Malaysia II Day 16: KK – HK – Vancouver

And the day has come – last day in KK. We had laska once again at yet another restaurant with yet another variation on this Malaysia dish. This time, there was no shrimp, but it had more shredded chicken. We then headed to Suria and its surroundings to do some last minute souvenir shopping and we even managed to catch up with one of Aaron’s uncles and chilled at the Hyatt for a bit. After saying our goodbyes to those who cannot make it to the airport, we head off to fight the KK traffic one more time. At the airport, we must have our obligatory Mcdonald’s snack and group photoshoot. After many hugs and waves, we enter the security area to begin on journey back to Canada. On the plane, I watched “The Intern” just as I end my vacation to remind me of the joys and the importance of doing purposeful work and providing for the society.

And i’ll end with my obligatory trip summary/reflections:

Culture
This has been covered in the previous Malaysia trip so I won’t write too much about it here. I am very impressed with how respectful the children are of their elders here. It’s really heartwarming to see. In terms of Bali, the service is definitely extremely good there and the staff are all very courteous. People are very religious (mostly Hindu) there with temples throughout and offerings on the ground everywhere so watch your step. The temples have really strict rules indicating specifically that women who are menstruating are prohibited from entering. I guess many religions find menstruation to be impure or unclean.

Weather
Same as last time. Less rain this time around. There was a pretty heavy rain storm the last night we were there but it ended by the time the sun rose, so it didn’t interfere with our plans.

Language
I picked up more Malay this time but mainly single words, so fluency is still far from reach.

Top food picks
1. Coconut pudding and burned coconut at road side store
2. Coconut coffee at Luwak Coffee plantation
3. Everything at Sarong, Bali
4. Fried chicken made by Aaron’s aunty
5. Cendol made by another one of Aaron’s aunty

Most amazing sights
1. Proboscis monkeys in Sandakan
2. Sunset at Potato Head Beach Club, Bali
3. Tanah Lot, Bali

Firsts
1. First time in Bali
2. First time flying Cathay Pacific
3. First time booking such a last minute trip (Bali – booked within a week of leaving)
4. First time seeing monkeys up close
5. First time getting a massage on a beach
6. First time using such a small currency (gets so confusing)
7. First time seeing so many exotic birds
8. First time drinking cat-poo coffee
9. First time drinking/eating so much coconut

Malaysia II Day 15: Bali – KK

It was time to say our goodbyes to Bali, but before doing so, we needed to have another mie goreng/nasi goreng breakfast. We learnt during breakfast that everyone here has only a few names to choose from based on their order of birth. Our driver is called Ketut, so we know he was the fourth-born. 

After breakfast, some of us needed some more pampering. I opted to get a massage and facial special at a spa close by. The ambience was not as nice as the spa yesterday, since it was a multi-purpose massage therapy, manicure, pedicure, ear candling and hair salon galore. I followed my masseuse upstairs to again a big communal room with partitioned rooms with slightly more privacy this time as they gave me time to disrobe in the room alone. The massage was lot more like the ones I’m used to with minimal stretching and medium pressure. I then head downstairs for my facial, while others around me were getting pedicures (including fish pedicures), leg massages, and ear candling (literally a candle in/above your ear with a plate for the wax to drip on). The facial was alright but for a combined packaged price of ~$17 CAD, I again should not complain. 

It was time to hurry up and pack, then swim in the sea of traffic again to the airport. As we were ahead of schedule, we stopped by the Krishna souvenirs warehouse near the airport. It was quite a sight – a huge warehouse full of souvenirs from food, beauty products, crafts, clothes, accessories and every other thing possible. We only had 15 minute so we quickly browsed and picked up a few last minute items, then it was time to bid farewell to Bali.

Back at KK, Aaron’s uncle has arranged a goodbye dinner for us at yet another seafood restaurant called Gaya Seafood restaurant. Again KK’s traffic is not much better than Bali’s and we finally made it to the restaurant. It was so heart-warming to see the attendance at this dinner. We occupied 3 full tables including all the close aunties, uncles and cousins. He has already pre-ordered the food so it streamlined the process. On the menu tonight was egg and corn soup (tasty), steamed shrimp (one of my favourite), crispy salt and pepper chicken (a good staple), various veggies, crab, and a whole fish. In addition, the cousins from the other table ordered some deep-fried bitter melon, which was actually quite delicious.

It was time to go home to do some packing in preparation for our flight tomorrow.

Malaysia II Day 12: KK – Bali

It was another chill day in Kota Kinabalu with some fresh roti canai downstairs for breakfast many thanks for our aunty who is always keeping us well-fed. After some packing for Bali, it was time for lunch again. This time, authentic Indian Malay food at the Fish Head restaurant. We, of course, has to order the fish head curry. In addition, we also ordered some roti and naan to add to the carb load and some lamb curry, fried quail, along with an array of chutneys and side dishes for flavour. This is also served on top of a banana leaf as the “plate”, soaking up the banana leaf taste as you eat (can’t really taste it really). The meal came along with the famous Malaysian Teh Tarik but I also ordered a refreshing cold Kit Chai (lime juice with preserved prune). They also served mango lassi here but there was no more space in my stomach for this yogurty drink. We then head home again for some last minute workout, packing and chilling, literally, in the ac’d house before heading off to the airport. 

The airport was jam packed as there were many bottlenecks to the checking-in and boarding process. The checked-in bags needed to be screened. Then the passengers and cabin baggage had to go through security twice. Our plane was delayed so we had some tea at Starbucks. I had a black tea latte there and was saddened by the fact that it’s 7 times the price of Teh Tarik in town and was not as tasty. After a short 3 hour flight. We arrive at the new Bali airport. Apparently, there was a super rundown one with crazy line ups for visas and no AC, which is now only serving domestic flights. This time, the visa was waived (at least for us), so the process was relatively smooth. Our driver from the villa was already waiting outside the airport for a while now, since the flight was delayed. He was very courteous and we arrive in the hustle and bustle of Semniyak Square in no time. 

Our gorgeous and peaceful Tis Villa was located very close to here but was far enough away to be a nice and quiet retreat. We were greeted by Budi, the main staff at the villa. Our dinner was already prepared and on the table waiting for us for a while now. We had previously requested this because we knew we had a late flight and did not want to scramble to find food around the villa. The villa was very accommodating. We quickly took a tour of the whole place then stuffed our faces in local delights – corn soup, sweet and sour fish, beef rendang, chicken curry, papaya salad, stir-fried vegetables and ended with papaya and watermelon slices. The food was good but a bit cold since it has been sitting out so long due to our delayed flight. It was a filling meal though and we had leftovers even though the meal was meant for 5 people but we had a last minute addition of one more guest. By the time we were done dinner, it was time to get ready to wind down in preparation for our adventures tomorrow.

Malaysia II Day 11 – New Year’s Day in KK

A very chill 1st day of the year, as we got out of bed at around 11am given the late night last night. Aaron’s aunty was nice enough to prepare some home made lunch for us consisting of fried fish curry, an okra-like vegetable, stir-fried squid, stir-fried shrimp and BBQ duck. It was nice to have some tasty, home-made meals rather than going out all the time. 

After lunch, we headed off to the mall, Suria, a huge 8 floor complex. I was so excited about the fact that there were 8 floors but was disappointed to find out there are only stores on 4 of the 8 floors. Before a long afternoon of shopping, we needed some fuel. So what better fuel, than to have some “Just Berry” desserts. We ordered a papaya with “snow ice”, logan, and mango. I give it an A+. The papaya was perfectly ripe and the accompanying fruits and toppings matched well, except for the logan – it was too bland compared to the rest of the assembly. We checked out the stores, which cannot be found in Canada – e.g. G2000 and Uniqlo. There was also an interesting promotion where if i you bought packages of Maggi noodles, they will make you some on the spot with fresh ingredients for free. I really wanted it as it smelled so good but we had dinner plans. I’d have to say the service is lacking here though. It took the sales people at G2000 more than 30 minutes to complete one transaction when there was no line up. As such, we were late for dinner at one of Aaron’s aunty’s house. 

It was a delicious quite-Westernized meal including tomato cuttlefish soup, roasted chicken, green salad, a very tasty grapefruit salad and ending with poppy seed cupcakes and some local fruits. This has been the most American meal I’ve had all trip and we also had some nice company.