Monthly Archives: February 2014

Malaysia: Land of Food and Friendly

Over the Chinese New Year break we ventured out to Malaysia. It was a much-needed escape from the never-ending traffic noise and air pollution of Shanghai. I didn’t know much about Malaysia when we booked our flights, except that I tried a Malaysian dish in Australia some years ago and it was terrible. Beef Redang. Wasn’t a fan.

But we love to travel to a place of good food and we were told Malaysia would not disappoint. It most certainly did not disappoint and I realize that the restaurant in Australia was probably crap.

We started the trip with a big FAIL by missing our flight!!!! Despite being super organized with all hotels booked in advanced, everything printed, and an expert packing job, we arrived at the airport for our 1:30 flight only to realize, it left at 1:30 am! Worst!!!! What kind of flight leaves at that hour? Air Asia.

We bit the bullet and booked another flight (price not to be mentioned). After waiting in the airport all day, and getting delayed again, it was 4 am by the time we got to our hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Luckily our hotel was in a bustling part of the city, right near the famous outdoor food market Jalan Alor, and it was still going strong. We ate dinner…er breakfast at an amazing Tandoori place nearing 5 am. But who cares, vacation means no real schedule.

A few hours later we were off to Melaka, a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s rich in history and heritage. We toured around by foot and admired the pretty buildings. At night we went to the Jonker Walk Night market. A long street selling food, trinkets, and more food.

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Our next stop was Georgetown in Penang, another UNESCO World Heritage site, but much bigger than Melaka. Penang is known as THE food capital of Malaysia, so it was here that we sampled all the dishes you’re supposed to try in Malaysia, including the strangest fruit we ever did eat – durian. We’re pretty open to trying new foods and liking them, but durian wasn’t one of them. It’s about the size of a melon but with a prickly outside. When you open it up inside, it looks like play-doh and smells like garbage. I watched DT eat it first and his face was priceless. I wish I filmed it. To give you an idea of the offensive smell, many hotels have signs banning durian be brought on their property. Keep in mind – it’s a fruit! Strange I know.

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Penang was really nice, it’s part historical, part brand-new city, and a short 30 minute bus ride brings you to the National Park and beaches.

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The last leg of the trip was spent on the island of Langkawi, the jewel of Kedah. It was beautiful and quaint and a perfect way to end the trip. There are a number of beautiful beaches, mountains, parks, and it’s so close to Thailand that you can do day trips there. Wild.

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One of the best things about Malaysia is how friendly the Malay people are. We loved them! Their accents are awesome, they smile a lot, they’re laid back, and just overall seem like a happy bunch. The weather was perfect every day and the food was so interesting with Indian and Thai influences.

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I highly recommend checking out Malaysia, and if you’re interested in doing the loop we did, we stayed at excellent places – The Yard Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Wei Far Guest House in Melaka, Glow Boutique Hotel in Georgetown, and La Pari Pari in Langkawi. All awesome, affordable, and highly recommended.

Dreaming of the beach now. My happy place, always and forever.

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Health. It Really Matters

Does my title sound like a Public Service Announcement? Or better yet, the name of your grade 6 health class text book? I’ve been in hiding lately and that’s because I’ve been sick on and off since Christmas…and doing nothing fun. Not entirely true, I have done a few fun things, but my health was in the gutter so it’s been a rocky road.

It started with getting knocked out at Christmas after flying back to Toronto from Shanghai. It may have been a combination of jet lag and my body being out of sync with the environment – different food, water, climate, all that stuff. I spent two days in bed. I flew back to Shanghai and suffered from extreme jet lag again. A fourteen hour flight and thirteen hour time difference is no easy feat.
Then my stomach and chest and throat started turning on me and I ended up with a case of pneumonia, which was a result of the poor air conditions in Shanghai. I spent 12 days doing nothing but staring at my ceiling, coughing, playing candy crush, coughing, and spending hours on Pinterest. I couldn’t do anything productive, it made me so moosh and lazy.

More stuff happened, including a shoulder injury and being attacked by sand flies while on vacation (more on that later), and I was beginning to think someone cursed me with The Malocchia (Italian for the evil eye, full description here).

ImageA few things I learned through this dark zone:

1) Even if you do things right, sometimes things still go wrong. This is a sad but true statement. Before getting sick I was eating healthy, working out, getting lots of sleep, drinking lots of water, and stress was minimal. But I still got sick! I didn’t understand how all these things could go wrong, out of no where. But sometimes, they just do.

2) If you feel like things are at their worst – things could always be worse. I was complaining about being dumped on, but then I would think of a situation that could be worse, and that put things into perspective for me. Saying “things could be worse” has become a good tactic.

3) If you find yourself worrying and getting paranoid, just stop. I really worked myself up at times, but I had to stop and remember that there are low times and there are good times. Always think about the light at the end of the tunnel.

4) Friends and family are my saviours. I spent hours texting, emailing, and on the phone with family and friends who gave me words of encouragement, advice, and checked in on me daily to see how I was doing. These notes meant so much and I was extremely thankful for everyone’s care….especially my man for taking care of me and putting up with my grumpiness.

The good news is I’m starting to feel like a human being again. It’s true that your health is the most important thing before anything else. It doesn’t mean I’m in the clear (see point #1), but I do know that I have never appreciated feeling healthy more than I do now.

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