Malaysia is a foodie’s paradise. With a wide array of Chinese, Indian, Malay and international cuisine, you never have to look far to find great food. Vietnam, much to my delight, is very much the same way, with high quality eats around every corner. In between checking out the sights, we spent much of our time sampling Saigon’s eateries and cafes, and the city certainly did not disappoint:
One of our favorite things to do when visiting a new city is to wonder around its markets. Ben Thanh is the largest old style market in central HCMC — sure, it’s touristy; but colorful, bustling with life, and full of tasty local treats:
Unlike the hectic traffic around Ho Chi Minh City, the 15min speedboat ride between our hotel and the city center is not only a breeze, but it also provided entertainment that Ting Ting looked forward to each day…
For Valentines Day/Presidents Day weekend, we made the trip to Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, as it is still widely known. For any first time visitor, undoubtedly the first thing that jumps out at you is the sheer number of motorbikes that dominate the city streets. They are everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE. In KL, the ratio of cars to motorbikes is about 80/20. In HCMC, it’s the other way around. Some may find them overwhelming and down right annoying, but I actually found them quite fascinating and even enjoyed playing Frogger crossing the street with armies of bikes coming at you. I could spend hours just sitting at roadside cafes trying to catch interesting motorbike riders. Of course, the girls would not be very happy about that, so here are a few shots that I managed to capture:
Chinese New Year is a time for family gatherings, but since our families are thousands of miles away, we decided to get away for the long weekend. My research led me to The Dusun (or “The Orchard” in Bahasa) , a small family-run nature resort in the mountains of Seremban, only about an hour drive from KL but feels a world away. With no TV, no wi-fi, and a barely there cell connection, all the modern day distractions have been removed — it’s just you and the nature. Our daily activities consisted of homemade breakfast on the patio, trekking in the forest, hanging out by the pool, reading, listening to music, grilling, dining by candle light, and falling asleep to the sounds of the forest under the starry nights. In other words, a little slice of heaven.
p.s.: if you like durian, you are really in luck as there are hundreds of durian trees on the resort grounds and guests are free to take the all the durians they find…
The hour or so drive from Senggigi to the Lombok airport takes you through little towns and villages along the way, providing a glimpse into life on the island. I tried my hands at some high speed street photography from the backseat of our taxi, which turned out to be quite a challenge, with constant changing light conditions and scenes developing in split second. Despite my best efforts, many shots still turned out to be improperly exposed or focused, but nonetheless, I walked away with some interesting captures:
There are three little islands just off the northwest coast of Lombok, though each has a very distinct personality. Gili Trawangan is the largest and most developed, with many bars and restaurants; Gili Meno is the quietest, essentially a deserted island; and Gili Air, in my mind, strikes the perfect balance — it’s got its share of B&Bs and boutique hotels, but no mega resorts in sight; it’s got beach front bars and restaurants but not packed with tourists. You only have to walk a few minutes to find a stretch of beach completely to yourself, and when you are ready for a little socializing, it’s just a short walk back to “town center”. In fact, next time, I’d just skip Lombok all together and spend the entire holiday on this peaceful little island.