|Seeing Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur's food street, through the eyes of a tourist.|
Yesterday we ruffled some feathers at the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, quite literally, like when a peacock shook his magnificent tail at us (either mistaking us for foe or a peahen) and a glorious red macaw parrot flapped his wings to show off his brilliant plumage.
Another morning in Malaysia, another day playing tour guide. Yesterday I showed Henry one of Malaysia's gems---the Islamic Arts Museum.
Selamat sejahtera from Malaysia! Kembalilah ku ke tanahair sejak hari Selasa.
I have returned to my homeland since Tuesday, with my Henry in tow, and any anxiety or jet lag has melted away like the nasi lemak I had for breakfast in the juices of my stomach. Yes, anxiety, I wasn't sure if I'd make it back in time for the Malaysia Tatler Ball, or to meet my five-month old niece, or in time to welcome Michiekin's baby boy into the world, or even back to Kuala Lumpur this year at all! Home Office bureaucracy and all that: in September I applied for an extension of my leave to remain in the UK so the HO held my passport and BRP, essentially grounding me in the country during a period of immigration limbo. And now you know why my last holiday abroad was Lisbon, in July! Anyway, I had some favours called in and persuaded the HO to expedite the usual eight weeks+ processing time so that I could make the flight I wanted. As planned, I landed in Kuala Lumpur mere hours after Michiekins gave birth and went straight from the airport to the hospital to welcome my godson, little baby M, into this world. And, tonight I'm going to see my cousin and visit my very first niece: her baby daughter whose birth in Summer I missed. So yes, the entire month of September and first half of October I wasn't sure if I would get my travel documents back in time to make it to Malaysia for the 21st. I only found out the weekend before and hurriedly booked flights: both for myself and for Henry. I wanted to show him my beautiful homeland and introduce him to polite Malaysian society by debuting him at this year's Malaysia Tatler Ball. For the sake of love, generosity, and girlfriend points I made the ultimate selfless sacrifice (by my personal standards that is): my comfort. Yes, comfort --- I eschewed my usual flight and endured 12 hours in economy class for Henry, because I wanted to surprise him with a plane ticket to Malaysia, but had a dilemma: I only had enough dollah for either one business-class tickets (last minute flights are expensive) or two economy tickets...so economy it had to be. As luck would have it Sheena was on the same flight so the three of us got a row to ourselves. Anyway, this paragraph is getting too long, so I'll fast forward to yesterday, our first proper day in Malaysia as Tuesday and Wednesday gave way to jet lag.
I'm on a mission to do the most touristy things in Malaysia---from K.L to Penang to Pahang to Melaka---so we started with Kuala Lumpur Butterfly park in the city. Henry likes to tell children that butter is made from butterflies, because 'they don't look like butter, so they must be called butterflies because the taste like butter. If you buy a tub of 'I can't believe it's not Butterfly!' from the supermarket, open it and moths will fly out!" Sigh. When we have children he's going to fill their heads with such nonsense. Butterflies even.
Did I mention that I accidentally bought a new camera? On Wednesday I went into a camera shop on the ground floor of Times Square, hoping to upgrade my six-year old Canon 450D with a very strict (or so I thought) budget. "Uncle, I want a Canon EF pancake lens, and I don't want to spend more than £100 (RM500!)" An hour later I walked out with a new Canon 600D, prime lens, and a filter I bought on a whim because it had a classy-looking gold rim. Ummm. It could've been worse, I could've bought a 7D. So now I'm justifying that impulse buy by taking lots of pictures of typical tourist photo fodder: flowers, butterflies, rocks, all of nature's creations.
Kuala Lumpur butterfly park is one of the city's favourite tourist attractions. Under the mesh canopy of the park a lush landscape of tropical plants and dazzling jewel-coloured flowers are home to over six thousand butterflies from more than 120 species. Waterfalls pour into ponds where koi, catfish, and snapping turtles swim. Even the lower levels of the park, little paths under moss-covered bridges, are lined with aquariums of frogs, scorpions, and curious creatures. The humidity should be more stifling but the abundant greenery makes the heat less so, and even the flapping of the butterfly's wings against your cheek as they brazenly perch on you (especially if you're wearing bright colours) makes the littlest of breezes that you're grateful for. As you leave you cool down in an air-conditioned room with an exhibition of taxidermy butterflies and insects, as well as live bugs in tanks modelled after their natural habitat. Is it a bit morbid that after the living beauty of the butterfly park, the exhibition room of preserved insects has a distinct scent of mothballs? But I love morbid! I'm not even vaguely unnerved by the souvenir shop and its walls and rows covered in boxes of taxidermy insects.
I bought myself a box of 26 taxidermy tropical butterflies, pictures at the end of this post, promise.
Afterward I spent a good hour getting lost in the city before finally making it to nearby Bangsar, where I treated Henry to a hearty lunch of banana leaf rice. I just realised that this order of photos,without captions, looks like a narrative of: went to see butterflies in natural habitat, killed and displayed butterflies, ate some butterflies.
The task of cutting, cleaning, and preparing banana leaves to serve rice on.
After our lunch I went to my usual favourite boutique On A Cloudy Day and came away with a pretty Pucci dress, then went to Inside Scoop and placed an order for two takeaway boxes of their signature durian ice-cream because my cousin has been craving some even while pregnant, and then we checked out Shoes Shoes Shoes new shop on Jalan Telawi 3.
I love these earrings but can't decide if they're too 'much' to wear to the Tatler Ball? I played it safe and bought a pair of nude mules with clear wedge heels. Oh I just realised that last sentence is a contradiction.
Henry being street style shot by Wolfgang KL in Bangsar...already attracting so much attention and he's only been in KL for over a day. Tut.
My shopping haul from yesterday: taxidermy tropical butterflies and my Shoes Shoes Shoes mules.
Abrupt end of blog post, because I have a meeting with Malaysia Tatler now. x
October 24, 2014
Selamat sejahtera from Malaysia! Kembalilah ku ke tanahair sejak hari Selasa. I have returned to my homeland since Tuesday, wi...
Village East is the latest addition to my list of Bermondsey Bites, joining the ranks of my favourite Bermondsey street restaurants Pizarro, Jose, and Casse Croute. Next on my to-do (or should that be to-chew?) list is Zucca but that's another review for another lunch break on a day slaving in my new South London artist studio. Anyway, Village East came highly recommended by my friend Cleo, and so on an absentminded, overcast midday I found myself wandering through the doors, expecting a cozy coffee and deli sort of brunch spot but being stunned by the vast space (booths opposite the bar and a quiet bar lounge adjacent to the main dining rooms) and eclectic, industrial-chic interiors.
I loaded up on carbs for a hard day's work with two bread starters; caramelised onion bread with the fluffiest butter flecked with sea salt, and toast with a pot of duck pate and orange marmalade.
My favourite thing to do is to hollow out the bread rolls by pulling out the insides, then stuffing it with the butter, spreads, pates etc. from different dishes on the table. After all what is bread but a vehicle for more substantial food? That was allegedly how the sandwich was invented, when in 1762 John Montagu 4th Earl of Sandwich needed something to hold his meat with while gambling. Bread is essentially gloves...made of carbs. Carb gloves. Mmmmm. *Homer Simpson drooling sound*
For a more balanced meal, I followed the bread-fest with a vegetarian dish of autumn hash with spinach, goat's cheese, onion, and fried duck egg. Delicious, filling, and healthy I'd like to imagine.
That the food is delicious is one thing, but I also love their decor!