Tag Archives: Malaysia

Arrival in Kuching: first impressions

The Scoot flight from Singapore to Kuching landed a little after 9 pm on a Monday night. The money exchange bureau at the airport was closed  but a taxi driver accepted Singaporean dollars. Our journey to the Waterfront Hotel started. Everything looked much more developed than we had expected, and Kuching seemed like a big town. Everything felt very different from what we had seen on our previous trips. There seemed to be a balanced mixture of traditionalism (ancient temples etc) and modernity (fast-food chains etc). There is a French word “dépaysant”, which loosely translated means “exotic, unfamiliar”, and this is indeed how we felt. IMG_0369.JPGThe check-in at the Waterfront Hotel was friendly and professional. We were very hungry but the only way to eat was to order room service (overpriced, especially the beer, but tasty). Our room was clean, modern yet a bit bland. The room could have been in any of the world’s 4-star hotels.

Like often, everything looked brighter in the morning. We really liked our view.

There was the Indian neighborhood on the left, the 19th-century Old Court House Complex in front of our hotel, the old Chinatown on the right, and more hotels on the far right.  The majestic Sarawak river calmly flew in front of us.

Unfortunately after the breakfast we realized our daughter had fever. It kept coming and going during three days but stopped -as a doctor we had consulted had suggested- as abruptly as it had started after 72 hours. This however made us lose a few days so during her sick days we only walked around in different parts of Kuching and met our guide-to-be James to plan an efficient program for the rest of our stay. The elections that took place in Malaysia during our stay added an extra element of excitement to our already adventurous journey. The streets remained calm in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak but many places were closed and everyone we met was holding his breath while waiting for the results.  IMG_0478We ended up staying one full week in Kuching. During the first days we kept wondering whether we should move to another hotel or not. We usually like smaller hotels with a bit more charm combined with local touch, and the Waterfront Hotel just felt a bit dull. In the end we decided not to change: the staff was very friendly and the breakfast was great, but more about this in another post!

Kuching grew on us. We loved the fact that there was no tourist invasion. We were literally on the other side of the planet. A lot of the times it was only us and the locals. In retrospect I can say that Kuching was so different from anything else we had seen before that it took some time to get adjusted. On the other hand this is exactly what I love about traveling and why we travel –the goal for us is to find places that are “dépaysant” (exotic, unfamiliar, new, fresh, different…) and Kuching was all of that and beyond. We loved Kuching.

More detailed posts to come about accommodation, eating, sightseeing. Stay tuned!

Previous posts about our journey (in chronological order):

May travel dilemma

Borneo: Sarawak or Sabah?

Fabulous and stylish Indigo Hotel Singapore Katong

Borneo: Sarawak or Sabah?

“I am going to Borneo” would be like saying “I am going to Europe”.  Will you visit Ireland, Lapland, former socialist countries bordering Russia or the Mediterranean islands?

Borneo is the world’s third biggest island divided between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. The diversity touches all the spheres of life from culture and food to people and nature. WWF says that on average three new species are found in Borneo each month. WWF further estimates that over 170 languages are spoken in the island. Talking about re-inventing the word “diversity”!

There really is a lot to see in Borneo and that’s why we would have to smart about how to best use our precious ten days. So, where to begin? I started posting on travel forums and asking friends if they know anyone who has been to Borneo. Responses started to direct me toward Sabah but I remained intrigued by Sarawak. Ever since I discovered a great article on Kutching (the capital of Sarawak), published by the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/jan/21/kuching-borneo-malaysia-city-guide-hotels-restaurants-bars I could not help but feel that Sarawak is The One. I read more and purchased the Borneo guide book by Lonely Planet. What I gathered from my extensive research was that there are two main differences between Sarawak and Sabah: the latter has better beaches and Borneo pygmy elephants. Orangutans can be seen in both states, which was important to us. I returned to travel forums to ask a strategic question: Why does everyone go to Sabah? Is Sarawak so much less interesting? The responses reassured me. I was told that Sabah is more developed and more known, but that Sarawak is like this rough diamond that hasn’t been fully discovered, with as much to offer as its more famous sister state (and more because Sarawak has famous caves).

To be honest, the fact that Sarawak is only 1 hour and 15 minutes by plane from Singapore (as opposed to Sabah, which is 2.5 hours away), was a key factor to us. The idea of being so close to Singapore in case there was an emergency comforted us. Yeah, we had never before chosen a travel destination even partially based on its proximity to a big city, but traveling with a child follows its learning curve…. I told some of our friends who insisted on Sabah that we will be a bit more adventurous next time. One step at a time. After all, this was our second exotic trip with our daughter. Even if Sri Lanka had been a piece of cake, Borneo was one step crazier.

But there was another practical reason. Sarawak is more compact than Sabah and we would be able to be based in one place (Kuching) and do half and full day trips from there. In Sabah we would have to visit Kota Kinabalu for the beaches. From there we would have to drive or fly to Sandakan for the orangutans and the Kinabatangan river safari (this is where you see the pygmy elephants). Ideally from Sandakan we would have to continue to Danum Valley for amazing rain forest and more orangutans and the Semporna Archipelago for some of the world’s best dive sites. Current warnings against traveling in the Eastern parts of Sabah worried us too. There was no need to take additional risks, especially when traveling with a precisious three-year old blond.IMG_0168I know we could have combined Sarawak and Sabah but it just felt like too much. So we purchased Singapore-Kuching-Singapore tickets by Scoot, but until the day of our departure I kept wondering if we made the right choice about visiting only Sarawak. Would we be disappointed by the beach? Will there be enough to see in Kuching and in the surroundings?

Follow our journey to find out more! Pearlspotting is also on Facebook and Instagram.

Previous posts:

May travel dilemma

May travel dilemma

When an unexpected holiday opportunity presented itself, we quickly started searching for cheap flights. You know, last minute can be expensive… at least so we thought!

Our criteria were: something hot, cheap/affordable, delicious food, wildlife, ocean swimming and culture. And of course suitable for a 3-year old toddler girl.

It should not be that difficult to combine all this, but if you are based in Europe you know that it is challenging to find a destination that falls under the aforementioned criteria. Our one-month-long trip to Greek islands two years ago (a fantastic trip I never had time to write about) was wonderful but also a good reminder that the sea water in Europe isn’t necessarily warm enough for swimming in May –even for a Finn like me!

I am subscribed to newsletters of almost every reputable airline existing in the world. I also follow http://www.secretflying.com and https://www.voyagespirates.fr. We usually fly Emirates to Asia but as Dubai has been getting more expensive due to the strengthening USD we felt it is time to try something else. Anyway, the Gulf-based airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad had nothing very exciting going on in terms of promotions (between 600-700€ per person). Finally, after going through Secret Flying promotions I came across with something really interesting: Paris-Singapore-Paris 439€ per person by Lufthansa! A real bargain, which is not even a special promotion. I called Lufthansa to ask some questions and I was told this is their standard price. Wow. Is flying becoming cheaper or have I been looking at wrong places before?


The next question was where to go from Singapore, which is not really a destination where you spend three week. I asked questions in various Facebook travel groups and one destination that a lot of people kept recommending was Borneo. We had thought of returning to Sri Lanka to see the regions we didn’t visit the last time (i.e. the North, the East and the Center). However, the more I read about Borneo, the more I became intrigued. I asked more questions in different travel forums and the decision was sealed. Borneo, and specifically Sarawak (one of the two states in the Malaysian Borneo) was going to be our new discovery!

Did Sarawak fulfill our dreams? Is it suitable for small children? To find out, stay tuned and follow Pearlspotting on Facebook and Instagram!

Koh Lipe: mixed feelings

Thailand was the last stretch of our Southeast Asia trip and which beach to choose was a big dilemma! Our criteria were: somewhere quiet, away from mass tourism and reputable snorkeling. If time was not a constraint, we would have chosen the Surin or Similan Islands, but with only five days left it made no sense. We heard from diver friends that the sea is generally more clear on the Andaman side, and since our return flight back to Paris was from Kuala Lumpur, I begun looking into the islands near Malaysia. Soon enough I came across with the Tarutao National Marine Park (http://www.kohlipethailand.com/about_koh_lipe_tarutao_national_marine_park.php) and beautiful photos of Koh Lipe Island. I (wrongly) assumed that this rather remote location would guarantee some privacy…. Tarutao National Marine Park

We booked Lipe Resort (http://www.liperesort.com/) via hotels.com for 64€ per night. Soon after the arrival we felt that we should have gotten something much nicer for that amount of money…. The hotel is located on the Pattaya Beach, one of the two main beaches of Koh Lipe (http://www.kohlipethailand.com/images2/maps/map-koh-lipe.jpg). The beach is not particularly welcoming for swimming because there are too many boats parked in front of the beach and this has indeed become a common complaint about the Pattaya Beach. map of Tarutao National Marine Park

The first day we did snorkeling in front of the hotel. The snorkeling was actually quite pleasant and we saw many schools of fish and colorful corals but returning to the beach was a challenge as the low tide brought us closer and closer to sea urchins (there are many!).

The next day we booked a full-day snorkeling trip to visit the smaller islands and snorkeling spots of the Tarutao snorkeling in Tarutao National Marine Parkarchipelago. Most companies offer two types of full-day snorkeling trips and we did both of them through a company called Koh Lipe Thailand Travel Shop (Boi’s Travel Shop) on the main road (http://www.kohlipethailand.com/). The shop sells all types of tickets, has computers for internet, and provides other travel services. The owner (?) called Boi is friendly and speaks French, too. In fact we felt that she was one of the few professional persons we met on the island…. Her shop became a one-stop-shop for everything we needed.

Regarding snorkeling, Program 2 is supposed to be more complete and interesting, but we preferred Program 1.  As we did not particularly like the Pattaya Beach we were happy to escape the island during the day.

When you google Koh Lipe, the internet gives you amazing photos of the most beautiful beaches, snorkeling in Tarutao National Marine Parkbut for your information, in most cases these photos are not of Koh Lipe but of islands nearby. So even if you are not a snorkeler I recommend you to do these daily trips to get away from the crowds. The only downside of the snorkeling was a storm that had touched the island just before our arrival, infesting the sea with millions (am not kidding…) small jelly fish. They were everywhere to the extent that our boat decided to skip a few snorkeling spots. A pity! This said, we liked the snorkeling and it was the highlight of our Koh Lipe stay. As you can see in the photo, some beaches are very picturesque (yet unfortunately dirty, which I found shocking considering this is supposed to be a National Marine Park!).

storm in Koh Lipe

But back to the accommodation.

Lipe Resort had not impressed us in any way. The food was very inconsistent and left us craving for that famous Thai culinary experience. The service was bad, or should I say nonexistent, and our clothes came back from the laundry with holes and stains. Great. The room was ok, but at night the neighbors were making a lot of noise. I think the worst part of Koh Lipe was in fact the badly-behaving tourists: who likes to watch people throwing up and passing out…. Unfortunately Koh Lipe was soon becoming the destination we had explicitly waview from Mountain Resortnted to avoid…!

We had no time to change the island, but after two nights we changed the hotel. We moved to Mountain Resort (http://www.mountainresortlipe.com/), located on the other side of the island, on Sunrise Beach where people gather to watch the sunset. One of the most commonly-used pictures to illustrate Koh Lipe has been taken from this hotel and on the right side you see my version of this view.

We paid 50€ per night for a “deluxe garden view” bungalow and the price felt more or less correct until on our last day I woke up with bed bMountain resortug bites (again!)…. If you decide to stay at this hotel, do yourself a favor and minimize the risk by staying at one of the concrete bungalows (bed bugs prefer wood). We liked the location of the hotel and the beach in front of the hotel you see in the photo above is really gorgeous. Unfortunately the beach is not well maintained and there is a lot of rubbish (see the photo below). Such a pity!!

Mountain ResortThe other downside was once again the food: the hotel food was at best mediocre and you are sort of stuck because there are not many options as to where to eat near the hotel. You need about 10 minutes to walk to the Pattaya Beach and the “main road” where most of the services are located.

A tourism professional we later on met has been going to Koh Lipe for over ten years now and he said that there are only two hotels that meet professional, international standards, and they are Castaway Beach Resort (http://www.castaway-resorts.com/)  and Serendipity Resort (http://www.serendipityresort-kohlipe.com/). We stopped by at both resorts and Castaway seemed to attract chic clientele with stylish decoration. The reception person at Serendipity was not welcoming regarding our request about prices and rooms, and the prices seemed excessive.

This same person shKoh Lipeared our impression that the tourism has gone wrong in Koh Lipe. When you look around, on the island or in the sea, you see lots of rubbish. I found this particularly shocking because it felt that the National Marine Park status means nothing! Moreover, as mentioned earlier, the clientele was not at all what I had expected, and once again I asked myself how the locals feel about watching those drunks… The original inhabitants of this archipelago are Malay aboriginal sea gypsies, also called Urak Lawoi people. Since 1974, when the Tarutao became a National Marine Park, their lives have gone upside down and if I were one of them, I would ask what happened to that once beautiful and innocent island called Koh Lipe.

PS I by no means want to upset any of my dear readers by this article, but I think it is important to share sincere opinions. If you are in love with Thailand and think my experience does not give justice to Thailand, then please write to me and provide me with the coordinates of your favorite secret, unspoilt beach destination and I will try it the next time I am in Thailand!

24 hours in Kuala Lumpur

Our recent Southeast Asia trip begun in Kuala Lumpur and I wrote 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur about the time we spent in this exciting city. As often in life, it is important that the circle comes to an end, so here you go with “24 hours in Kuala Lumpur”, describing the last day of our trip before returning to Paris.

First of all, I have to say that I was so impressed with Malaysia in general. We had very few expectations and KL to us was supposed to be “just a hub”, but it totally charmed us. Now we are joking about retirement in Penang (if we don’t retire in our beloved India!). Malaysians, in my humble opinion, are very kind, educated and excellent in communication. There is something sort of “American” in them in a way that they have a very developed sense of service, they master the small talk and they like interacting with other people. (FYI: Malaysia’s tourism organization is not paying me for saying this, but should you read this and would like me to become your Ambassador, I am ready to become one!)

To prove my impressions right, I am proud to say that I have a new friend in KL and his name is Jamil Kucing. He has an animal shelter and he is well-known among locals. You can read the entire story in 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur and to find more about Jamil the Catman see his blog: http://jamilthecatman.blogspot.com.  We have exchanged emails since my return to Paris, agreeing to meet up the next time I am in KL. Jamil offered to lend me his spare scooter so that we can cruise around KL with monkeys in our back seats! How cool is that….

During this trip, we only visited KL and Langkawi, but I got an impression it was very clean everywhere. The food was diversified, representing the rich history of Malaysia, and delicious. What comes to architecture, I felt that the construction projects were realized in harmony with the nature. In fact what I saw in Malaysia reminded me of Costa Rica where I worked during five months: in Langkawi almost all tourism activities were related to either nature or animals and in Kuala Lumpur the city looked green and I could see and smell the nature. The photo below was taken from our hotel room. Notice how lush it is!

Kuala Lumpur city view

HOTEL: During our first stay in Kuala Lumpur we stayed at Capitol Hotel (http://www.hotelcapitol-kualalumpur.com/‎). This time, as our Air Asia flight from Langkawi landed in quite late, we decided to stay closer to Sentral and reserved IMG_2170at Le Meridien (http://www.lemeridienkualalumpur.com/). Le Meridien is very conveniently located right next to Sentral which is KL’s transportation hub (that in the end we did not use). We were given an upgrade upon arrival, went straight to sleep and started the next day with a coffee by the lovely pool. We paid MYR 220 (72USD) at Hotel Capitol and MYR 348 (114USD) at Le Meridien. I agree that Le Meridien is very conveniently located for short visits and business trips, but for tourism reasons I think I prefer the location of Hotel Capitol. Both have a swimming pool and certainly Le Meridien pool is better, Brickfieldsbut the pool Hotel Capitol offers is not bad either (it is located at a nearby hotel and access is free). Worth mentioning is that you probably find food at any hour near Capitol Hotel but near Le Meridien, at best, you may just have McDonalds at Sentral. Well, I am happy I tried both hotels as it allowed me to see different parts of KL.

SIGHTS NEAR LE MERIDIEN HOTEL: After the pool session weThean Hou Temple wedding started sightseeing. It was not yet too hot so we walked toward Jalan Tun Sambanthan (a major road near the hotel, see the photo above). The area is called Brickfields and it is a home to many Tamils from India and Sri Lankans. Indian music was loud, spices in the air, Thean Hou Templeand this quick change in atmosphere was fascinating!

We got slightly lost but finally reached Thean Hou Temple, named after the Heavenly Mother. It is a modern-times temple, built in the 1980’s and open since 1989. It is dedicated to Buddhism and worth the climb. Architecturally it is a mixture of different styles: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. At the time of our visit there was a wedding of a lovely couple and we wished them well in their new life. I thought the bride was very stylish! Thean Hou Temple ceiling

Thean Hou Temple

ISLAMIC ARTS MUSEUM MALAYSIA: Another reason why we chose Le Meridien was that it has a relatively easy access to Islamic Arts Museum (http://www.iamm.org.my/). From the temple we took a taxi to this museum (it was getting too hot to walk!). The building is very new (1998), spacious and spotlesminiature Koransly clean. We had a quick snack at the Museum Restaurant before starting the exploration. I could go on and on about how fantastic this museum is, but let me begin by saying that it should be on everyone’s What To Do in Kuala Lumpur -list. Objects are beautiful (I adored the miniature Korans!!) and the display is very clear and welcoming. It is a very Islamic architecture mapeducative museum and there are many excellent well-done and clear maps, like the one about the Islamic architecture in the world, with a special focus in the Malay Archipelago (see the photo).

I will definitely go back the next time when I am in KL because there is so much to learn about the Islamic influence, architecture, art, calligraphy, Koran, etc. Geographically the museum focuses equally in each region of the world, and for example after having done some extensive traveling in India, I found it useful to see maps and chronological explanations about the great Mughal Empire in India (1526-1858).  Please go and see this museum: it is fascinating!!

DINNER: After some Jalan Alor restaurantretail therapy it was time to eat dinner. We were really eager to re-taste seafood that we had had during our previous stay, so we returned to our usual Sai Woo Restaurant, located at 55 Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang. The street is full of restaurants that offer different local specialties and most restaurants have menus that come with pictures to help those unfamiliar with the variety of food Malaysia offers. Sai Woo Restaurant

We ordered far too much food, but as it was our last dinner in Asia, we were anticipating the return to Europe…. Double Variety Kai Lan, Lotus Roots with Macadamia Nuts, Spicy “Kam Heong” Bamboo Shell, and many more dishes with names I cannot remember including duck, chicken satay and razor shells…. (I am getting hungry as writing this!). We did not ask, but I wonder if we could have taken a doggy bag to the airport…?

After the dinner we returned for a foot massage in a place around the corner from the restaurant (see 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur), had a quick shower at the hotel and caught a taxi to the airport to catch an Emirates A380 back to Paris.

Malaysia Truly Asia (http://www.tourism.gov.my/‎), you chose an appropriate slogan and I will be back very soon inch’allah!

Paradise in colors: Temple Tree at Bon Ton

We were in Koh Lipe, Thailand, and our return flight back to Paris from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was only few days away. When you look at the map, you see that Koh Lipe is one of the closest Thai islands to Malaysia. If you are on your way to Kuala Lumpur, it makes a lot of sense to stop in Langkawi, one of Malaysia’s prime beach destinations. We took a speedboat from Koh Lipe to Langkawi and in just over one hour we crossed the border and were welcomed by a customs officer who drove us to a customs building and then to our hotel (these services came with the speed boat ticket). And I had thought it is easy to cross borders in Europe!

Our brief stay at Temple Tree at Bon Ton (http://www.templetree.com.my) was truly delightful. If you have been to India, you may know the Neemrana group of hotels (http://neemranahotels.com)? Every Neemrana hotel is a heritage building and rooms are decorated with local textiles, objects of art and antique furniture. Well, this is what Temple Tree is about, too. Temple Tree consists of eight villas; colorful, wooden heritage buildings that originate from different parts of Malaysia, representing different eras and aspects of Malaysian history. “Bon Ton” in the name refers to Temple Tree’s sister hotel, which is a short walk away (http://www.bontonresort.com.my).

Chinese Houserestaurantreceptionpool viewIMG_2110IMG_2124

Upon arrival, we were welcomed like royalties with excellent Australian Chardonnay and an upgrade to Colonial House, usually reserved for honeymooners. After a dip in the pool and a walk around the estate, we enjoyed a sample platter of Malay cuisine and char-grilled lamb racks. Just one word: excellent. The next evening we flew with Air Asia back to Kuala Lumpur (there is a flight almost at every hour!), very pleased with the idea to stop in Langkawi. I would recommend Temple Tree to anyone looking for an original hotel with a soul.

Black and White Houseone of many catspoolChinese House

We had nothing to complain about our stay, but some words of advice may become handy. First of all, there is no beach. Both Temple Tree and Bon Ton face a lagoon (see the photo above). It is very idyllic with birds and butterflies, and very green, but should you want the beach, you can take a short cab ride (costs about 2USD one way) to Cenang Beach. Secondly, the owner loves animals and she is a proud owner of an animal shelter. There is a dog at the reception (a very quiet one, it seemed) and many, many cats at both hotels. If these two points do not bother you, then this your pearl in the middle of otherwise rather tourist island of Langkawi.

48 hours in Kuala Lumpur

(I am writing this from lovely Vientiane, the capital of Laos, where we arrived this afternoon from Siem Reap. The connection was so bad in Siem Reap that I could not even open the blog page. I am writing this from the hotel reception, but I hope to be able to report soon from my own computer. Thanks for your patience!)

This post will be a series of photos I took in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We had a good time there and remember interesting food experiences and lovely, talkative and friendly people.


This driver we saw had a monkey pet at his motorbike’s back seat. While I was taking photos I was warned by locals that the driver is very protective of his pet and he does not like it being photographed. Anyhow, the monkey seemed content and calm. This was taken in Chinatown.

(PS more than one month later from taking this photo I received a message from this driver! How he found my blog, who knows. I learned that his name is Jamil Ismail but people call him Jamil Kucing, the Catsman (kucing means cats). He has an animal (mainly cats) rescue shelter in Kuala Lumpur. His blog can be found here: http://jamilthecatman.blogspot.com)

Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur


Decorations were everywhere. We were explained that Kuala Lumpur is a city of immigrants and many of them use the opportunity (of extended New Year holidays) to return home to the family, so the streets were rather quiet. We enjoyed relaxed walks and the first day we walked in Chinatown and in Little India (more or less followed the itinerary suggested by the Lonely Planet with few exceptions).



There are many temples in Chinatown and we watched people burning paper and fake money, which is a part of the Chinese New Year traditions. It was idyllic and calm. There was a feeling of something communal: everyone had his mind set on the new year and welcoming it as properly as possible.

Not all temples are Buddhist. There is also a temple from Tamil Nadu, South East of India, with a typical, colorful gopura.


Upon arrival at our hotel (Capitol, recommended!) at midnight we were very tired but at the same time very curious about what the city has to offer. Instead of going to bed at a reasonable hour we went out. We were not even hungry –we just wanted to get a taste of local flavors. I had an excellent egg noodle dish with chicken and dried anchovies. I have to say I am not too keen on mixing the chicken and fish (I find it a bit strange as a combination, but then again, in France they often mix lardon (sort of bacon) with fish!). My dish was very tasty and our stomachs soon very full. At 3 am we finally fell asleep…

Malaysian Flatiron


Been to New York city? Know the Flatiron building?

We named this building the Flatiron of Kuala Lumpur. There is a hotel in it, but the exterior is more interesting that the inside.


No one had told us to look for the old heritage buildings in Kuala Lumpur. We thought that these small pieces of history here and there added a lot of charm to theheritage buildings city which is so modern nowadays (I felt it was a little bit the same thing in Bombay: no one really talks about the old art deco buildings that are everywhere, but once you start seeing them, the city starts looking very different in front of your eyes). Once we started paying attention to these tiny jewels in Kuala Lumpur, we also understood the history better.

green architecture


In one of the nicer parts of the city we found this building with a green wall made of plants. It reminded us of the French architect designer Monsieur Blanc and also of Miami architecture. I think it is such a great idea to use plants in the architecture and I loved this wall we saw in Kuala Lumpur. I do not know what plants they were planting, but I know from my discussion with Monsieur Blanc at a cocktail party in Paris that it requires serious research to realize this kind of an architectural project.


After a long walk, we had a massage at one of the places near our hotel. A lovely owner offered us clementines and chatted with us while the Burmese women took care of our feet, neck and shoulder. One hour cost approximately 12Euros.

frog porridge



Many of you have already read about my obsession with frog porridge? Well, this is what it looks like. The taste is quite bland and frog meat tastes like chicken but I think I prefer fried frog legs to ones in the porridge. Slices of ginger saved the dish but otherwise it did not have a lot of taste. I thought afterwards that maybe it suits better the morning time, but I was told it is considered an evening dish. Oh well.


Many of you may know the grilled chicken chunks marinated in a peanutty sauce? It is a classic Malaysian dish and I am pretty sure everyone loves it.

ps I love the color contrast of rusty orange color against the light-blue-colored plates!



Excellent, one of the best dishes if not the best that we had during our stay in Kuala Lumpur. The sauce seemed to have peanuts in it, too. I do not know the name of this particular seafood but it was similar to mussels yet smaller. When we return to Kuala Lumpur in March, this will be our first order!



Many food stalls offer a wide selection of skewers and even if we did not try any, they looked delicious. Pick you choice, but it may be difficult as there are so many!



Again, I just love these colors! (maybe even more than I loved the food itself…)

We purchased these soups for next to nothing in Little India. The stand provided the usual “pick your bowl and we fill it up with hot water” eating experience. Not bad but not very tasty either.

street party


The street behind our hotel was very alive in the evening of February 10, the first day of the Chinese Snake Year. Everyone was out and happy. Fireworks were making noise. Let’s hope that the year continues as well as it started for all of us in every corner of the world. Happy Snake Year once again!!

Happy Snake Year

candlesAs millions of Chinese today, we also went to a temple to leave behind last year and welcome this new year into our life, hoping it will bring plenty of happiness, stable health, prosperity and good luck. We purchased a candle and lit it up at one of the oldest temples of Kuala Lumpur, Sin Sze Si Ya Temple near the central Market (a very charming small temple).

This morning we did not respect a basic rule of traveling through different time zones: set your alarm clock and GET UP when the locals do! We woke up at 2 in the afternoon.. The day was lovely and I ate my famous frog porridge but it is already 2.30 in the morning and if I don’t get some sleep now, it won’t be good news… So, the next time I write, it will be from Siem Ream. Until then, happy new year!

Air Asia: Making flight reservation fun

Have you ever flown with Air Asia? If yes, then you know that the fun begins with making a reservation (and no, I am not getting paid to write this)!

The closest destination this Malaysia-based low-cost airline flies to Europe is Saudi Arabia, so it comes as no surprise that many Europeans are not very familiar with it. Besides the fact that Air Asia is Asia’s largest low-cost airline, it has been named the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline in four consecutive years (2009-2012).

When I started planning our Southeast Asia trip (Cambodia, Laos and Thailand), I only knew we will depart Paris with our usual airline, Emirates (I love their A380, my favorite airplane, and we like flying via Dubai). It was the arrival point in Southeast Asia that we were not sure about. Bangkok seemed like an obvious entry point, but I soon realized that flights from Bangkok are rather expensive (maybe because of the arrival timing: Chinese new year). So, I unfolded a map in front of me and started wondering what other options we may have? Flying via China seemed like soooo far away. Vietnam will be a trip of its own, we decided. Singapore? I suddenly had this flashback of reading about an airline called Air Asia, so I googled it. Wow. Kuala Lumpur Siem Reap (one-way) around 80€ per person (the prices can go as low as 33.51€ or 44.61USD in February). All hesitations were gone.

Yesterday I bought two one-way tickets (KUL -> REP) and after providing the usual contact information, the fun begun: choosing our in-flight meals! Bukhara chicken briyani combo, fried rice with satay combo, tandoori chicken tortilla wrap combo, black pepper chicken combo, spaghetti bolognaise combo for those craving Italian cuisine, and many more. We had 19 options to choose from, and honestly, how wrong can you go when prices are around 2-3€? We will see soon!







Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur

Most of us living according to the Western calendar made (or at least thought of making!) new year wishes just three weeks and one day ago. I have always liked the timing of the Chinese New Year –just some weeks after the Western new year– because it takes us back to those promises, wishes, hopes and dreams that occupied our mind not so long ago. It was in Auckland, New Zealand, when I was first introduced to the Chinese new year and the delicious dishes associated with it. Since then, I have celebrated this festival in London, New York, Havana and Paris.

This year the Chinese new year falls on February 10 and the Year of the Snake will begin. My husband and I arrive in Kuala Lumpur the night before and even if many Chinese plan to  return home and spend time with the loved ones, I am sure Kuala Lumpur will present its most frightening dragons to us!