Beijing street food at night market

This post will be about street food in Beijing. To be honest after previous travels in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia it was nothing new to us. I think trying daring food is good to do once and then you can just stick to whatever is tasty.

Now what do I mean by daring food? Insects, chewy creatures of the sea, internal organs that never end up on western plates.

Street food that we love is stir-fry, fried rice and noodle dishes, meat skewers, satay, crepes/pancakes…

More on:


Pualu Sapi (Borneo, Malaysia) – Adventure

So we were walking down the path in Pulau Sapi inbetween high rain forest trees. We were going away from the crowds to find a beach where we could be on our own.

Follow the…

… Indiana Jones

It was a huge Water monitor – lizard commonly found in South Asia. They achieve size up to 2m and as we found out change color. Below the pictures of the same lizard but among the rocks.

Water monitor Borneo Malaysia

and here is one more video from different island when we found at least 5 monitors venturing around people

Borneo – Kota Kinabalu – Pulau Sapi

Kota Kinabalu

What surprised me during the flight from Georgetown to Kota Kinabalu (KK) is that the flight attendants were wearing jeans. Branded Air Asia naturally! After landing the usual taxi counter helped us to get transportation to the city. It was already well after dark. We didn’t know where we wanted to stay so again chose a name from our guide. Just for your information Trekker’s Lodge doesn’t exist anymore. We ended up in Sensi Hostel. In KK hostels represent a better standard than the hotels. We found that out later on on our way back from Sandakan. The rooms (doubles without windows) cost MR70 and for 4 people MR120. they also have proper cheap dormitories.

When we were checking in we heard someone calling for help. The receptionist didn’t react at all. We didn’t know what to do but were about to go upstairs where the voice was coming from. And so we did. We met her on the stairs leading to the rooms. She looked weak and pale. She said she doesn’t feel well and carried on downstairs. We offered help but I think we expected the staff to help her.

We just managed to put down our bags when we heard knocking on the door. It was the German girl from before. She asked if we could help her as she needs to get to the hospital and nobody wants to help her. We agreed. We took basic things and came with her to the reception. The lady there was still unconcerned about our acquaintance but she managed to explain to us where the 24h clinic is (Permai Polyclinics Group). We were really worried and wanted to hurry up but the girl was too fragile to walk fast. If you ever need it here is the map:

Kota Kinabalu Malaysia BorneoOn the way we asked probably too many questions. What are the symptoms, when did it start, how she feels. It turns out she was climbing Mount Kinabalu. She said she was grant as long as she drunk her own water but on the way back she didn’t have any left so used local containers. She was quite unlucky as it hasn’t been raining for a while and so the water wasn’t fresh and might have been contaminated. Symptoms: high fever, vomiting, diarrhea. She was trying to drink as much as she could but her body refused any food.
I have to say I was really surprised with the care she received in the clinic. I can’t say a bad word about it. The nurses asked for symptoms and in few minutes took her to private rooms to measure blood pressure and get as many details as possible. We waited with her until she was called in to talk to the doctor. She came back after 5 mins. They gave her injections to stop her from vomiting and she said that she felt better almost instantly. We waited for the drugs for a while. This took the longest but nothing like waiting for 7h in emergency department in Galway. The prescribed her 3 different drugs. Of course you can by card but don’t ask me why her golden MasterCard wasn’t accepted. Maybe restrictions due to unknown location? A. paid for her MR148 (EUR33). I was so proud of him! It costs EUR100 to see a doctor in Emergency Department in Galway.
I really can’t remember her name. She was traveling alone in Australia and New Zealand. She was due to go to Manila next to meet her boyfriend. After her experiences in Malaysia she didn’t have a good opinion about the local people. Nobody would help her when she needed it. Just to let you know she was due to fly to manila on 30th October, on 8th November Super Typhoon Haiyan — one of the strongest storms recorded on the planet — smashed into the Philippines. I really hope she is alright.
We met some interesting people in that hostel this night. They told us interesting life stories and a bit about Borneo’s history. Now let me introduce you to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
You can get there by boat; we paid RM30 per person plus MR10 entrance fee to the park. Keep your ticket as you only pay once even if you visit more than 1 island. I will let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy!

First Island Pulau Sapi, crowds scared us away from the main beach and we ventured further down the path trough the jungle.

Ships harbour Kota Kinabalu

Just 200 metres wide and half a kilometre long, Sapi is one of the more popular islands with 5 kilometres of nature trails. A sand bank links it to Gaya. At low tide, it’s possible to wade between the two islands.

Our “private” beach

Tree Pualu SapiJungle Pualu Sapi BorneoDiving boat Pualu Sapi BorneoWater sports Pualu Sapi Borneo

The biggest adventure on Pulau Sapi is still jet to come!

Georgetwon, Penang, Malaysia

Lots to be said about why we flew to Penang from Langkawi instead to take a ferry. Also let’s not fail to mention that our flight was delayed and even thought we left much earlier than our friend/owner of Rainbow Lodge we arrived in Georgetown much later, so late in fact he gave our reserved rooms away and we had to look for a different accommodation. (Taxi from airport to Georgetown MR44) Which let me tell you wasn’t easy. And to find two rooms with windows in the same hostel. Impossible! Well for us without window (flip of a coin or three I can’t remember) in Kimberley House just around the corner.

We stayed in Georgetown for 2 nights and oh boy we had fun! First D met up with Estonian guy and took him with us to sightsee Little India. Oh what a place! I could have sworn I made video clips but can’t find them. It was all tacky, sparklin, rainbow of colours and Bollywood music! I found it!!! Yey there you go

Ok, maybe this clip gives just a tiny, tiny feel of what it felt like being there but I’m not an awarded director. Because I have so much to tell and the post would be dragging let me put it down in bullet points

  • Dinner in Little India – one of the best we had on this trip, service “had balls” when we didn’t want to try everything in the menu the waiter was quite disappointed and informed us about it, we went mostly for chicken, yum yum, so we had: rice, Naan bread – different types, chicken kurma, chicken butter masala and grilled chicken. Naan was served with insane green colour sauce. The staff went next door to buy beer for us and they charged us LESS than it cost in a shop! The size of the Tiger bottle was 640ml – shop price MR15, there MR13.50. As the Estonian was single we joked with the waiter that next time when he comes he will get a wife with the food free of charge hahahahaa oh you should have been there to laugh

  • The Estonian – left country when he was 20 years old to Australia, he worked in different farms for 2,5 years. Interiary Brisbane – Kuala Lumpur and then Georgetown. He said MR200 was stolen from him in KL. He didn’t really know where to go next but took advice on Bangkok. He wants to go back home to do military service as it seems enjoyable to him. It was so strange to meet someone who only set out to travel and had no idea what he wants to see
  • Back to Little India, it was a week before Diwali so the sale was on, I got myself earings and A. bought me a set of necklace and earings very nice, I’m still waiting for a proper chance to wear them. I. in the meantime got henna tatoo (for MR3 hand size)

  • We sat down on a street krebstone and drunk beer chatting about travel, karma, meditation, democracy and prices when a Malay came over and started to chat us up. He was running a hostel, prices very low: MR15 single room, MR10 dormitory, MR25 double room, I had his business card somewhere and promissed to put his details in my blog (all A. doing), now we never saw his place but if you are tight on budget check this out (picture above)

Snake Temple Georgetown Penang Malaysia

  • Snake Temple, (bus number 401E, 101 maybe 104 MR2.70 but it takes 30 min), it wasn’t what we have imagined but there is a lot of snakes on specially prepared stalls (see one on the left hand side in a corner on the picture above? Where is Wally?) and then in the back garden on the trees

  • Beautiful meal in a asian type market stalls already closing before reopening in the evening, we had deep fried ice-cream for starter, soups served in clay pots and plenty of orange juice which this time wasn’t over sweetened or in 3/4 consisting of ice

  • our first breakfast at the corner of Kimberley Street – see picture below

Now all different pictures from Georgetown maybe I should dedicate 2 posts to this city but well we need to get on to Borneo!

It made me laugh, polar bear on the desert dreaming of mattress well…

Riksha instead of tuk tuk

First floor display window… or maybe it’s only me

Century egg or pidan also known as preserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, thousand-year-old egg, and millennium egg, is a Chinese cuisine ingredient made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing.

Georgetown Penang Malaysia

Ok last one even tough I didn’t publish any showing Chinese temples (beautiful in red and gold with insane sculptures) or fireworks or so many other things that draw my attention.

Langkawi cable car

Langkawi skybridge

As promised Langkawi Cable Car, Skybridge and panorama. (Taxi to get there from Pantai Cenang MR26). The price to get on both middle and higer deck is MR30 but if you would like to add trekking from the highest deck to the middle one total price is MR99 (see their know their marketing). Cable car as a way of transportation might be exciting but the most amazing part is the skybridge. It was closed for maintenance when we were there. Shame!

At the bottom of the mountain is a heritage village where you can buy various souveniers and even Ramen! You hop on to the cart without it even stopping and there you go up up and away!

The views are amazing! You can see the jungle and the waterfalls among them famous Telega Tujuh falls (separate tour). Off shore islands and lovely sandy beaches.  One of the attractions is lake of the pregnant maiden. Tasik Dayang Bunting is a fresh water lake set amid the limestone cliffs and dense forests. A legend resolves around the tragic tale of Princess Mahsuri who claimed she became pregnant by drinking water from the lake. She was then falsely accused of adultery and executed. The legendary crocodile which inhabits the lake is said to be mahsuri’s child.

We turned out to be really silly. We took the cart (4 of us) with other 2 strangers and when we got to the first deck we jumped out of it but because they didn’t we jumped right back into it before anyone from a que lining 2 meters away could take our places. And we went all the way up. The weather was lovely, sunny and bright. Altough becouse of the humidity shots of horizon and zooming was not great. Then we decided to go back down again… but then why not stop in the middle in the end we paid for it ;) and so we did. The only trouble is you need to get back up to get down. This time a huge cloud was moving towards the cable car and this time we got a chance to admire the sight covered with clouds. Exactly you couldn’t see anything!

Entrapped in Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur MalaysiaIt’s true you can see them from almost every place in Kuala Lumpur. Even though they are no longer the tallest building in the World they are still very impressive (451.9 metres). I mostly associate them with Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones.

The twin towers were built on the site of Kuala Lumpur’s race track. Test boreholes found that the original construction site effectively sat on the edge of a cliff. One half of the site was decayed limestone while the other half was soft rock. The entire site was moved 61 metres (200 ft) to allow the buildings to sit entirely on the soft rock. Because of the depth of the bedrock, the buildings were built on the world’s deepest foundations. 104 concrete piles, ranging from 60 to 114 metres (200 to 374 ft) deep, were bored into the ground.

We came back from Batu Caves and got out from the train at Bank Negra deciding to somehow find our way through the streets of Golden Triangle. It’s not a long distance and PT are a distinctive landmark. When we got to the towers it turned out that the tickets for the day were already sold out even though it was around 2pm. So make sure you get there in the morning or book in advance. Adult ticket for Non-Malaysian costs MR80 and you can buy it online here.

Malaysia F1

What makes them beautiful for me is the steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art. The design of each Tower’s floor plate is based on two interlocking squares, creating a shape of eight-pointed stars. Architecturally, these forms describe important Islamic principles of “unity within unity, harmony, stability and rationality”. The towers are depicted through its outline, which resembles the letter “M” for Malaysia.KL Tower

As we could not get to Petronas Towers we moved on to see Kuala Lumpur Tower (Menara Kuala Lumpur). The tower is the highest viewpoint in Kuala Lumpur that is open to the public. So we had a better view for MR99. There is another price option. You can only go to observation deck (enclosed with glass) and pay MR56. As we were going to the highest floor only one elevator could take us there. It took a while so we had time to observe the people queuing and our surroundings. Have a look at this spectacular ceiling in the elevator area.

Before leaving Ireland we were watching a few videos of people base jumping from this tower. Once we were there we met no daredevils but had to sign devils pledge. Let the pictures speak for themselves as the panorama of Kuala Lumpur reviles itself. Let me just say I was really impressed. Jus one more think. We’ve seen both towers during the night and they look so much better. The coloful lights making the all the difference. I didn’t get a chance to take a shot but believe me it’s so worth it to see it. I’m sure you will find plenty of those online anyway.

KL Tower

KL Tower

KL panorama

Panorama of Kuala Lumpur

Merdek Square Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia and Borneo

Flag of MalaysiaI just came back yesterday from my trip to Malaysia. As probably everyone coming back from holiday (unless you had a very bad experience) I have now a strange feeling. One hand it seems already like it was ages ago on another I can’t believe I’m back and have to go back to the regularity of my life.  Over the next week I will live my memories sharing them with you guys and I hope you will find them entertaining and maybe useful while planning your own trip.

Firstly I and A. left together with Etihad from Dublin to Kuala Lumpur (interchange in Abu Dhabi). After 3 days we were joined by our friends I. and D. When we were planning the trip we thought we will be travelling together and the plan was as follows:

Arrive at Kuala Lumpur, see Batu Caves, go to Kuala Selangor to see the fireflies, see Cameron Highlands and Taman Negra, then up to Langkawi, ferry to Georgetown in Penang, fly to Borneo and see Mulu National Park. Back to Kuala Lumpur and home. Our friends were supposed to go to Thailand to spend there two more weeks instead of flying with us home.


In the end the trip looked like this: Kuala Lumpur and Batu Caves, train to Alor Star, ferry to Langkwai, flight to Georgetown, flight to Kota Kinabalu, bus ride to Sandakan, flight back to KK and back to Kuala Lumpur. Our friends flu from KK to Hongkong.

General information:

Malaysia consists of two parts: Peninsular Malaysia where majority of the people live and north part of Borneo. Malaysian Borneo had little to do with the Peninsula until arrival of the British. It was ruled by Brunei Sultanate. In 1841 as a reward for helping him to crush the rebellion Sultan of Brunei made James Brooke (British) the Rajah of Sarawak, the first of three White Rajahs. Sabah remained under loose control of Brunei, it was mostly rented to different people before finally in 1888 coming under British government protection together with Sarawak.

Malaysia prospers thanks to demend for its rubber, palm oil, tea and tin as well as oil and gas reserves. Malays form 51% of the country’s 28 million population. Chinese make up about 25% and people of India about 7%. Majority of Malaysians are Muslim but Sharia is not forced upon all of the citizens only those practicing Islam.

Kanchanaburi กาญจนบุรี

This is the ending of a popular film called “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957) based on a book by French writer Pierre Boulle. The bridge in the film was located near Kitulgala (Sri Lanka). The bridge on the river Kwai is located in Thailand in Kanchanaburi.
River Kwai BridgeThe black iron bridge was brought from Java under the Japanese supervision by Allied prisoner-of-war labour (mostly Australians, Dutch and British) as part of the Death Railway linking Thailand with Burma. Still in use today, the bridge was the target of frequent Allied bombing raids during World War II and was rebuild after war ended. The curved spans of the bridge are the original sections. A daily train is still following the historical route from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok Railway Station.Train River Kwai Bridge
I was able to take some picures before my battery went dead. So not many pictures but hopefully interesting information.
This railway was intended to move men and supplies to the Burmese front where the Japanese were fighting the British. Japanese army engineers selected the route which traversed deep valleys and hills. All the heavy work was done manually either by hand or by elephant as earth moving equipment was not available. River Kwai Bridge Train stationThe railway line originally ran within 50 meters of the Three Pagodas Pass which marks nowadays the border to Burma. However after the war the entire railway was removed and sold. The prisoners lived in squalor with a near starvation diet. The men worked from dawn until after dark and often had to walk many kilometres through the jungle to return to the camp. Due to the difficult terrain, thousands of laborers lost their lives. It is believed that one life was lost for each sleeper laid in the track. You can find more information here.,r:1,s:0,i:76

Tripadvisor photo

There is a War Museum at the bridge. Open from 7:00 AM to 6:30 PM, admission fee 30 Baht. We didn’t go inside. Instead we decided to walk over the bridge and the see caves located nearby. Also we had some time to browse souvenirs in a nearby shops. I don’t think I got anything but it’s one of a few places where I remember looking for things to bring back home.

The Kao Pun Wat and the caves are located about 5 km from the town and you can (as we did) take a boat to get there (or drive). You need to pay the admission fee of 20 Baht. The Wat Tham Khao Pun is located within a well-lit limestone cave with an many Buddha images. It is one of the more interesting and extensive temple-caves to visit in the region.

Wat Tham Khao Pun became notorious in 1995 as the site where a drug-addicted monk that lived at the wat buried a British Tourist and disposed of her corpse in a nearby sinkhole. The caves were also used during WWII by the Japanese to store weapons and equipment.

River KwaiWhen we got there we were welcomed by a group of young kids, some boys and a girl. They wanted to show us around what ended in them running from one thing to another not giving us much time to look around. I think it was a matter of competition who will get the tip. It was so funny to look at them not being able to say a word in English and still trying to draw our attention with facial expressions to show us what is worth looking at.Wooden cottage River Kwai

I remember we really wanted to live in a wooden house on the river but couldn’t find a place we liked in a good price. Finally we decided to spoil ourselves with a nice hotel with beautiful pool overlooking the river. One of more expensive accommodations on our way. The water was lovely and in the evening we sat at the pool drinking and swinging on a wooden swing.

Pool at KanchanaburiFrom Kanchanaburi we travelled to Bangkok to give back the car and then head south to have tropical paradise holidays.

Summary: If you loved the movie there is a point in going to Kanchanaburi otherwise it’s nice but you could do better ;)

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Ayutthaya, Thailand part 2

Three Buddhas

In the last travel post I started to describe what we saw in Ayutthaya concentrating mainly on the city Island. I would like to continue doing so and at the end describe Wat Chaiwatthanaram and Phra Mongkonbophit.

Wat Ratchaburana (วัดราชบุรณะ) is also called the Monastery of the Royal Repairs or the Monastery of the Royal Restoration.

In 786, a year of the dragon, King Intharacha I became ill and passed away. At that time Prince Ai Phraya and Prince Yi Phraya, young sons of the King, fought each other on elephants at Than Forest Bridge and both of them died there. So a young son of the King, Prince Sam Phraya, ascended the royal throne of the Capital City of Ayutthaya and took the royal title of King Bòromracha II. And he then had two holy monuments built to cover that spot in the Municipality of Than Forest where Prince Ai Phraya and Prince Yi Phraya fought each other to the death on elephants. In that year Ratchabun Monastery was founded.

Wat Racha BuranaNot much is known on the history of this temple in the period between its establishment in 1424 and its destruction in 1767. The most significant feature is the nearly 600 year old chedi said to enshrine relics of the Buddha. However, there is no access to the chedi’s spire. On you can see some pictures from inside the temple. I love the one showing the ceiling and this is why I enclose it here. I did not go in to the temple of any of the surrounding buildings in which a showroom displaying old coins, bank notes, musical instruments and glass objects is available.Wat Racha Burana There is a fee of 50 Baht (1.63 USD) to enter the grounds of Wat Ratchaburana. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm every day.

In september of 1957 A.D. looters dug into a two-level crypt inside the main prang (Khmer-type tower) and stole a great quantity of valuable material. Police arrested some of these looters. The Fine Arts Department proceeded to excavate the site and found Buddha images and many artifacts made of gold. Among these  were a large number of votive tablets made of gold and lead. Wat Racha BuranaStaff of the Thai Fine Arts Department conducted a further excavation and discovered that there were the vault had three stories. Confiscated artifacts amounted to 2,000 items. Among them were more than 100,000 votive tablets and more than 100 kilograms of gold jewelry. Since the Buddha images were very numerous the ministers approved giving some of them to people who had contributed to the building of the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.Chedi Wat Ratchaburana

Wat Rachabutana has three porticos facing east, north and south. The ruins of various satellite chedi and the walls of viharns surround it. There is a two-level crypt inside the main prang, and visitors are able to go down the steps to view the fine 15th century mural paintings that are preserved there. The lower level murals are of Chinese influence, while the upper level depict stories of Buddhism and Buddha’s lives. Flanking the base of the Chedi are stucco images of Yaksha demons and animals of the Himavana mythical forest.

Ayutthaya Elephant CampThree more sights I think are worth visiting (even though I haven’t seen them) are Wat Yai Chai – mongkol, Wat Phanan Choeng and Wat Naphrameru.

There is also an elephant camp just opposite Khum Khun Phaen offering elephant rides as well as daily shows and feeding from 9:00 to 17:00. You are seated comfortably high up on a cushioned howdah and travel in royal style.  Just to warn you the ride is far more expensive than the one in Chiang Mai. Also in Chiang Mai the elephants will track through the jungle while the ones here just walk along the street.Ayutthaya Market

Next to all the monuments is a wonderful market full of colorful wares and food. Enjoy the pictures in the slideshow at the bottom of the post.

Phra Mongkonbophit (Buddha of the Holy and Supremely Auspicious Reverence) is a sanctuary housing the large bronze Phra Mongkhon Bophit Budha image. It was previously damaged by lightening and then restored in the Rama V period.

Phra MongkonbophitAnd the last but not least Wat Chaiwatthanaram (วัดไชยวัฒนาราม). It is one of the most beautiful ancient Buddhist monasteries. It is believed that it was located on the site of King Prasatthong former home. The reason for building it was to make merit for his mother.

What does it mean to make merit you may ask. One of the most common religious practices among Thai Buddhists is merit making.  Whether it is giving food to the monks on their daily alms round, bringing offerings to the temple, or chanting in the ancient language. Wat chaiwatthanaramThe majority of Buddhists who make merit are hoping to gain happiness in the present life but it is also believed that this merit will have good effects on your next life. Another reason to make merit is to help you see the truth about life, namely that life is always changing and never certain, that there is birth and death, there is meeting and parting, and material objects are impermanent. It helps to reduce desires and cease attachment to worldly things.

Main prang at Wat ChaiwatthanaramThis Wat consists of main prang (Khmer – type tower) and four lesser prangs, all built on the same baseand surrounded by eight lesser prangs and a gallery. Along the gallery were placed 120 gilt lacquered buddha images in the attitude of maravijaya or Victory over Mara, the Evil One. Within the eight lesser prangs there are twelve crowned Buddha images. The ceiling of each alcove was made of wood and was decorated with gilded star-like patterns on black lacquer. Walls inside have mural paintings while the outside walls were adorned with twelve stucco relief decipting stories from the life of Buddha.climbing prang at Wat Chaiwatthanaram

The main prang is 35 meters high and was built in early Ayutthaya style. The four lesser prangs on the other hand are in the style of King Prasattong. They have seven levels. We climbed one of them. The stairs are very steep, the higher the worse.

The Wat Chaiwatthanaram structure reflects the Buddhist world view, as it is described already in the Traiphum Phra Ruang, the “three worlds of the King Ruang”, of the 14th century: The big “Prang Prathan” that stands in the centre symbolizes the mountain Meru (Thai: เขาพระสุเมรุ – Khao Phra Sumen), which consists the central axis of the traditional world (Kamaphum – กามภูมิ). Around it lie the four continents (the four small Prangs) that swim in the four directions in the world sea (นทีสีทันดร). On one of the continents, the Chomphutawip (ชมพูทวีป), the humans live. The rectangular passage is the outer border of the world, the “Iron Mountains” (กำแพงจักรวาล).

Wat ChaiwatthanaramAt the entrance to the monastery we had our pictures taken and then were able to purchase a plate with it. Mine is right now at my grandparents place so I can’t show you the picture. let me just say I never regretted buying it. A nice souvenir. I really wish we had more time to sightsee Ayutthaya. Don’t go on a one day tour offered in Bangkok it will not be ebough as you spend only 3-4 hours at the sight. It’s worth 2 days. Other attractions include cycling, boat cruises along the river and kayaking in the canals. you won’t be bored.

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