Without going too much into the details, 2015 has been quite hectic, unexpected and rewarding all at the same time. I look forward to more this year, especially with travel in the ASEAN region, and maybe even Europe. But before I close the door completely on 2015, I’ll take a quick look back at some notable and enlightening personal moments in travel. Here’s to many more in the coming year. 🙂
1 | Discovered beautiful phalaenopsis orchids in Genting Highlands for under RM30
I must have read about Waltex Biotec, an orchid farm with the largest selection of moth-shaped orchids, from another travel blog out there on the websphere, sometime in July. Use Waze to find the entrance, because it’s easy to miss when making your way down from Genting. The farm is quite kampung and you might be the only visitors there, but the orchids are such a beautiful souvenir to bring back from the highlands, and will look gorgeous in your home. Full bloom plants are very reasonable, starting at RM25 each.
2 | Visited happy animals at the National Zoo
Don’t believe all the negative things you read in the papers. Contrary to what people think, Zoo Negara is a very pleasant for a nice day out. The layout of the zoo might be slightly off and there’s a lot of renovation happening, but all the animals I saw are some of the healthiest and happiest I’ve seen.
3 | The Phuket experience
Finally went to Phuket, one of Thailand’s premiere beach destinations, to discover what the hype was about, and that’s why it’s a best travel moment. The other reason is one boat cruise around the Phang Nga Bay that was amazing. Phi Phi Islands is nice but touristy and waters are dirty; nightlife on the island is of course, hopping. In general, however, the island is overpriced and the locals seem a bit jaded. I wouldn’t hurry back.
4 | Yong taufoo: all-time favourite local comfort food
Discovered in July 2015 that yong tau foo is my favourite local comfort dish anytime, any day. (Fried chicken is my American equivalent.) Yong taufoo is a variety of items like tofu, seasoned bean, chili, okra and eggplant that’s stuffed with a paste made of fish. Sounds disgusting to some of you? Don’t knock it till you try it — it’s delicious. Different groups of locals will swear by different yong taufoo places, and mine is 3A Restaurant.
5 | European architecture in Shanghai
Made my maiden trip to China in October. It was only for a few days in Shanghai, but seeing wealthy and middle-class Chinese citizens on their own turf, as opposed to a group of rude tourists abroad or a grouchy waitress in an American Chinese restaurant, was quite enlightening, and a reminder that stereotypes are often wrong. When you’re in Shanghai, the Bund is a must-visit for those short on time. On the waterfront, you’ll get a full view of Shanghai’s modern skyline and behind you, rows of European architecture from the city’s British colonial days.
6 | Dugongs at SEA Life in Sydney
SEA Life Aquarium in Sydney, December 2015. There are a couple of dugongs there that make the visit totally worthwhile. The animal above isn’t a dugong, but it was such a unique four-walled glass corridor that I had to include this picture.
7 | Locally roasted coffee from a classic VW camper van cafe from Melaka
I ran into a brilliant VW camper van mobile cafe at one of the rest stops along Karak Highway during a trip out to Pahang. They aren’t usually at this rest stop and were only there for a special event. During the rest of the year, Mods Cafe, which serves coffee drinks made with locally roasted beans, is parked somewhere near Jonkers Street in Melaka.