A visit to KL’s Central Market

P1030912KL visitors who plan to visit Chinatown and Petaling Street should not miss out on KL’s Central Market. Founded in 1888, Central Market started as an open air wet market for locals. Later it was decided to give the venue a more permanent structure which eventually led to the art deco facade which has been preserved until today. Only in the late 1970s Central Market was transformed from a wet market into a center for Malaysian art and handicraft.

P1030916 P1030918 P1030922 P1030927 P1030930Today, Central Market houses an abundance of little shops that offer everything from batik to handicraft and locally made spa products. Browsing through the things that are on offer is really fun. If you are looking for little souvenirs and gifts, you won’t get disappointed. And negotiating a better price, especially if you buy several items, is part of the fun. Many shops even offer a shipping service in case you decide to buy bigger items. Central Market also has a few cafes and restaurants where you can take a break in case your feet get tired from walking around. All this takes place in an indoor, air-conditioned environment. That’s why Central Market is a great destination in case you experience a rainy day or if the heat gets on you. Also check out the so-called Annex Building which houses art galleries and the Kasturi Walk which runs along the main building.

tip drop shadow 2Central Market is open daily from 10am-10pm. Reaching Central Market from Orange Pekoe is easy: just take the free GoKL bus (purple route) that directly takes you there.

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The Nest Road Trip: Melaka (III)

Where to hang out. Once again, take a deep breath and shift into a lower gear. It’s all about relaxing and letting go. One place that we found particularly suitable for this exercise is The Baboon House (No. 89 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock). Run by artists, The Baboon House is all in one – a cafe/restaurant, a gallery, a studio and a home. Here is where young artists from near and afar hang out and exhibit their works. Everybody is super friendly. So it’s easy to mingle and to make new friends. But of course nobody will mind if you go there with your favorite book for an hour of me-time. Other places that we recommend are Limau-Limau Cafe on Jalan Hang Lekiu, Calanthe Artcafe (Jalan Hang Kasturi) and of course Geographer for drinks at night. If you are mobile and want to do it like the locals, you should also go for a Klebang Coconut Shake (on Jalan Klebang). This place has become an institution and is hugely popular. There are many more choices and its fun to discover these places.

Thanks to our host we also got an introduction to the Baba-Nyonya who used to play an important role in the old days. The term Baba-Nyonya (also Peranakan Chinese) refers to descendants of early Chinese immigrants (15./16. century) who mixed with locals and eventually formed an influential “cast” that had its own language, culture and cuisine. We already mentioned the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. Excellent, authentic Nyonya food is prepared by aunty Amy at “Amy Heritage Nyonya Cuisine” (75 Jalan Melaka Raya 24). Check it out 🙂

How to get to Melaka. Coming from Kuala Lumpur it takes about 2 hours to reach Melaka. If you don’t have you own car, taking a coach might be the best option. Buses leaving from the southern bus terminal charge around RM 13 for a one-way ticket. If you like to depart from KL city center, you may want to opt for Nice ++ whose buses leave from the old railway station (tickets are RM 22 per adult). When you stay with us at The Nest, we will be happy to help you plan your onward trip to Melaka.

Tip: Melaka gets very busy on weekends. If you want to experience a more quiet, intimate place, visit during the week.

The Nest Road Trip: Melaka (II)

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.

The Nest Road Trip: Melaka (I)

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

Ramadan Food Bazaar

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 🙂

New at The Nest: Tea from Cameron Highlands

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.