Thursday, 30 May 2013

Quick Dinner at Madam Kwan's at Pavillion, Kuala Lumpur

We arrived to Kuala Lumpur from last Bentong trip around 7.00pm, and felt tired to cook. Since we were in KL, having a good foods in city centre was a good option. Our bus dropped us at Pekeliling Bus Station and we took monorail from Titiwangsa to Bukit Bintang station.

This is "so called" my "zillions" time dining at Madam Kwan's and this is also one of my favorite Malaysian food in town. I believe many of our fella readers  and bloggers had been here too and till now, this Madam Kwan's is always full especially at every lunch and dinner time.

We arrived from long travelling and our attire were slightly off for this kind of place, but its okay as we were really hungry and the Bojari Rice i the only thing in my head at the time.

What is Bojari Rice? It is a combination of rice which cooked with bits of chicken, garlic, dried prawn and some additional of turmeric for coloring besides other side serving in portion; fried chicken, shredded beef rendang, and sour prawn sambal, hard boiled egg, slices of tomato and cucumber. Apart from it, we ordered Cantonese Style Kuey Teow Noodle to complete our dinner course too. As usual, our Bojari Rice was as stunning and this was known as the signature dish of Madam Kwan's Restaurant. As for our Kuey Teow Noodle, I have no comment. Maybe it was because I ate a lot of same kind of noodle  from places which iI can say more tasty. 

A simple sharing dinner for 2 person and drinks cost us RM59. Quiet reasonable and the environment of this place really can make us feel relax and enjoy good food after a long time travelling. This restaurant also is a very good choice if you want to introduce Malaysian food to your foreigner friends and in the same time avoiding them from the feeling of culture shock towards Malaysian foods. 

If you ever in KLCC or Pavillion and looking for a good Malay food in a clean and chosy ambiance, Madam Kwan's is always a good choice. 

Click here for Bojari Rice Recipe 

Oh My! Day Out in Bentong

We arrived to Bentong from Kuala Lumpur around 12.00pm and the first thing to do is to find budget hotel in this town. As expected, Bentong is a very quiet town without any high rise building and big malls. There are three main road in this town; Loke Yew Street, Ah Peng Street and Chui Yin Street. 

This is me standing in front of Bentong Bus Station

There are only few hotels available for you to choose in Bentong with price starts from RM45 up to RM150 for one night. After browsing here and there, we decided to check in to Milton Hotel at 101 Chui Yin Street. Our hotel is very basic and I personally will forgive the "cheap hotel smell" because of the price, RM45 for one night. Our room size is about 25sqm with a queen size bed, dressing table, very old TV with only 3 channels and 2 settings. 

Our room at Milton Hotel. RM45/night

It was lunch time, and we went to SHL Restaurant for lunch. Most of the crowds here are family and this restaurant was typically look like other Chinese restaurants. Plastic chairs, big round table, boss at counter and Indonesian workers. If you don't know about what to order, ask for menu; written in Chinese and English.

We ordered Hokkien Mee and Noodle with Crab Meat Broth. The Noodle with Crab Meat Broth was my first time, so I have no comment about it. My mate Christopher said it was delicious. But for me, I don't really like to eat such a thick broth with a "instant noodle" like noodle. 

SHL Restaurant at Chui Yin Street

Noodle with Crab Meat Broth

Next, we tasted our Hokkien Mee and it was a "Hello from Bentong" for us. We ate various kind of Hokkien Mee from many places. The one that we enjoyed here was Bentong style. The noodle size is bigger and have a lot of slices meat inside the portion.

Bentong Style Hokkien Mee

RM12 for 2 big serving of foods, it was totally cheap and give us full energy to explore this Bentong town.

Next, our mission is to walk around the area. Most of the buildings here are old and some written with year of build as early as 1940. Most of the business were by Chinese. To add some values, there are some groceries shops here still with old style and setting. I found one cracker shop here still using Chinese Sempoa for doing calculation. 

Chinese Town Hall, Chui Yin Street

Chui Yin Street, Bentong

The weather was really hot and humid during our visit. Before coming back to hotel, we walk to the famous Kow Po Restaurant to cool ourselves with their famous Home-made Ice Cream and Chendol, Ice Kacang (Malaysian style shaved ice). I previously wrote about the Ice Kacang at Raub, I think I love that ice kacang more than the one in Kow Po Restaurant. The shaved ice portion is smaller and it was fully melt when Christopher snap the photos.

Kow Po Ice Cream, Ketari Street (Opposite Bentong Bus Station)

Just forget the shaved ice, and let me highlight about the ice cream on top of it. There are various kind of homemade ice cream for you to choose here such as coconut, peanut, corn and vanilla flavour. Our ice cream of choice was corn ice cream; really delicious, creamy, milky and mildy sweet (am I overrated it?)

Some of magazines & newspaper cut about the
home-made ice cream at Kow Po Ice Cream

Its Cendol or Ice kacang? Now I confused!

RM4.00 for one serving of Ice Kacang with Ice Cream on top. Really a year 2013 price. duh!!!

Yes. I think that all you can do in Bentong time in case you are not intrested with jungle tracking or visiting other hidden places of Bentong. Plus, the hot weather during this season makes us feel more comfortable to rest in our hotel before continue for food hunting in the evening.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Close Up: Malaysia's CLEO 50 Most Eligible Bachelor 2013

It was 7.00pm and there are beauties started to queue at the entrance of Stage Club, Avenue K, Kuala Lumpur to celebrate the sizzling and hot occasion of Malaysian's CLEO Most Eligible Bachelor 2013 Grand Finale Party.

Well, I will let the photo speak by itself. The club's floor was crowded with ladies screaming to their favorite bachelors whenever the MC's mentioning their name. Anyway, congratulation to Nicholas Mak for winning the title of CLEO Most Eligible Bachelor for year 2013. Hopefully, he will carry his responsible to be a role model for men out there to have a winning personalities. 

What's Happening?

The Most Eligible Bachelor: Nicholas Mak
The Brightest Bachelor: Gibson Yee
The Mane Bachelor: Dennis Yin
The Most Clickable Bachelor: Mark O Dea

Opening act by a dance crew
The MC pairs, Zher and Prem from Fly FM Radio
2012 CLEO Most Eligible Bachelor and CLEO Malaysia Editor during opening speech
First Bachelors and Ladies Game. Arranging word Nano White which the alphabet is in the balloon and they have to break it by using their "biggest ass-et"
Second Bachelors and Ladies Game. Throwing balls into bucket to collect REDKEN word
Final Bachelors & Ladies Game: Shifting Hula-hoop from each person without touching it 
Beat boxer performance by one of the Bachelor, Cody Foo
Performance from the Bachelor, Kyren Thomas
Final performance from the Bachelors. From left: Fazrin Zainudin, Mark O Dea, Dennis Yin & Nicholas Mak. Not to surprise, all four of them are in entertainment and creative field. Super talented!
We want more! The girls "I believe so" start to scream at this point
Playing, Dennis Yin (left) and Nicholas Mak (right)
Duo performance from Dennis Yin (left) and Faiz Zainudin (right) 
"Abs grinding" from the duo
The Brightest Bachelor: Gibson Yee
The Mane Bachelor: Dennis Yin (Right)
The Most Clickable Bachelor: Mark O Dea (Right) and CLEO Editor (Left)
CLEO The Most Eligible Bachelor 2013, Nicholas Mak (centre)
The Winner & The Champagne 
The Winner and the Bachelors

The Beauties & The Guests

The Bachelors on YouTube

More Photos

LIKE 祥發Photography aon facebook for more close up and cloth off photos of the Bachelors. 

Dinner at Yuzu Japanese Restaurant, KLCC

It was a celebration for my new job with a company since I come back to Malaysia last 5 months ago. After texting to my mate Christopher, we decided to meet at KL Sentral before leaving to the Petronas Twin Tower or locally called as KLCC for a nice dinner to celebrate my new job.

At first, I was thinking of going to have dinner either at Chili's or The Chakri Palace and enjoy the nice city view from the restaurant glass wall. But unfortunately, we don't have any reservation (its was Tuesday and I don't expect the restaurant is full) and so we have to scrap the idea. Finally, we decided to try Japanese foods in Yuzu Restaurant.

It was 8pm and the restaurant was 80% occupied with local and expat guests. The menu was "huge" with varieties of foods in colour and tempting presentation. We ordered 2 cans of Sapporo Beer (normally I prefer to have this Japanese beer whenever eat Japanese foods) before making any decision on our dinner meals. 

Finally we ordered, Salmon Flake Salad, followed by Norway Roll and Deep Fried Maki for our sushi, Ishiyaki Chicken Teri, Ishiyaki Garlic Rice and 2 servings of Chawan Mushi for our dessert.  

I am not going to give you a detail review for each foods. But in general, the foods here were fresh and delicious. Our Salmon Flake Salad arrived to our table few minutes after ordering which was real quick. After 5 minutes, our first sushi, the Norway Roll coming followed by Deep Fried Maki minutes later. Our both sushi sets were very nice. I can't say it was the best, as I am not a sushi lover. Presentation wise, it was just like in other Japanese restaurant. But for me, it was good enough.

Nearly done with our sushi, our Ishiyaki Garlic Rice and Ishiyaki Chicken Teri was delivered to our table (the truth is we were very full because of the salad and sushi). The chicken was layered with Teriyaki sauce which is my favorite. On the side, we ordered additional 2 bowls of Miso Soup to compliment with the Ishiyaki Garlic Fried Rice which was a bit dry. 

As for dessert, we ordered 2 servings of Chawan Mushi. I used to have a good one when living in Vietnam. But as for Yuzu, I am not really recommend you to have it, unless you really want to try or to know how does it taste a like. 

Ka Ching! This simple dinner cost us RM199 (RM37 are 6% GST and 10% Service Charge) which is very reasonable for KLCC (the location) and the food was reasonably delicious. 

Yuzu Japanese Restaurant
Lot 412, level 4, Ramle Mall
Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603.2161 4176
Fax: +603.2161 4169

Operation hour:
Monday - Sunday (11.30am - 10.00pm)

Flooding Area In Ho Chi Minh City, "WET-NAM"

I used to be in a situation when suddenly water coming into my house. And its happened at every high-tide period (each month). To be exact, I am staying at Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Street, Binh Thanh District and nearby to Mien Dong Bus Station. Back then, we did asked our real estate agent if this is a flooding area, and confidently he said, NO FLOOD HERE. 

Photo by Dennis Jarvis (archer10) on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

As we know, there are many areas in this city we need to avoid especially when you plan to rent a house, opening your show rooms or maybe you new office. The raining season is coming soon. I hope the below list will be a good clue for you about where to browse in town during the wet season. 

District 1

  • Dinh Tien Hoang
  • Bui Vien
  • Do Quang Dau
  • Nguyen Cu Trinh
  • Le Loi
  • Nguyen Thai Binh
  • Ong Lanh Bridge
  • Ben Chuong Duong
  • Nguyen Van Cu
  • Tran Dinh Xu
  • The end of Tran Nhat Duat to Hoang Sa Streets in Tan Dinh Ward
  • Dien Bien Phu and Hoang Sa Streets in Da Kao Ward
  • Ton Duc Thang, Nguyen Huu Canh, part of Nguyen Hue, Huynh Thuc Khang and Le Thanh Ton Streets in Ben Nghe Ward

District 2

  • Thao Dien
  • Road numbers 44, 61, 62, 66
  • Lang Bao Chi
  • Highway 1
  • Part of Nguyen Van Huong]

District 3

  • Le Van Sy

District 4

  • Ton That Thuyet
  • Doan Van Bo
  • Tan Vinh Streets

District 5

  • Cao Dat
  • Tran Hung Dao
  • Chau Van Liem
  • Phu Huu
  • Nguyen Thi Nho

District 6

  • Parts of Kinh Duong Vuong
  • An Duong Vuong
  • Nguyen Van Luong
  • Le Quang Sung
  • Pham Dinh Ho
  • Cay Go roundabout

District 7

  • Parts of Kinh Duong Vuong
  • An Duong Vuong
  • Nguyen Van Luong
  • Le Quang Sung
  • Pham Dinh Ho
  • Cay Go roundabout

District 8

  • Pham The Hien
  • Ben Binh Dong
  • Ben Me Coc
  • Nguyen Chi Nghia
Flooding in Saigon. Photo from

District 10

  • Corner of Ba Thang Hai
  • Le Hong Phong
  • Parts of Ly Thuong Kiet
  • Tran Nhan Ton 

District 11

  • Dam Sen roundabout
  • Ba Hom
  • Nguyen Thi Nho

Binh Thanh District

  • Xo Viet Nghe Tinh
  • Binh Quoi
  • Ngo Tat To
  • Ung Van Khiem
  • Nguyen Xi
  • D2
  • D3
  • Nguyen Huu Canh
  • Han Xanh crossroads
  • Ba Chieu Market

Tan Phu District

  • Go Dau
  • Luy Ban Bich
  • Tan Son Nhi
  • Dam Thuan Huy
  • Pham Van Xao
  • Le Niem
  • Van Cao
  • Le Thuc Hoach

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Vietnam's Raining Season: Fun Facts

In the Rain. Photo by Charles Chan (charles_chan) on Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0
Raining season will come soon to Vietnam and it will last after 5 months. Here are some fun facts about wet season in Vietnam

The raining season usually will start in Vietnam on May and will end by November with average rainfall about 1,900mm to 2000mm yearly

During raining reason in Vietnam, the average amount of sunlight per month is at the lowest point which is 10 hours each day

The highest record for high tide in Saigon since last 48 years ago was in year 2008 at 1.5m reached

50mm per hour is the maximum rainfall intensity during flooding season in Vietnam

2,718mm was the highest annual rainfall in Saigon (1908) and the lowest was at 1,392mm in 1958

The cyclones in Ho Chi Minh City can happend with wind speed in between 20m per second and 36m per second during raining season

During high temperature season, May (34°c) and it tend to cool for raining season 30°c in September, the humidity will soar from 70% in February and march to 85% density on September

There is approximately 80% of the rain that falls during wet season is between June to September which known as flood season

The reasons of flooding in Ho Chi Minh City are including of the aggressive development on former rice fields area at surrounding areas of Ho Chi Minh City, bad sewerage system at new suburban areas and bad drainage system for new streets, the canal get blocked by household rubbished and the effect of global sea level rising and the climate change

Ho Chi Minh City is one of the worst flooding areas in the world when the sea level has risen by over 1m at recent time


The Marriage Regulation for Foreigners in Cambodia

A pre-wedding photoshoot with Angkor Wat as the background
Do you know about Cambodian Marriage Regulation? On 2011, the Kingdom of Cambodia's government had announced a measure to make sure Cambodian women will get an acceptable standard of living. 

Only Cambodian men, and foreigner who are below 50 years old with monthly income more than USD2550 can get married with Cambodian women. According to Foreign Ministry spokesman, Koy Kuong in Phnom Penh Post, "Getting married with a over 50 years old man is like a grandfather and granddaughter and we aim to see our Cambodian look like a proper couple" 

The reason of putting a minimum salary is to prevent cheap labour trafficking and to make sure Cambodian women will get an acceptable standard of living. A foreign man who are older than 50 years old also are banned to get married with any women at their age or older and this ban is not apply if a Cambodian men want to get married with a foreign women. 

According to The Economist, this regulation had prompted some responds from worlds' rights groups and human rights activists. However, Ping Chhiv Kek, the president of Cambodian Right Group explained that applying this regulation is a good way to protect Cambodian women from difficulties, besides implementing the law against rape and violance towards Cambodian women. 

This is not the first time the government announced the marriage bans. In 2008, the government banned all foreign marriages to control the women trafficking to Korea and in 2010, another temporary regulation to ban marriage between Cambodian women and South Korean men was implemented.


Photo Credit: 
wainwright weddings

Monday, 27 May 2013

Renewing your Visa in Cambodia from Saigon

Not everybody is lucky and will have a working visa while working in Vietnam. Company’s policies, budget constrains, social works and doing freelancers normally became a reason why you are not eligible to own a working permit. For some nationalities, once you have entered Vietnam, you will be provided with a 3 months tourist visa and you can extend it at a local immigration office with assistance from travel agents. You also may apply for a business visa if you meet with the applications requirements. For most expatriates in Ho Chi Minh City, going to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to renew visa is one of the cheapest options. Normally the whole trip will cost around USD 50 inclusive transportation, foods and accommodations.

Where to start?

All you need to do is get your bus ticket. Go to the backpacker areas and many travel agencies can help you to get your bus ticket. Good reputation bus operators such as The Sinh Tourist, Sorya Transportation, Sapaco Tourist and Kumho E&C are always the top choice. One way bus ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh will cost around USD10 and the same price for the return ticket as well.

The Journey

The journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh will average 6 hours by bus. It is recommended to take a morning bus as you will have chance to see the beautiful sceneries along the way to Cambodia. You don’t have to worry about everything during the journey because your tour guide will assist with all your crossing border’s needs. They will collect your passport, assisting you to fill out Entrance Form from Vietnam and Entry Form to Cambodia and also ensuring you are safe from “under table” problems with officers at the border of both countries. Remember don’t take any photo in immigration check point area, or you will really be in trouble.

You need to remember to exchange Vietnamese Dong to US Dollar before going to Cambodia. US Dollar is widely being used in Cambodia. In the meantime, local currency Riel is useful if you want to have street foods and taking “Tuk Tuk”, a local tricycle. The bus will stop for 30 minutes after crossing the Cambodian border, the bus will stop at a rest and relax area for resting, going to toilet and having some food. In this rest stop, the food price is relatively cheap around VND25,000 to VND35,000 and you still can pay by using Vietnamese Dong.

Along the way from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, you will slowly see the difference between Vietnam and Cambodia. You will cross a huge paddy field on your left and right side and there will be less traffic once you are in Cambodia. The houses in Cambodia also relatively have a wider open size around 6 meters with Khmer architectural to replace French’s Vietnamese housing style.
Arriving in Phnom Penh

Your bus normally will final stop at their agency in Phnom Penh. There are a lot of Tuk Tuk drivers on standby for customers. First of all, don’t get paranoid with this scene. They are nicer and not as pushy as “xe om”, motorbike taxi driver in Ho Chi Minh City. If you had booked your hotel in Phnom Penh, you can ask them to send you to the hotel. One way journey by Tuk tuk normally will cost around USD1.50 to USD2.00, depends on your destination.

If you clueless about where do you want to stay, ask your Tuk Tuk driver to bring you to Street 258, nearby Tonle Sap river. There are many budget hotels along this street with price about USD8 for one night for fan room and USD12 for air-conditioned room. The hotel operators at this area are very friendly and helpful. They also can assist you to get your bus ticket to come back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Getting Around Phnom Penh

If you are staying at Street 258, you are a distance from everything. During the day, you may visit the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, National Museum, Tuol Sleng Museum and also Central Market or locally called as “Tsar Thmei”.

In the evening, you may walk along Tonle Sap River at Sisowath Quay to see how Khmer people are spending their evening with family and friends. Along the street, you will see many vendors selling junk and exotic foods such as insects, cockroaches, spiders and worms.

After having dinner, make another turn to Sothearos Boulevard and here is a very big park and you can many Khmer people doing exercise, relaxing and sometimes, there is a musical play at centre area.

Back to Ho Chi Minh City

The way back to Ho Chi Minh City will take another 6 hours. Morning bus is just perfect as you can see how Cambodians are doing their agricultural activities. Once you are finished at Vietnam Immigration checkpoint, it means you are ready to “Rock N Roll” again.

In this article:

1st photo (Phnom Penh Independence Monument) by DerFussi(derfussi) on Flickr-CC BY-SA 2.0
2nd photo (Phnom Penh, Silver Pagoda) by Arian Zwegers(azwegers) on Flickr-CC BY 2.0

This article was published in The Vietnam Guide on August 26, 2012