KITA Festival @ Precint 2 Putrajaya + KL Book Exchange Haul

Hey guys!

Haven’t been inspired to write lately – is this what they call burn out? Anyway, I’ve been trying to get my creative mojo back / take my mind off things by going out over the weekend.

Saw an event called KITA Fest happening at Precinct 2 Putrajaya and they had a book exchange going on. Since the place was pretty close to where I live, decided to go check it out.

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The event was pretty small by festival standards, with only a couple of booths. It was close to empty on a Saturday morning, which was pretty sad. At least the buskers’ playlist was pretty good, and it wasn’t too hot with the buildings providing shade.

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There was a watercolour workshop going on in one of the indoor spaces and a mini exhibition of works. Good stuff. Especially liked the food paintings which looked very realistic.

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Checking out one of the vendors selling postcards with local themes and quirky designs.

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Oh well, at least there was the book exchange corner! I brought a couple of books from home that I never got down to reading; managed to exchange them for some solid titles!

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Book haul. Can’t wait to read State of Fear. Michael Crichton is one of my favourite sci-fi writers.

We were out of the place in less than an hour as there wasn’t much to see. It wasn’t a total waste of time though; at least I got some nice books to read.

BONUS:

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Got some face masks from The Face Shop – eight pieces for only RM28!

I hope I get out of my slump soon – it sucks to have all these thoughts in my head but not be able to articulate them properly.

 

Royal Floria Putrajaya 2019 @ Taman Botani Putrajaya

The Royal Floria Putrajaya – Malaysia’s premiere flower and garden show – has been held annually for over 10 years now. First conceived in 2008, the idea was to have the nation’s very own version of famous horticulture shows such as the RHS Chelsea, Hampton Court and the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

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Last year’s Floria was a pretty well organised affair, so I was surprised (and quite disappointed) by the quality of 2019’s event, which has significantly dropped. I think the organisers know this too, as the entry price is much cheaper (RM5 for Malaysians, RM10 for nons). They’ve also moved the venue from Anjung Floria (near the lakeside), to Taman Botani Putrajaya. It’s not convenient for a couple of reasons:

  • Lack of parking spaces. You’ll have to park at the edge of the Putrajaya roundabout, and it can be a really long walk to the entrance. Not to be mention dangerous when crossing the road.
  • The garden is MASSIVE (like 3 acres). Not friendly for old folks and children. They do have intermittent buggy services, but it takes a long time to walk from exhibit to exhibit, and they’re all scattered across the park with no proper directions.

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We went at night because it was cooler. While you’re here, check out the cool-looking Astana Morocco, or the Moroccan Pavilion, which was built with the assistance of the Moroccan government and artisans. The Moorish architecture, reminiscent of places like Cordoba and Granada in Spain, features walls, pillars and archways covered in exquisite detailing. Geometric motifs abound on tiled floors, and water flows from beautiful basins. It’s no wonder the place is popular for wedding photoshoots.

 

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To be frank, the exhibits were not as impressive as the previous edition, and they were so scattered across the park that we had a hard time walking around (pretty sure we missed out on a few due to poor directions and just the general layout of the place, with its undulating hills. Good workout though!)

Another point that they could improve on is lighting. I understand it’s hard to light up an entire park that is meant to be visited in the day, but there were exhibits sitting in the middle of nowhere and paths that were poorly lit. Almost fell flat on my face a couple of times after tripping over branches/holes in the ground and whatnot.

That isn’t to say that there weren’t a few interesting displays, however. Here are some highlights:

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This avenue of trees by the lakeside, draped over with colourful fairy lights.

 

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By far the most impressive showcase was by Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur. Beautifully landscaped with various plants and flowers,  great use of lighting, and they even had actors playing fairies to take photos with visitors.

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Kudos to Mr Fairy. I was sweating in a T-shirt and shorts, and he had make up on + what looked like a heavy costume and headdress.

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A display representing the state of Terengganu, including a replica of the famous Batu Bersurat, a 700-year-old granite slab inscribed with verses in Jawi (Classical Malay script) surrounded by water ways and flowers.

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I dub this the Onion Disco, because they’re shaped like onions and they had disco lights inside.

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Antiques and vintage paraphernalia inside a replica of a traditional Johor-style kampung (village) home on stilts.

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A Japanese garden, complete with a bamboo water feature and a small flowing stream.

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Another interesting exhibit – the Johor Chateau featuring wires strung together to form archways and a building.

Royal Floria Putrajaya will be running until September 8, so there’s still time to catch it this weekend at Taman Botani Putrajaya, Precinct 1, Putrajaya. It is open from 10AM – 10PM.

 

Beautiful Blooms @ Royal Floria Putrajaya 2018, Malaysia’s Premier Flower & Garden Show

Modelled after world-famous flower and garden events the likes of the Chelsea Flower Show in London, the Philadelphia Flower Show in the US and the Singapore Garden Festival in Singapore, the Royal Floria Putrajaya is an annual event held in Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putrajaya. This year marked a significant milestone, as the show celebrated its 10th anniversary, and was held over a 9-day period coinciding with the long Merdeka Day holidays.

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The last Floria installment I attended was in 2014, but the events have always been pretty well organised so I was expecting as much this year. Brought the Boy here on a weekday evening to avoid the crowds; and it did not disappoint. There was a colourful tapestry at the entrance – they had a similar one in 2014 but with umbrellas.

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Living in the city and in a tropical country, it’s hard to find temperate blooms – so it was nice to see the colourful flowers and beautifully landscaped gardens.

The original Floria shows were free, but a couple of years back they started charging people  (currently it’s like RM14). It’s not too pricey, and I feel that it’s worth the entrance fee, since I can see that they’re improving their standards and exhibits year after year.

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Beautiful colour combi!

**Some idiots actually laid down on the flowers so they could take a ‘flower bed’ pose like wtf you are crushing the flowers

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One of my favourite spots was this nicely landscaped and designed garden, complete with a pathway lined with sheer curtains, and an elevated walkway leading into a wooden house, tastefully illuminated with ambient lighting.

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Also a water fountain with the Malaysian flag projected on it!

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More flowers.

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Another themed section called The Enchanted Garden. There was a hidden dark room within with a digital projection of butterflies  onto physical plants. The effect was quite magical.

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View of the Putrajaya bridge from one of the building’s balconies.

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Another themed area which caught my eye was the replica of the royal palace in Kuala Kangsar, Perak. The architecture was spot on, and I liked the gazebo which was lit up by changing colours.

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The weather was pretty muggy even though it was evening, so we escaped to the air conditioned confines of a tent, which had an exhibition on orchids and floral displays.

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There was a Suiseki (stone) and wood exhibition which was extremely interesting! Apparently there are collectors for these rare and oddly shaped rocks, stones and wood which have not been carved or altered in any way, save for a few accessories here and there. It was fun trying to see what shape they resembled, and a little hard to believe that these were made by nature and not man.

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A piece of wood that was a dead ringer for a monitor lizard.

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A gold prize winner, which resembled a monk/pilgrim in flowing robes, holding a cane.

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Another one that looked like a certain Chinese deity with a sloping forehead, a walking stick pointed outwards and a bag under his shoulder. YOU CANT UNSEE IT 

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Mechanical flower made from glass bottles. Creative! It could open and close its petals.

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A gazebo in the themed garden for the state of Terengganu.

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Lanterns in the Chinese garden.

Until next year, Floria! Twas’ a fun experience, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll have in store for 2019. 🙂

5 Best Places To Celebrate Easter 2018 in Malaysia

Easter celebrations in Malaysia may not be as big as it is in countries like the United States, but that’s no reason to miss out on the enchanting experience! From the hustle and bustle of urban KL to the idyllic island of Langkawi, here are four unique destinations and experiences to indulge the family in this Easter holiday.

NOOK @ ALOFT KL SENTRAL 

Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral - Easter Dessert Spread

Look no further than this futuristic foodie haven for kid-friendly fun treats and a festive Easter ambience. On Sunday April 1st 2018, ‘Easter Eggcitement’ presents a delectable Easter brunch spread, including melt in the mouth oven roasted prime ribs and honey glazed meatloaf. Taking centre stage is the egg-ceptional dessert selection, ranging from Easter Log Cake, cupcakes, Flower Pot Carrot and traditional hot cross buns. Enjoy this sumptuous array of heavenly holiday dishes from 11:30am to 3:30pm for RM120 nett, while kids dine at half price.

More info/reservations: aloftkualalumpursentral.com / +603 2723 1188.

LE MERIDIEN KUALA LUMPUR

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This culinary hotspot is the place to be for sumptuous sweet treats at signature eatery Latest Recipe. The ‘Happy Easter’ extravaganza on April 1st 2018 features captivating balloon sculptures, egg and face painting activities for youngsters, along with bountiful global gastronomy. Indulge in Hungarian style rustic roasted leg of lamb, Sicilian baked barramundi and more for RM180 nett and RM90 nett per child.

More info/reservations: dining.lemeridienkualalumpur.com / +603 2263 7434.

THE ST.REGIS KUALA LUMPUR

The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur - Easter Sunday Brunch (2)

Enjoy a sumptuous Easter stay in the elegant urban haven of The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur. The refined luxury of the St. Regis Suite offers captivating views of the Botanical Gardens, along with a range of pampering perks for all the family. This festive one night stay package includes an in-suite 90-minute massage for two, and a lavish Easter Sunday Brunch at The Brasserie which features magical kid-pleasing activities such as an Easter egg hunt, egg painting and Easter egg rolling.

The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur - Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Brunch at The Brasserie is a global gastronomic journey, showcasing the traditions of Easter from every corner of the planet. Highlights include ricotta and pepper frittata, roasted lamb, Easter omelette and an array of other intriguing flavours. This sumptuous brunch is available on the 1st of April 2018, and priced at RM368 nett including non-alcoholic beverages and RM568 nett inclusive of alcoholic beverages.

The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur - Easter Afternoon Tea

Complete the Easter experience with an impeccable Afternoon Tea set of classic canapés, savoury delights and irresistible dessert offerings. This Afternoon Tea is available on the 30th of March to the 1st of April 2018, and is priced at RM158 nett per person, or RM238 nett with a glass of Veuve Cliquot.

  • More information/reservations (for stay): reservations.kualalumpur@stregis.com / +603 2727 1111.
  • More information/reservations for Easter Sunday Brunch:  thebrasserie@stregis.com / +603 2727 6666.
  • More information/reservations for the Easter Afternoon Tea: thedrawingroom@stregis.com / +603 2727 6660.

THE WESTIN LANGKAWI 

Escape to The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa for an Easter Family Getaway amid sublime ocean and rainforest scenery. Enjoy a range of perks like airport transfers, complimentary Internet, kids club access and buffet breakfast, starting from RM1,200 nett per room per night.

The Westin Langkawi-Family at The Pool-Med

There are innumerable ways to celebrate in style at the resort’s diverse venues. The fun-packed Easter Eggstravaganza buffet dinner at the kid’s pool is priced at RM220+ per person including free flow of house wine, beer, and soft drinks, or RM169+ per person inclusive of free flow of non-alcoholic beverages. Experience a cultured Easter themed High Tea, refreshing beverage specials or a truly sumptuous four course set dinner at picture perfect beachside venue Anjung Damai, the options are endless.

More information /reservations: westinlangkawi.com / +604 960 8888.

THE ST. REGIS LANGKAWI Whisk your loved ones off to immerse in the incomparable luxury of The St. Regis Langkawi , and step inside a whimsical Easter Wonderland. A magical aura infuses the resort, with a specially created festive ambience tailored for younger guests and their families. Starting from MYR2,281 nett per room per night, a St. Regis Suite package lets guests indulge in the art of play this Easter, featuring complimentary breakfast, free dining for children, a little chefs cooking class, access to the Kids Club and much more.

The St. Regis Langkawi - Easter

The fun-packed Easter Weekend kicks off with an Easter Champagne breakfast priced at RM170 nett, and is followed by an Afternoon Tea with Mat Hatter. The Afternoon Tea is priced at RM195+ for 2 persons and is inclusive of Champagne. Every moment at The St. Regis Langkawi becomes a treasure and every experience a new family tradition. Enjoy activities especially tailored to the little ones which include a stirring egg hunt, egg painting, a fanciful balloon artist and clown.

More information/ reservations: stregislangkawi.com / +604 960 6666.

Blog: How To Renew Your Malaysian IC at JPN – Takes Less Than An Hour!

How often do you check your Identification Card (IC)? 

My IC is one of those things I keep in my wallet and tend to forget about. So when I was slated for a media trip to Bario in Sarawak recently and the organisers booked the tickets under my IC, I happily whipped it out….only to realise that the back laminate had peeled off, and the front was in danger of going the same way.

This was a couple of days before the flight. (!!!)

So I took the morning off work and headed to the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (JPN) branch in Puchong – but the counter lady told me it would take two weeks. Two weeks! The world swam before my eyes… But wait… She was saying something and as I came back from my near-black-out state, I realised that she was telling me that I could go to the main branch in Putrajaya to get it done within the day. Yes!

Image from flickr.com

The JPN building (above) is located in Precinct 2, just next to Perbadanan Putrajaya. You can park inside the building, but there are loads of free parking spots across the road, facing the lake.

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Count me impressed! Walked into a squeaky clean building that had a nice open layout and lots of sunshine filtering in. Departments were clearly labeled: 1st floor for Marriage and Divorce, 2nd floor for Identification Cards, etc. I headed straight up to the second floor. Even for a weekday it was really empty; I had barely gotten my queue number when it was called over the PA system.

Went to the counter, and the lady took my fingerprints, details and my old card. Then I made a payment of RM10 for replacement. (It’s RM100 if you lost the card). A receipt was issued and I was told to check back at in an hour.

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Ground floor had a cafeteria hidden at the end. Stalls sold local Malay and Indian food like Roti Canai, Mi Goreng, noodles and the like.

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One Roti Bom and teh tarik later, I still had 30 minutes to go, so I wandered about and found a small but intriguing museum, dedicated to the history of JPN.

There was nobody in there so I took my time examining the exhibits.

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Samples depicting the evolution of birth certificates, identification cards, citizenship papers, marriage and death certs.

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Some of the old equipment used in the department.

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How the old ICs used to look like before digital scanning of thumbprints was invented. Good ol’ ink.

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And the newer ICs. Mine looked like the bottom one before I changed to the latest (it has two photos of the card holder on it). I last got it made in 2011.

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These were apparently the ICs of the local indigenous people.

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An old record book dating back to 1887. Impressive handwriting – looks typed! This was back in the day when they actually cared about this sort of thing.

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More samples.

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The back room of the museum has a display of commemorative tokens presented to the department from overseas dignitaries, as well as some historical documents such as this old IC of our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad..

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And Tun Hussein Onn.

The hour was up, and I promptly made my way back to the 2nd floor to collect my brand new IC. It was done! The process was smooth, hassle-free and really fast. Now if only all other gov departments were this efficient. 😛

So here’s the rundown: 

Go to JPN – Proceed to 2nd Floor – get number – go to counter – pay fee and get receipt – wait for number to be called to have your photo taken – take photo – wait 1 hour – collect IC. Easy peasy!

Giving credit where credit is due, I’m impressed by the speed and efficiency of the JPN. Passports take a bit longer but considering that it only takes a day as opposed to a month (in places like the Philippines), we Malaysians have it good!

 

 

 

 

 

Kakatoo Restaurant, IOI City Mall Putrajaya

IOI City Mall Putrajaya is a haven for food lovers, with a variety of restaurants, snack kiosks and eateries just waiting to be discovered. You can come back here dozens of times and have something new to savour at each visit! 🙂

Evelyn and I were here recently for a catchup session. Since she’s vegetarian, we hunted around for a place with vegetarian options and finally decided on Kakatoo, which dishes out Nyonya and Western fare. This is their third outlet, after Ativo Plaza Bandar Sri Damansara and Kepong.

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The main ‘characters’ here are the cockatoos and parrots adorning various nooks and crannies within the restaurant, which is painted in a colour scheme similar to the beautiful birds. Blue is a prominent shade, while the waiters wear matching yellow shirts. The furniture is wooden and reflects the Straits Chinese heritage, with patterned covers and intricate place mats.

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Evelyn had clear soup noodles, which came with an assortment of mushrooms, veggies and fried shallots.

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I had their signature Nasi Lemak with sambal sotong. The rice is cooked in coconut milk for a fragrant flavour and tinged blue from the petals of butterfly-pea flowers, a natural food colouring. Loved the rice as it was fluffy and separated well into individual grains. The squid was fresh and springy, with spicy sambal sauce clinging to each piece. The dish was served with the standard nasi lemak sides of boiled egg, crunchy anchovies and cucumber, with an extra dose of spicy sambal. Definitely one of the better nasi lemaks that I’ve tried 🙂

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To cool down from all that spiciness, Evelyn and I got a Cendol to share. The mountain of shaved ice is topped with sweet green jelly strands (cendol), gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup, condensed milk and mashed red bean. Great for hot days!

Kakatoo also serves Western dishes like chicken chop and pasta, as well as Asian dishes like rice and noodles.

KAKATOO 

LG-78B & 78C, IOI City Mall Putrajaya, 62502 IOI Resort City,

Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya, Malaysia

Opening hours: 10AM-10PM

8th Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

 

Every year around March, the skies of the Malaysian administrative capital Putrajaya lights up with colourful sights as visitors usher in the Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Held for the 8th year running, the festival has more than just balloons  – turning the city into a three-day long festival hub with loads of activities, food stalls, bazaars, performances and more. This year, they had 20 balloons, including quirky ones like Mr Zee the Zebra, Bobo the Happy Lobster and the Yellow Jacket Bee, flown by 14 pilots from all over the world.

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I covered the event as a member of the media on the last day of the festival. The place was already packed by 10am, despite the sweltering heat. It’s been really hot in Peninsula Malaysia these past few days due to a heat wave.

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Our booth was at the Red Zone, smack in the middle of everything. There was a section called Wonderful Indonesia: Pop of Paradise which showcased all things Indonesian, from dance to cultural performances, Indonesian food like Ayam Penyet (fried chicken), bakmie (chicken noodles) and more.

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Since it was afternoon, most of the balloons had been let down (they float them up twice a day: early morning and late evening), but there were still a few on for show. Visitors can also go on tethered rides for a fee.

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I received a complimentary pass into the Cold Inflation area, where visitors can walk inside an inflated balloon. We had to take off our shoes, but the ground underneath the thin balloon was gravelly and full of pebbles, so it hurt my feet ._. The balloon looked old and faded.. not as pretty as they put in promotional materials. Still, a nice place for selfies and whatnot.

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There were many activities for the kids, whether fun or more adventurous – like rock climbing, archery, plastic rodeo, and zorbing.

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Inflatable playgrounds. If only the weather wasn’t so hot…

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Over at the bazaar area, stalls sold everything from dreamcatchers to toys, fabric, clothing, accessories and more.

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Of course, no festival would be complete without food, and there were loads of them at the PHABF. The smell of some just had me salivating.

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Roast meats fresh off the charcoal grill.

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A pirated version of Starbucks. They’re even called Pirate Coffee 😛

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A visitor playing with bubbles. She looks so happy 🙂

The fiesta was fun, but I wish the weather had been better because it was really hot – can’t be good for the kids.  Now that it’s over, we’ll have to wait a whole year for the next installment, but hopefully it will be bigger and better.

Sopoong Korean Food, IOI City Mall Putrajaya

Had to pay my phone bill at the mall, so I wandered around in search of dinner. Passed by a quiet, unassuming looking Korean restaurant called Sopoong. The interior was a pleasing green shade with branch-like decorations. The lighting was dim so it didn’t catch my eye at first.

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…. guess it didn’t catch the eye of that many other people either. Resto was empty even though it was dinnertime.

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Tried ‘Sac Sac’ orange juice. It had lots of pulp in it, but was very very sweet, even when I diluted it with ice. The serving is tiny: just 230+mls.

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Cheese ramyeon. Ramyeon = Korean instant noodles, cooked in a delightful miso-like broth that is savoury and just a tad spicy. The version here had bits of oyster mushroom and onions swimming in the soup. The cheese was melty and cheesy, coating the ramyeon with a delightful finish.Another thing I liked about it was even though I ate it slowly,  the noodles did not turn soggy.

My meal came with banchan (sides): a chilli marinated vegetable, kimchi and macaroni salad. The kimchi tasted homemade, fresh, and well seasoned. They also sell it in jars which you can take back home.

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Other than ramyeon, they serve typical Korean fare like bulgogi, tobokki (rice cakes), kimchi fried rice and spring onion pancakes, etc.

SOPOONG (IOI CITY MALL) 

L2-D21-R1 (Level 2), IOI City Mall Putrajaya, Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya, Malaysia

Business hours: 11am – 10pm

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Chinese New Year is in a week. The malls are decked out in reds, yellows, lanterns and  calligraphy. 🙂 Here in IOI City mall Putrajaya, they had a rotating tree hung with dozens of colourful ribbons.

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Wishing everyone a prosperous Year of the Monkey!