Lady boys and cabarets 

Travel

Thailand is famous for their lady boys and cabaret shows. On a recent trip to Phuket, I bought tickets to see the Simon show. It kept me on the edge of my seat. Quite literally actually…because that’s the only way that I could actually see the show. The auditorium designer obviously didn’t think this one through. The girl seated in front of me wasn’t exceptionally tall either. If anything, she was exceptionally short. 
There were a lot of parts that were boring, and if you check the time and wonder when it’ll end, then trust me, it isn’t a very good show. It was mainly lip singing and non energetic dancing. Honestly, the only good parts of the show were the comedy skits, which was quite sad. I mean, I didn’t expect them to really sing but I was expecting a good performance. A lot of the dancing lacked energy and seemed half assed. At that point, we weren’t even there for a cabaret show…it was more of a “is that seriously a guy?” show. 

I had a pretty good experience at the Tiffany show in Bangkok when I was little (maybe I was too little to have standards), but after a disappointing Tiffany show in Bangkok, and now a disappointing Simon show in Phuket, I think it’ll be a loooong time till my next cabaret in Thailand. 

R

7 tips for travelling in Malaysia

Travel

Hey guys, I’ve been MIA for a while and as some may or may not know, have been travelling! Here are my 7 tips for travelling in Malaysia! 
1. Carry your passport. I have been stopped countless times (whether I’m in a personal car or taking a taxi, and almost got arrested once for not having my passport on me!) I argued that it was at the hotel, and I could show him if he would come back but my two options were: pay the officer >.> or go sit in jail for I don’t know how long with other criminals. It’s absolutely ridiculous! And I’ve done my research. Malaysia’s jail isn’t exactly like the Swedish ones where it’s pretty much a holiday resort…

2. Download grabcab/uber. The taxis quote ridiculous prices especially if it’s raining/a tourist area. Even if they run by the meter, they still can rip you off (those meters skip like crazy!)

3. Don’t pay someone to get a taxi for you. There’s plenty on the streets. At KLCC, pavilion etc there is a “taxi service” where you pay them RM2 to call a metered taxi for you. Sounds sweet right? You’re not gonna get ripped off right? WRONG. Not only do you have to pay an extra RM2, these taxis are the most expensive! You’re better off getting ripped off by a red taxi…(the cost will be less). 

4. Don’t read food reviews online. I’ve been to many places in Asia thanks to online reviews. But I don’t know if my palate just doesn’t match up with the Malaysian foodies (I love Malaysian food/street food), but the things they recommend are just…bad. Seriously, so many times I’ve found a 4-5 star review to a restaurant and it has gravely disappointed me. So find a reliable source (not just google star review..).

5. If you’re travelling alone, you can take the express train to/from the airport. It’s RM55 p.p. So perfect for one person. If you’re travelling with anybody else, it’s cheaper to take a taxi RM80-100 to get to the city area (and it goes straight to your hotel!) 

6. Google maps/Apple maps is horrible here. It might be the confusing road names/ side streets but there have been many times I’ve tried seeking out a restaurant and have gotten completely lost. 

7. Lastly, cops can be bribed. Just remember that 😉 

Well that’s about it! Good luck and safe travels. 

R

The Weight of Gold

Personal, Travel

Writing became like the book that you regrettably returned to the shelf. You have intentions to pursue it at a later date but that day slowly pushes itself farther and farther out until quite by accident you meet your trigger and you’re quickly drawn back.

I’ve missed it sorely but now that I am done with work, I’m back on track, my personal freedom feeling like the weight of gold in my hands.

In the last few months, life shifted gears and the hours in my day became a slow, standardised routine. Not the disciplined kind, but the boring kind; the kind frankly not worth writing about.

But several weeks of sleep later, I find myself in awe under the busy lights of Shanghai, taking a stand against their infamously icy temperatures amidst warm Christmas cheer. Armed with a furry coat, tall boots and most importantly gloves, the city I so eagerly wanted to take on is really starting to feel like home.

Paula

 

Waku ghin

Food, Travel

Being a big fan of tetsuya’s, I just had to visit waku ghin whilst in Singapore. The website doesn’t state any prices, so I had to do some Google research to fit this trip into my travel budget. I initially assumed the dinner would be around $450 p.p. This would be a $900 dinner…but I thought why not?

Waku ghin is located in marina bay sands; an architectural masterpiece, and home to many luxury brands. The atmosphere is definitely “upper class”. Unlike the relaxed atmosphere of tetsuya’s Sydney. We were running a bit late, and upon arrival we were seated to the right of the teppanyaki grill next to 2 other couples. We were quickly brought to speed on the past 20minutes (the courses typically come out at the same time for all the guests).

The food:


The tuna was fresh and seared to perfection. A great start to our dinner.

Waku ghin’s signature: marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and oscientra caviar. Eaten with a mother of pearl spoon. A.K.A the culprit for the price of the dinner. This dish definitely earned its place as waku ghin’s signature. Every mouthful of urchin was rich and just melts in your mouth. Coupled with the botan shrimp’s soft crunchy texture and generous heap of caviar, you will be transported to a gastronomical dreamland.

I don’t remember this dish much but can you blame me? I was still revelling from the Uni..

Taking me out of my uni trance was this lump of salt that had been sitting on the table for a while now…I thought it was covering something, sort of curing it but no. It was just a huge lump of salt.

The chef used the salt to cook these beautiful Alaskan king crab legs. Being Asian, I’m a BIG fan of seafood. Especially crab. But I was quite disappointed in this dish. Don’t get me wrong, the crab meat was soft, juicy, and generous but it was accompanied with lemon and lime scented extra virgin olive oil. It had hints of citrus, but I’m someone that loves strong flavours that pack a punch. Doesn’t help that our previous trip was to Thailand either…

Moving on..

Purée of potato, quail egg, French winter truffle. Watching 3 chefs simultaneously work together to create this dish was amazing. The amount of work needed to go into this one dish was mind boggling. As always, waku ghin was extremely generous with the truffles. The potato was light and creamy, with a strong truffle flavour. On first bite, it reminded me of a dish that I’ve had before in tetsuya’s Sydney but couldn’t quite wrap my head around which dish until it hit me: truffle butter. Tetsuya’s famous truffle butter. The last time I was at tetsuya’s I ate this butter by the spoonful (no shame), and even bought a jar to take home. I absolutely loved this creamy, truffle dish. It might even be tied with the sea urchin for first place.


Braised Canadian lobster with French tarragon. I could’ve eaten a whole pot of this! Umami without being too heavy, a punch of flavours served with some bread to dip (I could’ve drank it tbh).


Japanese Ohmi wagyu. Not as good as wakkoqu melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef but a strong second place. Let us take a moment and relish the marbling on this amazing piece of meat. Cut like butter, and was perfect with wasabi and garlic chips (my new fav steak accompaniment after Japan).

We were next given a choice of ochazuke or somen. What did we choose?

Answer: both. We were planning to order one each and share but being the generous people that they are, they let us all have one each. The table was ecstatic. This was probably the best chazuke I’ve had to date.


For dessert, we were moved to another area of the restaurant to enjoy the amazing night view mbs has to offer. First up: tetsuya’s take on blueberry cheesecake. Icy, creamy, delicious. But it lacked the biscuit base that is iconic to a cheesecake and was replaced with a crunchy sugar tuile…I prefer the biscuit base..#basicbitch

Next: Tetsuya’s chocolate cake. Incredibly indulgent, layered with vanilla, chocolate, and macadamia. One word: perfection. This dish never fails to impress with its combination of flavours and textures.

3rd time having this cake and I still can’t make a pretty cut…

Petit fours. I love tetsuya’s petit fours because they’re always such a surprise. These were almost too cute to eat!

At the end of our degustation course, we were gifted macarons from patisserie platine (owned by Tetsuya). I think it was to promote the patisserie and it is definitely a place I will visit the next time I’m in Singapore. These were probably one of the best macarons I’ve had (might even be better than Zumbo’s).

The bill came, and instead of the $450p.p. we were expecting, it ended up being $550p.p. That definitely broke our Singapore budget…but it was a nice experience. Would I go again? Probably not. It is definitely a dining experience I would recommend though. The service is first class, and the food is amazing but it still won’t justify the $550 price tag for me. Not to mention my mum would flip if she found out I had a $550p.p. meal. But it is worth to go and try the sea urchin for the first time.

xoxo Robyn

Purradise

Food, Travel

On a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, I visited my first cat cafe! Purradise is a cat cafe with a mission to help rescue cats by giving them a safe environment to be in. They also reinvest the proceeds to support pet fostering and re-homing. Many of the kittizens at the cafe can be adopted, but some are already an essential part of the heart of the cafe, and it would be hard for them to leave their friends and family to move into another home.


All the kittizens are extremely precious, and friendly. The cafe also serves small snacks, and drinks. I had the cake of the day (which happened to be cheesecake), and it was surprisingly a really nice, rich cheesecake. I have found many overly sweet, or Japanese style (cotton) cheesecakes in Asia, so it was a pleasant surprise to find. Not that I don’t like Japanese cotton cheesecakes, but I feel like it doesn’t have the richness of a New York cheesecake.

For a foreigner, the price to visit the cafe is fairly cheap, at RM15(~AUD5) for the first hour (with a free drink), of RM39(~AUD13) for the whole day (with a free drink). They also offer group, and monthly packages.

At the cafe, you can play, cuddle and selfie with the cats. The owners are pretty relaxed, and the cats are pretty much the bosses. They have free reign over the cafe(as it is their home), and after their playtime (around 2pm-4pm), a lot of them get worn out and fall asleep. There are a lot of bean bags for you to sit on(if the cats don’t beat you to it), or you can even share with the kittizens.

Waiting for dinner…

This cafe is a must visit if you’re in KL, and I highly recommend the cake of the day!

Thailand travel diaries

Personal, Travel

As soon as you walk out the door in Thailand, you feel as though you’re swimming in the heat of an outdoor oven. It’s palpable and sticky but all you can do is grin and bear it, wearing as little clothing as possible and as many layers of mosquito repellant as you can.

I wasn’t sure what to expect before I left. I was a little trepid about getting lost or scammed. Thankfully though, we didn’t land in any major predicaments and from what I’ve seen, I conclude that Thai people are a polite lot with gentle smiles and kind eyes. 


We travelled to the busier parts of Thailand and I found that besides the intricate palaces and temples scattered round the city, the landscape was generally quite common and plain, filled with juxtapositions of paint split walls and the mild luxury of muddy water fronts. It gives off a feeling of development and potential but also the sense of being able to enjoy the simple life – the small things. 

Whilst Sydney is trying to squeeze everyone into a box of do’s and don’ts, Thailand’s mentality is if you can conceive it, do it. And a golden example of this is through their roads and traffic. 

You have no idea how fun it is when you’re taken on a spin with a tuk tuk. For us, we experienced a roller coaster ride of swerving, driving at high speeds on the wrong side of the road, having items of clothing nearly blow away in the rush of the moment and all the while, you’re hearing the thud of bass rumble through the seats in your typical party-themed tuk tuk. 

The motorbike taxis are not much different to the aforementioned (a tamer case of fast and furious) but I found myself gripping onto the shoulders of my drivers with iron grip whilst they swerved through traffic jams, always nearly grazing your knees in the process. Only the feeling of being on a bike, having wind lap at your face and the little smile you get from realising you’re doing the illegal is so freeing. It’s really something you can’t enjoy in Sydney without worry. 


Thailand’s next standout is probably the food and let me tell you, I almost felt like royalty when I was eating at the beach. Having vendors physically come to you carrying platters and platters of fruit, fresh crab, grilled seafood and fried goodness was absolute bliss. All the while, you’re chatting with friends, lounging on a reclining chair and sipping on fresh coconuts, realising every second moment just how good life gets. We probably tasted most, if not all the dishes that came our way and we ate till we almost ran out of spending money. And yet we were so happy to be broke. All in for the experience!

Thailand was definitely a valuable trip and if it taught me anything, it’s that you can find happiness in any situation if you choose to.
 
I already miss the streetfood and the busy nightlife. Travel squad better be ready for round two 🙂 

xoxo Paula 

When a stranger offers you ice cream, get in their van

Food, Personal, Travel

You know how they teach you in primary school to stay away from strangers? And to not get into the creepy guy that’s offering you candy’s car? Especially if that car is a big white van? Well…that doesn’t apply when you’re in Japan…right?

On our recent trip to Japan, when we were in Kyoto, I was sick, and we couldn’t decide where to eat, we decided to go to the first restaurant we saw. An underground bar/restaurant near our Airbnb home. The owners were friendly, and the food was amazing. Probably the best udon I’ve ever had. The couple even gave us free ice cream at the end of our meal! 😊 we asked for directions to Fushimi inari shrine and were on our way.

After walking for about 30 or so minutes, there was a big white van that pulled up next to us and to our surprise, it was the couple from the restaurant! They offered us a lift to our destination. It would’ve been rude to decline, and besides they gave us FREE ICE CREAM. They must be nice people. (Robyn logic)

Kind of glad we took up their offer though…we thought it would be a 40minute walk (google maps prediction) but we must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere and gotten lost.

Moral of the story: if someone offers you free ice cream, get in their van. Just kidding (don’t actually), but at least I’ve learnt that everyone with a van offering me a lift isn’t shady. You’ve just got to choose the right people.

xoxo Robyn