Hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year!
It’s been a while because I got lazy and it was the holidays, like who has time to read blog posts during the festive season when you’re stuffing your face with food?
(Word of warning, there will be pictures of food in this blog as asia is great for food and you have noticed that we love food so we ate a lot, if you don’t like food then you may wish to go away and peruse pictures of cats or babies or whatever. I do have some stats at the bottom if that’s your thing).
Since we left New Zealand, we headed to Singapore – 17 hours of flying via Melbourne and Taipei. It was insane. And our first leg on the Air China flight was on this plane built for small people, even smaller than me and I’m 5’4!
Feeling the jetlag…
Well we finally got to Singapore and it was humid. 30 degrees and humid = sweaty. It’s pretty much this temperature all year round. First impression of Singapore, it’s very modern and clean. It reminds me of Hong Kong (although HK may not be as clean actually).
One of their multitude of shopping centres below on the famous Orchard Road. Seriously, there are tons of shopping centres everywhere for every kind of budget there is.
Speaking of cleanliness, it’s comforting when eating out at food markets like the below so you know you won’t get the squits, they even have hygiene rating certificates! We stayed in an area called Ghim Moh, a bit out of the way but at a lovely airbnb place and has a really good food court just downstairs. It’s so easy to pop out for breakfast, lunch or dinner if you can’t be bothered to go out to the more popular/slightly more expensive touristy places and the food is cheap! A meal for both of us probably cost us about £5 or £6. It’s so great to be in cheaper countries after after being in America and New Zealand (Chris would probably like to mention how expensive cucumbers are in NZ – $5 for a cucumber, well in the winter anyways).
It’s so clean. The beauty of a food market is you can order whatever you want from anywhere and sit anywhere, even if you and your other half order different food. The fresh fruit and juices are amazing too. Seriously, once you’ve tasted how good mango or papaya (etc) is in Asia, you know it’s shit in the UK and why even bother?
We ate some sort of awesome fluffy pancake thing stuffed with crushed peanuts. It cost 45p.
Some sort of curry noodle soup with fried tofu and stuff plus a green lime (they’re different here!)
Curry laksa with tofu and noodles. Yum.
So Singapore is famous for Hainanese chicken and rice. It originated from Hainan in China. The method of cooking is by poaching and it results in a really tender juicy chicken and some of the resulting stock is poured onto the rice, which tastes amazing. It also comes with a spicy garlic sauce. I have to point out how clever their packaging is, it came in waxed paper! One small portion is £1.40. Yep.
Another thing Singapore is well known for – kaya toast. The toast is filled with butter and kaya, which is made from eggs, coconut, sugar and pandan leaves. This stuff is good. The full experience comes with half boiled eggs and hot coffee or tea.
Oh yeah, the below place makes a damn good curry. More akin to a japanese type curry rather than an indian curry.
So we didn’t just eat, we went out and saw some sights!
In Singapore, there’s an area known as Little India. I’ve never been to India so I can’t say but there seems to be a lot of indian people, shops etc there.
There was great artwork at a train station but it’s pretty stupid, in the 2nd picture below the giant artwork is behind 2 escalators. There’s so many small scenes going on and you can’t even check it out properly unless you catch the escalators a lot.
In a recent episode of Planet Earth, you have may have seen Singapore’s Garden by the Bay featured in it. Well we didn’t go.
It was quite expensive and over our budget. Instead we went to what ended up being free (with our cough student cough card) – the Orchid garden inside the Botanic’s gardens. It was pretty awesome, I didn’t realise the varieties you get! Here’s a selection, the last one eats bugs! You could even buy seedlings to take away with you….I wish I could have!
So there we go, Singapore. A small place compared to other cities (and probably less to do) but we really enjoyed being in Singapore, we would like to go back again.
From Singapore we took a couple of bus journeys over the border in Malaysia and then a train up to Kuala Lumpur. Tip – do the border crossing the day before you catch the train up to Kuala Lumpur in case you get caught in rush hour traffic at the border crossing. It took us about 3-4 hours in total to get over the border….. Looks like quite a few Malaysian people and kids work/study in Singapore during the day.
I’m afraid I can’t avoid making a comparison with Singapore seeing as we have just come from there and Kuala Lumpur is not as clean as Singapore, it was a bit disappointing actually (maybe because we were spoilt and it was easier to find good clean food in Singapore). It has some snazzy bits like the twin towers below and good shopping centres.
Ooh, this shopping centre has a theme park on the 10th floor! We just went to the cinema, it’s like £2/3 each! We watched Star Wars: Rogue One and Your Name (a japanese anime about a boy and a girl who end up swapping bodies). Both were very good and the latter is not what you expect.
We saw some cool art below when we got lost trying to find the route to the History Museum. It was quite a good museum and interesting to see how Malaysia formed over the centuries and the trade with various countries as a result of its beneficial geographical location near India and China. The Portuguese came and took over in the 15th century then the Dutch then the British…
Malaysia is culturally diverse, below there is a mosque and further down I believe what is a Hindu temple.
Being culturally diverse, there’s a lot of food to try! We went to this awesome little place below that did Malay food (I don’t know enough to explain what it is) called Suraya and it was probably the best meal we’ve had yet on our travels. A whole steamed fish, bits of seasoned chicken wrapped in an egg omelette, stir fried greens and prawn fried rice, mango sticky rice and a couple of drinks. And guess how much it cost? £11. Yep. That’s right.
I have no pictures to show because the ones I took are terrible but believe me it was amazing. We will be coming back here.
We ate some chinese food too as we were staying next to Chinatown. Below is claypot chicken. Basically chicken & chinese sausage etc on top of rice baked in a claypot. It was good.
So, the food markets we went to here aren’t as clean as the ones in Singapore, the guy below made amazing char kuey teow (fried carrot cake, it’s like turnip cake.If you don’t know what either of them are, well go and find out) but everytime he had to flick burnt bits out, it went straight onto the ground. I mean it’s so easy just to put a big bin next to you?! Surely? (They do sweep but a bin would be easier???)
View from behind. There were a lot of cockroaches crawling around further to the right…
We found it a bit more difficult to settle into Kuala Lumpur initially but I think we enjoyed it more by the end. As I said, we were a bit spoilt by Singapore and the convenience of good food.
So onwards to Hong Kong for Christmas with friends from Uni all those years ago minus the kid (Charlie). In Hong Kong, you also do a lot of good eating although the below isn’t the best vegetarian food (the prawns with the brocolli is actually made of tofu).
The cute kid helping with the carrying. Don’t give him your phone, he’ll just take 300 selfies and most of them are just of his forehead.
Back to food, yum cha! Pretty good dim sum. This is a very Hong Kong thing, it’s kind of like tapas in case you don’t get it and better than tapas in my view.
Another very HK thing. Pudding/desserts. I had mango with mango ice cream on top of silky sweet tofu, and in the background is mango wrapped in steamed rice roll. There were many puddings we sampled but I don’t think I have any more pictures (is that a sigh of relief I hear?)
Mika the innocent game shark beating us at Settlers of Catan – “I have never played this before.” Yeah right. She also won at Mahjong too even though again she’s never played it before. Beware of playing with her…
Here’s a sample of HK. High rises, garden roof tops.I don’t normally take pictures of HK when I go because I just go for food and shopping.
A busy shopping street!
Okay, we did something touristy so Mika could see some of the sights.- 10,000 buddhas. A walk up the hill with 10,000 buddhas along the way and in the temple(s)? The statues below have different poses.
A view from the top. It’s pretty weird because we started this walk round the back of an Ikea/shopping centre and you end being in the hills with all the greenery.
As always, let us not forget that global warming is happening.
Some sort of crab sculpture nearby?
Well that’s it. I had a pretty good birthday and Christmas in HK.We left for Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam on the 28th December and will travel up north to Hanoi later this month. Blog post to follow end of January.
Incidentally, it’s been 6 months since we left the UK on 27 June 2016!
So here are some stats:
Accommodation in the last 6 months (in no particular order):
Camping in a tent – 28 nights. Recommended when you have good weather. You don’t want to put a wet tent away.
Camping in a campervan – 2 weeks. You feel superior to tent/small car campers when the weather is shite as you can hang out/cook inside.
Airbnb – 23 airbnb places. Really recommend this over hostels/hotels, way better as rooms are nicer and there’s less people and you meet locals and it works out cheaper! Wifi tends to be better too.
Motels – 5 places. Not that bad in America but expensive!
Hostel – 11 places
Housesitting – just under 2 weeks in total. This was pretty sweet, I loved looking after the cats, dogs and chickens and the house was amazing. Housesits are the way forward.
Staying with friends – 3 weeks or so in total. Thanks friends for putting up with us! It saved us a lot of money and it was fun too.
Hotel – 2 places
Car – 1 night. It was too windy and wet to pitch a tent. It wasn’t that bad.
Plane – 1 night when we flew to Fiji.
Expenditure: too much. Screw you Brexit!
On that note, I hope 2017 will be a better year and with better exchange rates for us.