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thisgirlabroad

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  1. For me, it’s the quaint charm of a city’s historic area that always lures me in. Sure, I enjoy checking out modern buildings and big skyscrapers, but there’s something about the old part of a city that I prefer. The same held true when I spent a few days in Quebec City. While the outskirts were beautiful in their own right, it was Old Quebec City that I fell in love with. If you’ve never been before, I would say it’s like Montreal’s little sister: plenty to see, do, and eat, but on a much smaller scale. Rue Saint-Jean: The start of Old Quebec City Porte Saint-JeanRue Saint-JeanThere are many roads around Old Quebec City that have been sectioned off as pedestrian only. If you’re heading into Old Quebec City from the west end, then you’ll likely be passing through Porte Saint-Jean (the old city walls that you can actually walk on top of). Just beyond the city wall is where you’ll find one of the main walking streets on Rue Saint-Jean. Rue Saint-Jean (FYI, that ice cream shop on the right is amazing!)Although this is technically Old Quebec City, you’ll find quite a few modern stores here, like Aldo, David’s Tea, and eventually a McDonald’s. You’re also likely to see buskers performing along this street and just outside of the city wall. Because this is a more popular area, prices at restaurants are also quite a bit higher. We had dinner on our first night at Pub St. Alexandre, and a burger and fries was around $25. I’d suggest to avoid eating a meal here and just opt for drinks with a side of people-watching. Getting lost in Old Quebec City My best advice for exploring Old Quebec City is to just spend the day wandering around and getting lost among the cobblestone streets. Exploring the area close to Rue Dalhousie Rue du Sault-au-MatelotRue Saint-PierreRoyal Battery/Batterie RoyalRue Sous le FortContinuing up Rue Sous le FortRue Dalhousie is a main street that runs along the water on the eastern part of Quebec City. A lot of the streets that come off Rue Dalhousie are pedestrian-only and are insanely cute. Although many are geared towards tourists, with various souvenir shops and the like, you’ll find many art galleries around Rue du Sault-au-Matelot if you’re interested in purchasing some local art. The streets surrounding Chateau Frontenac One of the most well-known landmarks of Quebec City is Chateau Frontenac. This historic hotel is a massive tourist attraction, so it’s no surprise that the streets surrounding Chateau Frontenac are filled with boutique shops, bistros with patio seating, and a whole lot of history. Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps)These are the stairs you can take to get up to Chateau Frontenac. Or, just pop into one of the patios along the steps for a pint and some fantastic people-watching. Place RoyaleThis picture was taken at Place Royal. There are shops surrounding the open area and at the far end you’ll see two busts: one of King Louis XIV and another of an Aboriginal individual. The two heads are staring directly at each other, making for an interesting and political interpretation. Fresque des Québécois art muralThis mural depicts the story of Quebec City, with its important historical figures and how the city was built. There’s one more mural at the bottom of Breakneck Steps that shows the progression of the waterfront neighbourhood of Cap-Blanc. Both are beautiful paintings and you can read about what is happening in each of them on a descriptive plaque. Artist Alley on Rue du TresorThe Artist Alley was a lot smaller than I had originally imagined, but the artwork is almost all original and the majority of it depicts different areas and important buildings in Quebec City. One thing I really liked was that, in most cases, the artist was selling his own work and was able to answer any questions you might have. Prices were around $10 for a small 4×7 original. My favourite area in Old Quebec City: Lower Town Rue du Petit ChamplainRue du Cul de SacI really loved the Lower Town of Old Quebec City. I found the narrow cobblestone streets and colourful buildings to be beautiful, and felt the area had a unique personality. Make sure you head down Rue du Cul de Sac to see the fun umbrellas hung up in the street. If you have time, pop into Q-de-Sac for a drink (they’re one of the few bars in the city I came across to offer happy hour) which overlooks the umbrellas. View the full article
  2. If you’re traveling to Quebec City and aren’t quite sure what to do besides wander around the city center (don’t worry, I wasn’t either), then you could head over to the Old Port Market Quebec City to check out the quaint farmer’s market. I’ll be totally honest, this isn’t your typical big city farmer’s market. You’ll find a small variety of stalls selling local produce, various food and drink, and a few souvenir shops in the Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec, as known by the locals. What to expect at the Old Port Market Quebec City Located next to the old port, the market is easy to get around with a fairly small selection of stalls. I saw a variety of local produce, cheese, a few baked goods, wine, maple syrup products, simple souvenirs, some desserts, and a marketplace restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking the water. I was hoping that this market would have a bit more, but the selection wasn’t overly impressive to me. That being said, I ordered a poutine at the marketplace restaurant and it was delicious, so I won’t complain. Is it worth a visit? If you’re really pressed for time and only have a day in Quebec City, I probably wouldn’t bother with the Old Port Market Quebec. However, if you’re in the city for a couple days and are looking for something to do to kill a few hours, then it’s worth a quick trip. I think we spent maybe 45 minutes wandering around the market and I did see some of the biggest tomatoes ever, so if you’re into produce, this market will likely be interesting. Afterwards, you should walk along the water before heading into Old Quebec to walk around. View the full article
  3. If you’re visiting Quebec City and are looking for something to do outside the city centre, I would recommend checking out Montmorency Falls. Although not quite as impressive as Niagara Falls, Montmorency Falls were beautiful and unique in their own way. You’ll be surrounded by nature, have the chance to walk over the falls on a walking bridge, and take the stairs leading right down to the bottom.. all for free. Whether you’re traveling with your family or a friend, Montmorency Falls Quebec are definitely worth a visit. What to see & do at Montmorency Falls Quebec Views from the walking bridge above Montmorency FallsViews from the walking bridge above Montmorency Falls Once you’ve parked (there is paid parking right beside the entrance, but you can also park for free along the road in one of the neighbourhoods if you don’t mind the walk over), head in and walk straight down the path. This will take you to the walking bridge over the falls. The bridge has a great vantage point – you can see all around the falls and watch as people zipline across. There’s a little viewing area just across the bridge where the people who zipline end up. Then, head back to the entrance and take the other route. This will take you into a large grassy area with a food truck, the start of the zipline (if I remember correctly, it was between CAD$20 – $30), and the stairs that take you all the way to the bottom of the falls with a few viewing areas along the way. Is it worth the drive? I’m happy we stopped by the falls on our way from Quebec City to New Brunswick. Montmorency Falls may not be massive, but they really were beautiful and are worth a visit if you’re nearby. View the full article
  4. Aside from Dragon’s Back, heading up to The Peak is one of the most popular hikes (or walks) in Hong Kong. The route to the top has various starting points, but is relatively quick and offers fantastic views of the city below. If you’ve walked up The Peak many times and are looking for a change of scenery, I’d recommend trying The Peak to Aberdeen hike. This hike covers the Hong Kong Trail Stage 1 and 2, and Peel Rise. The hike is relatively easy and the stunning views over Aberdeen are well worth your time. Starting point of The Peak to Aberdeen hike Head down this street – Harlech RoadThis hike starts at The Peak – you can either walk up to The Peak yourself (we did this – it’s only a quick 20-30 minute walk) or catch a cab to the top. From The Peak Galleria, begin walking down Harlech Road. Harlech Rd to Hong Kong Trail Section 1 The garden area on your leftGo straight – this takes you onto Hong Kong Trail Stage 1Continue walking down Harlech Road until you come across the garden on your left. Harlech Road will then become Hatton Road – instead of going down Hatton, go straight down the unmarked path. This is the start of the Hong Kong Trail Stage 1. Views along the wayTurn left and go up the stairs. There is a few benches in this area with a lookout point and a set of stairs leading down – go down those stairs.Heading down towards Pok Fu Lam ReservoirFollow the path and at the point where you see the large circular pavement and benches (see photo above), there will be a sign pointing to the “Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road” – head down. Hong Kong Trail Section 1 to Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Almost at the reservoirFollow the paved path – the reservoir is just on your rightAs you continue to descend down the stairs, you’ll come across a few forks in the path – continue to follow the signs to the Pok Fu Lam Reservoir. Eventually you’ll come out to a very large paved road with the Pok Fu Lam Reservoir on the opposite side. Turn left where the large sign says ‘To Peel Rise via Chi Fu’ and continue walking along the reservoir. Turn right to get to Peel RiseHead to the left up the stairs following the signs for “Peel Rise” and “Hong Kong Trail”Eventually you’ll come to a fork in the path. Turn right, following the signs that say, ‘Peel Rise’ and ‘Chi Fu’. Continue following the path until you see the stairs leading up to the left – go up these stairs, continuing to follow the signs for ‘Peel Rise’ and ‘Hong Kong Trail’. Hong Kong Trail Section 2 to Peel Rise Go straightFollow the pathContinue along the pathViews over AberdeenThe beginning of the descent down to AberdeenViews as you make your way downAt this point, just follow the path leading you down to Aberdeen. You’ll eventually come out into a clearing where you’ll be privy to some Instagram-worthy views of Aberdeen. Again, continue to follow the path down. Ending point: Aberdeen Turn right down these stairsThe end of the hike is in this estate building. From here, it’s a short walk into Aberdeen where you can catch a bus or taxi back to wherever you need to go.The final turn you need to make is in the photo above – if you stay on the path, you’ll continue along the Hong Kong Trail, so turn right and go down the stairs to get to Aberdeen. After you turn right, you’ll walk past a few benches and then come out to a large walkway going left and right – turn left and head down the road. In a few minutes you’ll end up at the bottom of an estate building. Aberdeen is only a short walk away (I’d suggest just following Google Maps at this point) where you can hop on a bus (I took one to Central) or grab a taxi back. Journey Length: 11.5 km Total Time: about 2 – 3 hours View the full article
  5. My love for local food developed shortly after I moved to Hong Kong six years ago. From dim sum to noodles to dumplings, I’m always up for a visit to a local cha chaan teng or dai pai dong to satisfy my cravings. I’ve had a long list of local shops I’ve wanted to visit for ages now, but I just haven’t had the time to go, so when given an opportunity to join Hello Hong Kong’s local Hong Kong food tour, I jumped on it. Whether you’re living in HK but have felt a bit anxious about heading to a local restaurant, or if you’re visiting and want to have a local food experience, I would highly recommend going on a local Hong Kong food tour with Hello Hong Kong. Dim Sum breakfast and Dried Food Shops Our tour started at 9:30 am at a popular tea house in Sheung Wan called Lin Heung Kui Tea House for a dim sum breakfast. I’ve been to the branch in Central before and loved it, so I was excited to see they had a sister branch next door. I love love love dim sum, and our fantastic tour guide Mel chose a handful of classic dim sum dishes for us to try. I had tried almost everything before except for these pork buns with a sweet pineapple bun topping, which were absolutely delicious. We then walked down the streets of Sheung Wan where many local dry food shops took over the ground floors of buildings. Along the way, we went into a ginseng shop and a Chinese medicinal shop where Mel talked about the health benefits of these products as well as the history of the shops. Despite having lived in this area for four years, I learned quite a few interesting facts about these shops and the history behind them. Next, we went to a local candy and tea shop where we were able to try a variety of treats and dried fruits, and buy any that you fancied. After we were done browsing, we went to the back of the store where the tea selection was and sat down for a traditional tea pouring. We tried dragon pearl jasmine tea and it was honestly the best jasmine tea I have had. After we each had a small glass, we left and popped our heads into a local snake soup shop where live snakes are kept in wooden boxes at the back. We weren’t able to see any that day, but locals believe snake soup has many healing and health benefits. Won Ton Soup and Milk Tea For our next stop, we made our way to Central to Mak’s Chung Noodles for some wonton noodle soup. I had originally thought we were going to the ‘fancy’ new-ish Mak’s Noodles on Wellington Street, but I was surprised to find out that the shop we went to is actually owned by his son. The story goes, there was a family dispute between the two, which is why they now own two different Mak’s Noodle shops in Central, Hong Kong. To quench our thirst we paid a visit to Lan Fong Yuen, a popular local cha chaan teng in Central (one of the places I had been wanting to visit for awhile). We tried the milk tea – I ordered the half coffee, half milk tea drink called yuanyang. The drink was good, but it seemed as though I should have opted for the traditional milk tea, so I’ll have to go back to try it. Egg Tarts and Roast Meat Our next stop was right around the corner at Tai Cheong Bakery to pick up some of their famous egg tarts. Every time I walk by this shop there’s always a queue, but we were able to grab these egg tarts fairly quickly since our tour was on a weekday. We then walked to an area where we could sit down and properly enjoy them before moving on to our final stop of the tour. Finally, we hopped on a tram and made our way to Wan Chai for our last stop at Joy Hing to try char siu (bbq pork). The restaurant was absolutely packed, so we were all squished at a tiny table which wasn’t the most comfortable experience, although it was certainly an authentic one. We tried a heaping plate of char siu, and another plate with rice and char siu – both fatty and lean pieces. After we quickly finished up, we ended our tour just across the street and all parted ways. About Hello Hong Kong Tours Hello Hong Kong specializes in private and small group tours around Hong Kong. They offer a variety of tours based around the sightseeing, culture/history, and food of Hong Kong. Going on a tour with Hello Hong Kong is a great way to explore the city and learn a bit more about what makes Hong Kong so unique with their knowledgeable tour guides (my tour guide Mel was great!). As someone who has lived in Hong Kong for six years, I really did love their local food tour and would recommend it to anyone with an adventurous and/or curious palate. They have also recently launched in Singapore and I can’t wait to try their food tour on my next visit. Visit Hello Hong Kong for more information about their tours and to book yours today! View the full article
  6. Whether you’re looking for a spot in Hong Kong for a weekend getaway or to stay during your work trip, Ovolo Southside hotel in Wong Chuk Hang is a great option. Once a warehouse, this boutique hotel exudes a fun, modern vibe and was the perfect spot for my mini staycation this summer. Plus, with plenty of freebies like breakfast, happy hour, self-laundry and much more when you book direct online, I really couldn’t go wrong! First Impressions of Ovolo Southside Hong Kong The Ovolo Hotel group prides themselves on creating fun, modern, intuitive hotels that put the focus on you, the guest. From the moment I walked inside Ovolo Southside Hong Kong, there was a distinct liveliness sensed throughout. The interior decor in the lobby is vibrant and inviting, with neon signs and funky art all around the hotel. Upon checking in, the hotel staff efficiently went through the details of my stay – free happy hour (including free-flow drinks and snacks), free mini bar, free breakfast, and much more. All these amazing freebies are only available when you book your stay through their website! The Room When I exited the elevator, the hallway was quite dark with bright purple artwork on the walls – clearly sticking to the ‘funky, hip’ theme as first seen in the lobby. The room was the perfect size (great for couples or if you’re enjoying a #treatyoself solo staycation), and had a great views of the surrounding area. The (free!) mini-bar was loaded with plenty of water, beer, pop, and juice, and there was also a free “loot bag” filled with various candies and chips. Personally, it’s these little added touches from a hotel that really make my stay – even though it wasn’t much to include in the room, the fact that the hotel provides these things left a good impression. There were two TV’s in the room; one in the lounge area by the window and another in front of the bed. The bed was incredibly comfortable and upon opening a few more cupboards (what can I say, I’m nosey), there were some cute slippers and a funny tote bag/backpack with “I got 99 problems but a bed ain’t one” printed on it that you could take home if you wanted. The bathroom is quite small, but has everything you need – a range of complimentary quality toiletries (impressed that they had mouthwash as well) and a waterfall shower head. Overall, I really loved the room. It wasn’t huge, but it didn’t need to be: it had everything I needed and more, and I loved that home-y vibe I felt every time I came back to the room. Facilities Ovolo Southside has a great range of facilities for a boutique hotel. For those that don’t want to miss out on a workout, they have a gym that’s opened 24/7 and they even provide yoga mats if you’re looking to get your ‘om’ on in your room. The lounge is also open 24/7 with free coffee and candies. This is also where you can enjoy free flow happy hour and canapés from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm everyday when you book directly through ovolohotels.com. I was also surprised that the hotel offers free self-laundry, perfect for those who are there for more than just a few days. Aside from Komune, the hotel’s main restaurant, Ovolo Southside is also home to ABOVE, a rooftop bar with great drinks, views, and snacks. Dinner & Breakfast Although there was initially a bit of a mix up with our reservation, we ended up enjoying a very filling meal at the hotel restaurant, Komune. The restaurant has both an indoor and outdoor space, but I particularly loved the spacious outdoor area. We ordered a tonne of food: from homemade guacamole with chips and pappardelle with garlic shrimps (my fav!), to clams, chorizo, and sake.. the food was well-priced and the portions were good. If you book the hotel online through their website, a continental breakfast is also included in your stay. The breakfast ran from 6:30 am – 10:30 am (10:00 am on weekdays) and offered delicious coffee from their Nespresso machine, a variety of fruit and pastries, charcuterie, and some Asian breakfast staples like noodles and congee. Overall Thoughts on Ovolo Southside I thoroughly enjoyed my staycation at Ovolo Southside. It’s the perfect way to get out of the city centre and enjoy some R&R in a fun, fuss-free environment. One of my favourite things about this hotel was their “we love the F word” motto – basically, as a guest you get a tonne of freebies here when you book direct. The only thing I wish the hotel had that would be perfect during the summer months is an outdoor pool. Aside from that, Ovolo Southside is a fantastic hotel for a cheeky staycation or a great place to stay if you’re in the city on a work trip. Ovolo Southside 18 Ocean Park Road Wong Chuk Hang Hong Kong Tel: +852 3460 8100 I partnered with Ovolo Southside for this post. As always, all views and opinions are sincerely my own. View the full article
  7. In my last post, I focused on all of the street art in George Town that was completed by Ernest Zacharevic in 2012. Since then, many artists have added their own work to the streets of George Town. While I don’t know the artists names or when they were painted, I enjoyed stumbling upon all of this impressive artwork. This post is basically to serve as a memory for me: an image dump of some of the more interesting Penang street art I found, most of which was discovered by complete accident. George Town Penang Street Art: Where to find the artwork My best advice for how to go about discovering the various pieces of art in George Town is to first plot out a map of the things you really want to see. For me, that was Ernest’s murals for the ‘Mirrors George Town’ project and a selection of local restaurants (you have to try Line Clear, Moh Teng Pheow, and basically all the other delicious Malaysian dishes you come across) I had read about. While I was out wandering around the city, I stumbled upon a tonne of fascinating street art. You’ll pretty much find some form of art on every single street you walk down. Below is a collection of street art that I found the most compelling. If I were to include all the photos I took, there would be well over 50. A selection of the street art I found in George Town View the full article
  8. At this point, it’s not a surprise to many that George Town, Penang is home to a variety of street art. In fact, a lot of people specifically plan to visit for exactly that reason: to discover the hidden streets and alleyways that this artwork is found on. The street art in George Town comes in many varieties and has been completed by multiple artists, however the original project came to life in 2012 when the municipal council hired Ernest Zacharevic to brighten up the town. He was commissioned to create a handful of murals to showcase everyday life in Penang. The unique, sometimes larger-than-life artwork found throughout the city has put Penang in the global spotlight: George Town street art is a must-see for all visitors. George Town Street Art: Mirrors George Town Ernest Zacharevic is a Lithuanian artist who lives in George Town. He was asked by the city council to create a handful of murals throughout George Town for a project called Mirrors George Town for the upcoming Penang George Town Festival. This project’s aim was to attract more tourists to the area, but also to shine light on the city’s unique heritage (it is a UNESCO heritage sight, after all). Although this was the first stage of street art, many other artists followed after and you’ll now see plenty of different forms of street art throughout the city. Where to find the street art When I was in George Town many years ago, I aimlessly wandered around and saw whatever street art I happened to stumble upon – such a shame considering he had just completed the project when I went. This time around, I did some research ahead of time and found this blog that put together a map of where to find Ernest Zacharevic’s murals (though I did end up missing two and one has since been removed). Make your way around George Town by foot – it will likely take at least half a day, if not more, to visit all of the street art if you’re going at a leisurely pace. I was there in April and it was incredibly hot, but we did manage by foot (and by random stops inside 7-11 to cool down!). An alternative method is to rent bicycles for the day and go around if you’re pressed for time and are interested in exploring other parts of the city in the same day. “The Awaiting Trishaw Paddler” “Little Girl in Blue” “Reaching Up” “Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur” “Boy on a Bike” “Little Children on a Bicycle” Stay tuned for my next piece on all of the other artwork we stumbled upon while exploring George Town! View the full article
  9. Koh Samui has become one of the must-visit destinations in South East Asia over the past few years thanks to its beautiful beaches, chilled out vibe, and relatively easy access. Although the island isn’t particularly large, the different sections offer visitors a different experience. The two most popular areas of Koh Samui are Chaweng Beach and Bophut. While you can find many hotels in each area, if you’re traveling in a larger group – with family or friends – your best bet is to rent a private villa with Villa Finder. Chaweng Beach Arguably the most popular area in Koh Samui, Chaweng Beach has something for everyone. The main strip is quite lively and has plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops making it popular with a younger crowd. I spent three nights in Chaweng and I loved that the beach was minutes away, there were many dining options, and the area came to life at night. That being said, it was a bit crowded at times and felt a bit too touristy for my liking. If, like me, you want all the conveniences of Chaweng, but are looking to stay in a more secluded area, I would highly recommend renting a villa through Villa Finder. Although most of these villas aren’t right on the beach, the facilities, views, and services they offer are incomparable to what you’ll find at many of the more generic beachfront hotels. Although you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from everyone, the villas are all a quick 10~ minute drive to a variety of restaurants. If you’re wanting to optimize your time in the villa, you can always ask the staff to prepare and cook up an incredible meal for you and your guests. Bophut Beach Head to the northern part of the island and you’ll discover the tranquility of Bophut Beach. This area isn’t as built-up and touristy as Chaweng, and still retains much of its former Thai-Chinese influence and charm. Bophut’s chilled out vibe makes it a great area for families or those that are more interested in relaxing than partying. Although I didn’t stay in Bophut, I went to the night market by the Fisherman’s Village (held every Friday night) and loved the wide range of street food offered. Most of the villas from Villa Finder around Bophut Beach are privy to a prime beachfront location and are absolutely stunning. These villas can fit anywhere from four to eighteen people in them and are equipped with everything you could possibly need. Need something a little extra? Villa Finder can make just about anything happen to ensure your vacation goes exactly how you want it. About Villa Finder Villa Finder began in 2012 and sets themselves apart from the competition by offering guests the complete experience: all villas are personally inspected by the team and from the moment you make an inquiry on the website, the Travel Consultants work to ensure they understand your needs and what you’re looking for during your holiday. Afterwards, they source out the villas that best fit the client’s needs. Once the villa is chosen, the Guest Relation team can take care of any other requests – from something as simple as an airport pick up to a romantic dinner or in-villa massage. One thing I really love about Villa Finder is that for every booking made, a tree is planted in Sumatra, Indonesia. Currently, Villa Finder has over 1,000 villas in Bali, Phuket, Koh Samui, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius. This post was written in collaboration with Villa Finder. View the full article
  10. If you’re an adventurous foodie who often finds yourself planning a travel itinerary based around all the food you want to try, then Penang is the perfect travel destination for you. The food found in Penang is insanely good, oh-so cheap, and most of it is difficult to find outside the country. Although I had made a stopover for a few days in George Town about five years ago, I never really explored all the local food this area had to offer. With that in mind, I made sure to do research on the regional food I could find in Penang. I ended up planning my days around pit-stops at local food stalls and night markets, and managed to put together this list of all the local food in Penang that I loved and that you must try. 1. Asam Laksa Asam laksa is arguably the most well known dish from Penang. While many people have tried the creamy version of laksa that is relatively easy to find around the world, asama laksa is unique to Penang and is difficult to come across outside Malaysia. Asam laksa has a sweet, slightly sour taste from the pineapple and mild fish base. You can find asam laksa just about anywhere – this bowl was from a night market in the beach area of Batu Ferringhi and only cost RM4. While the laksa at night markets was fantastic, a highlight for me was heading to Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay in George Town (recommended to me by the staff at Hotel Penaga) for a bowl of these insanely delicious noodles. 2. Cendol One of the most famous desserts in Penang is Cendol – an iced dessert made with coconut milk, green rice flour ‘noodles’, red beans, shaved ice, and palm sugar. So famous in fact, that above one of the food stalls (Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul )selling this dessert on Lebuh Keng Kwee is a massive mural of a man taking a big spoon full of cendol. There is also a stall directly across from it called Penang Road Famous Chendol where I bought a bowl for RM2.90. We were actually told by a local to go to the latter one because the ‘famous’ one’s quality has declined since many tourists visit it anyway. Regardless of which one you go to, this is the perfect roadside treat to cool you off. 3. Local jelly desserts Sticking with the theme of dessert, Malaysia has a variety of local jellied desserts that are popular. I actually didn’t know about this until we went to Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay, where they have a large selection of these homemade desserts for sale. The flavors we tried were: Kuih Bengka – Ubi, Kuih Talam, Pulut Tai Tai (Kaya Kuih), and one Abuk. These desserts weren’t overly sweet, which was certainly appreciated after a heavy meal, and ranged between RM0.60 – RM1.50, and RM3 for the Abuk (the one wrapped in the lotus leaf). 4. Curry Mee I discovered curry mee rather accidentally when I was trying to eat as much local food as I could possibly consume before my flight. I found this delicious curry mee at Pisa Cafe food market in Bayan Baru. This massive bowl of the most delicious, creamy noodles was only RM4.50 and came loaded with thicker yellow noodles and thin vermicelli noodles, tofu, and cuttlefish balls in a spicy coconut sauce. 5. Nasi Kandar When I was doing research on the must-try dishes in Penang, nasi kandar came up numerous times with reference to a popular restaurant called Nasi Kandar Line Clear Restaurant. We popped in on one of our first nights in George Town and were welcomed with a mountain (no, literally, there was enough food to feed at least two people) of rice, chicken (you could choose your meat, but one of the staff recommended the roast chicken), fried bitter gourd, okra, green beans, cucumber, and a few other ingredients that I had no clue about. This was one of my favorite dishes I had in Penang and it only cost RM14.30. 6. Iced Kacang This was another surprise dish found in Pisa Cafe on my last night in Penang. Although I had read plenty about Cendol and tried it in George Town, I didn’t hear about this dessert until I was wandering around the food stalls and came upon one selling iced kacang. I asked the lady behind the counter about it and, despite being incredibly full from two big dishes already, I couldn’t leave Penang without trying it. This refreshing dessert was comprised of red beans, grass jelly, nata de coco, and agar hidden under a mound of colorful shaved ice, sweet corn, condensed milk, and a scoop of taro ice cream. 7. Char Kway Teow Char kway teow is another popular dish in Malaysia and can be found at almost any local restaurant or market. I didn’t find this dish as exciting as the others, since I can find it quite easily where I live, but it’s a great dish to order if you’re looking for some simple comfort food. This (rather small) plate of char kway teow was from the night market in Batu Ferringhi for RM5. 8. Street-side Indian Snacks In the heart of George Town you’ll find an eclectic area called Little India. This section of small shops, eateries, and plenty of colorful characters is where you can get your hands on some delicious Indian food. There were a number of food stalls along the road selling a variety of snacks and desserts – I went for the vegetarian samosa (RM0.60) and instantly regretted only buying one. I then went on a mission to find gulab jamun (my favorite Indian dessert) and finally came across a little shop called Mr. Sweets where I filled a bag with 4 pieces of gulab jamun and 5 other mystery sweets that looked delicious for only RM11.90. View the full article
  11. When people think of Hong Kong, they often piece together an image of tall skyscrapers, hoards of people taking over sidewalks, and little greenery. While some of this may be true in certain parts of the city (no one wants to be walking around in Central during lunchtime!), there is a whole other side to Hong Kong that many people don’t know about. If you’re a fan of spending the day conquering a hiking trail, discovering the local geology of a place, or hoping on a boat to explore lesser-known parts of an area, then Hong Kong should definitely be at the top of your list. Discover Hong Kong is offering three outdoor package tours that will guide you on a fantastic eco-journey filled with picture-perfect views, rich history, and unique experiences. Each of these hassle-free guided hiking tours by locals include a professionally qualified geo-tour guide that will teach you about the history and tell you plenty of stories about everything you’ll see along the way. Lai Chi Wo Hiking Tour Photo from the Hong Kong Tourism BoardOver 400 years ago Lai Chi Wo was one of the most prosperous villages in the New Territories. Located within Plover Cove Country Park, this Hakka village is located along the coastline and is mainly populated by its older original inhabitants. You’ll begin the hike at Tai Po Market MTR Station where a bus will take you to Wu Kau Tang. Follow the guide as they tell you interesting Feng Sui stories and take you to Sam A Tsuen where you’ll get to stop and have lunch. From there, you’ll make your way to Lai Chi Wo to explore that area. To wrap up this tour, a scenic boat ride will take you to Ma Liu Shui Ferry Pier, which is right beside University MTR Station. Start time: 10:00 am Length of tour: Around 8 hours Starting/Ending point: Tai Po Market MTR Station/University MTR Station Price: HK$1000 including lunch Book your tour here. Geopark Hiking Tour Photo from the Hong Kong Tourism BoardAnother great option is the Geopark Hiking tour that will take you along the beautiful coastline in Sai Kung. This area has plenty of natural geological landforms and rock formations caused by volcanic activity, waves, and weathering from 140 million years ago. This guided tour will take you through the impressive hexagonal columnar joints, a boat ride to see the natural tombolo on Sharp Island, and an inland water dam at High Island Reservoir. Amidst all of these sightseeing locations, you’ll stop for lunch at Sha Kiu/Pak Lap for lunch. Start time: 8:30 am Length of tour: Around 8 hours Starting/Ending point: Central Price: HK$1000 including lunch Book your tour here. Geopark Boat Tour: Sai Kung Islands Photo from the Hong Kong Tourism BoardWith the longest coastline and most outlying islands in Hong Kong, Sai Kung is best explored by boat. This tour will take you through the areas unique biodiversity including sea stacks, tubular rock columns, sea caves, the volcanic rock columns of High Island, and rhyolite on Sharp Island. While you’ll see most of the sights on the boat, you’ll have a chance to get off and explore Sharp Island at the end of the tour. Start time: 9:00 am or 2:00 pm Length of tour: Around 3 hours Starting/Ending point: Sai Kung Pier Price: HK$975 Book your tour here. This post was written in collaboration with the Hong Kong Tourism Board. View the full article
  12. I have always been a huge fan of laksa – it’s probably my favorite soup noodle dish. Although I’ve had the popular creamy-based laksa many times, I had never tried asam laksa as it’s really only popular in Malaysia, specifically Penang. At our hotel in Georgetown, I asked one of the staff where to find the best asam laksa and she immediately told us to go to Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay (莫定標娘惹粿廠). Just like that, we were off on what turned out to be a fairly big and long mission to source out the city’s best asam laksa. The experience The cutest entranceDining areaFinding Moh Teng Pheow was no easy task. It wasn’t until we gave up all hope and popped into a nearby hotel to ask whether the restaurant was close by that we finally sorted our directions out. Finally, after about 30 minutes of walking in the brutal heat, we came upon Moh Teng Pheow down a little alleyway off Lebuh Chulia. I’m not exactly sure if we went in through the main entrance way, but we walked through the kitchen first and then went into the dining area. The restaurant was relatively empty, so we had our pick of tables (unfortunately no air conditioning, so a table by a fan would have to do), and the staff were friendly and could speak English well enough for us to get by. The food MenuAsam laksaIn laksa heavenWe wanted to try a range of items on the menu, but we knew we had to order the asam laksa so we each got one (for only RM6 – HK$12!). Honestly, this laksa was phenomenal – just look at the huge smile on my face! Asam laksa is very different from curry laksa in that it’s slightly tangy from the pineapple and has a fishy undertone, but don’t let that put you off.. I swear, this bowl of noodles was life changing. Moh Teng Pheow served a decent-sized bowl of laksa, though it was more on the snack side, which is perfect if you’re doing a bit of a food tour in Georgetown like we were. Had we not ordered dessert as well, I definitely would have ordered another bowl to devour. Variety of Malaysian dessertsOur dessert picksI was less familiar with which types of dessert to order, despite the English names on the menu. Thankfully, one of the staff members told us to come to the counter where we could actually see all of the dessert on display. After a few questions about what the flavors actually were, we settled on the: Kuih Bengka – Ubi, Kuih Talam, Pulut Tai Tai (Kaya Kuih), and one Abuk. I’m not typically a fan of jellied desserts, but I honestly loved all of these. Moh Teng Cheow is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm, so plan to go during the day Moh Teng Cheow Nyonya Koay Jalan Mesjid Off Lebuh Chulia, 10200 Georgetown View the full article
  13. Nasi Kandar is a popular local Malaysian dish that originated in Penang. When I was searching for local dishes and restaurants to check out, I came across Nasi Kandar Line Clear Restaurant Penang. I read about how this local canteen-style shop apparently served the best nasi kandar in Penang, so I obviously had to try it out. Let me jump to the point: I loved everything about my experience at Line Clear Restaurant. From the insanely delicious (and messy!) nasi kandar to the friendly and helpful service, this is one local food shop you need to visit when in Georgetown. Location of Line Clear Restaurant Penang If Line Clear Restaurant Penang didn’t have a few signs on the sidewalk pointing out exactly where you need to turn to get your nasi kandar fix, we likely would have walked right by. Tucked away off Penang Road, it’s located right in the heart of Georgetown, beside 161 & 177 Penang Road, and is an easy walk from just about anywhere in that area. Plus, it’s open 24 hours so you don’t need to worry too much about when to go (I’d avoid lunch hours during the weekday, as it becomes incredibly busy with locals). The experience As soon as we began walking down the short alleyway to the restaurant, we were eagerly welcomed by the staff. We told them that we had read about Line Clear online and wanted to try their famous nasi kandar. Since we had no clue how to actually go about ordering, one of the staff members simply asked us to choose a type of meat (I went with the tender roast chicken based off of his recommendation) and then told us to sit down while he prepared the dish. The food After only a few minutes, a whopping plate of food arrived in front of us. For those that don’t know, nasi kandar is essentially a variety of curried meat and vegetables. Aside from the rice and chicken, I wasn’t entirely sure what was on my plate, though I did recognize fried bitter gourd, okra, green beans, and cucumber. I’m less clear about the rest, but it didn’t even matter because this was hands down one of the best dishes I had while in Penang. To top it off, all this food (literally enough to feed two) was only RM14.30 – less than HK$30. View the full article
  14. While spending a few days in Georgetown is well worth it for the delicious food, artsy vibes, and unique architecture, you’ll likely feel like you need a few days’ rest and relaxation afterwards. Most people head to Batu Ferringhi to spend some time at one of the resorts along the beach. My choice was the Golden Sands Resort Penang by Shangri-La because of its overall good value when looking at the price and facilities offered. Although the sea isn’t exactly swimmable at this beach thanks to the copious amounts of jellyfish in the water, there was still plenty of space to lounge around by the pool or on the grass close to the beach to get that much needed R&R. First impressions of Golden Sands Resort Penang by Shangri-La After spending two scorching days in Georgetown, I couldn’t wait to throw my bags down and just zen out. Golden Sands Resort Penang is a massive 387-room hotel with great facilities. The hotel lobby is open concept and the hotel staff are quick to assist you with whatever you need. Check-in was relatively seamless, but I had paid extra for a “balcony sea view” room and the original room they put me in was on the first floor with a building directly in front of the room which obstructed any view. After a call to reception to ask for a new room, they managed to switch us to a higher floor with a much better view. *Note – I would definitely recommend asking for a room that faces the pool/sea, as you’ll likely be able to hear the call to prayer if you’re on the east side of the hotel and are facing the street. The room The room was a good size for two and came with a comfy big bed, which was hard to part with at the end of my stay. The spacious bathroom had two sinks, a bathtub/shower, and a range of amenities that came in handy. My favorite part of the room was definitely the balcony. Perfect for early in the morning and later on at night; I enjoyed a morning coffee outside before breakfast and a nighttime tea before bed. Overall, I really did like the room. The only thing I will say is that quite a lot of it does seem to be outdated – as an example, built into the desk is what appeared to be some sort of radio tuner with electric outlets. I do think the resort could use a bit of an uplift, but for the price, I won’t complain (too much). Breakfast Breakfast was included and I found it funny that the hotel actually had these traffic light signs up showing the busiest and least busy times to go for breakfast. The Garden Cafe accommodates well over 100 people and was always busy in the morning when we went down for breakfast. The buffet spread had a large international selection of hot and cold dishes, so even the fussiest eaters will likely find something they enjoy. For my breakfasts, I mainly stuck with fresh fruit, eggs, and toast with kaya spread. Facilities Golden Sands Resort is a great place for families, with slides and water activities, an indoor play area, and supervised kids’ activities throughout the day. For those without kids (myself included), I still enjoyed the facilities here, though for me personally, it was a bit too family friendly at times. There are a number of pools, mainly swarming with children, but there was one pool that was for adults only. If you’re looking for a bit of an escape from the screams of excited children, find a lounge chair on the grass away from the pool area. I liked that you could order drinks and food that were brought to your lounge chair and the poolside bar also had a good happy hour of buy one get one free drinks (hello pina coladas!). The resort was within walking distance to the night market and a fantastic cooked food center with deliciously cheap eats that you should go to instead of eating all meals at the hotel. Overall thoughts on Golden Sands Resort I really enjoyed my stay at Golden Sands Resort. Although the majority of the hotel could use a modern update, the price point for the facilities and quality of service more than made up for it. While I think this hotel is great for families, I also enjoyed my time there though did find the constant running around and screaming of children to be a bit taxing at times. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a quick beach getaway in Penang that’s good value, I would recommend Golden Sands Resort. Golden Sands Resort Penang by Shangri-La Batu Ferringhi Beach View the full article
  15. When looking for a hotel in Georgetown, I came across the lovely heritage boutique hotel: Hotel Penaga. I knew I wanted something with a good dose of traditional charm, but still have a variety of modern necessities. Built in the 1920’s, the building was originally comprised of homes and ground floor shops until 2008 when a couple purchased the property, and carefully renovated and transformed it into Hotel Penaga Penang. The hotel is full of history and fascinating artwork throughout, and the staff are very helpful and welcoming. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better hotel to spend a few days in while exploring the lovely area of Georgetown. First impressions of Hotel Penaga Hotel PenagaLobbyThe concierge was all smiles as he opened the main doors of Hotel Penaga upon our arrival. Everything – from check in and out, to getting information about Georgetown and arranging transportation to another part of Penang – was so incredibly easy thanks to the helpful staff. I really did feel at home here thanks to the staff who were always going out of their way to ensure we had a great stay. Aside from the staff, I immediately fell in love with the design of the hotel. It honestly felt like I was taking a luxurious step back in time while walking around this heritage boutique hotel. The room I had the most beautiful room – from the minute I walked in, I fell in love with all of the polished wooden furniture, the subtle Asian touches, and the paintings that adorned the walls. My favorite features of the room itself were the large canopy bed that took center stage and the wooden dresser decorated with red Chinese designs. Hotel Penaga also supplied a good range of fairtrade coffee and teas in the room with a life-saving espresso machine that made a killer cup of joe. Although it may sound a bit silly, I relished time spent in the bathroom when I was showering and getting ready in the morning. The bathroom was huge (almost the size of my bedroom in Hong Kong!) and I loved the contrast between the light blue tiling and the dark wood paneled floors. I always look out for a big bathtub when I’m choosing a hotel and Hotel Penaga’s massive jacuzzi did not disappoint. We were also lucky enough to get a room with a balcony that overlooked the pool and other parts of the hotel. Perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee in the early morning before breakfast (and before it became too hot outside!), I loved being able to have a bit of outdoor space. Also, if you didn’t notice from the photos, many of the room’s light switches were actually bells – a really neat added touch. Breakfast Breakfast at Hotel Penaga Penang was a casual affair. They offered a variety of hot items (some changed daily), breads and spreads, and fresh fruit and juice. The service is prompt and friendly and there was a good selection to choose from, whether you liked more of a western-style breakfast or an Asian one. They also offered any style of eggs you’d like (poached eggs on toast, please!) and had a selection of their own Penang homemade bread with kaya spread (a delicious coconut jam) and other unique locally sourced jams. Facilities Hotel Penaga Penang has just about everything you could ask for. The location is perfect in that it’s within walking distance of everything you’d want to see in Georgetown (just be sure to bring comfortable shoes!). There is a lap pool with a handful of covered tables around it and a few loungers if you can bear hanging out in the blistering heat. The hotel also has a spa, library, meeting rooms, and a restaurant/bar. One thing I found quite interesting was the artwork throughout the hotel. Hotel Penaga actually runs an artist residency program where contemporary artists can apply to have their work put on display throughout the hotel, so be sure to take your time while wandering around to read about the artists and their work. Overall thoughts on Hotel Penaga Penang Hotel Penaga Penang is a boutique hotel with a whole lot of charm and personality. The service is honestly exceptional here – they even used their own personal phone to call us a Grab (the company that recently bought out Uber in Malaysia) when we couldn’t use the app in order to get to our next destination in Penang. During the two nights we spent at Hotel Penaga everything was fantastic and I would definitely recommend booking your stay here when you visit Georgetown! Hotel Penaga Corner of Jalan Hutton & Lebuh Clarke 10050 George Town Penang Malaysia Tel: 04-261 1891 I partnered with Hotel Penaga for this post. As always, all views and opinions are sincerely my own. View the full article
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