Sunday, December 29, 2013

Insurance 101 : Car Insurance While Travelling

I decided to write this entry after I read about misconceptions with regards to car insurance in a travel forum. This is not the first time I bumped into either confusion or misconceptions among forum members with regards to how rental car insurance works. Many make wrong decision because they are confused with it.

So I just thought of writing a simple write up on this. But I hope I can write it as simple and as layman as possible (I know am technical sometime). 

When you want to hire a car in some foreign countries, one thing they will ask is whether you want to buy premium insurance to cover you and the car for the duration of the rent. Yes, they normally charge by day, and it makes your rental cost higher. But, don't ever take the risk by not buying the insurance because you will never know what will happen. What happen if you have an accident? What happen if you accidentally knock down a passerby and he dies? Who wants to bear the repair cost of the car? Who wants to pay the compensation to the next of kin of the dead passerby when they sue you? Never, ever rent a car without an insurance coverage. 

But then, when you decide to buy, which package do you want to buy? You sometimes see something like this for example :

Standard Insurance cover : $0 per day (Excess $4,000)
Silver Insurance cover : $25 per day (Excess $1,000)
Platinum Insurance cover : $60 per day (Excess $0)

So, of all the three type of covers, which one should you choose? What does it mean by "excess"? Excess is the maximum loss incurred (in case of accident etc) which the insurance company will not cover. For example, if you have an accident, and the repair cost is $3,000, and you bought the insurance cover with $4,000 excess, then the insurance company will not pay for the repair cost at all. If you buy an insurance cover with excess $1,000, you will have to pay the first $1,000 while the insurance company will cover the next $2,000. If you buy an insurance cover with excess $0, then you don't have to pay anything. Insurance company will cover all the cost.

Easy right? So always opt for 0 excess cover. No hassle. Of course the premium is much higher, but you can drive with peace of mind. Jangan kata boleh hati-hati memandu so tak payah beli insurance. Don't forget, kalau kita hati-hati, orang lain belum tentu hati-hati. So always make sure you are covered!

The excess, many car rental company will take a deposit upfront if you don't buy 0 excess insurance. Normally using credit card imprint as a security in case anything happens. It is an expensive business right? So have peace in mind, just buy 0 excess cover so you don't have to incur a lot upfront!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dessert Day : Carbo loading @ Serai Empire

I am not a dessert fan.. I rather eat savory thing than cakes and such. But there are times when I do enjoy dessert, pudding / jelly / mousse type especially. 
Last Friday was indeed a makan day. I went for lunch with my colleagues to Dave Deli Subang Parade, and decided later on to have dessert with two of them for dinner. They suggested Upstairs, which is located at the row of shop lots near Sime Darby Medical Centre, but there was no parking then. So we changed the location to Serai @ Empire.

Let us talk about the dessert sold at Serai. Serai has quite a number of cakes selection, but I only tasted one - the pavlova. I saw they have red velvet and carrot cake too. As I am not a dessert fan, I hardly glance at their cake counter most of the time.

 I wrote in here that Mr D loves pavlova very much, and he does love Serai's pavlova as well. But Mr D is on a strict diet nowadays (as a result of his recent blood test), so pavlova is a big no no for him. But F, my colleague, did have pavlova specifically in mind when we stepped into Serai last Friday. So pavlova it was for her. As usual, I can eat Serai's pavlova, but it is not my favorite. The crust is too sweet to my liking. It kills me if I don't eat it with that sour strawberry. 

I went for goreng pisang this time, one of my favorite in Serai. Many thought it is crazy to spend that much on goreng pisang, which we can definitely buy at a much cheaper price at various stalls, but I like it anyway. The difference is, many of the goreng pisang sold outside are a little too oily, and it is kind of difficult to find a crunchy one like this. I really like the batter. It is really crunchy. And the inner part of the banana is nice, because the banana has a little sour taste in it, which suits the batter really well. This goreng pisang is served with gula merah / gula melaka, but I never pour it on my goreng pisang simply because I will hate it if it is too sweet. And I just eat the ice cream separately because I don't want it to spoil the crunchiness of the goreng pisang. Yummy!

And presenting, the pistachio creme brulee. This is my first try of creme brulee in Serai. Not bad, not at all. The only drawback is the caramel on top is a little too hard, perhaps because it is too thick. Otherwise, it is good. 

When I am in the mood to try dessert next time, I'll try others.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Breakfast @ Kosit Hotel Hat Yai

There's nothing much I want to write about actually... cumanya nak cakap betapa murahnya price of food at Kosit Hotel, Hat Yai ni. This is at the cafe downstairs.

The picture above was our breakfast. How much do you think it costs us? It was 80 baht per pax (about RM8.00) for 2 half boiled eggs, 2 pieces of toasts with jam and butter, a glass of orange juice and tea / coffee. OK lah tu kan? Hotel ni dalam 2 bintang je kot, but was OK enough. Basic things are there. Price untuk standard room pun tak sampai RM80. Nak expect macam 5 star tak dapek lah kan, but comfortable enough for a short stay.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Souvenir @ Te Anau

I just thought about this souvenir shop, just as a guide for those who go to New Zealand. Many talk about DF Souvenir in Queenstown / Christchurch as a place to get cheap souvenirs, but I want to add to the list. I found this shop by chance while walking around Te Anau city centre. I don't have much pictures of this shop though, as I mentioned earlier, our belonging were stolen at Arista at Rotorua a day before we came back to Malaysia, that includes most of our pictures. So I have to rely on the pictures taken using my handphone. 

J&C Boutique. What is interesting about this shop is, it is owned by a Malaysian couple from Sabah. What is more interesting is that we paid the price using Ringgit Malaysia, they accepted it at a negotiable cincai rate, as they are going back to Malaysia every year so they don't mind keeping some Ringgit with them all the time. 

Price wise, it is about the same with DF Souvenir, with similar range of choices. The owner is also ever ready to give some discount to Malaysians - a bonus !

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Going Pakistani @ Restoran Menara USJ 9

We were going round and round searching for food the other night, when we finally bumped into a Pakistani restaurant at USJ 9 business centre, right at the corner of Jln USJ 9/5P which is very near to Masjid Al-Falah. I am not a fan of indian food, but I do sometimes enjoy some of their food for as long as it doesn't have too strong curry smell in it. 

The name of the restaurant though, doesn't suggest that it is a Pakistani restaurant. Restoran Menara, how about that? Sound Malay enough huh? The ambiance of the restaurant is OK, but Mr D complaint about the smell, which I thought is quite normal in an Indian restaurant. 

Looking at the menu, they have quite a variety of things from kebab to tandoori to beryani.. but we were not into rice then and thought of having some nan - so garlic nan it was. But we decided to take only 1 nan to be shared between the two of us, turn out to be a wise choice since the nan is quite huge to be eaten by one.

We settled for some grilled fish, chicken and mix vegetable - I love the mix vegetable this time. I normally do not like the vege served at indian restaurants because they are normally overcooked, but the mix vegetable served at this restaurant was cooked just nice. Not too raw but not overcooked either. It was served hot, sizzling hot really. The waiter suggested we take a type of savory chicken which I can't remember what is it called. Mr D enjoyed that very much. 

 Pricing wise, it is in middle range. Many of the menu I've chosen above ranges from RM15-RM25 per plate. Not bad, considering the portion and taste.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Khlong Hae Floating Market

I wrote before about how I wish I can visit the floating market in Hat Yai, but trips to Hat Yai has always been a working trip for Mr D, hence not much time to roam around. But I finally managed to slot some time to pay a visit to the floating market in Khlong Hae during last September visit. 

This time around, we stayed at Kosit Hotel, in the middle of Hat Yai. It is a simple budget hotel, Mr D wanted to see how this hotel looks like to consider for the budget trip offer for his clients. Though the time was really tight, we managed to visit the floating market in Khlong Hae. The floating market  is in operation every weekend. Though we drove to Hat Yai, Mr D didn't want to drive to the floating market as the parking in Kosit Hotel is really limited, hence, we opted for Tut Tut instead. It costs us 600 baht (about RM60) to and fro, with the driver waiting for us at the market. The journey was about half an hour from the city centre to the market in Khlong Hae.

The floating market was set at a river in a village, basically the floating perahu are not the only place where they sell things, there are also stalls set nearby which sells many other things other than food. The perahu though, are only selling food. And most of them are muslims, or was it all of them are muslims? 

The river where they set the market is quite dirty though, with the kind of smell you can't stand for long. When I was there, there were not many people, and I wonder what is the kind of income they get per night with this kind of crowd. Doesn't really look promising.

The kind of food sold is simple - snacks, drinks, cakes and such, though some of them are selling rice as well. I tried their dim sum, which is full of coloring, and their mixed kerabu, which La Kasturi can definitely prepare better. We also bought coconut drink, which was sold in those little clay container. 

I wasn't impressed with the kind of things sold, but nonetheless enjoy the way the transactions were done. Each and every seller has a basket tied to a long bamboo, which they used to deliver the food to customers, after which the customers will put their money in it as a payment.

If you ask me what do I think of this place, I would say the concept is interesting, but it needs more improvement in terms of logistic, the kind of thing sold and the cleanliness of the environment. It can be the tourist attraction if there are more things to look at. 

Below is the only food I enjoyed that night - the noodle soup. With lotsa chicken and vegetables. It was served hot and was really satisfying. I paid 30 baht (around RM3.00) per bowl for this. If you see any dim sum, don't buy it. It doesn't have taste, not at all!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Scenic Drive to Glenorchy

One of the most scenic drive I had during the recent visit to New Zealand is from Queenstown to Glenorchy. I didn't go to Glenorchy during my visit in 2011, I didn't research about Glenorchy then. But I can't remember who wrote about Glenorchy being beautiful in CARI forum after I came back from that visit.

So this time around, I tried to slot in Glenorchy as part of our destination. It is not far from Queenstown, perhaps about 45 minutes drive along Lake Wakatipu. This place is a very small town, with not many buildings around, but there are some coffee shops for tourists to stop by. But it is popular as the place where they film Lord of The Ring. There's nothing much to do in Glenorchy though, some tracking activities, kayaking, horse riding, Lord of The Ring tour, fishing and such. But I think scenery is what most people are after in Glenorchy - at least for us. We went quite late in the afternoon, so by the time we reached the place it was already about 5pm.  

The picture above is how beautiful Glenorchy is. I really love the contrast between the color of the hills and the shadow from the clouds. It was very cold then, the wind blowing strongly, but I think even my parents enjoyed the scenery. The picture above is on the left side of where we stood, and you know what was on the right side? See the picture below. Imagine we are standing in the middle admiring the hilly scenery vs the sea. Breathtaking indeed.

While I was attending to my parents taking their pictures and visiting the boatshed, my brother and sister-in-law were busy at the wharf. I didn't know what they did at first, tertonggeng-tonggeng, terbalik-balik... my brother siap baring lagi kat the wharf. Rupa-rupanya they had photography session taking the picture of my baby nephew. Kesian budak tu ditiarapkan atas jeti tu, while the father sampai baring-baring trying to capture the best shot. 

But look at the outcome - isn't this beautiful? The first time I saw this picture I thought it looks like a photo taken at a studio. Worth it mama and baba nya tertonggeng-tonggeng dalam keadaan sejuk gedi tu. 

This place is beautiful, really. It is not far from Queenstown, so though there's nothing much to do here, but worth to take a short drive and be there 1-2 hours admiring the scenery. Those who love Lord of The Rings probably can spend some money joining the tour, am not too sure of the fee and what they do during the tour though, but with this kind of place, it must be interesting. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Campervaning around South Island with Kea

I didn't update this blog for close to 5 months ever since I came back from New Zealand. Fuhh. Kena update lepas ni... berhabuk!! 

Ada yg asked about New Zealand trip update .. not much to update though since I went to about the same places I went in 2011. And since the iPad kena songlap kat Rotorua, and most pictures are in there so I don't have much left except what I had in my handphone. Story about break in in Rotorua will be in another post insyaallah kalau rajin.

But one thing different this time is because we used campervan to move around in South Island. I used Kea Campervan, after a bit of research of what campervan to use. It was April, so it was still peak period and the price was at a high side. I hired the campervan at the rate of NZD235 per day basic, plus NZD60 platinum cover for the insurance and other facilities like GPS etc. The rate is half what I quoted if we rent it from May to Oct. All in all, I spent NZD2,950 for 10 day rent. There are other cheaper options like Britz, Backpackers, Apollo etc, but I read the reviews at many places and thought I would go with the one with almost no bad reviews, and that is Kea.

But I guess I was just unlucky. Turn out it was not such a good experience after all. We took our camper in Christchurch and drove it all the way to Lake Tekapo on the first day with our ears stuck because of the noise coming from the microwave since there's some crack at the plating. And we didn't know what to expect since we never drove a campervan before, so when my brother complaint that it was quite heavy, we thought that is because it was indeed heavy. Little that we know that there's something wrong with the turbo, causing the driving experience to be difficult. 

The journey from Lake Tekapo to Queenstown was a disaster. It became so heavy to the point we can't even climb a hill. And you know how hilly Queenstown can be. It was already night when we reached Queenstown, so the next day we called Kea Christchurch for help, and since there's no Kea in Queenstown, we were directed to Maui Queenstown for help. The camper we had was a new camper and still under warranty, so they directed us to another workshop, and asked us to come after lunch. So there we were, after lunch, we drove to the workshop as directed, and they told us it was supposed to be a one hour affair, so we can wait. We waited for about 3 hours at the workshop without being attended, and when I called back Kea, and Maui followed up with the workshop, then only we were told that there's spare parts they need to wait for and the camper will not be ready for the day. What the? So what the manager think am doing at their office if they know the camper will not be ready that day? I was so pissed off but the mechanic in Maui was very helpful and told us we can have the one and only Kea they have at Maui base at that time, but turn out it was a 4-berth camper while ours is 6-berth! So we had to go back and had to wait for the replacement camper which will be driven from Christchurch the next day. And the next day, they started to drive from Christchurch in the morning, and it was only in the afternoon we got the replacement camper. So all in all, we lost almost 2 days in Queenstown. The lesson I got is, I better opted for a camper company which has more branches, if I opted for Maui instead, I would have the replacement camper right away. And what makes me pissed off is, Kea told me that it was not their policy to compensate for the lost of days because they have tried their best to accommodate us as soon as possible. While I agree the staffs are polite and trying their best, I thought the policy is disappointing. You know you handed faulty vehicle to your client but no compensation? 

What did I get instead? Read the message below. When they send the replacement camper, they put a  bottle of wine in the fridge together with this message. I am a Muslim for God sake!

 The replacement camper is in good shape, the performance was good... but... there's a leakage of water hose. Macam mana nak isi air bang oii? Tension tau. Our fault was we didn't check the water hose before we leave Maui base. We should have checked it first!

But the experience driving around with a camper is really something. My parents can get their sleep anytime they want.. they can also go to toilet anytime they want. Though of course the capacity of the toilet is limited, it is designed for mat salleh where toilet affairs doesn't involve a lot of water. Depa tak payah cebok. Kita nak cebok tak boleh kat toilet tu kena cebok kat shower sebab toilet tu punya tank kecik gila. Kalo cebok gak dalam tu nanti penuh within seconds hahaha..  And the baby can also get his sleep along the journey comfortably.. with comforter, pillows etc by his side. Tak meragam langsung pun dia along the journey because his sleep was not interrupted. See the picture below, that's how comfortable he was sleeping in the campervan while his father drives.

 I didn't sleep in the camper all the time, simply because there are 5 adults and the camper can be quite crowded with 5 adults in it. My parents need proper sleep and the baby needs to wander around. We still sleep in motel and only slept in the campervan for 2 nights, one night in Christchurch and another night in Te Anau. I slept an additional night in Lake Tekapo in the campervan with my brother while the rest slept in a cabin.

With complete kitchen in the campervan, we were also not worry about food. I didn't cook in campervan all the time, I normally cook in the common kitchen at the holiday park. But it was so easy because we cook in the morning and bring it along the journey, we can reheat it whenever we want to eat, and we can get everything from the fridge along the way. The above picture is when I cooked in the campervan at Lake Tekapo. It was convenient except you can't do much frying because the smell will conquer the whole campervan haha. 

Minus the bad experience we had with the faulty camper, all in all actually a nice experience being in the camper. Will I do it again? Yeah... when there are only 2 of us in the camper. It is easier to handle because 5 adults I think is too many you will bump into each other all the time in the camper :)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Holiday Mood Edition : Searching for Flight Kuala Lumpur - New Zealand

It will be 12 more days before my second visit to New Zealand this April. This time around, I will be dragging both my parents, my brother and sister-in-law along. We will also drag my 10-month-old nephew along. This trip has been planned since September 2011 after I came back from my 14-days journey to New Zealand. It was originally scheduled to be in September 2012, since I grabbed the cheap tickets from Air Asia X at the price of RM700++ per pax. Early 2012 however, Air Asia X announced that the route from Kuala Lumpur to Christchurch is to be cancelled, forcing me to decide whether to re-route the ticket to another Air Asia X destination, or to route it to Melbourne / Brisbane / Sydney and take a connecting flight to New Zealand, or to opt for a refund. I finally opted for a refund considering a few factors - that my sister in law gave birth in July so bringing forward is not an option, and my change of workplace to a Company with financial year end June. That means, September is the time when I am still struggling with audit and financial statements preparation to catch 30th September deadline by Bank Negara Malaysia. 

But the plan as a whole was not cancelled - I was just not sure when it will be and using which airline. It wasn't until November 2012 when I decided finally that the trip will be in April 2013 - the time when I can breath a bit before the next financial year end in June. And it was then that I started to survey for cheap flight for our trip. The keyword is cheap - kata cheapskate kan.

So I started googling and searching, including using KAYAK to fare comparison to get the cheapest and most convenient option available. 

So what were the options I was looking at?

1. Air Asia X to Sydney / Melbourne / Brisbane and then connecting flight to Auckland / Christchurch using Jetstar / Virgin / Air New Zealand
It is kind of easy to find reasonably priced tickets from Kuala Lumpur to any port in Australia via Air Asia X. And the connecting flights from Australia to Auckland / Christchurch can also be easily found. But as I said earlier, I am bringing my parents along, and they are not actively mobile. Air Asia X is a point to point carrier, hence, timing is important. We can't risk booking a connecting flight too close to the point of arrival of Air Asia X, for fear that if there's a delay in Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur, we might missed the connecting flight. But I don't want to transit too long either, for fear that both my parents will be exhausted with the arrangement. If I were to go there without my parents, I might opt for this option.

2. Jetstar from Kuala Lumpur - Changi / Melbourne / Sydney - Auckland / Christchurch
Jetstar is another budget airline to be considered. It provides various routes from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland / Christchurch, either transit in Singapore or Melbourne / Sydney in Australia. Jetstar can be cheap if we book for the tickets early enough. But by the time I searched for the ticket, it was already quite expensive for a budget airline. And that is before we include tax, seat and baggage allowance. For the date I planned to go, it was close to RM3k per pax all in all then so I thought it was not worth it for a budget airline - I might as well search for a premium airline with that kind of price. But if you can plan earlier, the ticket can sometimes be very cheap.

3. Malaysian Airline System (MAS) Kuala Lumpur - Auckland
This is definitely the easiest option. It is a direct flight from KLIA to Auckland. 10+ hours non-stop. I was about ready to opt for this option then. It was expensive, at RM3,600 per pax for the date chosen. And considering there are 5 adults and an infant, I gotta spend about RM19k for flight tickets. I was already prepared to buy this, but then I thought, there are times when MAS do last minute sale, so I thought, let me survey a bit more and if there's no other cheaper and convenient option, I will buy this. Meanwhile, let us pray that MAS will do last minute promotion.

4. Emirates Kuala Lumpur - Melbourne - Auckland
I've never fly with Emirates before. The reviews I read about Emirates are good, for as long as we don't transit at their home base in Dubai. I found Emirates tickets are considerably cheaper than MAS for the dates I selected. It was about RM3.2k per pax, with a 6 hour transit in Melbourne. RM400 difference is not much comparing with MAS if we are looking at per pax, but since there will be 5 adults altogether, RM2k saving can be quite something. Never mind the 6 hour transit, because unlike Air Asia X which is a point to point carrier, I don't have to think of flight delay or anything with this. The problem I have with their transit is not the number of hours, but the timing. The flight will land in Melbourne at 1am, and will fly to Auckland at 7am. I can sleep at the airport, but my parents? I don't want them to be tired by the time they reach Auckland!

I was still numb then, OK.. looks like MAS will be the most convenient option, for my parents' sake. So I was already prepared to dig RM19k from my savings to buy tickets. But then, God gave me some ideas. What about Singapore? What options I have from Singapore? It will not be difficult to get a cheap flight from KL to Changi, so if I can get a cheap ticket from Singapore to Auckland / Christchurch, that will be good. So there I was, again, using KAYAK, surveying tickets flying from Changi to Auckland / Christchurch. And was very relieved with the plenty of options available, and IT IS MUCH CHEAPER TOO!!

It was then that I found plenty of other cheaper options, including :

  • British Airways : Changi - Sydney - Auckland. The leg from Sydney to Auckland is operated by Qantas. It can be very cheap as in lesser than RM2k if the date chosen is right. And the transit is not long either, it is only a 1 hour transit. It was just that for the date I chose, the price was about RM2.6k so I didn't opt for this. 
  • Emirates : The route is Changi - Brisbane - Auckland. For the dates chosen, I found Emirates from Singapore to be much cheaper than from Kuala Lumpur. Even after we take into consideration of the flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Changi, it is still very much cheaper. But as I said earlier, the only drawbacks for me is the timing of its transit. 
  • Singapore Airlines : Err.. this one is of course not cheaper. It is a direct flight from Singapore to Auckland, but I don't see why I should choose this since it is expensive, I might as well choose MAS which will be slightly cheaper and more convenient. 
  • Qantas : This is another convenient option , the route is either Changi - Brisbane - Auckland or Changi - Sydney - Auckland. The transit is also just around 1-2 hours. And the ticket price is also not bad, in the region of RM2.5k.
  • Etihad : The route is Changi - Brisbane - Auckland, with the leg Brisbane - Auckland operated by Air New Zealand. Ticket in the region of RM2.1k, and the transit time is  only about 3 hours. And at quite an OK time too - because the transit is during day time so it is not that bad.
Apart from the above, there are also other airlines, like Southern China Airlines which can be very cheap at less than RM2k. The setback will be the transit is in Guangzhou, so you ended up traveling longer hours. 

I myself finally opted for Etihad Airways, at about RM2.1k per pax. From Kuala Lumpur, I just booked Air Asia to Changi. All in all, I managed to save about RM7k as compared with booking MAS. Lucky I didn't stop my research, otherwise I will be RM7k poorer. I hope it will not be too tiring for my parents. I booked early flight from Kuala Lumpur to Changi, and I will drop them in the transit hotel while I roam around later. And collect them back at night before the departure with Etihad. Wish me luck with my parents :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

D Joho - Noodles selection from Johor

This is the naughty part we did on Monday - eating close to midnight. So don't be surprise if we gain weight soon.
I came back from office hungry, and as usual, Mr D suggested the stalls near Metro bus depot at USJ 8. We normally eat at La Kasturi, but since it was closed, so Mr D suggested to eat at D Joho. We've never tried D Joho, so this is basically a trial session. 

D Joho basically sells many types of noodles - especially the one yg Johor based. Mee rebus, laksa Johor, mee kari, soto etc. Mr D opted for mee rebus while I just had the mee kari.

The above is Mr D's plate - not very nice he said, though it is edible. I tasted the gravy and thought it has some strange taste. It does has the dried prawn's taste, but I can't explain why the gravy tasted very strange. 

And this is my plate of mee kari. At a glance, it looks very similar to Mr D's mee rebus huh? Mr D thought we ordered the same thing. This mee kari has a full egg, full of shredded chicken and beef, with a generous amount of vegetables and bean sprout - which I like. But I don't like the taste of the gravy, too sweet to my liking. It doesn't taste like there's any chilli added, seriously, it is rather too sweet. 

So all in all, I probably will not order these 2 the next time. If ever we have to eat here, I probably will try their soto or laksa Johor next.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ikan Bakar Umbai : NO!! to Gerai Kita Number 5

The night we were in Malacca, Mr D asked whether I want to go to Umbai for dinner. So after Maghrib we went to Umbai to find that famous ikan bakar. When we reached there, the place is already crowded. We didn't want to wait, so instead of going to the Parameswara, we chose whichever stall located nearer to the parking lot.

We entered stall no 5 - named Gerai Kita. That's after being persuaded by the owner / worker (I guess only lah haa). So we thought - OK, not bad, there are many people here, somebody must know what they are doing so it can't be that bad. So there we were, with the hope that the food will be superb, we went in.

The first dissappointment was when we were asked to sit at the table inside the stall - which is located very near to the place where they grilled the fish and the kitchen. We were practically stucked in the middle, in between grilling station and the kitchen. Can imagine? Wa wa wei... very uncomfortable - with the smoke and all. Gosh - they should seriously think of the logistic of the tables in it.

The fish selection is not much, but then again it looks fresh enough so we chose prawn and a small golden snapper. We chose butter prawn and "ikan tiga rasa", and added kangkung belacan as well. It's kind of too much for the two of us but it wasn't too bad because we didn't really eat rice that night.

 The first food served to us for the night was what supposed to be 'butter prawn'. But what was served in front of us was fried prawn in scrambled egg with overflowed butter. Since when the butter prawn looks like that ? It was a real disappointment. It wasn't even close to being butter prawn! And when our ikan tiga rasa arrived, I have no mood to take pictures already. Very disappointing. How tiga rasa supposed to taste? I can only taste chilli sauce in that dish.

Mr D said that we might as well ordered fried fish and fried prawn, that will definitely taste better since the seafood items loos fresh. Deep frying it could be a better option. It was the chef who ruined the taste. I can definitely cook better.

Hmm.. it is about time for the owner of this stall to think of searching for a better chef. The current one they have will not bring their business to the next level. Dissappointing!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Entertainment in the Middle of the City

Am left alone today. Mr D is flying to Hong Kong today with the children and will only be back on Sunday, 27th January. So I will be left alone for 4+ days. Have fun guys!

 Anyway, just wanted to share the interesting event we saw during our recent visit to Malacca. This is located very near to junction near The Stadthyus, on our way back to Holiday Inn. The picture might not be clear, but what I wanted to show is a group of youngsters playing drums of secessions on the wall by the drain near the main street. It was 6+pm then.

Very talented I must say. The coordination was good. The music was good. I wonder whether they have any serious involvement in music or they were just doing this for fun. But whatever it is, it is an entertainment to the city.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Holiday Inn Malacca

Our trip to Malacca recently was in conjunction with our 8th anniversary on 11th January. I didn't remember the date, initially I thought I just wanted to just get away from KL life and wanted to go somewhere nearby. It doesn't matter where, for as long as it is out of KL. So I told Mr D I wanted to go somewhere near and he agreed. Mr D did all the bookings and he booked Holiday Inn Malacca, located at Jln Syed Abd Aziz at the city centre. It wasn't until we reached Malacca that I realised he actually wanted it to be our anniversary relaxing weekend *love*. 

 Mr D opted for a seaview room, but what view you can get considering it is Malacca? So the above view was what we got from our bedroom window overlooking the straits of Malacca. Not much of a view huh? 

We were greeted by the reception, friendly looking and welcoming. Mr D paid RM350++ for the room, and the setback is that it excludes breakfast. We had to pay extra RM20++ per pax for the breakfast buffet. The reception however didn't really give us direction of where to find the lift, not that it is much of a problem to find, but what was lacking is that they didn't even explain that the room access card is needed to operate the lift. There's no clear direction of how to operate the lift in the lift either, except the slot to insert the access card which is located parallel to our hip level. They should put it at eye level so that it can be seen easier!!

The room is comfortable, the size is just nice for two. It has normal coffee / tea making facilities, some fruits prepared at the table and quite a complete toilet kit. Bathroom was also spacious and comfortable. The setback is the limited TV channels offered, and the fact that it doesn't offer Wi-Fi for free. Wi-Fi is only available at a fee, can't remember how much was it but which 4 star hotel charge for the use of internet nowadays? They should consider offering the service for free.

Buffet breakfast was served from 6am to 10am. We went down close to 8am and was quite satisfied with the buffet spread. It was just a normal buffet spread with local and western varieties, but the choices was wide enough. And what I love the most is the fact that it has a counter to serve you healthy drinks - you can choose from cucumber, tomato, carot etc, freshly prepared in front of you. Nice. 

All in all, I have not much complaint about the hotel, apart from the minor things which I think will not affect the stay that much. We spent quite some times in the hotel room and it was comfortable enough.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Malacca : The Commercialised Red Square

I guess all school children in Malaysia have a chance to visit this part of Bandar Hilir during their visit to Malacca. I remember my first time visiting this 'Dutch Square' or sometimes known as 'Red Square' in 1986 when I was in standard 4 in the school's 'rombongan cik kiah' to Malacca. I still remember the Christ Church and The Stadthuys next to it, all in red color. I still remember us lined up and marched by the road side from one part to another.

But what I could not remember is how crowded the place is. During our recent visit early this month, what I can see is the fact that this part of town is so crowded, full of tourists and full of stalls selling things. 

 Never mind the full of tourists part, it is a World Heritage site, what do you expect? It is supposed to attract tourists. But I think the local authority should consider to rearrange the city in such a way that the stalls are not located at the entrance to Stadthuys. It can be located nearby but not that near. Historical sites like this shouldn't be surrounded by stalls that way. It doesn't look like a historical site anymore with all those stalls around, it looks like a pasar malam - just another centre to buy souvenirs! And the lack of dustbins around is something to be considered by the local authority. People gathered in the middle of the square and throw bottles and tissues and such as they like. I practically became tukang kutip sampah during the recent visit, taking the rubbish I saw on the street to the nearest bin.

 I still love the square though. The Stadthuys, the Christ Church, the clock tower. Hopefully it will be preserved for years to come, for our future generation, to mark the Dutch's invasion at Tanah Melayu in 1641. It is said that The Stadthuys was built right after Dutch captured Tanah Melayu from the Portugese. They built this building after the destruction of the city during the fight between Dutch and Portugese, and became the residence of the Governor and served as the administration centre of the city. If I am not mistaken, Stadthyus itself means 'town hall' in dutch. It is said that it mirrors the 15th to 18th century town hall of the Frisian town in the Netherland.

It was the red to remember.. though it was the British who painted this building red from the original white color. And may the red preserved for our future generation many many many years to come.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Frozen Yogurt at Jonker Street

It was out of curiosity that me and Mr D went to Jonker Street during our recent visit to Melaka. We just wanted to see what's offered along the street. We've been to Malacca quite a number of times, but never thought to visit Jonker Street.

As we stayed at Holiday Inn, it was only about 1km walk from hotel to Jonker Street. We didn't drive but instead opt to take a relaxing walk. It was about 6:00pm when we reached Jonker Street so the hawkers were in the midst of setting up their stalls. 

 Mr D thought it is like Petaling Street hahaha. But that is because he was just looking at the hawkers stall around and the crowd. I think what is unique about Jonker Street is the variety of things we can find around, from antiques to local food to craft items to souvenir etc. 

We just walked along the street to see what is offered, nothing interest Mr D of course. But along the way we bought this frozen yogurt sold at one of the stalls . Mr D chose the mint flavor while I opt to have sour plum flavor. Mine was real goooooooooood, really, it was really good. So all I will remember about Jonker Street will be this - the best sour plum frozen yogurt ice cream !