Saturday, June 03, 2017

Lost World Of Tambun

No matter how old you are, when you are with childhood friends, you will visit an amusement or theme park. Period.

And we went to Lost World of Tambun, just outside of Ipoh city.

We have heard of it for a long time but only now managed to make a trip here. What used to be a tin mine is now a full-fledged theme park for the whole family.

And since they are known as the only theme park in South East Asia with natural hot springs, we had to take a dip, even though we did not bring a spare change of clothes!

And because we had to wear the same clothes, this was how Max and I decided to dry our butts off - we stood right below the air door!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Kong Heng Square

When I heard the name "Kong Heng", I immediately thought of Sekeping Kong Heng of the well-known Sekeping chain of boutique accommodations and Restoran Ipoh Kong Heng, the kopitiam famous for its fragrant Hainanese coffee and addictive custard pudding. I then wondered if this Kong Heng Square was in the same place.

Like duh, of course same place la... how many places with the same name can there be?

I found the cluster of pre-war buildings left in as much of its original condition as possible, which probably is one of the reasons the place is an "Instagrammable" spot. Even if you do not have a creative eye, any wall or corner makes for a good photo.

Exploring the square made me wonder why we do not have more of such initiative in a big city like KL. There are old buildings in KL, too, but instead of preserving them, it seems like our our people prefer to demolish them to replace them with sterile, "modern" buildings that look like a dozen others in the vicinity.

Well, I am not a town planner or developer and therefore would not be able to think like one. But does sadden me to see such happenings.

The partly open-air concept of Kong Heng Square brings the outdoors indoors and vice versa. This concept has always been one that I think could be executed in Malaysia more due to our weather. Also, it would expose the younger generation to a more environmentally-friendly way of interacting with the outdoors - learning to adapt to the humidity instead of depending on air-conditioning.

Seeing an old tree always makes me happy because it shows the sensitivity of the people who redesigned the space. Imagine the above photo without that tree - it would feel less welcoming and it would be a lot warmer for the people worker and shopping there!

I noticed that Kong Heng Square houses a few main tenants - a few cafes, a few craft shops and even an old school barber shop!

Artistic is its middle name, as there were spaces that were turned into exhibition spots of sorts.

And seriously, you do not need an address for Kong Heng Square because all you need to do to find your way here is to key in "Kong Heng Square" into your GPS. Yep, simple as that.

Oh, but remember that if you decide to visit during weekends, public holidays or school holidays, there would be hundreds of other holiday-makers there with you, too. Maybe, thousands.

You have been warned ;)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

M Boutique Hotel

The picturesque drive from Penang Island to one of the cleanest cities in Malaysia helped keep all of us in the car awake. Well, not just the scenery but also the crazy nonsensical jokes we kept making throughout the journey. We were so tired from laughing but as we drove up to the eye-catching structure that the GPS was directing us to, we perked up.

In huge letters standing atop its roof, M Boutique Hotel is hard to miss. I also liked the facade of red bricks because I thought it added character to the place without being too bold. It looked charming even at dusk, when we arrived, all tired and hungry.

All we could think of was to check-in and to find some grub. Thankfully, the check-in process was a rather breezy one handled by a friendly young lady. I appreciated how their staff comprises mainly youth, giving the people of this "try this first, if I like it I stay, if not I move on" age group a chance, instead of the more commonly held practice of hiring "more matured and experienced" workers. Whether it is a better practice, well, that is not for me to judge.

I liked the access cards to the rooms. It has their motto of "Come as Strangers, Leave as Friends", a concept I am rather familiar with now, after this many years abroad.

When we headed to the above levels to throw leave our luggage in our rooms before heading out for dinner, I was looking forward to seeing what our rooms would look like because I felt that to convert what originally were five shophouses into a boutique hotel of 93 rooms was no easy feat. 

*knock knock on door as sign of respect to possible "others" in the room, swipe access card and step into the room*

First thought: Not bad woh... and can I say that I liked the bathroom most? I liked the black and white colour theme and the simple yet sleek layout that maximised the compact size of the room.

The room itself attempted a rustic theme. I did not dislike it but I did not like it heaps, either. 

I mean, it was okay la... and although I did not understand why we needed a bed with posts, I thought it would come in handy when we needed more space to hang bigger items (e.g. towels). 

Erm, but, we... were too short... LOL!

*a couple of hours later*

I could not wait till the next morning to take photos of the lobby area. I started by taking shots from the outside, of the bright neon lights from their own custom boutique, M Shop...

... and the warmer hues of the reception area, which also was decorated with many potted plants...

From what I gather, almost everything we could see in the hotel were made and sourced locally. In other words, it is like a showcase of local craft people and resources.

I particularly the huge chest of drawers that held our keys/access cards and perhaps other documents. Do they not remind you of those drawers that you see in traditional Chinese medicine shops? 

I wonder if they really were once used to store Chinese herbs and what not, or did they commission a carpenter to build one that looked exactly like it? And those jars... yes, normally they would contain a dainty but expensive piece of root that we know as ginseng in a body of normally yellow in colour liquid. But these, we were allowed to open to grab as many Hacks lollies to our hearts' content.

2 Hala Datuk 5, 31650 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 5 255 5566, Fax: +60 5 255 1666

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Golden Sands Resort

Golden Sands Resort is a hotel under the umbrella of the internationally acclaimed Malaysian-founded Shangri-La hospitality company. It is situated along the tourist beach strip of Batu Ferringhi, on the north-east end of Penang Island.

Their rooms were clean, spacious and tastefully decorated. I especially liked the wood-carving at the headboard of the bed and behind the sofa in the lounge room of the Executive Suite.

I had the opportunity to stay at this resort twice - both times in rooms that had commanding views of the pool area, beach and ocean. Although facing the pool, both times I was fortunate to be in rooms that were high enough to not be bothered by pool-goers.

Just the view of the pool and sea is enough to make anyone feel guilty for not going down there for a splash!

A little hard to think that it would not be enjoyable - there is a Haagen-Dazs ice-cream stand to start of temptations!

And so yes, I did end up soaking my feet in the pool with ice-cream in hand. Both times.

The resort has its own designated beach area, so it is perfect for a morning or sunset stroll, as it wouldn't be overcrowded.

And although I didn't take any photos of breakfast, I do think that their breakfast buffet isn't too bad. 

Golden Sands Resort
Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Kampung Tanjung Huma, 11100 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 4 886 1911, Fax: +60 4 881 1880, E-mail:

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Not long after the first invitation to Green Tomato Cafe, I received another invitation to review a Japanese place in Publika called Okonomi. I asked Alicia if she was free to go with me again and when she said yes, I replied the e-mail to set our lunch food review date and time.

Alicia sure knows her way around Publika - I duly just followed wherever she pointed me to.

We were warmly welcomed by the staff and were shown to our designated table. It was a rather breezy order, as there were already some dishes that they specifically wanted me to try. We just ordered some other dishes that caught our attention (without thinking that perhaps we would not be able to finish so much) and our drinks. Our huge meal is as follows:

Gratin Chicken (RM15.90) is a piece of boneless deep-fried chicken served with a rich cream sauce and salad.

Katsu Chicken Burger (RM15.90) is a burger of gently breaded deep-fried chicken, melted cheese and crunchy iceberg lettuce layered in season rice topped with sesame seeds. It looks like nothing fancy, right? But I tell you, looks are deceiving for I can have this all on its own if I should come here alone.

Slammin' Salmon (RM19.90) is a freshly-made and toasted sushi roll of uramaki, seaweed, white rice, double portion of salmon, Japanese cucumber, tamago, spring onion and garlic mayo. They definitely generous with their portions here!

Chicken Karaage Waffle (RM18.90) is a dish of deep-fried kimchi-flavoured chicken served with golden brown waffles and a rich cream sauce.

If anything, you should order this and any other dish of theirs that comes served with this rich cream sauce - amazing flavours this sauce has! We couldn't get enough of it!

The main selling point of Okonomi is that you get to customise your own sushi roll.

Having chosen the type of rice, how you like your seaweed, your fillings and your toppings, they then roll 'em up for you.

Fresh. Like you can watch them do it, too.

We had no idea if our combination would be alright but we went ahead with it anyway. Wah, did we regret choosing the spicy mayo - we were burning! If you can't take spicy, please do not choose that. 

While I only sipped on normal green tea, Alicia ordered a matcha latte and dare we say it is the best one we have ever had in Malaysia. Aiya, cannot compare to those in Sydney la (she just returned from visiting me in Sydney a few months back), but this definitely has standard. Didn't manage to get a pretty shot of the cup full but goes to show how irresistible it was!

Our food blogger friends, Chris and Christine from Brought up 2 share recommended their Matcha Lava Cake (RM21.90), and so we reminded ourselves to order one portion to share.

The wait for it is 15 minutes, so would be good to order it along with your main meal. The wait staff would know roughly when to inform the kitchen to start baking. 

It really was mouthful after mouthful of indulgent matcha heaven! I can just imagine one of my ex-students crying out of bliss if she were to be eating this. 😂

A big thank you to David from T3 Digital Agency for the invitation - my friend and I had a really good time, so good that we wished our stomaches were way bigger!

Okonomi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A4.G2.02, Ground Floor, Block A4, Publika, Solaris Dutamas, 1 Jalan Dutamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Mob: +60 14 971 5493; E-mail:
Daily 11:00am to 11:00pm