December 04, 2005

Flightus Interuptus

Currently about 5:15PM, Sunday afternoon, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

I almost went to Cambodia. We boarded the plane, got the emergency instructions, and were about to start taxiing (?) down the runway when they pulled back into the gate. They worked on it for a while, then had the passengers deplane "for our comfort." From the gate area it looks like they're working on the front landing gear, so I'm happy to take the delay rather than end up on a sensationalistic Fox news special. I can see them transfering baggage to a new plane.

They just made a statement of the obvious, that we are delayed, but no info of changing planes. I may be here for a while.

Maybe they'll give us a free snack or something.

More food around Kuala Lumpur

One day, we mustered up fairly early to try an herbal soup of Chinese origin that's quite popular in Malaysia and Singapore, called bak kut teh [spelling corrected here and throughout]. It's usually for breakfast, I believe, made from various cuts of pork, with an assortment of medicinal herbs. This is the setup prior to the actual soup. Those are cut pieces of yau cha kwai (Chinese cruellers, or oil stick) and fried bean curd pockets in a simple broth.


Bak kut teh can be ordered mixed in one bowl, or as in this case, veggies separate (in the same pork based broth). The vegetables are napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms and rehydrated shiitake mushrooms. I think there's some pickled cabbage or something in here as well.

Here's the bowl of bak kut teh with meat.


Continue reading "More food around Kuala Lumpur" »

Around Kuala Lumpur

Currently about 12:45am, early Sunday morning, December 4th, in Kuala Lumpur.

!!Happy birthday, Gia!!

I had a more elaborate entry composed, but the computer I was working on in this Internet cafe decided that I should start over. So here's the run and gun version.

Beef ball noodles, dry style, with iced Chinese tea and the communal chili sauce.

From this well-known shop next to my guesthouse.

Continue reading "Around Kuala Lumpur" »

December 02, 2005


Stupid I just figured out that Java is not enabled by default on the BlackBerry. I've just enabled it, and I should be able to post this from the mini-browser on the BlackBerry.

If you can read this, it also means I'm jumping around because I can post without having to find an Internet cafe.

November 30, 2005

Much respect due to the hawkers and vendors

Currently about 5pm, Wednesday, November 30th, in Kuala Lumpur.

Imagine this: pick a dish that you know how to make pretty well. Design and possibly build your own cart for the express purpose of cooking that one item. Buy your ingredients. Stake out your spot. Cook it each day. Hang up your sign amongst dozens or a hundred competitors. Sell it for the thinnest of margins. Refine your recipe. Make a living. Repeat each day.

Or, choose some produce that you'd like to sell. Stake out your spot. Display your produce amongst dozens or a hundred competitors. Sell it for the thinnest of margins. Make a living. Repeat each day.

There's something pretty great in all of that, as hard as it must be to do. I know I couldn't do it.

Continue reading "Much respect due to the hawkers and vendors" »

November 29, 2005


Currently 7:05pm, Tuesday, November 29th in Kuala Lumpur.

If you are ever in Kuala Lumpur, and are intending to travel onward to India, and have gone to the India High Commission (embassy) but missed the hours for the passport services, then go back the next day during the proper hours, have all your paperwork filled out completely, and have your three passport photos, pay for all the proper copies, then wait in line patiently, with the fees ready in ringgit, then come up to the man with the impressive white handlebar mustache, beware: he may fuck up your plans.

Or at least, he fucked up my plans.

Continue reading "Thwarted" »

November 28, 2005

Solitude is good...

...especially when the interlopers are insects. Just two little waterbug things, but I'll pass, thank you. I moved to a newly renovated place called Number Eight Guesthouse, near Times Square and the Bukit Bintang shopping area. The guesthouse is quite stylish - somebody's been reading Wallpaper* - it's very designer-ey, very clean, on a good street, and RM85.00/night which is about US$22.36/night.

Last night after arriving, I met up with some great people from eGullet who took me out to a nyonya place outside the city, then we browsed a night market and they even helped me scope out potential hotels. Such hospitality!! This is only the second of this type that I've been to, so I'd hesitate to draw any comparisons yet, except that it was quite tasty. Of course I have lots of photos, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to post them.

The main agenda item for today, now that I've found a place to stay, is to get over to the Indian embassy and submit my visa application. It takes 3-4 days here, which is no great savings over the 5 days it would take in Bangkok, but I feel like I've spent enough time in BKK and would rather park here for a bit.

I'm meeting the eG folks for dinner again tonight, and will probably make arrangements for a day trip down to Melaka (Malacca), which was one of the primary cities for the spice trade.

November 27, 2005

En route to Kuala Lumpur

Currently about 8:30am, on Sunday, November 27th

Singapore has been a whirlwind. I'm here for just less than 48 hours, so it really feels like I've barely seen anything, even though I've done a fair bit of eating. The other night we had gong gong (sea snails?), la-la (local clams), blood cockles (those same blood clams in Japan, but smaller), ocean crayfish (like a slipper lobster), and a few other things to round out the table. Yesterday for lunch we had nasi padang, which is similar to nasi kandar, the Malaysian rice plate, but nasi padang is the Indonesian version. Both are excellent. Last night we had a banquet at a Chinese restaurant on the East Coast, and they brought out dish after dish of seafood, most in the spicier style of the area, including chilli crab, black pepper crab, lobster tails, a special deep fried duck and a bunch of other stuff. Along the way, I've had chendol (a shaved ice dessert with coconut milk, red bean, sweet noodles, etc), curry puff, ham chen pi (Chinese "donuts") and Hainanese Chicken Rice, a dish which is all about the rice, not the chicken. I definitely would like to come back to Singapore, although it seems to be hard to do it on the cheap. Hawker food is of course reasonable, but accomodation and transport would be the major expense. I'm staying in a hotel at a discount, but in roaming around I haven't seen guesthouses or more modest hotels. But then again, we're right in town off Orchard Road.

I'm about to leave Singapore to go to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It's a nice coach, so it should be fairly comfortable 4-5 hour trip. The ticket costs S$55.00, which is approximately $32.00US.

I'm meeting up with some folks from eG tonight, and I'm going to extend a few days in KL to try and get some travel visas ready for Vietnam and India. I'm hoping it will be easier to do in KL than in Bangkok, where it takes 5 days to get a visa for India.

November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner in Penang


Please correct me if I don't have the names right. Starting at the top, fried oysters (in eggs, with chili sauce), pork and chicken satay with peanut sauce, duck noodle soup, char kway teaw, and beef noodle soup with beef balls, and in the center, wan ton mee.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Currently about 11:30am, 24th of November in Penang, Malaysia

Happy Thanksgiving.

I have a renewed appreciation for the opportunities I have received and those still ahead of me, my supportive family, and the many friends I am fortunate to have. I am grateful.

Somebody save me a little turkey, ham and stuffing, would ya?

Last night my buddy took me to a nyonya place called Hot Wok which I enjoyed, then a roadside tea house/Internet cafe/snack stand for a pulled tea.

This morning I got up at 7:30am to partake in the complimentary breakfast buffet in the hotel, walk around in the street market and also explore the wet market down a few blocks from there. I feel very comfortable here in Penang.

November 22, 2005

Penang, Pearl of the Orient

Currently it's about 6pm, 22nd of November, in Penang, Malaysia.

I took AirAsia to Penang at 7:25am. So I got out of the hotel at 5am. Let me tell you, it's easy to get around Bangkok at that time of the morning! Unfortunately it's still quite far from the guesthouse to the airport. It took about 30 minutes by cab, all told, whereas it usually takes over an hour or even more during rush hour.

AirAsia is a budget carrier, only booking over the Internet, and so the airfare is quite reasonable, however with few amenites. They do offer a menu of snacks to buy, and of course, I'm a sucker for this sort of thing.


Starting on the left, that's sweetened green tea with honey, salmon spread with crackers, and Knorr's Instant Cup Jook (I guess Cup O' Jook is probably trademarked by the Cup O' Noodle people.) These tea drinks are everywhere, especially Japan and Thailand so far, so I've had a bunch of those. The salmon I bought as more of a goof than anything, and it wasn't great - just salmon, mayo, some waterchestnut for texture and I think some sweet pickle relish. But it is a product of Thailand or at least packed in Thailand, and I wouldn't normally think of salmon and Thailand at all. As for the jook (congee, or rice soup) I had some real hope it would be at least passable, but the rice was too fine for my taste, it was runny, and the spongy "chicken"bits took it down a few notches. I guess I should have tried the instant Tom Kha Gai soup instead, but I thought I had better odds of the jook being good. Oh well. Total was 170 Thai baht or $4.25US.

Continue reading "Penang, Pearl of the Orient" »

Off to Malaysia & Singapore

Currently about 12:30am, Tuesday, November 22nd in Bangkok

Early Tuesday morning, I'm flying off to Penang, Malaysia for a few days to meet up with an old college buddy and to try to learn about and sample the food of the area. From there, we're headed to his hometown of Singapore for a few days, then I'm back on my own to Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days, then back to Thailand to see Chiang Mai, in the North. I have some blog entries already written, but the Internet cafe I normally use (they let me connect my own laptop) closes at midnight, and I ran a little late.

Okay, so I had another Thai massage - let's just say the extra 30 minutes of foot massage was a good choice. Then I had a late dinner. Thus the lack of rich media postination. But I'll post those as soon as I can, depending on the Internet access there.

I had planned to try and get my India visa paperwork started, but obviously I need my passport to travel, so I'll have to take care of that when I come back to BKK.

For you Americans, Happy Thanksgiving! Have some turkey and all the fixin's for me. Some dark meat and some white. No pumpkin pie, though. Pecan, if you have it.