Idaman House at Janda Baik, Pahang


THE SIMPLE LIFE AMIDST THE RAINFOREST TREETOPS OF JANDA BAIK, PAHANG
Idaman (Malay, Indonesian) - n. ideal, craving, desire. 
How wonderfully fitting, as Idaman House was my family's choice for a weekend of fresh forest air.
The Malay kampong (village) of Janda Baik - literally 'the good widow' - is, according to local folklore, named after a kindly widow of local folklore who tended to a wounded mercenary passing through the town. My party of ten enjoyed similar hospitality - a 5-bedroom villa in the mountains tended to by a staff of three who took care of our every need, leaving us free to relax and enjoy our verdant surroundings.
February 22, 2016

Idaman House at Janda Baik, Pahang

THE SIMPLE LIFE AMIDST THE RAINFOREST TREETOPS OF JANDA BAIK, PAHANG Idaman (Malay, Indonesian) - n. ideal, craving, desire.  How...

Ipoh Bites - Where To Eat In Ipoh Old Town

What to eat & drink in Ipoh that isn't chicken rice or Old Town coffee

While I'm all about the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" - or rather "I'll fix it if I only need to use duct tape or WD40" - I am not at all adverse to introducing crazy newfangled ideas to areas where the classics have already stood the test of time. So, in the spirit of the 'something old, something new' of Ipoh Old Town's new retro revival and the 'modern treehouse meets historical house of decadence' of Sekeping Kong Heng, I'm rounding up my Ipoh blog posts with five alternative eateries beyond the city's already-established street food and hawker stalls. 

February 20, 2016

Ipoh Bites - Where To Eat In Ipoh Old Town

What to eat & drink in Ipoh that isn't chicken rice or Old Town coffee While I'm all about the adage "if it ai...

Birthday Babies


February 16, 2016

Birthday Babies

Sekeping Kong Heng, Ipoh

Sekeping Kong Heng, Ipoh


INDULGING MY INNER PETER PAN AT SEKEPING KONG HENG, IPOH 

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I've slept around. Literally - I've stayed at 5* hotels, country piles, cruise ships, Airbnb's, and then some. I'd rate myself reasonably well-travelled, even so my recent trip to Ipoh ticked off a first for me - sleeping in a treehouse. A treehouse! You may already know about my dinner party childhood dream plans in progress but what kidult doesn't still nurture Neverland fantasies? Ever since Sekeping Retreats burst onto the Malaysian scene with their dreamy 'back to nature' getaways, sleeping al fresco has never been so en vogue, an especially commendable accomplishment given the tropical climate with all its nuisances.
Sekeping Kong Heng sealed the deal for me when I contemplated making a trip to Ipoh for Henry's birthday. The latest addition to the Sekeping family is a glass and concrete treehouse in newly rejuvenated Kong Heng Square, the heart of Ipoh Old Town's revival. The 3 storey neo-classical building was once a hostel for theatre performers who performed in the adjacent theatre building that was burnt down in the 50s. True to the spirit of celebrating Ipoh's rich heritage and history, Sekeping Kong Heng has preserved as much of the character of the existing building as possible - evident in details like reclaimed colonial shop windows used for the rooms. The result is edgy and hip yet respectful to its surroundings' history: an exhibit you live and breathe - from the heady aroma of white coffee to the cacophony of Cantonese banter between hawkers - in a real Old Town setting. 
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February 12, 2016

Sekeping Kong Heng, Ipoh

INDULGING MY INNER PETER PAN AT SEKEPING KONG HENG , IPOH   ______ I've slept around. Literally - I&#...

The New Old: the Retro Revival of Ipoh, Malaysia

The revival of Ipoh Old Town thanks to the rejuvenation of Kong Heng Square, with Bits & Bobs, Missing Marbles, Burps & Giggles, New Star Salon, Sekeping Kong Heng, and more!

Ipoh Old Town, revived with vintage flair 


I chanced upon the most remarkable sight last November when I was in Ipoh to review The Haven.  
In its heyday, the North Malaysian capital of Perak was an icon of the riches of the Empire. But when the mining boom ended, its star faded as the Town Built On Tin became a shell of its former self. All that remained of Ipoh were decaying colonial mansions and shophouses whose weathered bodies whispered of its glory days of British Malaya. As my father did, many of the city’s young emigrated to Kuala Lumpur for bigger prospects, leaving behind a sleepy hollow seemingly inhabited mostly by those old enough to remember pre-independence Malaysia.  
Ipoh, whose star once shone as brightly as Singapore, was now an Adele lyric: “that town where nothing really happened”. Or so I had remembered from my family’s annual Chinese New Year returns to my paternal hometown - it was usually a stopover between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, albeit one boasting some of the best Malaysian culinary fare. Although in recent years Ipoh has become a family-friendly destination for wellness and relaxation, it was not a place I associated with a burgeoning arts and culture scene, and certainly not with the trendy young. 
I was about to proven so satisfyingly wrong.

February 10, 2016

The New Old: the Retro Revival of Ipoh, Malaysia

Ipoh Old Town, revived with vintage flair   I chanced upon the most remarkable sight last November when I was in Ipoh to re...

Welcome, Monkey!


Gong Xi Fa Cai, Wan Shi Ru Yi! Wishing you all prosperity in the year of the Fire Monkey!

February 08, 2016

Welcome, Monkey!

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Wan Shi Ru Yi!  Wishing you all prosperity in the year of the Fire Monkey!

The Joys of Flying Long Haul




Survive? What is this, Bear Grylls and The Chamber Of Secrets?
Let’s be real - there’s nothing to ‘survive’ on a flight, long haul or otherwise. You’re being fed, watered, and oxygenated; all you have to do is sit down, shut up, and not be a cheese-eating racist. Clickbait articles titled otherwise would have a generation of advice-seeking fliers believe that a long haul flight is an epic journey to Mount Doom when really it’s the biggest first world problem of all: Oh, you’re enduring the indignity of travelling thousands of miles over a relatively short space of time and degree of comfort to an exotic destination? Awww, poor thing, does somebody need a waaaah-mbulance? 
Let’s all not lose our heads but rather count our blessings. Not even regard a long haul flight as a means to be justified by the end, but the reasons why the experience is something to be welcomed as a privilege. 
These are the three things I love about flying long haul (not included - squealing WHEEEE! during turbulence).
February 07, 2016

The Joys of Flying Long Haul

Survive? What is this, Bear Grylls and The Chamber Of Secrets? Let’s be real - there’s nothing to ‘survive’ on a flight, long...

24 Hours in Brussels, Belgium: Eat, See, & Do

It's amazing how much you can see and do with 24 hours in Brussels (namely, how many carbs I can cram into my waffle-hole) when your nose isn't buried in your smartphone while you frantically Google "How to make the most out of Brussels: So many things to see (eat), so little time".
If there are 3 things I can take away from my city break they are: a) Brussels is far more civilised and empty on the weekends (the day-trippers will have departed for Paris by Friday, which sees hotel rates drop), b) despite the current climate, Brussels has never been safer - the constant police and military presence makes the recently-unlocked down city the place to visit right now, and c) you can cover all the highlights of Brussels in a day, but there will never, ever, be enough room for all the waffles, frites, mussels, and chocolate. Oh the chocolate.
So, in the time-poor but experience-rich spirit that seems to be the zeitgeist of every city break-taking millenial, I've put together this blog post: a photo-diary slash city guide for all of you who want to hop aboard the Brussels Express. Passports at the ready...
 PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASIMINNE YIP AND HENRY RIDLEY-COOK. PHOTOS 2 & 14 COURTESY OF THEIR ESTABLISHMENTS


January 27, 2016

24 Hours in Brussels, Belgium: Eat, See, & Do

It's amazing how much you can see and do with 24 hours in Brussels (namely, how many carbs I can cram into my waffle-hole) w...

What I Saw In Warsaw

Neon Museum Warsaw, Poland

What I Saw In Warsaw (now repeat that 5x as fast as you can)
January 17, 2016

What I Saw In Warsaw

What I Saw In Warsaw  (now repeat that 5x as fast as you can )

Polish-ing Off Warsaw, one restaurant at a time



How to go from The Wolf of Warsaw to The Pig of Poland in four delicious ways.
January 15, 2016

Polish-ing Off Warsaw, one restaurant at a time

How to go from The Wolf of Warsaw  to The Pig of Poland in four delicious ways.

H15 Boutique: Warsaw, Poland

January 13, 2016

H15 Boutique: Warsaw, Poland

The Wolf of Warsaw

The Wolf of Warsaw - a wolf fur winter warmer

January 11, 2016

The Wolf of Warsaw