Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Holiday in Labuan

Some people think Labuan is a part of Sabah. There are some who thinks Labuan is a part of Brunei. Actually Labuan is a part of Bruneian Empire but due to internal strife over royal succession and piracy has weaken the empire. The European powers began their colonization and started to take opportunity on the weaken Bruneian Empire, Spanish took over their territory in Philippines, Dutch took Southern Borneo while the British, James Brooke was more interested with Labuan because he was intended to make this place better than Singapore. In 1963, Labuan became a state of Sabah and has joined together with states to become Malaysia. In 1984, the Government of Sabah ceded Labuan to the federal government which later been accessed to a federal territory. It was declared an international offshore financial centre and free trade zone in 1990. 
So after a short history about Labuan, you should able to know more about Labuan. Either you have once thought that Labuan is a part of Labuan or a part of Brunei, you are better than people who is a Malaysian but doesn't even know Labuan exist. I have seen these people really exist especially when I told them that I went to Labuan for holiday.
I had a great time in Labuan with my family. We stayed at Palm Resort Hotel which is the one and only 4 stars hotel that owns a private beach. 
Their rooms looks a little run down but I can assure you that the room is the biggest I have been so far for a 4 stars hotel. It is so big that my son got to enjoy running around the room without the risk of bumping on the furniture. What is even more worth it is the price for the room is hardly more than RM250/night with breakfast included.
The food here is absolutely delicious. The food price is reasonable for a hotel like this. Basically we had almost all our meals in this hotel. 
There is a kid playground which my 2-year old son loves it so much. However, there are mosquitoes here so it is better you have mosquito repellent to be applied on your kids before you let them play here. 
They owns a private beach but there is no one using the beach because of the sand flies. Sand fly is as irritating as mosquito because it will suck your blood too. I had to put a lot of insect repellent on my son to prevent him from getting those. We had a good time playing the sand and let him experience the sand for the first time.  
If you do not like insects, just stay inside their swimming pool. Their swimming pool is quite big and clean because they clean the pool every morning. There is a kids pool too but it is a little too small and do not have anything fancy facility on it. However, my son loves it as long as there is water inside.
There is a bad beside the pool where you can get a cool drink while soaking yourself in the pool. What a relaxing moment!
Renting a car is very cheap because of their free trade zone status. Do not be surprised that their car rental is cheaper than Langkawi. I rented a Nissan Almera for only RM80/day. I can get it even cheaper if I am staying longer. So do not hesitate to rent a car there so you can travel around to see how Labuan is like. One of their most popular tourist spots is this Muzium Chimney. Charcoal mining was once the main economy in Labuan before being replaced by oil and gas. So this museum is showing you the history of the charcoal mining in Labuan. No entrance fee is required which means you can visit this place for free. 
Just a walking distance from the Muzium Chimney, you will find yourself a small bird park. Entrance fee of RM3.00/pax is required while for foreigners will need to pay a little more which is RM5.00/pax.
Even though the bird park is not that big but it is a great exposure for your little ones in your family to understand and get near to them.
Due to the place is small and unpopular, they do not get a lot of visitors so you can have your own sweet time get close with the birds.
The most fruitful experience on that visit was we got to see the newborn of the birds. Look at the little ones which just hatched from their eggs.
Botanical Garden is another place to visit. This the best place to get near to the nature while you are exercising by jogging around it. 
We didn't really jog here but we were busy chasing our boy around the park. He is the one who was jogging. He was really happy and enjoying himself at the park. Without a doubt, as his parent, we did enjoyed ourselves too.
When you are in an island, seafood is always the must eat food because the freshest seafood is always comes from the fisherman island. There is a large number of local population in Labuan is working as a fisherman especially the eastern part of Labuan.
Anjung Ikan Bakar is one of the famous seafood restaurant in Labuan. This restaurant is built on top of the sea water. It consists of 4 different stalls selling about the same thing. 
They are all selling seafood but the different is some seafood can be found in one stall and the other stall might have some seafood that other stalls doesn't have. At Anjung Ikan Bakar, we can have a mix order in all the restaurants except stall no.4. Not really sure why is it but that's what the staff told me.
Another similar concept restaurant along the same road of Jalan Tanjung Aru is known as Anjung Ketam. It is not easy to find this restaurant unless you notice a big giant replica crab beside the main road. 
It is the same concept which is having 4 similar stalls in the same restaurant. At this restaurant, they are quite reluctant to have mix order with other stalls. When I decided to cancel order from their stall, they began to give in. They are not really good in doing business. Very rigid and inflexible. If you allowed mix order, you will get more order instead of customers choose the most stall with more customers dining at or a stall with more seafood variety.
They have crab, seashells, crayfish, stingray and fishes. Once you have decided which seafood to choose, you can choose your favourite cooking style. Below are the dishes that I have ordered. 

Labuan is a nice island to be potential one of the famous destination in Malaysia. However sadly to say, I do not see any effort of development and tourism funding effort on this island. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed very much with my stay at Labuan especially staying at Palm Beach Resort. This resort is really a great family resort where family gets together and enjoying the sweet time. Basically this resort already got what you need so you can choose not to drive out to anywhere else. So do not hesitate and start planning a trip to Labuan with your family during this upcoming school holidays!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Mi Na Rae Korean Restaurant, Sri Petaling

It has been a very long time since I have written about a Korean cuisine. I have been upset by a lot of new Korean restaurants recently until the point of time I truly forgot when was the best time I had a good Korean meal before. Lately, as I have been keep exploring the food places in Sri Petaling, my Elayna Jie recommended me again a restaurant called Mi Na Rae. Mi Na Rae Korean Restaurant is located at the first floor. Have you ever wonder why most of the Korean likes to open their restaurant upstairs? I really do not know why and it seems like a culture to them.
The set up is very humble and cozy. You won't see any haze in this restaurant like you used to see in other Korean restaurant where they will cook in front of you. This restaurant's policy is no cooking in front of their customer. So if you like to see your food prepared right in front of you, this is not the restaurant you are looking for.
Kimchi Mandu Jeongol (small) @RM50.00++
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 3/5
Taste: 3/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 - Their small portion can feed four of us. I wonder if they know what does small really means. Anyway, this is a kimchi soup with tofu, glass noodle and dumplings. I love the tofu which is really soft and tender which is best accompany with my favorite glass noodle. They just match perfectly with the kimchi soup. As for dumplings, not really that special enough for me. 

Pork Belly @RM23.00++
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 4/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 - All the BBQ I have ordered on that day were all really delicious. However, this ranked last among all. Please do not get me wrong. This is really delicious with their special marinated recipe on the meat which preserved inside the meat very well until we chewed on it. The only reason rank last among all is because it did contain too much "pork taste" in it. It is not raw, just slightly a little too much porky taste. For some people may not like it especially my sister. I did some research about it and I found that it is known as Boar Taint. According to Texas Tech University, when a male pig hits puberty, his body produces the pheromone (Androstenone) and an intestinal product (Skatole). They can settle into the fatty tissue of the pig and be released when cooked. There is no food safety issues associated with eating meat that has Boar Taint. It is just affecting the food quality standard.

Pork Belly Thin @RM23.00++
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 4/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 - You might be thinking the previous one should be the same like this one since both of them are pork belly. You are wrong! The texture is the main difference. This is the first Korean restaurant that I have blogged so far separated their pork belly into two different dishes with this one is particularly finely thin. The first one will give you more chewing work today while enjoying the fragrance roaming through your mouth slowly. As for this finely thinned pork belly gives you a little crispy and crunchy sensation with whole flavor in it just bombarded inside your mouth the moment you start chewing it. Another delightful experience in a Korean restaurant.

Smoked BBQ Duck @RM25.00++
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 5/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 4/5 - It is unforgivable if a Korean restaurant doesn't serve smoked BBQ duck. It is a sin if a Korean restaurant can't even make their smoked BBQ duck right. Luckily, they passed the two tests. You will never get enough of their smoked BBQ duck. The ratio between the fatty part and the duck meat is so perfectly which you can taste the heavy BBQ taste smoked in your mouth with a little juicy from the fatty part sprinkle on your taste bud gracefully. Perfect combination. I reckon this is the one of the best Korean restaurant that serves a wonderful smoked BBQ duck that I have ever dined so far.

The kids are happy and so do we. They got their rice and delicious BBQ meat to eat while we got our kimchi soup to savor. If you do notice, I did not show any of their side dishes picture in this post. They do serve the usual unlimited refilling side dishes. There are 8 types of them but none of them really impress me until the state I totally ignored them by not taking any photograph. That's the only thing this restaurant got to improve. Otherwise, this restaurant would be a perfect restaurant.
Total Damage: Thanks to Elayne Jie for the treat as my birthday meal. So I am not sure how much is it.
Ambiance: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Food Serving Speed: Fast
Will I Revisit?: Yes

Mi Na Rae Korean Restaurant
39-1, First Floor, Jalan Radin Bagus, 
Bandar Baru Sri Petaling, 
57000 KL
Tel: 012-6956987
Business Hours: 11.00am - 3.00pm; 5.00pm - 9.45pm (weekdays), 11.00am - 9.45pm (weekends)

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Yi Jia House, Sri Petaling

When dining with my elderly people such as my parents, searching for a Chinese restaurant is always not my superiority. They want it priced reasonably, delicious, creative, not too salty, air-conditioned and comfortable with babies around. Thank to my Elayne Jie for saving all my trouble by introduced to me this Chinese cuisine restaurant which is known as Yi Jia House.
That's my baby boy and my newborn niece which is not in this picture is going to have a nice, comfort and private place for her milking session. 
Deep Fried Beancurd with Three Type Eggs (2 pieces) @RM24.00++
Outlook: 2/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 5/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 - This was the first plate that was served right in front of us. You know when the elders are still having doubt about the quality of the restaurant and the first thing they saw on the table is something common like this, you can saw their sour face plus made some "erk!"sound. From the picture, I believe you would think that too. The outlook is not really that create but don't judge a book by its cover too soon yet. The moment they took the first bite, they have rated this as one of the best dishes on the table that day. I am not kidding. This unattractive beancurd turnout to be super delicious with crispy skin with unbelievable soft and tender on the inside. It brings a little sweetness in it too. When I said crispy, it was really crispy as if we are eating crackers.

Pork Ribs with Coffee @RM30.00++
Outlook: 3/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 4/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 - Coffee in your food and it is a Chinese cuisine? This is really amazingly extraordinary. Pork ribs is one of the best part of a pork and you will never go wrong with it. The extra coffee fragrant from the coffee brings a little bitter kick in your taste bud is truly inspiring. You would want to get the next piece to try that "kick"again for sure.

Yijia Crispy Chicken @RM20.00++
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 4/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 4/5 - This is one of the restaurant's signature dish. I ordered all the dishes by myself so my parents do not know what they would be expecting on the table. The moment they served this on the table, they said, "Oh no! No pork skin! This is too fatty and high cholesterol!" I said try a piece first and judge later. Then they said, is it pigeon meat? LoL...close, is a chicken. She couldn't believe the tenderness of the meat and it is absolutely not as fatty as pork skin. Another divine dish by Yijia House I would say.

French Bean with minced meat (Medium) @RM24.00++
Outlook: 3/5
Creativity: 2/5
Taste: 4/5
Price: 2/5
Overall: 2/5 - Simple but delicious. A little too expensive for this kind of vegetable. Well, we just need to order at least one vegetable on the table to complete a meal, don't we?

River Patin HK Steamed RM70.00/kg @RM98.00++
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 5/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 4/5 - Live freshwater fish + steam = a perfect delicious fish. You will never go wrong to steam a live fish especially a Patin. The sweetness and freshness of the meat will stays in there until you started to chew on it. A few minutes after that, every single fish bones was perfectly cleaned including the fish head!

Now, everyone had a happy meal especially when you are holding a Public Bank credit card, you will get 15% discount on the total bill! When the elders and the babies had a good meal, you will feel relieved and satisfy too.
Total Damage: RM214.40 (7 + 2 pax)
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Food Serving Speed: Fast
Will I Revisit?: Yes

Yi Jia House 
G-42 & 1-42, Zone J6,
Jalan Radin Bagus 3,
Bandar Baru Sri Petaling,
57000 KL
Tel: 016-7217822
Business Hours: 12.00pm - 3.00pm; 5.30pm - 11.00pm (daily)

Monday, 5 September 2016

Holiday trip to Manila to learn about the history and present of Philippines

Manila is the capital of Philippines and they have gone through the colonization from the Spanish and American. The worst is the Spanish which until today some of them still hate Spanish even though most of them carries Spanish word in their own name. That's the contradiction. Anyway, flying in to Manila is not a problem transferring from the airport to your next destination is a nightmare. Fun fact: Their national airport is known as Ninoy Aquino International Airport and there is 3 terminals on the airport so you need to make sure which terminal your plane is going to land. 
They do not have MRT or LRT line to the airport. The nearest station to the airport is the Baclaran station. It is easy for you to take a taxi from the airport to the Baclaran LRT1 Line Station. But it is very hard in vice versa. There are no proper taxi station you wait for the taxi even you hitch a taxi they can easily mark up the price from 200php onwards. They will not use their taxi meter. Please take note that the actual distance is just 10 minutes away. However, the traffic will make it more than 30 minutes distance. Fun Fact: The moment I landed, I can feel their air is so limited which makes you feel very stuffy. The weather here is humid, dry and hot!
The traffic in Manila is horrible and almost a nightmare. You can easily stuck in the jam for hours without any reason. The real issue is the locals able to get a car so easily with even nothing upfront payment required. So you know what will happened when everyone has their own vehicle and the government is too slow in response on widening the road. So my advice is just take their MRT and LRT service. Stay away from their road. Not even taxi or bus. Warning: Take care of your belongings at all time. Don't expose yourself by becoming the target of opportunity for the pick pocket.
If your destination is not accessible through MRT or LRT line, try to reach to the nearest MRT or LRT station an hop on to a Jeepney. Jeepney is a modification from the jeep that is used in the war during the American occupational in Philippines. After the world war II, the American started to leave Philippines and started to abandon or sell their military supplies surplus including jeep through the black market. Just the jeep alone, there are more than hundred thousands sold or given away. So right now it has becomes one of their public transport. It is so cheap which just starts from 7php only! Most of them are without air-conditioner but there are a few ones installed it.
Fun Fact: Please do not carry luggage or shopping bags in the Jeepney because there is absolutely no room for them. Carry in light or else take a taxi instead.
When you are asking a local where to go in Manila, it is about the same you are asking a person in Kuala Lumpur for the same question. Basically the tourist spots for Manila is just the same like Kuala Lumpur which are shopping malls, monuments, museum and anything historical. The only difference that Malaysians are proud of is their skyscraper buildings which are opened for public. They are known as KL Tower and Petronas Twin Tower.
We are proud of our skyscrapers and they are very proud with their malls. I have to admit they got a lot of malls. Yeah, you may say we got a lot of malls just in Klang Valley alone but the mall in Manila is not just a lot but there are super HUGE! We may say our biggest mall in Malaysia are at MidValley and 1 Utama. I can assure you that the combination of the size of MidValley and The Gardens are not even half the size of their gigantic malls in Manila.
One of the gigantic mall is at the Makati City which is known as Greenbelt. This mall is like a combination of Pavilion and Star Gallery Mall in Malaysia. I mean the concept and not the size. You have double up the size. Fun Fact: The sky is getting dark by 6.00pm everyday
Greenbelt itself has separated into 5 buildings. They are targeting middle class to high class visitors in this mall. 
The best part in this mall is they work on their landscape around the mall. It was done very well. I still prefer our KLCC park somehow but this is not bad either.
It is common to see dog wandering around publicly in Manila and even inside the mall. However this is a K9 unit which is guarding the some of the main entrance of the Greenbelt malls. Yes, you heard it right. All the entrances in the mall, buildings, airports and even MRT or LRT stations will have the entrance checkpoint with the body scanner system and stuff. This is one thing about the Philippines which they are very serious in preventing any act of terrorism in the public area. Fun Fact: Please do not travel around the city with big backpack and luggage. You will get annoyed but keep stuck at the entrance for the security check. Yes, they need you to open up your bag or luggage every time you enter. Just imagine just Greenbelt alone has 5 separated buildings, so you need to open up your bag/luggage every time you enter each building.
To get to Greenbelt, the fastest way by avoiding those unnecessary traffic is to take the MRT line to Ayala Station. From the station, you will pass by two big shopping malls which are The Landmark and Glorietta Mall before you reach the Greenbelt. It only takes about 10 minutes. However, I am not sure how long you are going to take if you are stuck in that two big shopping malls with the attraction in it. Haha!
The most iconic mall in the Philippines is the SM Mall of Asia which is known locally as SM MOA. It was built on a reclamation land of Pasay and opened on 2006. In 2012, it has became the third-largest mall in the world but today it had become the 11th largest mall in the world. It is not about the mall you have to focus on here but the man behind it, 
He is known as Henry Sy who is a Chinese migrated to Philippines to open a business by selling shoes. Soon after that he opened the first standalone departmental store in Philippines which later brings him the fortune today where he has opened lots of SM Mall around the country and 13 of the malls can be found in the top 100 largest mall in the world and he got 3 malls in the top 5 largest mall in the world. 
SM MOA is more popular is because of this entertainment park just beside the sea and it only opened at night. On the Saturday, you will get to see the fireworks display from here.
SM MOA is slightly smaller than 1Utama in Malaysia with the same target market which is the middle income visitors. The expansion still ongoing and I am sure they can easily surpass 1Utama when it is done. Fun Fact: Everyday before the mall is opened for public, the mall will play their national anthem. Not just in SM MOA but it is a custom in all the malls in Philippines. 
They even have a public transportation hub here. To get to here, you can travel using the LRT1 to EDSA/Pasay station and take a 7php Jeepney to here. There are a lot of Jeepney available every 5 minutes. You do not have to wait for long.
Shopping for branded stuff in Manila is slightly cheaper than Malaysia because of our currency superiority is slightly better. Fun fact: When you are shopping there, you will notice sentence such as "Buy 1 Take 1". You must be thinking, of course if I buy 1, I will only take 1. Please do not misunderstand. The meaning of "Buy 1 Take 1" is actually the same concept like our "Buy 1 Free 1". 
The food here is so expensive. It is easily more expensive than Kuala Lumpur. Please do not be surprised. Just a normal sandwich like this already cost RM30.00. Fun Fact: Their elderly and disabled citizen will automatically get 20% off for all their food and public transportation
Their drinks are still the same in Malaysia. We are famous with our sirap bandung and they are famous with their gulaman drink which is just RM1.00 per cup. Fun Fact: You do not say "take away" food here. They do not understand. They only know "take out".
One of the most economical way to spend in your food is to go to their local fast food chain store such as Andoks, Jollibee, Mang Inasal and many more. My personal recommendation is to dine at Mang Inasal which is a roasted chicken rice shop with more local flavor in it. You will just spend less than RM10.00 per meal and you get to eat their unlimited rice until you are full! Super worth it. Their roasted chicken is super delicious which you wouldn't mind to eat it every single day! But only if...I do not have to queue up for too long. As you can see the crowd here, it is fully packed!
We can easily access our roadside hawker stall for a cheaper food but over here, the hygiene issue and security issue are much worse than Kuala Lumpur. You do not feel safe at all. No matter what, do not hesitate to try their local Tau Fu Fah which has some jelly bits in it. It is really delicious and only cost 10 php!
Do not miss their traditional Hilot massage! It is using banana leaves and burn with candle before applying them on your body. It is super hot for the first few seconds, after that you will not feel anything at all. Just try once for the experience but I would still prefer Thai traditional body massage. Fun Fact: The locals second language is English. You will not have any problem communicating with them with English.
Enough of the modernized Philippines and we study a little bit about the history of Philippines. That's all about when you are travelling to another country. It is to learn about their history, culture, demographic and geography.
This is Lapu Lapu is the first hero of Philippines that stop the invasion of the Spanish empire in 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan who is a Portuguese whom found this land and try to claim it for Spain. The famous battle is known as Battle of Mactan and the aftermath of this war is the death of Ferdinand Magellan and temporary delaying the invasion for more than 40 years until 1565 when Miguel Lopez de de Legazpi arrived Philippines from Mexico to begin more than 300 years of colonization by the Spaniards.  
In the Rizal Park which is known as the Heroes Park where all the acclaimed heroes were placed around the park. Most of the heroes were dead because of revolution against the Spaniards. There is a Japanese Garden here which you need to pay for 100 per person to visit. The garden is small and mostly people are lying on the grass or sleeping on it. As if they are here to camp.
They also have Chinese garden too. However, the closest tie they have historically is with the Korean because Philippines Army helped the Koreans by joined the famous Korean War.
There are a lot of conflict about the locals claiming their heroes as their national hero. I really do not understand why they have to argue to select only one historical person as their national hero and not just select all. Anyway, in the end the government agreed that Dr. Jose P. Rizal as one and only National Hero of the Philippines. That is why the Rizal Park and Rizal Monument are created. 
I will briefly explained about their National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. He is originally an ophthalmologist or known as a doctor who specialized in performing eye surgery. After that, he became a writer and also a key member of the Filipino Propaganda Movement as he wrote a lot of poems, essays and novels about the anti-colonial revolution which got the attention of the Spaniards and executed him for the crime of rebellion. He was not active in planning or conduct the revolution but because of his death had started the spark of revolution in the country in 1896.
At the Rizal Park, you will have to pay for 150php to enter the exact place and how he was killed. He was killed by 5 Filipino Soldier of the Spanish Army at gun point by a backup regular Spanish Army if the executioners fail to obey orders. So he was killed by his own people as what the Spanish want the local to know. Not really sure what happened to the executioners later on, some sources said they were executed by the Spanish later on. Some said they quit their job. Not sure which one is right.
5 shots fired but only 3 bullets that managed to hit the target. That's exactly how Jose Rizal died. He was documented every detail in the process of the execution. He died on 30 December 1896 and that day has becomes the public holiday for the Philippines. The Philippine revolution has succeeded in defeating the Spanish 2 year later on the 12 June 1898 which is also the Independence Day of Philippines. The Spaniards lost easily because they were distracted by the Spanish - American War in Mexico.
If you can notice, he lost one of his shoes here. It was not stolen during the execution but it has a secret within it. He wrote his final letter to hint his sister to look into his shoe. It took almost 2 years for her sister to notice it and it was a little too late when his shoe had been disintegrated and whatever left in his shoe is gone.
This is the Rizal Monument with two guards standing throughout the day under the hot sun as you can see on the picture above. I am not sure how frequent they will change the guard but there is a short marching ceremony during the guard changing session. You are not allowed to get close to the guard or the monument because it was secured. The first Philippine independence was shorten by disapproval of the American. Due to 1898 Treaty of Paris, Philippine should be belong to the American. War started between Philippine - American has begun and American won on the same year itself and continue suppression until the World War II when Philippines fall to the hand of Japanese. After the Allied won the World War II, the Americans left the country and with Filipinos suffered more than 1 million casualty throughout the war. After that, the Philippines got on hold of the country once again.
The independence for this country did not come easy. A lot of bloodshed and sacrifices have been made. From the history, they really do hate the Spaniards a lot but the Spanish has injected cultural, religion, social and demographic into the country throughout the 333 years of reign. Even the word Philippines itself comes from the Spanish. Philippines does not hate the American for not recognizing the nascent First Philippine Republic after they were fighting hand in hand against the Japanese Army. Even after Japanese invasion, the Japan has becomes the biggest contributor of official development assistance to the country is thought as friend. It was a mind blowing and eye opening experience for me during my stay in Manila. I am glad to know about the country before and after. This country is a beautiful country and I will not hesitate to keep visiting this country.