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7-Eleven Flagship Store @ Bandar Puteri Puchong Has a Cafe / Bookstore in it !

Konbini ( convenience store) culture has really taken off in Malaysia in the last couple of years – touting not just convenience, but a lifestyle.

Family Mart has its popular oden counter (in Japan, it’s only available in summer, but you can get it all year round in Malaysia), ice blended drinks straight from the fridge, and soft serve ice cream. Meanwhile, Korean franchise CU and local brand Mix.com.my carry a wide variety of imported snacks, with unique products like self-heating hotpot meals.

But 7-Eleven?

Despite being one of the OG konbinis in Malaysia, the brand has been slow in the uptake when it comes to attracting younger clientele. Most of their stores look dull and uninspiring, with generic products you can get at any supermarket or local kedai runcit. The only thing they have that other brands don’t is their Slurpee machine – and that doesn’t even work 9 times out of 10 lol. Which is sad, because I’ve been to 7-Elevens in Thailand, and they. are. awesome.

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Someone in the Malaysian management must have thought the same, because they leveled up with a 7-Eleven flagship store in Bandar Puteri Puchong; also the brand’s largest in Malaysia. Spanning two storeys, it even has a cafe and a bookstore within. About time you upgraded, 7-E! And judging by the endless crowds here, it seems like they’ve finally figured out what makes their customers tick.

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The ground floor is where they have the usual konbini stuff, but there’s a much larger variety of products available than the usual 7-E. Aside from snacks, ice cream, and beverages, they also sell frozen goods tgat you can cook at home such as fried chicken patties, nuggets, and the like. There’s also a counter with ready-to-eat meals including rice, pasta, onigiri, and sandwiches that you can request to be heated up.

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They carry imported Japanese ice creams here, which is a step up from the usual Nestle / Cornetto / local ice creams available at other 7-E stores.
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There’s a cabinet selling 7-E merch – but unless you’re a hardcore 7-E fan, nobody in their right mind would pay RM99 for a tumbler lol.

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Hot meals, ice blended drinks, and small bites available at the counter.
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Snacks aren’t the only thing at the store – toy enthusiasts can also find a nice collection of FunkoPop figurines.

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Time to head upstairs! The first floor houses a cafe and mini bookstore, in collaboration with popular green tea cafe Niko Neko Matcha, and local bookstore chain Book Xcess, respectively. The space is beautifully designed – spacious, clean, and minimalist; with an island counter in the middle where baristas whip up drinks.

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Grab some pastries to go with your beverage.
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Green tea based drinks and cookies.
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Skincare products on display
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You can browse while you’re waiting for your orders.

There’s not a big selection, but it was enough to tempt me to get a couple of books (to join the rest of the unread pile at home, lol).

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There are children’s books, stationery, and toys/decorative figurines as well.

All in all, I enjoyed my trip to the 7-Eleven experience store – this is what konbinis should be about! According to this article by Marketing Interactive, it seems like the brand is planning to have more of these concept stores soon; so here’s to 7-E no longer being bland, boring, and blah!

7-ELEVEN FLAGSHIP STORE PUCHONG

No. 22A, Jalan Puteri 1/2, Bandar Puteri, 47100, Puchong, Selangor.

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

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Putrajaya’s “Secret” Garden – Neon Trees & Night Lights

What comes to mind when you think of Putrajaya? Probably “impressive government buildings“, “beautiful architecture“, “wide roads“, and such. While Putrajaya, as the country’s administrative capital, definitely has these things, it also has alot to offer in terms of tourist attractions.

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One such place that recently opened to the public is the Putrajaya “Secret” Garden, located within Taman Putra Perdana in Precinct 1. The park itself is not new: perched atop the hill that makes up the Putrajaya Roundabout (fun tidbit: this is the largest roundabout in the world!), it was inaugurated in 1995 and spans some 154 acres. Putrajaya Corporation, the government body that manages Putrajaya City, decided to spruce up a portion of the park with colourful neon lights and decorative fixtures – and voila! A romantic spot to take the significant other on a stroll after sundown.

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We initially came here on a weekend after seeing viral posts online. But of course, having gone viral, everyone else was also thronging the place – the queue of vehicles going up was so long it stretched all the way to the foot of the hill. We ended up leaving and returning on a weekday evening, when it was less crowded. It was worth the trip, though. The park is already beautifully landscaped and well maintained, and the addition of colourful lights lends it a magical, fantasy-like feel. Photo enthusiasts will love the place!

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Glow-in-the-dark dino sculpture. This was a hit with kids, who all wanted to take photos with it.

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Fairy lights
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This is not the first place in Malaysia with such a concept – there’s an Avatar Secret Garden in Penang that went viral a couple of years ago – but that one requires an entry fee, while you get to enjoy the Putrajaya version for free!

Malaysian weather can be crazy hot during the day, so I think it’s a brilliant idea to light up the park at night. Not only is the weather cooler, making it more pleasant to stroll around, it also gives visitors a different experience.

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We decided to walk down the wide avenue leading from the Secret Garden’s main section to Plaza Mercu Tanda (literally, Putrajaya Landmark). Along the way are water fountains that bubble gently, their streams lit up by changing coloured lights.

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Plaza Mercu Tanda is the first landmark in Putrajaya, established in 1995, and symbolizes the beginnings of Putrajaya as Malaysia’s administrative capital. The landmark combines futuristic elements with traditional motifs and is meant to look like a time capsule, although personally, it’s pyramid-like shape looks to me more like a tengkolok, the traditional headgear worn by Malay men. The landmark is located at the highest point of Precinct 1; if you walk a bit further past it, you’ll come to a platform where you can enjoy panoramic views of Putrajaya.

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Night view of Putrajaya from the landmark. The steps lead all the way down to the Putra Mosque and where the Prime MInister’s Office is located.
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Also view from the landmark, this one looking back at where we walked from the entrance.
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We made our way back to the entrance to continue our stroll. More pretty photos!

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My favourite light feature here has to be this “Avatar” tree, with tendrils of lights hanging down in curtains of bioluminscent blue.

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A third photo for good measure.
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All that walking around might leave you feeling hungry or thirsty, but fret not! Right in front of the Secret Garden is Pulse Grande Hotel, a luxury five-star hotel, where they’ve set up booths selling snacks, meals, and drinks. While the prices are slightly above average, I don’t think they’re unreasonable. During our visit, they had Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes, Mihun Goreng with Fried Chicken, Thai Fried Rice with Pandan Chicken, as well as stuff like hot dogs.

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Grab a chair with your snacks and enjoy the beautiful lights!

The Hubs and I thoroughly enjoyed our short excursion to the Putrajaya Secret Garden – the lights are beautiful, and it’s nice to walk around in a park, listen to the chirruping of crickets, and breathe in cool night air instead of being in the stale, air-conditioned confines of a mall. And best of all – it’s FREE. What more could one ask for?

PUTRAJAYA SECRET GARDEN @ TAMAN PUTRA PERDANA

In front of Pulse Grande Hotel, Taman Putra Perdana, Jalan Putra Perdana, Presint 1, 62000, Putrajaya.

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto.

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9 Culinary Experiences Across Asia for Food Aficionados

With leisure travel picking up again across the globe, now is the best time to pack your suitcases and check in for a stay at these luxury hotels in Asia — where a relaxing vacation and the best gastronomic experiences the region has to offer, await.

Alma Resort Pays Tribute to Vietnam’s Sidewalk Culture

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In homage to the Vietnamese pastime of sipping-brews-on-pavement, Alma has launched Cam Ranh’s most happening venue, Chill’s Snack & Bar. Open 5pm-10pm daily, the street-style venue is anchored by two American-style food trucks near the resort’s vast amphitheater. The menu features popular street beverages such as Vietnamese coffee, fresh fruit juice, and milk tea. Signature coffees are coconut coffee and coffee with fresh milk and tapioca pearls.

Chill’s serves cocktails such as ‘Amphitheater Sunset’ with tequila, orange, grenadine, crème de cassis and lime. The likes of seafood pizza, fruit, shrimp salad, meat sandwiches, cheese sticks and lemongrass chicken feet are written up on the menu board daily. Entertainment includes nightly movies screened under the stars, live music, fire twirlers and flair bartenders.

Meliá Chiang Mai Offers an Array of Exciting Dining Offerings

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A Sunday brunch with fresh seafood on ice, buffet dinner replete with a paella cooking station, and mojito menu with a Spanish and Thai spin are among Meliá Chiang Mai’s new dining offerings from 1 July to 30 September. Staged on the first and last Sunday of the month, ‘Brunch del Domingo’ features Spanish, Mediterranean and Thai offerings including charcuterie, chilled prawns, Mediterranean salads and a live cooking station.

Highlights of “¡Es viernes!” international dinner buffet, held on the first and last Friday night of the month, include tapas and pinchos, and live cooking of gambas al ajillo and grilled river prawns. The mojito menu adds wild berries, passionfruit, pineapple, watermelon and lemongrass to the cocktail’s traditional ingredients. 

Immerse in the Local Culture at Azerai Resorts

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Azerai has launched a new experiences menu with a strong culinary focus to help immerse guests in the local culture at the brand’s three resorts in Vietnam: Azerai La Residence, Hue in the former imperial capital, Azerai Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, and the beachfront Azerai Ke Ga Bay.

At Azerai La Residence, Hue, the resort’s new Perfume River boat offers a “Private Dinner Cruise” featuring fine Vietnamese and Western cuisine. At Azerai Can Tho, “Romance Under the Banyan Tree” features a lantern-lit, five-course meal for two. And at Azerai Ke Ga Bay, the “Monastery and Iconic Fruit of Binh Thuan” includes stops at an exotic dragon fruit farm, Ta Cu Mountain, and local salt fields.

An Omakase Dining Experience at Tanah Gajah, a Resort By Hadiprana in Bali

With any meal the conversation can be just as important as the culinary offering – especially when Chef Dean’s involved. The seasoned Singaporean chef, who has been guiding Tanah Gajah’s culinary direction for over a decade, infuses his personality into all his delectable dishes. With his Omakase Dining Experience at The Tempayan, guests get to see more of the chef than just the magic he creates on each plate.

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Omakase, which translates as a meal of dishes selected by the chef, ensures that the five-course menu he offers uses only the freshest seasonal ingredients, while also giving guests the opportunity to learn about local produce and dishes. The experience also includes a guided tour of Chef Dean’s passion project, the resort’s expansive organic garden. The cost is IDR 750,000 ++ (USD50) per person. 

French Fine Dining at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

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Le Beaulieu, the award-winning modern French fine dining restaurant at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, and its refined al fresco extension La Terrasse have celebrated their reopening following an extensive seven-month refurbishment. With an elegant and sophisticated new design, alongside renowned French gastronomy and a wide selection of wines, the signature restaurant at Metropole Hanoi ties together the hotel’s 120-year-old storied past with a contemporary new look that manages to meld the opulent, the classical and the modern in a single scheme that’s long on white, gold and heathery blue-grays. Operating in its current space since 1901, Le Beaulieu is believed to be the oldest continually operating restaurant in Vietnam. And now, after this renovation, the newest.

Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh unveils its latest menus

Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital’s newest international branded hotel, is leading the charge as the city’s culinary scene picks up pace following the pandemic. Opened in 2021, the property has gained an exalted reputation for dining through its range of exciting outlets. Two of these — all-day-dining outlet The Market Cafe Restaurant and Lounge and signature venue FiveFive Rooftop — have recently unveiled new menus.

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FiveFive focuses on fresh, sustainable seafood and local produce. Highlights of its new menu include a delectable set dinner featuring dishes like Kampot crab on toast and seared Hokkaido scallops. The Market Cafe Restaurant and Lounge, meanwhile, is reupping courtesy of items such as sustainably sourced Dover sole with brown butter and capers and a selection of plant-based dishes.

Banyan Tree Samui Welcomes Aficionados of Thai Cuisine

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Banyan Tree’s signature restaurant, Saffron, has initiated a Thai Tasting Menu, ideal for those on the island who wish to introduce friends and family to Thai classic cuisine in a luxurious ambience. Overlooking the sapphire sea from an exquisite venue above the resort, Saffron’s newest menu features an array of favorites: from appetizers of por pai pho (crabmeat spring rolls in a mango salad) and mieng som-o (pomelo, cashews, coconut & ginger wrapped in betel leaves and topped with a tamarind sauce) to entreés of grilled salmon in galangal and lemongrass or a sizzling plate of roasted peppered pork spare ribs. Dessert is the ever-popular dish of mango in sticky rice and coconut. Price is 1,800 THB (USD50) nett per person. Open daily 6pm – 11pm. For reservations, call +66 077 915 333 or email: saffron-samui@banyantree.com

A New Chef and New Menu at SOL By Meliá Phu Quoc in Vietnam

SOL By Meliã Phu Quoc is embracing new beginnings with Spanish chef, Sergio Nieto Garces, joining as executive chef. Garces will bring more Spanish flair to the oceanfront resort elevating OLA Beach Club to the pinnacle of Spanish gastronomy on the island. In July OLA Beach Club will launch a new menu, inspired by Garces’ own fascinating culinary journey.

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The talented chef trained under some of Spain’s foremost culinary experts, including Martin Berasategui, who holds 12 Michelin stars – the most of any Spanish chef. In Madrid, he worked as executive chef of Jose Luis group, opening branches in Marrakech and Tokyo. At SOL’s OLA Beach Club Garces will serve up contemporary Spanish cuisine. Highlights from the new menu include Andalusian style marinated chicken paella and creative vegan fare like almond soup with smoked beetroot tartare. 

Palace Hotel Tokyo Blooms for Tenth Anniversary

To celebrate Palace Hotel Tokyo’s tenth anniversary this year the Forbes Five Star property is going back to its roots. For the summer the hotel’s popular bars will be serving up “Blooming,” a new cocktail inspired by its original Triple One (1-1-1) cocktail, which first debuted in the hotel’s opening year.

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The new blend mixes Palace Hotel Tokyo’s signature 1-1-1 sake by Hakkaisan, Yuzu liqueur, Lillet Blanc, and Sakura liqueur to deliver a clear, sharp taste with a flowery Japanese aroma. The limited-time cocktail will be on offer at Palace Hotel Tokyo’s Royal Bar, an old world-style cigar bar with the most comprehensive Japanese whiskey selection in the city, and the chic Lounge Bar Prive, where guests can take in views of the Imperial Palace gardens by day and the surrounding city skyline by night. 

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Think Thailand 2022 — Malaysia’s Largest Thai Festival @ Tropicana Gardens Mall, PJ

The Hubs and I recently paid a visit to Think Thailand — Malaysia’s Largest Thai Festival — which was held from 26 May to 6 June 2022 at Tropicana Gardens Mall in Petaling Jaya. Organized by the Thai embassy in collaboration with several major Thai companies as well as SMEs, the festival featured over 50 booths showcasing the best Thailand has to offer, from food and drinks, to products and services. There were also scheduled performances and cooking demonstrations throughout the 12-day event.

Here’s what went down during our visit!

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Live cooking demo in session
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Thailand is known for its abundance of snacks. We saw a few that looked familiar, but also many new ones.

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Sweet basil seed drinks are popular in Thailand, with purported benefits such as helping to cool the body. They come in a variety of flavours, including pomegranate, honey, grape, orange, and more. We got a few bottles to try. Maybe it’s because our taste buds are spoiled by sugary drinks, but these tasted very mild. They were refreshing though!

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Traditional Thai clothing on display. Visitors were welcome to try them on and take photos as a souvenir, for a price.
Fun fact: traditional Thai clothing is called ‘chut thai’ — literally ‘Thai outfit’.
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There was an outdoor area as well with an open-air dining area, with booths selling street food such as som tam (salad), grilled meats, and beer. The stalls were divided into halal and non-halal sections. Food was a bit pricey, but I liked the atmosphere as it reminded me of the street food vibe you get in Thailand — the smells of food from the grill, smoke from the cooking, animated conversations wafting across the warm tropical air.

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My must-get while exploring Thai night markets — iced tea! Thai milk tea has a distinctively orange colour as they use orange blossom water, which is water distilled from the essence of flowers from orange trees. Some vendors substitute it with food colouring. There was also green tea, which is different from Japanese green tea, as it is mixed with milk and sugar.
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Staff preparing somtam, or Thai papaya salad.
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Stalls selling Thai beer like Singha and Chang.
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Chicken skewers fresh from the grill
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Thailand’s iconic Tomyum Mama noodles
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Deep fried baby crabs
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We had a great time checking out the stalls, and returned with a few packets of snacks in tow: a crispy baked rice cracker snack with salted egg and chilli squid flavour, as well as a crispy enoki mushroom snack that featured very fine, deep fried strands of mushroom that served as an excellent condiment with rice.

I’m happy to see that events are being held again after two years. Hopefully this is a sign of a better economy to come!

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We Watched a Star Wars Wayang Kulit Show @ Jaya One, PJ

It was a celebration of all things Star Wars at Jaya One recently, as “This is the May – Nar Shaddaa Day” – organized by the Star Wars Malaysia Fan Club (SWMFC) – held its first fan event after a two-year hiatus.

May, of course, is Star Wars month (May the 4th be with you!); and the event saw dozens of cosplayers, dressed to the nines in their best Star Wars outfits. There were also booths selling exclusive Star Wars merchandise, art exhibitions, games, puppet making workshops, and performances.

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I’m not a big Star Wars fan (I keep mixing up my Wookies and Ewoks), but I’ve seen the films, and I think the original Star Wars story was brilliant for its time, and yet to be paralleled in the world of science fiction and futuristic fantasy.

My main reason for coming here was actually to watch the Star Wars Wayang Kulit performance (more on that later!), but since we had some time before the performance, the Hubs and I explored the main concourse, where most of the booths were set up. There were some pretty nifty things on display, including limited edition toys, props, and collectors items from overseas.

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Among the cosplayers were troopers, Mandalorians, a Queen Amidala, a Princess Leia, and Chewbacca, some of them armed with lightsabers. Speaking of lightsabers, there was a booth from a toy company selling custom lightsabers with interchangeable colours!
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Loved these Star Wars themed earrings!
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The highlight of the event for me was the Fusion Wayang Kulit show, a unique performance featuring traditional Malaysian puppetry (wayang kulit) fused with modern pop culture elements; in this case, Star Wars. It was held at the PJ Live Arts centre next to Jaya One’s main building. The puppets are made from leather, propped on sticks, and moved by the puppet master behind a screen.

Fusion Wayang Kulit was founded by Tintoy Chua and Take Huat in 2012, aimed at revitalizing the dying art by incorporating modern elements into it. The pair approached Kelantanese wayang kulit master (Tok Dhalang) Pak Dain for their project, taking meticulous care to ensure the roots of the plays are respected while giving it a breath of fresh air. The rest, as they say, is history. Fusion Wayang Kulit has since performed not just locally, but overseas. It was even acknowledged by LucasFilm and featured in the official Star Wars magazine!

Pak Dain himself performed the show. There were two parts: the traditional story which is an adaptation of the Hindu epic Ramayana, and the modern part which had characters and a story inspired by Star Wars.

To be honest, while I found the traditional puppets beautiful, the story was difficult for me to follow as it was presented in Kelantanese Malay (a dialect that is very different from standard Malay).

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There was a break in between the two sessions, where we were introduced to the concept behind Fusion Wayang Kulit, and how they designed the characters for the ‘new’ story. They’re all based on traditional characters, so “Sang Kala Veda” (Darth Vader) is based on the villain, while Puteri Leia is based on Rama’s wife, basically the heroine of the story.

The character designs are mind blowing. There’s so much attention to detail and respect for the source material, both new and old. Take Darth Vader’s face – which has been designed with fangs (similar to the villain), yet retains that triangular motif. We were also told that Malaysian wayang kulit is distinctly different from its Indonesian counterpart in terms of looks and design. Malaysian wayang kulit characters usually ride on ‘dragons’ or a platform of sorts (the Javanese version does not have this). So to suit the Star Wars theme, they made Darth Vader’s platform a smaller version of the Executor. Brilliant!

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Pak Dain performed the Star Wars story in standard Malay, which made it much easier to understand. Here Puteri Leia gives R2D2 the Death Star plans. Did I mention how beautiful the puppets are? They look modern yet traditional at the same time. Perfectly embodies the ‘fusion’ theme!

When the show ended, the audience gave a standing ovation. I truly hope that with this modernization of an ancient art form, they can continue to keep it alive and relevant to a new audience.

Sadly, there are not many puppet masters left in Kelantan, where Malaysian wayang kulit originates from. Once popular at family gatherings and other communal events, puppet shows were banned in Kelantan after the Islamic political party PAS came into power in 1990 (they banned it in 1998), as they deemed it “un-Islamic” (they also banned the Mak Yong, a traditional dance, but lifted this ban in 2019, subject to conditions). Now, wayang kulit shows can ONLY be performed at the cultural centre in Kota Bharu. Can’t help but feel like it’s a ‘token’ that they use to attract tourists, rather than a genuine art form celebrated for its historic value and artistry.

But I digress.

Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, I highly recommend catching the Fusion Wayang Kulit show! Support the local arts, because I don’t think it’s promoted enough by the relevant bodies. To see ordinary Malaysians of different races and beliefs banding together to keep this old art form alive – not backed by any special funding, only driven by a love for the country and its arts – is, to me, the true spirit of Malaysia.

You can learn more about Fusion Wayang Kulit here. They also have a gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

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2D1N Itinerary@Genting Highlands, Malaysia (2022 Update!)

Can you believe it has been four years since my last trip to Genting Highlands (excluding visits for work)? But then again, the last two years since the pandemic started have felt like a waking dream, so…yeah.

With that said, I think it’s high time for an update! A lot has changed in Genting since my 2018 visit (read my first 2D1N Itinerary post here), most notably the opening of SkyWorlds, a new outdoor amusement park, as well as dozens of cool restaurants and entertainment centres.

Buttttt we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, so let’s rewind a little bit.

It was a long weekend and I got a free room at First World Hotel, courtesy of a relative. It’s been ages since I’ve had a vacation (since before the pandemic, actually) – so even though it was ‘just’ Genting, I was super excited for the trip. The last time I went to Genting it was via bus from KL Sentral, but I’m officially too old for that these days (by that I mean travelling in public transport lol), so we rented a cab instead. Our cab for four cost us about RM30 each.

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You can choose to have the cab ferry you straight up to the resort, but I wanted to visit the Chin Swee Cave Temples which is mid-way up the mountain, so I told the driver to drop the Hubs and I off at Genting Highlands Premium Outlet instead. If you’re keen on buying branded goods from names like Coach, Armani, Burberry, and Michael Kors at discounted prices, then you might want to spend some time here.

We made a beeline for the cable car station. Tickets are priced at RM10 for a one way trip.

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We made a pitstop at the Chin Swee Cave Temples, where you can stop to explore the temple at no additional cost. Opened in 1994, the temple sits on forested land donated by the founder of Resorts World Genting, Lim Goh Tong. Combining Chinese Buddhist and Taoist beliefs, the temple is dedicated to Qingshui (Chin Swee in Hokkien), a deity in China’s Fujian province, Lim’s hometown. If you’re here on a sunny day, the temple affords panoramic views of the surrounding mountains as well as the base of Genting. To be perfectly candid, the sight of the towering skyscrapers (read: luxury holiday ‘condos’) mars the beauty of the area’s natural surroundings. But I guess that’s development for you.

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The temple is great for photo enthusiasts, thanks to its vibrant colours and beautiful architecture. Look out for the giant stone Buddha which sits against a backdrop of lush greenery.

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Another interesting highlight here is the ‘Journey to Enlightenment’ section, which is not quite accurately named as it’s more a journey through hell lolol. It basically depicts the various hells in Chinese/Taoist belief, and features some pretty gruesome statues ala Singapore’s Haw Par Villa.

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The temple’s pagoda is great for photography, seemingly ‘floating’ above the mountains and clouds when taken from certain angles.

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The story of the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) is carved into stone tablets near a section of the temple made to look like Flower Mountain, the legendary mountain where the deity is believed to have made his abode.
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Statues of the 18 Lohan, which in Chinese Buddhist belief were the 18 original followers of Gautama Buddha. Kinda like the Apostles were to Jesus, I guess.
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While the temple has not changed much since my last visit, there are a couple of additions.

There are now a couple of stalls next to the pagoda selling snacks and tidbits; the Hubs and I had some curry fishballs which was perfect in the chilly weather (it was pretty cold, despite the sun). Another fun fact: this temple is home to a Starbucks, which opened in 2019. It’s right underneath the shops near the pagoda, and offers scenic views of the mountains as well as the temple through the cafe’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Who says religion, culture, commercialization and capitalism can’t coexist peacefully? (Unfortunately we could not pop into the store as we were pressed for time).

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Continuing our cable car journey, we were fortunate to ride on a glass bottom gondola. Typically you’d have to pay RM16 for this, but the guy at the station allowed us to board this, so. Yay! The Hubs wasn’t thrilled though, and clutched me with sweaty hands with an increasingly stronger grip until we arrived at our destination.

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Resorts World Genting is a massive labyrinth of buildlings sprawled across a large area; so it was a long walk from the new SkyAvenue Shopping Centre to the First World Hotel Complex, where we were staying for the night. While many parts of the hotel have been renovated, the lobby has been virtually unchanged for decades – I still have photos of me as a kid in this sparkly tree corridor, so it was nostalgic to see it again.

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Our room was in the new wing, but we didn’t manage to get mountain views since it was sandwiched between corridors. No photo of the room because it was super ordinary – basically a bed with a TV – but here’s a photo of the exterior.

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Now we come to the fun part: what is there to do in Genting?

The main attraction is, of course, the Genting SkyWorlds outdoor theme park, which opened its doors to the public just a few months ago, after a four year delay. The old outdoor theme park closed in 2013 (which means that the outdoor theme park was effectively closed for a decade). There was supposed to be a deal with 20th Century Fox to have a movie inspired theme park with rides from well known films, but they ran into licensing issues. What followed was a pretty nasty spate and several lawsuits, but they eventually settled with Fox granting Genting the rights to use their intellectual property for certain rides and sections. They still couldn’t call it Fox theme park though, so it was renamed SkyWorlds.

The park has nine ‘worlds’, and I can tell from the layout that its similar to the themed areas in places like Universal Studios and Disneyland. If I was a couple of years younger, I think I’d give the place a go, but I’m much older now and my heart can’t suffer from extreme excitement anymore lol. That, and the entry tickets cost close to RM200. But if you’re an adrenaline junkie, I think this would be a great place to spend your day at!

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Aside from the outdoor theme park, Resorts World Genting is also home to an indoor amusement park called Skytropolis. The rides are similar to what you might get at a funfair or carnival, albeit bigger and fancier. Unlimited rides cost RM90 per adult, but you can also choose to pay per ride. In total, there are about 20 rides that you can go on, including a rollercoaster, a pirate ship, a tomahawk thing that flips you upside down, a ferris wheel, and more.

I really like the design at Skytropolis, especially the neon pillars and the large digital screen on the ceilling which emulates clouds. It feels like a futuristic, cyberpunk world; like a place you can escape to for a couple of hours, indulge in entertainment, and just forget your worries for abit.

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The Hubs does not like fast rides, so I ended up riding the spinny thing on the right. It’s not too crazy, but is just fast enough to get the adrenaline pumping. Excitement in measured doses is the way to go for someone in their 30s, lol.

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We spent most of our time at the arcade upstairs, which has a decent selection of shooter games. RM30 netted us a complete playthrough of Jurassic Park. There are classic carnival games to play here too, where you stand a chance to walk away with giant stuffed toys.

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Of course, one does not come to Genting and not indulge in their lifestyle offerings, ie food, some of which are only available exclusively. Dinner was at Tampopo, a Japanese restaurant specializing in ramen. The Hubs and I shared a miso ramen, which had al dente noodles swimming in a rich and thick broth, topped with bamboo shoots and a half boiled egg. We also got crispy tempura, lightly battered and fried to golden perfection, and juicy chicken gyozas. If you’re in the mood for Japanese, Tampopo is a good choice. Course, most of everything in Genting is pretty pricey, but that’s to be expected if you’re coming here for a night’s stay – unless you’re okay with eating instant noodles or fast food.

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Highline is an area with a bunch of trendy bars and drinking spots. It is extremely lively at night, with each bar blasting live music, DJs spinning turntables and bands performing.

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We ended up heading up the escalator at Highline to a viewing platform, which imo, is the best spot in Genting. It’s cold and breezy up there at night, and you can see the entire theme park lit up with lights. It’s too bad they don’t have seats, because I’d bring a cup of Maggi + a packet of chips, and just sit there snacking and chatting with the Hubs.

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And finally, before we left Genting the next day, we stopped at the famed Five Guys for lunch. You can read the full review here.

Not pictured: We spent some time at the casino, because the Hubs has never been and he wanted to experience what it was like. It was crowded af on a Friday evening because apparently there was some oldies concert going on, and there were a lot of elderly folk. I think the last time I came here, there was a no smoking rule, but this seems to have gone out the window, as the casino stank to high heaven of cigarettes – pretty unpleasant. We weren’t in there for too long, but I still ended up losing close to 200 bucks on the slot machine. 😦

As they say, house always wins.

And that was our 2D1N itinerary to Genting! As you can probably tell, there’s a lot to do besides gambling – you can eat, shop, watch movies, explore the theme park, play at the arcade, and much, much more. Genting has really invested in making the resort a lifestyle destination, moving away from its ‘gambling’ image (although it’s still an integral part of the money-making machine – judging from the crowds). I think it’s a good place for a day trip or weekend getaway that’s not too far from the city.

Okay Genting.

See you again in four years?

Purradise Cat Cafe, TTDI

Pets, be it cats, dogs, or other small animals, can be a source of comfort and support. Research has shown that interacting with pets lowers the stress hormone cortisol and lowers blood pressure, whilst also providing social support and reducing loneliness.

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to keep pets at home (like yours truly) – so the next best thing is to visit a pet cafe.

One of my favourite places to go to for a mood booster is Purradise Cat Cafe in TTDI, KL. Established in 2015, it is considered a pioneer in the cat cafe scene. What makes the place special is that these are not fancy, pure bred cats, but animals that have been rescued off the streets. I brought the Hubs here recently since he also likes cats, and we had a purr-fect time chilling with the kitties!

Video:

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It has been awhile since my last visit, as I was not able to come during the pandemic. The space largely looks the same: beanbags, a few tables with high stools, and lots of nooks and crannies for the cats to hide in. I also like that they have a catwalk above, because cats have a natural instinct to protect themselves and like high vantage points.

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Entry to the cafe is RM21 per hour, inclusive of a drink. The price is a little steep, but personally, it’s a price I’m willing to pay to be around the cats and also support the establishment. You’ll have to keep track of the time yourself, though, as they charge an additional fee every 15 minutes after your hour is up.

There is a board with helpful tips on how to interact with the cats. The staff member on duty explained to us which cats tend to be friendly, and which are grumpy.

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There are close to 20 cats in the cafe; not all of them were in the common area during our visit, so I’m guessing they rotate the cats at different hours of the day. We were there around 2PM; most of the cats were just chilling, while others were in a playful mood, so I think we caught them at the right time. The last time I was here, I didn’t get to pet any cats at all because they were all grumpy. I still enjoyed my time immensely though, because just being around them makes me happy.

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Manage expectations when it comes to food, because although they call themselves a cafe, this is not a proper eatery. What they have on their limited menu is pretty decent though; the Hubs and I both got iced chocolate drinks, which were served with paper straws. Some people might find it unpleasant to eat or drink here because the place has a strong cat odour, but we were both too excited to be around the cats to care.

And without further ado: cat pics!

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My favourite is Brie, a beautiful calico with a smooth, silky coat. She’s one of the cats with an asterisks on the kitty menu; which means she can be moody. But she was an angel during our visit ! We were able to pet her multiple times; she had this haughty look that said “I shall tolerate your presence… for now.” Adorable!

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Chonky Brie.

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Miki was asleep the entire time. We were able to pet her without her waking up. I think she quite enjoyed it!

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The Hubs and Patches, a tuxedo cat. Patches was also in the mood for head scritches, a good five to ten minute session.

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We were lucky as many of the cats were in an agreeable mood during our visit, so we were able to touch and play with them. On my previous visit, they were not at all friendly, so it really depends on your luck as to how they’re feeling.

An important thing to remember is that CATS ARE NOT TOYS, and DO NOT come at your whim and fancy. If a cat doesn’t feel like getting close to you, you CANNOT force it to. I’ve seen many negative reviews of the cafe left by rude, entitled pricks who think that just because they pay, then the cats MUST interact with them. Some even go as far as saying that the cats are not declawed, because they got scratched.

Hello. You do not declaw a cat. It’s akin to cutting off the tips of a human’s fingers off, because cats use their claws to climb things, and it’s their way of defending themselves. I would like to see you cut your fingers off because someone finds it more convenient. Also, I’d like to see you being manhandled all hours of the day by boisterous customers and not be a little cranky.

All of the unreasonable, entitled reviews makes me cranky. Grr.

But ending this on a positive note: if you like cats, then check out Purradise! You’ll also be supporting an establishment that rescues strays.

PURRADISE CAT CAFE

First Floor, 24A, Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 2, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: Mon – Fri (2PM – 9PM), Sat (2PM – 10PM), Sun (11AM – 7PM)

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KL’s Hottest Culinary Playground: Tiffin At The Yard @ Sentul Depot, Kuala Lumpur

Tiffin made its debut back in 2016 as a culinary pop-up called Tiffin Food Court, which ran for a month or two each time at various spots around town. It quickly made a name for itself as ‘the’ hottest makan spot – thanks to its unique “Malaysian food court with a twist” concept, featuring fusion dishes and experimental flavours from some of the country’s top chefs and culinary talents. Tiffin’s event spaces were also a reflection of its crowd (think neon lights and cool art installations) – all catering to a young, urban, and affluent crowd.

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Even a pandemic hasn’t stopped the brand’s growth: it now has a permanent space called Tiffin at the Yard, which covers some 22,000 sq ft of space within the historical Sentul Depot in Kuala Lumpur. Formerly a railway engineering workshop, this 110-year-old heritage building has been revitalized as a lifestyle destination, with Tiffin being its main F&B hub. Visitors can expect 15 rotating and permanent vendors, serving an eclectic mix of offerings the likes of Afro-Carribean, Middle Eastern, and Asian fusion cuisine.

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I’ve been meaning to check this place out since it opened in November 2021, but the crowds were massive from the hype at the time lol. It seems to have thinned a little now, as there were plenty of seats during our visit on a Saturday afternoon.

Not that there’s much to worry about – the space seems to have been designed with social distancing in mind; the seats and stalls are spaced far apart, and there’s plenty of room to move around. The building is enclosed – but the high ceiling and skylights, which allow for good natural lighting, provide a lofty sense of space. Add to that the nicely landscaped trees and greenery within, and it feels like you’re dining in a premium, open-air food court.

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Parts of the depot’s original interior, such as the exposed brick walls and cement flooring, have been preserved, which lends to the whole ‘post industrial’ feel of the place. It’s hip, it’s chic, and it’s very Instagrammable.

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There’s something for every palate here. We wandered around the stalls for some time trying to decide on what to eat (it’s impossible to get everything in one go – which warrants a return visit!). If you’re interested in Afro-Carribean cuisine, KL’s famous Joloko has a spin-off stall here called Jojo’s. Conceptualised as a ‘Carribean beach shack’, expect to find sandwiches called ‘bakes’ with fillings such as jerk-spiced barracuda and carne guisada. Sweet-toothed alcohol lovers will want to pay a stop at Licky Chan for its alcohol-infused treats – and just indulge in their dairy and vegan alcohol-free options.

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For starters, we got some crispy bread and hummus (RM15) from Leen’s, which also serves Middle Eastern favourites such as kebabs and shawarmas. I love hummus and can probably eat it as my only dip for the rest of my life – so this was right up my alley. The crispy bread had the texture of chips/crackers, and was insanely addictive with the hummus.

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Moving on to something a bit more substantial, we ordered Udang Di Sebalik Brioche (RM20) from Red Red Botak Head. The dish’s name is a cheeky play on words on the Malay proverb “ada udang di sebalik batu” (there’s a prawn hiding beneath the rock – which means there’s a hidden plot or something unseen). Picture huge, juicy pieces of shrimp in a creamy, tangy sauce, topped with caramelized onions and sandwiched between a soft and fluffy brioche – and you have the UDSB.

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No points for guessing why the store is called “botak head” (baldie). Chef Liang works the kitchen, and is super friendly (not many chefs crack a smile while they’re working – at least not the ones I’ve encountered lol), and the staff is super warm and friendly as well.

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And finally, the Hubs and I shared a main of crispy noodles with roast duck (RM22) from Halley by Wondermama, which serves dimsum and roasties. The noodles were pretty good and came with bokchoy, egg, plus juicy and flavourful roast duck. I think there was a bit of preserved vegetables in it too which gave the broth a rich flavour and a slightly sour kick.

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Wanted to try TokyoRamen; unfortunately they were still preparing the food and I didn’t want to wait 30 minutes. Another trip then!

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There are many vendors that looked interesting but we didn’t manage to try them all on this visit. Some that caught my eye include The Bao Guys, featuring fluffy mantous sandwiched with everything from fried chicken to braised beef with spicy mala mayo; Taco King and its selection of authentic Mexican tacos; and Olivia’s Deli, which serves Valencian-style paellas. For alcoholic libations, visitors can head to Bar 44, while coffee lovers can indulge in cold brews and lattes from Kopenhagen.

Will definitely plan a return visit some time soon!

PS: All payments here are cashless so have your e wallets and debit/credit cards ready!

TIFFIN AT THE YARD

PT189-PT183-PT185 Jalan Strachan, Off, Jln Ipoh, Sentul, 51100 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (or Waze to Tiffin at the Yard/Sentul Depot). Parking is free.

Opening hours: Thurs – Fri (5PM – 12AM), Sat-Sun (10AM – 12AM).

https://www.tiffin.my/

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