Travel Tips - Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia

Pulau Langkawi is in Kedah, Malaysia. i.e, quite far away from Singapore. So, going there for just a weekend trip from Singapore is overkill. But the turn of events demanded us for a weekend trip.
Being stingy while paying for transport is one of my traits. So, my ideal itinerary is to go to Penang (bus, train, cheaper flights, or if 4+ people rent a car from Johor and hit the roads), Spend a couple of days enjoying the Malay and Chinese cuisine. Take a ferry to Langkawi and roam around for 2-3 days.
With just the weekend in hand, there is no point wasting time. Be wise and book the cheapest flight ASAP and get going!Both Air Asia and Jetstar flies to Langkawi. Our flights were so delayed that its another funny story.
Pentai Cenang & Kuah, both places have loads and loads of budget stays. If you are going with a gang of friends, Pentai Cenang is your place to stay. Malibest, AB Motel, Aseania resorts are right on the beach!
AB Motel is where I finally got the bookings. The staff are quite co-operative and prompt in replying to e-mails. By far, the best budget hotel I have ever stayed!
Right by the beach, Spacious rooms, clean sheets & towels, hot shower, A/C, Un-intrusive staff and good price(120RM for beach side room with 2 Queen beds). What more can I ask ? :-)
Reserve the place at the earliest as it can get fully booked a bit early. Remember to ask for the rooms on the beach side. They have few rooms across the road as well.
Rent a car from the airport or ferry terminal. Bargain as shameless as you can. We got a new, well conditioned 7-seater for ~60SGD/night. Drive around the whole place, you might get lost but since it’s a relatively small island, you will soon find yourself back on familiar roads. We came across many beautiful beaches & ideal sunset view during the drives.

Newzzz ... Go around shopping, for the Duty-Free! The Zon duty free shop is right at the intersection of Pentai Cenang & Pentai Tengah. Enjoy! Also, there are many road side shops selling jewellery, clothes and many cute things. But they are touristy shops and obviously over-priced. My friends who are good at bargaining did buy some nice stuff for good price.
The pubs and restaurants are quite good. Most crowded time at pubs is around 12-1. We went to Debbie's place by 1.30 and the whole place was ours for a few hours!
The beach offers lots of water activities - Parasailing, Jet ski, banana boat rides. If you want to play all of these, try to bargain as a package. It will come in for ~50SGD. At least, do the parasailing. The view is breath taking!! I was super thrilled as it was my first experience on a parasail :-)
I guess anyone could get that!
Do take a ride up the fantastic cable car. You go as high as 2300ft above sea level. The sky bridge and the deck themselves are awesome sights. The view from there need not be explained, right?
View of the Skybridge, from the upper deck.
And, if you turn around you see this!
You are not allowed to take any drinks/food up there. Obviously, they want you to buy it from their stalls!
There is a POS-Malaysia post box also at the top, for travelers who prefer the lightest souvenir possible - post cards.
Try to visit the famous Eagle square before 9.00. It’s quite magnificent and you have a port view from there. By the time we thought about the eagle and had our fun-ride there, it was midnight. With many pro-photographers in tow, we still managed to get a good picture :-)

Copyright Photo Courtesy : Dragonfly


Travel tips - Hope I can remember all of it!

Before the Chinese New Year long weekend, a few of my colleagues came to me asking for info on where to and how to travel and be in budget, if you have 4 days in hand.
I had a tough time recollecting all the money saving interesting tips. The value for money hotels, the cheapest bus tickets & the innumerous numbers stored randomly in my contacts.
Nickie says, it pays to be organized. That is too much pain for me.
I have come up with an easier idea. Document it all in my blog!!
It could help net surfers & would be a place where I also can go back to refer! Y didn't I think of it before?

Next post will be on my recent trip, contacts still fresh in memory


A hearty low-cal soup

As part of healthy life style, I discovered that I should switch from my fave fried Kway teow to Vietnamese Pho.
Likewise, I should introduce soups and salads into daily meals.
Oh! So expensive they are, to be eaten at Soup Spoon or Salad Stop.
Healthy food is more expensive to eat out, which brings me to my own kitchen.

I decided to boil a soup.
The recipe is here :

2 large carrots
A bunch of asparagus
A handful of almonds (This can be optional, I wanted to add some protiens)
One big white onion, cut as u like, but not too small.
One Tablespoon oil (Butter is better, for people who want enhanced flavor and added calories)
Cream Cheese - Maybe 2-3 Tablesppon ( for creamier and calorified soup)
Salt (Sorry, forgot how much I added)

Cut the carrots into two big pieces & boil them until they soften, in ~600ML of water . (I used 500ML, but my soup came out thicker and had to add some more water)
Boil the Asparagus & almonds (I put them together :) )
Once you boil it, you just need to squeeze the almonds to peel them!

Slightly sauté the onion in the oil to take away the moisture (4-5 minutes in reduced heat). It locks in the flavor too. Once the onion is slightly brown, add the peeled almonds, boiled asparagus and carrots and salt.
Let it mix well for a minute or two. Switch off the stove & let it cool.
Once its cooled, blend all of it to a paste.
I do not know if using a Blender Or a Mixer makes any difference.
My blender gave up on the way. So, I used the mixer grinder.
You might need to add some water to help the mixer.
Once itz thoroughly mixed, pour this mix into the water you used to boil the carrots.
Make your husband stir it in low flame until he gets bored and starts complaining (3-4 minutes). That's when you ask him to taste it.

In desperate need to escape from the kitchen, the definite answer would be "Darling .. Its delicious"!
You may repeat this statement to feed him the soup later.

Garnish with Shallots, a bit of garlic and cilantro leaves Or whatever you like to see :-)
I added cilantro coz it looked nice on the gleaming sun-kissed yellow soup!

Public opinion is that it tastes good.
Serve with slightly toasted bread. Remember to buy wholemeal ;)

Have a good meal!


Singapore - Butterfly park for free

The butterfly park next to Alexandra hort park has free entrance for public on. last Saturday, every month.
Guess it will crowded .. but do plan to visit if u r free.
The whole park and the trails are quite beautiful.

See the hard work !

He was "shooting" them, until I accidentally scared them away!

For better pictures, visit this photo stream later ..
PS : He did get breathtaking pictures !
Njoy !


Burnt Pots & Pans

Having a burnt pot or pan is so very common. The food tasting bad coz of it, is also common.
But, how about breaking into huge fights coz of it ?
Thats what happened in my house yesterday morning!

I did a "root cause analysis" and settled for 3 reasons
1. The urge for tea, as soon as you wake-up
2. The habit of brewing tea while half-asleep
3. The responsibility division in the house - Cooking department is me (Yeah!) & cleaning department is the guy.
Definitely the problem is NOT ME!

I was enjoying the rest of my sleep while boiling the tea. I did not even notice the burning smell or the thick brown layer forming on the sides of the milk pan. I seldom do & according to the guy, I don't care for it coz I am not the one painfully cleaning it !

He got quite put off by my carelessness & started advising me to improve. My reply was simple, Make your own tea! As long as you don't do it, don't comment on mine! It was the starter .. which led to mishaps, going separate ways to work, an expensive patch-up lunch (ofcourse not initiated by me) ...
A weak moment in between the apologies led me to agree that I will clean up the mess left in the pan.

Until yesterday, for all the dirt , grease, sticky food, burns, my solution was the CIF cleaning agent with the soft steel wool which you get in the dollar store. Itz Magic on stove tops, table tops and even the Petrol tanks ! I beleived it could clean anything in the world, if you could scrub hard. Just to find easier ways, I started my research; ofcourse in the internet & talk with gal pals. Experimented a couple of them and am satisfied with my gleaming pan :-)
Posting here, hoping someone will benefit from it.

1. Scrub max amount of food particles with a non-metal spoon. I used wood.
2. Rinse in cold water and fill it to the brink with water.
3. Add salt and a few drops of dish washing liquid.
4. Let the water boil and start dancing out of the pan.
5. Turn off the heat.
6. Close the pan with a lid & go for a walk if you have nothing important to do. (30-45 minutes is what we need)
7. Pour away the water.
8. Remember to run cold water to take the heat of the steel !
9. Using the dishwash liquid and scrub pad, clean it.
10. Run it under the tap with your eyes closed.
11. Open your eyes and smile :-) Its Done !! Back to silvers ... :-)
Mine was a stainless steel pot .
I read about using some acidic or alkaline stuff, if the stain persists.
Baking soda helps. Vinegar on the other end helps. (Don't use these on copper bottom pans)
I wanted to try it. So, I poured some vinegar and spread it over the pan. Didn't see much of a difference. So, rinsed it away, and dried the pan.

PS : Don't forget to show it to the guy, if he had a shout at you for this!


The Indian airports

Just during the recent travel, I went through the airports in the two major Indian cities… Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai & Delhi International Airport Limited.

Mumbai airport and the facilities there can be described in a single word as Terrible!

Almost all the people who were having transit from International to Domestic terminal were stranded. There is no proper information or infrastructure for the transit to occur. Many of them were shocked to hear that they have to collect their baggage, board a bus and reach the domestic terminal to catch their connection flight, which will depart like in an hour!
The worst part was the announcement system. There weren't any!!
The airplane staff had to go around the whole terminal shouting, repeating the names for passengers who are yet to board.
One positive thing I noticed was the personnel were trying their best to help. They were trying to guide the passengers in transit & to gather passengers from all the corners to board the plane.
I guess they are used to the angry banter of the distraught passengers. They kind of switch to autopilot as part of reaction and keep repeating the same useless consoling words and express their helplessness.

In sheer contrast to it is the New Delhi airport. A top class international airport with all facilities like travelator, snooze chairs, excellent gates, duty free shops, there was even a Delhi Daredevils pub.
The pics speak for themselves.

But the people, the indifferent and arrogant attitude is unbearable.
The typical "Dilliwallah" attitude, I have power, so I must use it put others in distress!
How else can you explain the behavior of the security staff, giving instruction to the Japanese transit passenger in pure Hindi, without even any hand signs?
The poor single traveler was lost when the uniformed staffs were asking her to get the tag for her hand carries, and for her to go the female section (when there was no queue of Ladies sign). They ask her in Hindi to open her bag for verification. She was so perplexed and the staffs were enjoying it. They were not even trying to hide their satisfaction & happiness by torturing others.
When asked, the security officer replied to me that this is how things are done here!

So sad that a set of our own people are spoiling the reputation & the standard we are trying to achieve.
If you do not know the language, I would suggest to take the transit at Mumbai airport ..



New year is a good time and well accepted excuse to kickstart a lot of things which have been neglected for a long time. Especially activities concerned to the self which are not mandatory in real life. I am not naming them as resolutions Coz it quite compels me to break resolutions.
Couple of activities pending for a long time are blogging and healthy life !
Restarting blogging might be an easier one, mainly Coz I am having a very active life these years meeting a lot of people and learning loads of new things & my blog is not specific to an area/ just myself. So I will be pretty much writing here things which interests me and my readers :)
Healthy lifestyle is something which I have been aiming to start to practice and achieve for a long while. The sentence shows my inertia towards it ;) with the current lifestyle with loads of wining and dining this has become kind of unavoidable if I wish to continue the fabulous lifestyle :) over the past year I have learned the theory of it.
Workout atleast thrice a week.
Reduce processed food.
Complex Carb in the morning, proteins for the daytime.
choose brown rice, brown sugar .
Cardios are our good friends...

I have decided to embrace the words of wisdom and be healthier and to lose the excess weight I have accumulated over the past year.

So these two are the two small tests for me this year :)

Happy new year all ...