Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why Travel Tuesday: Malang in East Java

(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday features a photo from my current whereabouts: Malang in East Java.)

Malang, East Java
Sun setting behind a 3,300-meter high volcanic massif. Now isn't that something?

Monday, July 22, 2013

One Fine Full Meal (or Two) in Malacca, Malaysia

Malacca surprised me in more ways than one. I came here thinking I was going to get my dose of history and with it, photogenic colonial architecture. I did not realize that the food, the amazing food, was going to leave a lasting impression on me, too. Lasting enough that I still crave for the flavors of Malacca, and those of the Strait Settlements of Southeast Asia, after I've come home. Lasting enough that I went so far as to recreate one of the dishes that I had there. Lasting enough that I have actually made plans to return and explore the delicious food landscape of this culturally diverse region more. But that's for later.

Popiah, Malacca Old Town, Malaysia
The best foods of Southeast Asia are prepared right on the streets. Malacca is no exception. This is a stall serving delicious spring rolls called popiah.

Today, I tell you about some of the best foods I had in Malacca. After having laid out some of the best food I had in Thailand as well as in Vietnam, it was time I do the same for Malacca. Here is one fine full meal (or two) in Malacca, Malaysia.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why Travel Tuesday: The Supertrees of Singapore

(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday features a photo from a place I have been to more than once but having arrived again here today, I found myself immensely enjoying my time. I am of course talking about Singapore. The newest attraction: The Supertrees of Singapore.)

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
The Supertrees of Singapore in the Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Photos from the Historic and Charming Little Town of Malacca in Malaysia

I like Malacca. Let me rephrase that. I love Malacca. This UNESCO World Heritage Site forms part of Southeast Asia's historic Strait Settlements along with Penang and Singapore. Despite being very touristy, Malacca still manages to successfully retain what in my book makes for a great travel destination—a colorful history, a rich diversity in cultures (and thus, food), and a slow pace of life. More often than not, the same elements make for great photographs, which I love, so I love Malacca.

Malacca is just a couple of hours south of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. However, it is a very unique place in Malaysia because of its history. Strategically located in front of a body of water—the Malacca Strait—which connects the Indian Ocean to the entire Far East, Malacca became a prosperous trading port. The Malays, the Chinese, the Indians, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, they were all here. Walking around this old town, I saw remnants of each of those cultures. Here are photos of the things I saw.

Malacca, Malacca
The Malacca Sultanate Watermill was built to commemorate the first civilization that saw the potential of Malacca as a trading port—the Malacca Sultanate. The sultanate ruled much of Peninsular Malaysia as well as a considerable chunk of Sumatra Island, on the other side of the Malacca Strait, during the 1400s.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Impressive Kuala Lumpur Public Transport System Is Impressive

There was one thing that surprised me about the warm, humid, and busy capital of Malaysia Kuala Lumpur. It is not the beautifully preserved historic and religious structures, which Kuala Lumpur has in abundance. It is not even the high supply of good Kuala Lumpur restaurants. I had known for a very long time that Kuala Lumpur locals loved to eat. Food-loving KL-ites mean a plethora of good Kuala Lumpur restaurants. At the end of the day, it is the Kuala Lumpur public transport system that impressed me the most.

Terminal Bersepadu Selatan
Not an airport. That is a bus station. Terminal Bersepadu Selatan. The best bus terminal I ever set foot on.

I know. I know. KL-ites would readily enumerate to me the ills and problems of their city's public transport system. But you have to admit, it is an impressive infrastructure for a metropolis of more than five million residents. The Kuala Lumpur public transport system certainly makes it easy to get around for the nine million tourists who visit the city yearly. That includes someone like me who grew up in a similar Southeast Asian city—Manila—except our public transport system is leaps and bounds behind that of Kuala Lumpur. Maybe that's why I was impressed as much.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Venturing Off Track for East Coast Eats: How I Found Anis Putri Corner in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It all started with a tweet. The next thing I know, I found myself wandering around in a quiet, deserted residential area of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. I was sweaty, feeling very desperate, and hopelessly lost. Minutes later, euphoria came over me seeing a long line of trays filled with various delicious-looking foods and a large vat of dark and oily curry. This roller coaster of emotions was too much for a food-loving frazzled traveler like myself.

Anis Putri Corner, Kuala Lumpur
Anis Putri Corner. Nondescript as it looked, it was the setting of the best meal I had in Malaysia.

A few hours ago, I was sat in my hostel researching good restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, i.e., the most recommended restaurants in a city whose 5.7 million residents loved to eat. That is when I received a tweet from a local, a KL-ite. She recommended Anis Putri Corner, a Malay restaurant which features dishes originating from East Coast Malaysia. This highly-recommended restaurant in Kuala Lumpur is in Pantai Dalam, a largely residential area located southwest of the city center. Clearly, it was way off the tourist trail. However, knowing myself and my fondness for food quests, I ventured out.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Photos from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Its Subtleties

Malaysia had big shoes to fill. I had just concluded a month-long jaunt in Yunnan, Southwest China, a trip I immensely enjoyed, when I landed in the rather drab low-cost terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I shed off my winter threads and shoved them well inside my backpack. I was clearly never going to use them in the tropical rainforest climes of Malaysia. I did not have high hopes, no, but in the one week I was in the country, Malaysia revealed its agreeable qualities very, very subtly.

The capital of the Federation of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (KL), was naturally my first stop. I thought it was a grittier version of Singapore. It had the same cultures and flavors, but less sanitized, which I liked. There weren't much spectacular, sweeping views in this Southeast Asia hub, and I was not expecting any. Maybe that is why I appreciated Kuala Lumpur as much as I did. Let me talk about how exactly in my next few posts. For now, here be a few photos of Kuala Lumpur, the same ones I took during my first few days walking around in the humid, drizzly, and balmy Malaysian capital.

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
No other landmark of Malaysia is perhaps more well-known than the twin structures of the Petronas Towers. At 452 meters in height, the Petronas Towers are the tallest twin buildings in the world.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Backpacking Itinerary: Yunnan, China in One Month

I dreamed about it. I planned it. Then, I made it happen. That is how I will always remember traveling and backpacking in Yunnan, Southwest China. It was, as cliché as it sounds, a travel dream come true. I spent almost a month traveling in Yunnan that you would think I covered a lot of ground. Well, I did and I did not. Yunnan is a huge province, the eighth largest in China, superseded only by provinces whose main features are vast, arid deserts. I like to think that as vast as those other provinces are horizontally, Yunnan is vertically. Yunnan is after all part of the easternmost bastions of the Himalayas.

Looking at the map of Yunnan, I see not only the regions I covered but also those I was not able to. I did not stray too far off the beaten path. To do so would have been too costly and would have taken a lot more time. Plus, I travel really slowly. With places as laid-back as Dali, you would really have to. So to round up all these travels, and hopefully in the process, serve as guide to those intending to travel to this corner of China, let me present my backpacking itinerary of Yunnan in one month.

Open Backpacking Itinerary Yunnan in Google Maps
Backpacking Itinerary: Yunnan, China in One Month