We love to take pictures. Pictures that capture moments of everyday life. It is these moments of colour and light, of the extraordinary as well as the common which remind us of the immense beauty we live in. Some pictures were taken at our guesthouse. Others in our neighbourhood or somewhere around Kuala Lumpur. We hope you like them and feel inspired to discover Malaysia on your own. If you feel like having more picturesque moments in life, just follow us on Instagram (orangepekoeguesthouse). See you there! Cheers!
What to do. Many tourists go to Melaka just for a day trip. We believe that is a mistake because this town is all about affording the luxury of switching into a lower gear. Hang out, chill, read a good book, have a good conversation, meet interesting people from all over the world – these are all things we would associate with Melaka in addition to sightseeing in the traditional way. Of course Melaka with its long history offers plenty of things worth a visit. You will certainly end up on Jonker Street (night market on weekends) at some point, you will go for a stroll along the river and you will climb St. Paul’s Hill. You may also visit the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum (more on the Baba-Nyonya later), the replica of the Sultan’s Palace and the Flora del Mar (taking pictures of this old vessel from the outside is enough as the inside has little to offer). Further options are the Stadthuys (now a museum, in colonial times seat of the Dutch administration), the Red (or Dutch) Square or e.g. the old Kampung Kling Mosque in Chinese architecture. We recommend all these places but we believe that it’s equally important to spend time chilling out in some of Melaka’s popular hangouts.
After 4 long years we finally managed to revisit Melaka where we ended up having a great time. Melaka which together with Georgetown (Penang) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, is conveniently located halfway between Singapore and KL. Its location makes it an ideal destination for travelers who visit the Malaysian Peninsula and who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a big city. This leads us already to one of the aspects of Melaka that gives this historic town its unmistakable charm: the pace of everything seems much slower (which does not necessarily mean sleepy), people know each other and above all there is a spirit of genuine friendliness wherever you go. While things have gotten much busier since Melaka reached World Heritage status, the new popularity has not changed the way the city and its inhabitants tick.
Where to stay. Here is the good news. Relative to its small size Melaka has a huge number of B&Bs, guesthouses, boutique hotels etc. So chances are high to find something that suits your pocket and personal preference. We opted for Tripadvisor’s no.1 amongst all B&Bs – Knocknock Home (www.knocknockhome.com). Knocknock Home is different from other places – we are talking about a 1-room establishment here. For RM 400/night (no weekend surcharge) you rent the entire 1st floor of an old Chinese shop house in excellent location (unfortunately we had a little problem with our camera – hence no pictures of the room. But pics on the Knocknock homepage are accurate). The place can fit 4-6 people and has an open space concept which is simple yet very comfortable – ideal for small families or a group of friends. Augustine (friends call him Gus) is a wonderful host who does things with love and passion. And so we felt like we were spending a weekend with an old friend rather than with the owner of a small business. Because of the special care and attention that Augustine offers his guests our weekend in Melaka got an entirely different quality.
Next: things to do in Melaka
It’s been a while since we have talked about food and beverages on this blog. Time then to introduce a local favorite that is absolutely delicious – “Sour Plum”. Sour Plum is a beverage made of preserved sour plums, limes and sugar which are mixed with water and ice. The sweet-sour taste of this drink is an absolute winner on hot days and promises to quench your thirst like no other. After sunset, a shot of vodka will turn your Sour Plum into a delicious long drink. Of course you can also add a mint leaf or two. Whether you try it “with” or “without”, don’t forget to have this great beverage when you come to KL. Simple recipes are available on the internet. If you can’t find sour plums in the country of your origin, just buy a packet or two and take them back home with you. Cheers!
Look for your glass of Sour Plum in restaurants that serve Chinese food. If your waiter does not understand sour plum, ask for ‘Kat Zai Suin Mui’.
Ramadan in Malaysia is unthinkable without the Ramadan Bazaar. These food bazaars (that’s what they are) are held annually during the holy month of Ramadan and can be found in many neighborhoods. Rows of stalls sell local delicacies and popular drinks, sometimes food that is hard to find in other places. Business is limited to a few hours daily and basically comes to an end with the breaking of fast. On busy days it can also happen that vendors are sold out earlier. The Ramadan Bazaar continues to be hugely popular not only with Muslims who do not cook their own food at home but also with non-Muslims and of course visitors of Malaysia. At the Nest we are blessed to have a really good Ramadan Bazaar just a few minutes away from our place. So if you happen to stay with us during Ramadan, do not miss out on this great food carnival. You will certainly love it! PS: Timing is important when visiting a food bazaar. Too early and stalls are not open yet, too late and all good things may be sold. Anytime around 5pm should be perfect. Enjoy 🙂
One of the ways of experiencing traditional Kuala Lumpur is by paying a visit to its wet markets. Imbi Market is one of them and located only a few minutes away from Bukit Bintang. The market’s original name, “Pasar Bukit Bintang”, stems from a time when it was still located in the area of today’s Lot 10 shopping mall. While the location of the market has changed, its nature is still the same. Locals go there to buy everything from vegetables to flowers, seafood and meat. Even clothes, magazines and toys are for sale. Some patrons don’t come here for their groceries though, they just stop by to have breakfast or their mid-morning break. Imbi Market is also a popular destination for KL visitors who like to explore KL beyond its malls and 5-star hotels.
By 11am the market is slowly closing down. So it is best to make Imbi Market your breakfast destination one day during your stay in KL. If you like hawker food, you won’t be disappointed. Everything is fresh and “home-made” – from delicious “Kueh” (bite-sized desserts, mainly made of rice) to noodles and “Crispy Popiah” (a sort of spring roll with a filling of roasted peanuts, bean sprouts, dried shrimps and other goodies). Oh yes – and don’t forget to order a cup of Hainanese coffee. If you are not sure what to choose, just do it like the locals – you can’t go wrong with this.
We can’t say it often enough: downtown KL is a food paradise that caters to every pocket and taste. One of the great options in our neighborhood is undoubtedly Lot 10 Hutong, a somewhat different food court in the basement of Lot 10 shopping center. As the name suggests, this “food village” specializes in local Chinese cuisine. The operators wanted to create a space for famous local street food vendors and by doing so preserve this aspect of Malaysia’s rich food heritage. And indeed, many of the stalls in Lot 10 Hutong are family owned businesses that look back to generations of cooking experience. Unlike other food courts which are based on an open concept, the food village is more like a labyrinth of walk ways where every corner offers different culinary delights. From pork noodles to Hokkien Mee (fried noodles cooked in Fujian style), from Bak Kut Teh (soup) to duck egg Char Koay Teow (a stir-fried rice noodle dish) the choice is huge and mouth watering. All this takes place in a nice and friendly atmosphere and what makes it even better is that eating at Lot 10 Hutong won’t cost you a fortune. Our verdict: highly recommended.
Lot 10 Hutong is open daily from 10am – 10pm and located in the basement of Lot 10 shopping center next to the supermarket. Try to avoid lunch hour (1-2pm) and share a few dishes with your travel mates for a perfect degustation. Lot 10 in 5-7 minutes walking distance from The Nest.
During our recent stay at Cameron Highlands we payed a visit to Sungai Palas Tea Plantation – a must for everybody who is in the area. Sungai Palas has a long tradition that goes back to the late 1920s. Since then tea has been grown on the estate which is closely linked to the name “BOH” (Malaysia’s biggest tea brand).
Getting there is a bit of an adventure. A narrow road takes you to a lofty altitude of some 2,000 meters (local tour operators organize tours – so you don’t need a car). Once you arrive you know why this destination is so popular. The setting is really beautiful, the air is fresh and a modern visitors’ centre provides interesting information. Of course, Sungai Palas also has a tea house and a visit would be incomplete without trying a cup of highland tea and one of their lovely scones. We also visited the tea factory where the tea leaves are processed in five steps after they have been harvested. And of course we ended up buying tea from the Cameron Highlands that we took back with us to Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately, we can’t promise you scones – but a cup of tea from Cameron Highlands is definitely waiting for you when you stay with us at The Nest.
Tip: Sungai Palas Tea Plantation is open everyday except Monday from 9am until 4.30pm. Factory tours are provided every 30 minutes and are free of charge.
Cameron Highlands is all about relaxing. And that’s what we did. We stayed for 2 nights and thought this was just perfect. After we had dropped off our luggage in the hotel, we drove to Brinchang (the other township in the area) where we had excellent “Steam Boat” dinner at one of the roadside restaurants. Brinchang also has a weekend market where you find honey, strawberries and other local produce.
Speaking of which: strawberries are one of the most important crops in the Camerons. If you have time, visit one of the farms where you can pick your own fruits. We opted for Big Red Strawberry Farm and were amazed by the endless variety of strawberry (derived) products that are sold there. From jam to body lotion, from milk eclairs to shampoo – this is strawberry paradise! After a quick stop at one of the bee farms we moved on to Sungei Palas Tea Plantation which turned out to be the absolute highlight of our trip (more on Sungei Palas and Boh Tea in our next blog entry). Forget about the other tea plantations – this is the place to go – and we are saying this not only because of the great scones and the tea that we enjoyed there.
After we had returned to Tanah Rata we browsed through some of the souvenir shops where we found a most useful Cameron Highlands Discovery Map. It only costs a few Ringgit and gives you a great overview of the area. We also discovered that local tour operators offer a number of day tours which allow even those who travel without car to explore the area. If you have time, sign up for one of the jungle trekking tours to discover the beauty of the mossy highland rainforest – you won’t regret it.
Where to stay: Cameron Highlands has an array of hotels and guesthouses that suit every pocket. For some odd reason, not all of them are listed on tripadvisor. If you travel by bus, we recommend to look for accommodation somewhere in the centre of Tanah Rata. This way you are not only close to the bus station but can also choose from a bigger variety of places to hang out in the evening.