Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Category: Travel Tips

Backtrack Travels

It’s been a loooonnngggg time since I last blogged.  It may be the longest I’ve gone in between posts since I started this blog 154 posts ago!

I’ve done a bit of cooking and traveling since December 17th, so here’s the first bit.  A friend visited right after Christmas, and we did some fun activities: a sculpture garden tour in Sonoma Valley and a wonderful hike in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.  So I wanted to share some of the sights we saw as well as the logistics, so you, too, can enjoy what we did!

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

I’d heard that Big Basin was THE place to go see the redwood trees instead of Muir Woods which is often overrun with tourists on a weekend.  So because I’m not a fan of big crowds, I took people’s word for it, and we did the two hour drive from Berkeley on New Year’s Eve to the Big Basin park headquarters.  It was a beautiful (and windy, especially at the end!) drive.  One thing to note if you’re going to do this hike is that you have to pay $10 for the entrance fee to the park.

We did the popular waterfall loop trail, which is about 11 miles, pretty strenuous in parts, but do-able for a pair of pretty fit people.  In all, I think we took about 5 hours, with a short break to eat our almond-butter and jelly sandwiches.  Along the way, we saw the beautiful, breathtaking redwoods:

big basin trees

It’s amazing to think how old these trees are.  To think who’s come before us and seen these trees and who will come after to see them.  And they just keep doing their thing – growing, reaching for the sky.  As we walked through the forest, we noted that there weren’t many birds or other critters filling the area with little noises.  It was very quiet, and we rarely came across other hikers.   We’re not big talkers, so we were just caught up in our thoughts and nature’s majesty all around us.

We also came across some waterfalls, which weren’t flowing in large amounts but enough to appreciate:

big basin falls

The only thing I was hoping for was more views outside of the forest.  There was a point (I think it was the midpoint) where there was a clearing and we could see other hills around us.  But that part was short-lived.  The forest was beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but I like to have top-of-mountain views as payoff for lots of climbing steep switchbacks.

Regardless of that small disappointment, it was a wonderful, rewarding hike.  I would definitely do it again.

Do-It-Yourself Sculpture Garden Tour

We spent another day driving up to wine country, not to drink wine but to see outdoor sculpture gardens!  I was doing some research on fun, free things to do in wine country; and I found that there were some outdoor gardens at wineries as well as stand-alone gardens that seemed like fun.  I chose three destinations for this self-guided tour:

Cornerstone Gardens: 23570 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, CA

A really great outdoor garden/ museum.  We easily spent almost two hours or so walking the grounds and exploring the little stores.  All the sculptures made use of the environment in some kind of interesting way.  These were two favorites – a big head of garlic (well, that’s what it looked like to me – that’s not what the artist titled it) in the middle of a small pond.  And a desert scene with clouds made of wire mesh and crystals resembling raindrops.

Cornerstone

Matanzas Creek Winery: 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, CA

There wasn’t a sculpture garden at this winery, but there was a beautiful lavender garden.  We just saw lots of dark bushes of all sizes, but I could imagine what it would look like in the spring, a landscape of purple.  This constituted a short stop, but it was enjoyable, and the views from the winery and the lavender garden were worth it.

lavender

Paradise Ridge Winery: 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr., Santa Rosa, CA

This was the last stop on our tour, and what a nice way to end it.  There were two sculpture gardens that were at this location: one is named Marijke’s Grove and seems to be the more permanent of the two “exhibits.”  The other was a temporary exhibit titled The Spirit of the Man.  Both had some pieces that really struck me.  And we spent another hour-plus at this place.  Taking fun photos, engaging with the art, musing about the meaning and the sculptor’s intent… you know, all the things you do when you walk through an art exhibit.

LOVE

One of the nice things about our whole tour was that there weren’t too many other people around, in fact, zero at some places.  So we got to enjoy all this wonderful art and scenery by ourselves.  I highly recommend this tour if you’re not a wine drinker or if you just want to be outdoors and see some interesting art.

A side note is that we stopped in Santa Rosa for lunch at Flavor Bistro and had a throughly enjoyable meal.  That part of Santa Rosa looked like it had a cute main street that we could have walked down if we had more time.

Happy 2014!

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A Whirlwind Trip to Iceland

One of my best friends just turned 40, and to celebrate, a few of us, including her, went to Iceland for a long weekend.  What an unexpectedly great mini-vacation!  For about $1,000, we had a round trip flight out of JFK to Reykjavik, three nights at the Reykjavik Natura, and two tours (to be spoken of later).  What a baaah-gain! I did zero research before going to Iceland (my friend did all the bookings), and it was great to have everything pretty much taken care of.  Iceland is a beautiful country, just growing in its tourism industry, so not yet overrun with crazy photo-taking tourists from around the world.  And we got there in time for the first big, steady snow of the season, so everything was coated in a blanket of pristine snow.  It was cold, yes, but I expected that, so I was somewhat prepared both mentally and physically. Here’s a quick run through of what we did over the three and a half days in this country of 300,000 people, about the size of Virginia:

iceland-map-1

We took a red eye flight from JFK into Keflavik, which is about 45 minutes from downtown Reykjavik, both of which are in the southeast of Iceland.  But with the time difference (5 hours ahead of New York), the five-ish hour flight brought us into Iceland at about 1am EST.  And from our arrival, we were on the go pretty much the rest of the day. The first thing that took getting used to was the inflated prices of everything.  Others had told me that Iceland prices are way higher than US prices, and that was no joke.  The other thing that took getting used to was that the sun didn’t rise until about 10am and then set around 4pm.  Literally, the sun did not get high in the sky.

Our first stop from the airport was at Blue Lagoon, a man-made geothermal spa that was “accidentally” formed from the running of a nearby geothermal power plant.  It supposedly has healing waters, and it’s called “blue” because the water is a tinted light blue.  A little scary when you think of it, that it’s created from the waste of the power plant, but oh well.  In any case, it was really cool to be soaking in this hot water (high 90 degrees) while the outside air was in the low 30s (it was cold enough to be snowing).

30 Blue Lagoon

After a few hours lounging, we headed into the city, checked in at our hotel, and took the public bus into downtown.  We took a nice walk down Laugavegur, a street lined with shops and cafes, as the snow fell and the temperature dropped.  We arrived for dinner at Fish Market, with a great seat in the lounge to celebrate my friend’s birthday.  We wanted to take full advantage of Iceland eats, so we ordered appetizers with puffin and whale as well as the langoustine main dish (basically a mini-lobster).  All was totally yummy, and we got a free dessert which was as big as one of the entrees!

fish market meal

The next day, we did the Golden Circle tour, the most popular and recommended tour to do in Iceland.  We got on a tour bus and went to several places, all where we could get out and take photos, a walk, and enjoy the sights.  What we saw:

  • Thingvellir National Park – a beautiful expansive national park, the site of the first Icelandic parliament in 930, and the location where two tectonic plates (the North American plate and the Eurasian plate) converge/ diverge
  • Gullfoss (Golden Falls) – an impressive and powerful waterfall
  • Geysir geothermal area – site of hot springs that bubble up into the sky, kind of like Old Faithful
  • Fontana steambaths – a spa with natural steam baths and pools in the open air.  The tour includes a gimmicky experience of seeing bread baked in a pot in the sand, heated by geothermal activity.

golden circle

That night we ate fish and chips and Icelandic Fish and Chips, which was quite good.  Overall, the food we ate in Iceland was tasty.  Not as I had expected.  Our next full day tour was an all day trip including a glacier walk, a visit to a folk art museum, a traditional Icelandic meat soup dinner, a view of a beautiful waterfall lit up by night spot lights and a full moon, and a hunt for the aurora borealis.  The glacier walk was way cool.  We had crampons strapped to our boots, and hiked up the glacier, even through a short snowstorm.  Unfortunately, we were not successful finding the Northern Lights, but the full moon was gorgeous, and with the new snow on the ground, we had some beautiful short walks in search of the aurora.

day two tourWe got back to our hotel around midnight and crashed.  A long day.

The next day was a free day, our last half day before heading back to the airport.  We headed back downtown, had a hot dog at a famous stand that has been frequented by Bill Clinton (that’s their claim to fame).  It was a delicious hot dog, which we ate outside, under a bike shelter as the snowflakes fell.  Well worth the search and the wait.  And cheap, relatively speaking = 380 Icelandic krona (about 3 bucks!).

What a fun and easy trip.  All courtesy of Iceland Air.  Check out their package deals!

Reflections on 3 Months of Travel

I’ve been back in the U.S. for a little over a week now (it feels so much longer already!  My travels seem like a dream!), and I thought it would be good for myself to do a post on my overall reflections from my travel.  At the halfway point, I wrote a reflection post; and just for the sake of closure, and for my own processing, I’d like to use the same format to look at the 2nd half of my trip (quickly) and also my overall trip.

SECOND HALF OF MY TRIP: (Nelson, New Zealand to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

LOWLIGHTS

  • My first few days in Bali.  I was overwhelmed by the heat and humidity and the touristy facade to EVERYTHING; and it being Thanksgiving, I was a little homesick, too.  Once I hit Amed for the scuba course, though, everything turned around.
  • The heat, humidity, pollution, dust in the big cities in both Bali and Malaysia.  I missed the fresh, cool air of New Zealand.
  • Getting tons of mosquito bites and even some allergic reactions to tiger balm (that’s my diagnosis, at least) on my left leg in Malaysia.  I was so itchy for days it wasn’t even funny.  The Malaysian mosquitoes were quite vicious (and that was confirmed by another traveler I met).
  • Saying goodbye to New Zealand.  I was so sad to leave that beautiful country.

DSC06206

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The biggest highlight (not only for the 2nd half of my trip but overall, I’d have to say) was getting my Open Water Diving scuba license.  It was such an amazing experience from start to finish, not only because it was so fear-inducing and fear-conquering but because I was able to see beautiful aquatic life 15-20 meters underwater.
  • The markets in Malaysia.  Sights, sounds, smells, tastes (the ones I ate at)… all amazing.
  • Cooking meals for my host family in Kerikeri in New Zealand.  We ate so well together, and they were so appreciative.  It was great fun.
  • The food in Melaka, Malaysia.  So mouthwateringly good.  And like nothing I had ever eaten before.  I wish I could have some now.
  • Riding a scooter around Pulau Pangkor.  It was so liberating and fun.  I wasn’t even going that fast, but it was so nice to be going faster than walking speed and not be in a car.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Traveling in Southeast Asia as a single, young-looking (because I look a lot younger than I actually am) woman raises lots of people’s curiosity and admiration.  I was surprised by this because in New Zealand, it was quite common to find other single female travelers. In Asia, though, that was something that was not common, and I always had to figure out what kind of answer to give and was even wondering why they were asking.
  • I am not a great tropical-region traveler.  I always knew that I’m not good with heat and humidity, but being in Bali and Malaysia during their rainy season where I think the humidity was even higher than other times of year was quite a challenge.  I kept hoping it would cool off in the evenings but it didn’t.  And my spirits were definitely a little lower as a baseline because of the humid weather.  If I could travel in a tropical area and always have a pool or ocean to jump into to cool off, I think I’d be much better off.
  • Bringing some laundry detergent with me was a good idea.  I was washing some of my clothes almost every other day in Southeast Asia because 1) I didn’t have a lot of clothes and 2) I was sweating profusely each day and didn’t want to be a smelly person.

OVERALL 3 MONTH TRIP

LOWLIGHTS

Overall it was an amazing trip, and I didn’t experience ANY mishaps, accidents, dangerous moments.  I was pretty good about staying alert and not doing anything too risky (except for diving, but that was with an instructor, and it didn’t seem dangerous to me), so I was OK.  So the only lowlights I can really think of that stand out were

  • mosquito bites
  • the over-tourism of Bali
  • some of the traveler’s guilt I felt in Bali and Malaysia, especially the poorer areas

HIGHLIGHTS

  • As stated before, I think the scuba diving course, staying in Amed at the Geri Geria Shanti Bungalows, and meeting the amazing people there was a highlight.  I will never forget those first days diving in the amazing reefs and the shipwreck.  It was truly amazing and life changing.
  • All my WWOOFing placements were great, and I am still in touch with most of the people and hope to go back someday.  I learned a ton, got to really get my hands dirty (literally), and got more in touch with nature than I ever have.
  • Seeing lots of sunrises and sunsets in all three countries was wonderful.  I was basically awaking with the sun and sleeping when it got dark, rarely using an alarm clock at all, even when I had things I had to do.  I was outdoors most of the time, and I really enjoyed that– the hiking, the walking, the exploring, getting to know new flora and fauna.
  • FOOD!  Both in New Zealand and Malaysia.  In New Zealand because so often it was organic, fresh from a garden or a farm and often homemade.  In Malaysia because it was just soooo good.  I wasn’t crazy about the food in Bali.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • I really, really enjoyed traveling on my own, and I don’t think there were any moments that I felt like I couldn’t do something because I was by myself.  However, I think it would have been enjoyable to have a companion at various points to celebrate the high points together (or even to have some company when I was homesick over Thanksgiving.).  On the one hand, I’ve really gotten to enjoy and value solo travel, but I don’t think I’ve been put off from traveling with someone(s) for ever.  It’s nice to have someone to reflect with at the end of the day, to talk through decisions with, and to enjoy the good times with.  I think that’s why I really enjoyed the places where I met great people with whom I could talk and connect with.
  • Keeping an open mind- being ready to meet new people, try new foods, go down new paths- is important to me for travel.  I could have planned everything before I left, down to the hour, but I didn’t have the time nor the energy to do that kind of preparation.  So I ended up figuring out my general itinerary a few weeks in advance and then went day by day.
  • Tripadvisor is a great resource for accommodations.  The reviews that I read were accurate for the most part.
  • Having a Schwab account with ATM card was a HUGE asset.  No ATM fees anywhere, and I could withdraw any amount of money from any ATM machine.
  • I went the cheap route for as much as I could but splurged here and there– last dinner in a town, the scuba course, last hotel for all my travels.  Those splurges were nice treats to myself, especially when I had gone budget for everything else, including walking that extra mile with all my baggage instead of getting a taxi.

FOR THE FUTURE

I know travel is always going to be a part of my life, as it always has been.  I’d love to go back to New Zealand and explore more of the North Island and the southern part of the South Island.  I’d also like to try WWOOFing again at some point if I can, maybe somewhere else in the world– Italy, France, Japan…

So to wrap things up, here’s my itinerary:

  1. Landed in Auckland from Los Angeles.  1 night.
  2. First WWOOF home outside of New Plymouth.  10 nights.
  3. Wellington with a family friend.  2 nights.
  4. Seresin Estate in Renwick.  15 nights.
  5. WWOOF home outside of Christchurch.  9 nights.
  6. Wanaka.  3 nights.
  7. Franz Josef.  3 nights.
  8. Punakaiki.  2 nights.
  9. Nelson.  4 nights.
  10. Wellington.  1 night.
  11. Intercity overnight bus.  1 night.
  12. WWOOF home outside of Kerikeri.  8 nights.
  13. Auckland airport.  1 night.
  14. Ubud, Bali.  4 nights.
  15. Amed, Bali.  5 nights.
  16. Sanur, Bali.  2 nights.
  17. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  2 nights.
  18. Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia.  2 nights.
  19. Melaka, Malaysia.  2 nights.
  20. KL, Malaysia.  3 nights.

TOTAL: 86 days

  • 3 countries
  • 16 towns/ villages/ cities
  • airplanes, trains, boats, scooter, taxi, buses, cars, bicycles
  • almost 2000 photos and short videos
  • three pairs of pants, two pairs of shorts, some t-shirts and tanktops, my Keen shoes, a pair of Tevas, and other clothing

I’m happy to share more detailed tips and information for anyone that’s looking to travel to these places.  Ask while I still remember!  Leave me a comment!

Kuala Lumpur: The Finale

Kuala Lumpur is an interesting city. I can't quite put my finger on what it is. I guess the word that comes to mind most quickly is “MIX.” It's a mix of so many things: cultures, architectural styles, modes of transportation, languages, people, foods… And my whole time in the city, I only came across white tourists a handful of times. The rest of the time, I was surrounded by different kinds of Asians– South Asians, east Asians, Malays, mixes of ethnicities. And I couldn't tell who was a tourist and who was a local.

The Petronas twin towers overlooking small side streets with hawker stalls.

I was in KL a total of about five days, and there's so much that I saw, so here is a random assortment of highlights:

  • The markets were definitely my favorite part. I saw six in all:
    • Chinatown at Petaling Street— I wrote about this in my first blog post about KL. I went back to Chinatown as almost a homebase, mainly to eat! On my last day, I went back for some asam laksa and tofu fa. I was looking for this guy who was making a sweet treat (a cookie wrap with sugar and peanuts inside), but I think he only comes out at night. Bummer. The best part about this market for me was the food. Otherwise, it's just lots of vendors selling bags, gadgets, and typical Chinatown-wares. Not my interest.

    Chinatown in the morning before the vendors and hawkers have set up their stalls. Quite peaceful in the morning.

    • Central Market and Kasturi Street— this is more of a tourist market, I think. It's right across the street from Chinatown. There are tons of vendors selling Malaysian and Chinese trinkets, souvenirs, batiks, keychains, clothing, etc. And there's a food court of more “upscale” food– not that it's expensive, but it's more expensive than the hawker stalls in Chinatown for sure! It's a fun place to walk around and buy souvenirs for people back home, which I did on my last day.
    • Pudu wet market— this was the first “wet” market I went to in KL. It's called wet because they sell fish and meats and to keep the meats fresh and cool, they use ice and water which means the pathways are often wet. There were so many colors– the fruits and vegetables, the plastic bags used for customers, the meats, the makeshift signs and tables and umbrellas covering the stalls. And so many sounds– people yelling their prices and their products, butchers chopping their meats on wooden chopping blocks… I loved it! I really wished I had access to a kitchen so I could have bought some stuff to go home and make. I had some congee at one of the hawker stalls. Most markets have areas where they sell prepared food; it's just a matter of finding that section!

    • Imbi market (also called Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang)– another wet market with the same kinds of things as at Pudu. This place had a better set of food vendors, and I tried a few different things. Pohpiah, milk tea, and the wantan mee. I also bought some kuih because they were just so darn pretty.

    • Kampung Baru night market— I read up on this and this night market supposedly opens up around 6pm on Saturday night and goes until the next morning, the wee hours. I didn't want to be out walking around so late, so I went around 7pm, and I must say I didn't get the best vibe. I saw a few rats as I was walking toward the market area (my first rats that I've seen in all my travels these past three months! I was surprised I hadn't seen more, actually). And the market just wasn't as interesting. I think I was probably too early for the full night market feel. Also, I just didn't feel so safe there. So I came, saw, and left.
    • Chow Kit wet market— this was another great market. It felt bigger than Imbi and Pudu… but with these markets, it's hard to get your bearings. I just walked down paths, meandered to the right and to the left, ended up somewhere new… I could have done this for quite awhile in any of the markets to really map out my path, but I didn't take the time. There were lots of fresh produce at this market. This market also has more of an Indian/ Malay feel than the other markets I'd seen. So I had a noodle soup at a hawker stall– the vendor called it soto ayam– a curry soup with chicken, I think. It was good.

    I loved walking around these markets, mingling best I could with the locals. I rarely saw any other tourists. I'm sure I stuck out, though, with my backpack and iPhone taking photos. But it was great fun to just walk around and use all my five senses to just soak in the environment.

    I usually went in the early morning (since I was waking up anytime between 5am and 7am everyday), which is the best time to go to be part of the crowds of people who are buying what they need. Markets just aren't the same when there's no one around. I loved the hustle and bustle of the shoppers and the vendors.

  • Air conditioning. So it's not so eco-friendly of me to think this, but in this tropical climate, I was so appreciative of the blasts of a-c that were ever present in shops, stores, public transportation, my hotel. I'm just not meant for tropical weather, I think. I really felt like I was melting. I don't think the actual temperature was higher than the low 90s, but the high humidity, burning sun, and heat-absorbing asphalt all combined to make it feel like it was in the 100s. I was dripping sweat the minute I stepped out the door. I needed a handkerchief to wipe the sweat off my face and neck every few minutes. Not fun. So a-c was a welcome treat. I even went into malls (which I usually can't stand) to get some a-c relief.
  • Craft Cultural Complex (aka Kompleks Budaya Kraf). This was a nice surprise. I ended up spending a few hours there. It's a combination museum, artist colony, exhibition area, and store. It showcases traditional Malaysian arts– batik, songkat, woodcarving, silver and other metalwork, painting, and other fabric arts. The artist colony consists of little huts all over the campus that are artists' workshops. They do their thing in these huts and people can walk around, talk with them, and admire their work. What I really enjoyed, in addition to seeing the artists' huts, was doing my own batik piece for just 15 MYR ($5). I got to pick out an already prepped design, and then I got some paints and I went to work. Very cool and so worth it. Batik is basically creating designs with wax and then using paint and water in those wax-outlines. I bought some souvenirs, too.

My batik creation of a gecko. Purty!

  • Batu Caves Hindu Shrine. This was a last minute sightseeting decision. I hadn't even really known about this place until Sunday, my last day in the city before my evening flight, when I was trying to see if there was anywhere of interest that I had not yet visited. I did a bit of research and read about Batu Caves. It sounded interesting as a landmark plus it was a train ride away which would use up some of the ample time I felt I wanted to use up. So I paid one MYR to take a 30 minute train ride out of the city to this really impressive and jaw-dropping natural PLUS man made wonder. Batu Caves itself naturally formed– caves with really cool craggy stalactites from above. Really tall, too. The shrine part was built by people and includes some small Hindu temples scattered around the site as well as two really really tall Hindu gods– Hanuman and Murugan. Really really tall. These photos don't do their height justice. But alongside the caves, it's really quite cool. I'm glad I went. The site also includes a 272 step hike up to the cave entrance, and then you walk around inside. Totally worth the trip. And it was free except for the 3 MYR or so that I spent on public transportation there.

Murugan on the left (the 272 stairs are to the left of his statue) and Hanuman on the right.

I'd say in all, I enjoyed my stay in KL. I'm not a big city person, though, so I could only take so much at a time. I splurged my second time around and stayed at a nicer hotel– the Sky Express Hotel, right near Bukit Bintang which is the hip, happening shopping district (still, only $60/ night!!), so I did some sightseeing in the morning and early afternoon, came back and rested for a few hours, and then went to get some dinner. It was nice to have a spacious and clean air conditioned room to come back to for a few hours.

Now ready to go back to some non-city living. Back to the U.S.!

Scrumptious-ness Abounds in Melaka!

When I was in Indonesia, I met a German traveler who had been in Malaysia. I asked her some places to check out and I asked her about the food. She didn't seem all that impressed by the food, which surprised me because I thought the food was famous here… I must say with no reservations that she was totally wrong. Or I should rephrase that, we must have completely different palates. The food in Malaysia is AMAZING! I have to say that pretty much everywhere I've eaten, both places I did research on and places I just ended up at have been really tasty. I have not had one disappointing meal.

Melaka has been a highlight of my Malaysian food pilgrimage. So much to try, and I think I was able to try all that I wanted. Sorry if you're not as into food as I am, but I'm going to do a meal by meal documentation here. Get ready for the ride!

I got into Melaka in the early evening on Monday, and after checking into my guesthouse, I headed straight to Jonker Dessert 88, a popular joint for cendol (a Malaysian ice dessert) and other dishes. I'd been craving laksa, so I got their signature baba laksa, which is noodles in a coconut soup base with fish cakes and a few veggies. So tasty. A great first meal in Melaka and it cost me 6 MYR ($2). Woohoo!

The next morning, I was up early and went to Low Yong Moh for dim sum. I ordered a bunch of things, but I had no idea what I was eating. I really wish I could read and speak Chinese! The roast pork bao was delicious. The other dishes were good, but I think I've had better dim sum. I spent 13 MYR ($4.30) on this spread!

For lunch I went to Poh Piah Lwee for poh piah (a Malaysian crepe-spring roll with some mix of veggies. I thought it was onions, but I think it's turnips and/ or jicama (according to Wikipedia!). So delicious. Light, savory and a bit tangy. I've never had anything like it. This place specializes in it. The cendol I had for dessert was ok… Someone had reviewed that this place's cendol was great. I'm not sure if I agree. But the poh piah was definitely worth it. And all together, 6 MYR ($2).

I had a snack later of a Nyonya dumpling from Poh Piah Lwee. The cute lady of the shop told me to come back that afternoon for their dumplings. She was too cute, so I came back to give her my business, and I was not disappointed. It was sooo good. And I ordered two more for takeaway. There were people driving by and buying up bags of these dumplings! Glad I got the two extra. I had them in my hotel in KL! Each dumpling was 4 MYR (a little over $1).

The dumpling was just a snack, so I went to Calanthe Art Cafe for dinner. I had passed it several times and it had a really cute exterior, so I went in for some coffee and more baba laksa! The waitstaff were really friendly, and I had a nice chat with one while getting bitten up by mosquitoes, as I found out when I got back to my guesthouse. These Malaysian mosquitoes are vicious! The interesting thing about this cafe is they have gone to all 13 Malaysian states and come back to sell all those types of coffees under one roof. They also have other kinds of coffee drinks and various Malaysian and Western dishes. They were setting up their Christmas decorations and playing Christmas music while I was eating; it was a really nice holiday environment, and the coffee and laksa were yummy. All together for 16 MYR (about $5.30).

Thursday was my last day in Melaka, with an early evening bus ride back to Kuala Lumpur. I had some Nyonya kuih and a nasi lemak at a small little eatery, Dans Dapur Ekspres. The owner, Danny, was a nice guy and chatted with me and two other visitors, two guys from Singapore. The kuih were good. They reminded me of Vietnamese rice flour desserts or Japanese mochi or Korean 떡 (rice cake). The lemak was ok. That's a very traditional Malaysian rice dish that usually has some dried fish.

An assortment of Nyonya kuih on top. Nasi lemak below.

Nyonya food is the traditional fusion food of the Malay women who married Chinese babas. My understanding is that Nyonya food has developed in its own vein, and it's a unique blend of various cultures. In any case, all the dishes I has were delicious!

My last meal in Melaka was at Nancy's Kitchen, known for their good Nyonya food. And it did not disappoint. I got Kueh Pie Tee, which is basically the poh piah filling in these little pastry shells shaped like top hats. Great hors d'oeuvres type snack. Then I had the chicken candlenut with rice for my main dish. Candlenut looks like a macadamia nut and it's used in sauces. This dish reminded me of a curry of sorts, very flavorful, lemongrass, ginger, and other Southeast Asian flavors. Really rich and tasty.

Kueh Pie Tee

Chicken candlenut

Thus ended my eating travels in Melaka. Very enjoyable and scrumptious! There are lots more places and foods to try, so if you end up going, just do some research and approach it all with an open mind and empty stomach!!

Megan Barber, Celebrant

officiant for weddings to memorials, and everything in between

Carioca Cook

Sharing the love of food

Munchkin Guru

newborn wisdom

Paradise Lot

Two plant geeks, one-tenth of an acre and the making of an edible garden oasis in the city

Appetite for Instruction

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

My Favourite Pastime

Simple Everyday Recipes

Foodie Judie

Hot off the press to fresh out of the oven... ! The meandering thoughts of my food-obsessed alter ego, and my daily persona.

A Fast Paced Life

Running Commentary of a Dilettante's Life

Edible Startups

Bites of innovation in the food world