, I tossed my plans into the wind and lived off the city’s pulse.

 

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Ya, this place basically rocks.

 

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Pick Your Pleasure in Asia

I got on a plane

to a faraway place

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exchanging promises with God through each bout of turbulence

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to a place which sits in a remote corner of the world

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where I walked down jungled-covered paths

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and I found beauty hiding.

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In this place, I tried to understand the life I was leading and the world I was living in.

I wondered how it was that I’d ever become accustomed to thinking that the designer watch strapped to my wrist, the designer handbag hanging from my arm and the designer dresses that I draped myself in mattered or that they could offer me anything other than sterility and silence.

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I wondered why it was that I plunged vast amounts of time and energy into thinking about things that I could not and would not ever be able to control.

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I wondered why it was that I was so focussed on ticking off all the things I felt I needed to achieve but had little time to actually stop and breathe.

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I looked at the ocean snaking in waves in front of me and I thought about the space where real life and where real living existed.

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And I discovered the lightening bolt that I’d been searching for.

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In the ocean, I discarded the value in the meaningless and I pledged allegiance to all the love and beauty in the world.

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I knew that the shiny things I’d always painted and covered myself in didn’t balance me. And I knew that the magazines I read and the pictures they teased me with could never offer me a glimpse of any reality that I wanted.

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I didn’t want escapism in my life. Nor did I  want to dull my senses with shiny adornments.

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I wanted a simple reality.

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A reality that made my heart beat faster.

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A reality which made all the joy, heartache, love, pain, beauty, living, dying, that had passed billions of times before me under these pink skies, in the wilderness of this world, worth it.

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And in the paths I walked,

in the simple food I ate,

snorkeling to worlds remote,

and the people I met,

chatting under fiery skies,

I felt weightless.

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I found the rhythm of life’s dance

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where I was free to add my own love to the history of people who walked before me.

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In the rainbow of life, I found beauty coming into being.

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As I lie here now,

I paint these pictures in my mind’s eye,

as a trail,

and I remember it all,

with the certainty of tides,

forever.

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The Spell of the Charming Darling Georgetown, Malaysia

For those who come knocking at the gates of Penang, the Pearl of the Orient, the charming and darling Georgetown awaits.

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I retraced the steps I’d taken 10 years earlier, curious as to what Georgetown would teach me now.

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In a place this magical I found more than I could ask for.

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I stepped out into the perfumed cobbled alleyways with nothing in my mind but to wander.

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In Georgetown you’ll feel the love.

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Pastel painted houses washed in colour.

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Crumbling facades standing proud.

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Colourful mosaic tiles line your pathways.

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A beautiful canvas where cool hipsters paint on the powdery walls.

 

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Colonial townhouses exhale in the late afternoon heat.

 

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I watched the sun shine down, its image reflecting in the glassy green ocean.

 

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Bangra beats echoed out of Little India’s streets.

 

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Alleyways awakened.

 

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Hawker stalls started sizzling.

 

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Candy for the eyes, everywhere.

 

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I discovered young buskers singing rhythms which drifted into the humid air.

 

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I found beauty and wonder in the streets of Georgetown and I felt high on the good vibes that came from this town.

 

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Georgetown is a place where all the pleasures are dished out freely,

 

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where just being yourself is enough,

 

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where your practice is just living.

 

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Georgetown reminds you

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that you’ve already got everything to love

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and that life is more simple than we can even understand

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made up of a collection of moments

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to absorb ourselves in

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and no matter what life path we choose

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the only place we can go is everywhere

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because it’s the journeys we take

and the paths we walk

that always give us what we need.

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Please don’t go to Langkawi & find my secret beach

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In Langkawi

I fell in love

with a secret beach that

became my own.

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My days fell into nets

cast against hedonistic tides and white powdered sands.

 

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In the kisses of the crystalline warm turquoise waters I swam

snorkeling to worlds remote

returning to the cove of the secret white sands

 

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to gaze at fishing boats which gently rocked in the sleepy waters.

I was lulled into paradise’s rhythm.

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I wandered bare foot

in the heat of lazy afternoons

drinking the juice from fresh coconuts

and eating sizzling spiced meats wrapped in banana leaves.

 

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Searching for shade’s gentle breeze

I walked through the green palms

which kissed the crescent shaped bay

and through the glassy green cushioned fields

 

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but I’d always return

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to see the sky light up in flames.

And as darkness descended

hovering fireflies lit up the night

to guide me home

to my beach hut

where I’d sleep deeply

away from the world’s hub-bub.

 

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I tried to leave this secret beach

I really did

but I couldn’t

and I fell into this regular rhythm.

And as the sun rose and fell

through each passing day

this beach stayed

mine.

Forever.

What not to say to a Hainanese coffee shop owner in Singapore

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Sitting on Hong Kong Street, at the edge of Singapore’s China Town, you’ll find a tiny little Kopitiam (meaning coffee shop in Malay). Selling local breakfasts of soft eggs, kaya toast with kopi or teh.

Walking into the shop we approached the counter. We were greeted by a smiling lady. Her husband stood behind her preparing breakfast orders.

‘2 cappuccinos please’ I said to the lady.

Her husband bangs his knife down onto the counter. Looking over his shoulder he lets out a huge sigh. Glaring in my direction he shouts ‘NO. NO. NO. NO.”

Wtf?!? I’m thinking. He walks towards me.

Approaching the counter, he grabs a small cup from the shelf above our heads. Slamming it down. He points towards a picture hanging on the wall. ‘All we serve is Hainanese coffee. This is what you drink’.

Realising we’d entered a specialist coffee shop and seemingly made the brutal and highly insulting error of asking for a mediocre ‘cappuccino’ we muttered hastened apologies. Handing over 2 dollars we grabbed a seat and awaited our Hainanese coffee.

Hainan is a small island that sits off China’s southern coast. The traditional Hainanese coffee preparation method involves roasting coffee beans in a wok with margarine, sugar and sometimes pineapple skin and maize. They’re then ground down into a fine powder. Evaporated milk, sugar and the brewed coffee are poured into a small china cup. Sometimes topped with a dash more water. A mandatory tiny silver spoon is placed on the side.

We were presented with the most beautiful, smooth, thick and syrupy coffee I’ve tasted.

‘Good. Yes?’ Mr Coffee Man enquires.

‘Glorious’ I answer. He beams at me.

Bin this ‘cappuccino nonsense, stick to the best Hainan coffee’ he says.

I smile telling him that he’s converted me.

Singapore is awash with hundreds of Kopitiams ranging from simple old fashioned places to modern franchised chains. No visit to Singapore is complete without a kopi pit-stop. Keep a special look out for this Hainanese little gem!

 

A gem called Melaka

Although I’d visited Malaysia a few times before, my most recent visit took me on my first trip to Melaka. Quite simply, I adored this place. I’d challenge anyone to visit and not walk away charmed.

Eat delicious lemon grass flavoured sorbet as a cooling afternoon treat (Melaka is seriously hot).

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Watch the Chinese New Year lanterns sway in the breeze.

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Fall in love with the traditional architecture, and get lost in the narrow alleys.

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Eat cake at the biscuit enterprise.

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Consider: Am I really in Asia or is this Amsterdam?

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Drink coffee by the riverside.

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Take a ride on a trishaw.

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Do not (SIMPLY DO NOT) miss the Hawker food market (2 minutes from the  Casa Del Rio hotel). I ate here virtually every night (there are umpteen stalls to choose from).

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Take a stroll down the riverside.

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Visit the beautiful churches.

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Watch  fishing boats heading out into the Malacca Straits.

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As you absorb the sunset, loose yourself in the hauntingly beautiful evening calls  to prayer from the many Mosques.

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Have a cocktail chilling out in a roof top infinity pool.

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View Melaka from up high.

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Finally, think twice before messing with Melaka!

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