Deer Emophant – a trip to the National Elephant Conservation Centre and Deerland Park in Kuala Gandah, Pahang

elephant conservation malaysia

I went on a road trip to Kuala Gandah in Pahang over the long weekend to check out National Elephant Conservation Center. I didn’t even know there was an elephant sanctuary in Malaysia!

We had planned to go to Chiling Falls, but that was nixed due to the closure of the route. Thus, on the night before, the four of us – Suanie, Marco, Joyce and yours truly drove down on one of our impromptu road trips. Well, to be precise, Suanie drove.

I was quite intrigued to find an emophant in the elephant conservatory.

What is an emophant?

emo elephant
Emophant is emo.

The elephants in this sanctuary are all rescued from the wild – from poachers of their prized tusks. Thus, you can see that all of them don’t have tasks. This place saves elephants but sometimes, quite a few die coz they’re beyond salvation after running into illegal poachers wielding sharp instruments for cutting off their lucrative tusks.

I heard this from one of the rangers in the park. There are actually quite a lot of deaths before they could be saved but what they’re doing is admirable.

emophant

Naturally, after a nasty experience of being cornered by men with the intent on separating them from their appendages, the wild pachyderms takes a while to recover.

elephant conservation pahang

Some are more resilient, and it’s good to feel the sensitive elephant’s trunk around your hands – they can be fed peanuts or sugar cane (all sold at the premises).

snacks

Others, like the emophant, takes a while to recover and it’s a little sad to see that poor huge beast standing by itself in the corner. :x

emophant destroy
Emophant smash!

I have to say that I’m no saint though, I felt really sorry for the emophant but given a chance to try out elephant meat, I would. I don’t see why dead carcasses cannot be butchered and sold with profits going to the care of the ones that are alive (they’re dead anyway).

I’m no stranger to eating dogs – I’ve done so twice, once in Hanoi (where there’s an entire street dedicated to it) and once in Korea. I’ve also eaten a huge rat in China. I do like exotic game meat and I’ll try everything once.

No point in bashing me for it, there’s plenty of that on my YouTube video of the dog meat trade – just do what you feel is right and you’re good. I don’t get pressured not to eat certain stuff, my personal stance is that while education about brutality is good and all, it’s really a personal choice – cows are sacred to the Hindus, yet people all around eat steaks with abandon and on the secular side of things, there’s horrendous egg farms for chickens but yet a lot of people eat eggs.

I do not judge and my policy is simple – education for the future generation and personal choice. Getting your panties all in a twist about it is kinda like the War on Drugs – pointless. It benefits some people (keeps the DEA and the likes in their jobs) and afford a holier-than-thou podium for people who wants be in the limelight but ultimately the mantra of “When the demand drops, the supply would too” is a slippery slope.

I have already quit that particular chapter in my life and I can piss as clean as a whistle now. I don’t want any part of it anymore, but that’s just my choice. I won’t look at you askance if you enjoy a toke or two on the weekends.

elephant conservation kuala gandah

Anyway, back on the subject of elephants – I heard you can also take a bath with them beside a nearby stream. It sounds like a fun thing to do, but it seems like the place has become a tad commercialized according to Suanie – it used to be quite rustic, but that is the way of the world.

The next stop on our trip was Deerland Park.

champagne

I found a really cute cat that really made my day. She looks a lot like Champagne (a cat I had when I was in my early teens – would cuddle her for hours each night and she drinks from the same glass of milk as I do, something which horrifies my parents).

cat

The cat is very affectionate and I picked it up and walked with it for a bit. I like the warmth and the soft purr of a feline in my arms. I’m a sucker for cats like this. :)

ferret

There are a lot of other animals in Deerland Park, like this ferret. I thought this was a hilarious pose (geddit?).

However, the main thing to see there are the deer. It looks a lot like goats to me, especially this Satanic looking specimen:

satanic deer

You get a bowl of carrots and other mixed vegetables and you can feed them. It’s fun!

I reckon the bigger ones were getting really aggressive and snagging all the food so the trick is to take multiple carrots with both hands and make sure the smaller deer are fed while ensuring the larger ones gets distracted.

It’s fun to feel their lips and it’s remarkable how they can sense what to bite and what not to, like the elephants.

red ants

I did get bitten by a couple of red ants though. It turns out there’s a nest of the nasty little things nearby.

python

Deerland Park is also where I took a photo with a very huge python. I’ve been to the Snake Temple in Penang and I found it apt that I kissed and was blessed by this snake before the Chinese Year of the Snake. :D

I like snakes. I used to own a ball python. I’ve also eaten snake before, including a cobra that I haven’t posted yet.

There’s a story about epicureans who managed to eat a phoenix in a story by master storyteller Jeffrey Archers. I highly recommend that book, bought it in London one of my trips there.

deerland

It’s a fun place to go to and just a short drive away from KL – both places are listed in Google Maps. I really liked the emophant – entrance fee to the National Elephant Conservation Center is free (donations are encouraged) and Deerland Park cost RM 28 for the four of us. It’s a good find and a fun place to spend a couple of hours during the long weekend.

feeding deer

There’s actually nothing much to do in both places, just a chance to pet and see the animals that makes up the name of the places. I guess that’s the appeal of the place, plus I haven’t been to both places before and I have been wanting to take a road trip for a while. :)

Last Trip to Genting Casino – winners, losers, and the meaning of life

Tears began to roll down his eyes instead of smiles of satisfaction.

I weep, because riches beget enmity and mutual bitterness” – Omar (second Caliph after Prophet Muhammad, after looking gravely at the piles of gold from the spoils of war of conquering Persia)

genting roulette table

The meaning of life not 42. The meaning of life is 6.

I was at the Roulette table last night and my first bet was about RM 1,000 worth of chips spread out over the table.

I thought I had put a RM 100 chip on the number 6.

I didn’t. It was a corner/square bet (covering 4 numbers in the photo above with my RM 50 chip for an 8:1 payout – 5, 6, 8, 9). I did have RM 100 on the number 0 though.

Thus, the amount that I won from that bet didn’t even equal out my RM 2,000 buy-in. I stacked more chips on the second bet and lost.

I did put chips on the number 6 this time but it came out as 16 instead. I didn’t bet on 6 the third time and that was my loss coz that very same number came out again!

Yup, it was 6 – “my number”.

I would have won RM 1,750 after covering my RM 2000 buy-in (total of RM 3,750) if I had gone for that. It’s not a large amount, but I would have left.

Instead, I lost about RM 2,200 and then decided to stop and go get an early dinner.

credit card cash withdrawal charges

I then went into the International Room and withdrew RM 1,000 using my credit card, which incurs an administrative charge from Genting as well as the bank’s 5% charge.

casino de genting bearer chips

I walked to a Baccarat table where there’s a really nice and professional croupier (couldn’t remember her name) – my original intention was to double up until I recouped my losses.

It’s a good thing I didn’t coz I lost on the first round – I had split my bet to RM 500.

I won on the next round, doubled up and then doubled up again. I wanted a sequence of Player, Banker, Banker and that’s exactly what happened.

genting casino malaysia chips

Thus, with my last RM 1,500 bet on Banker I had netted RM 4,000.

four thousand

It’s a technical win since my buy-in was about RM 3,200 + credit card charges. However, I don’t consider it a win. I had to cover my room at Awana (all other hotels were fully booked) which was about RM 250 per person after splitting the cost – the room was about RM 500 (!!!). I also had to cover the trip costs and a celebratory drink at Cloud 9 (live band watering hole with a cover charge of RM 25 for cardholders) after that.

I could have won an additional RM 1,500. I wanted to hit Banker one last time (and even stayed to watch) – it was a natural 8, an automatic win. I didn’t bet though, I told myself I’ll quit after recovering and I did.

rm3

I cashed up after that – I only had RM 3 in my wallet at that point, the rest is the stack of notes from the RM 4,000 cashout.

I immediately banked in RM 2,000 to my credit card account so I wouldn’t get hit that hard by the bank charges (it should cover the RM 1,000 cash out) and went shopping for clothes.

paying credit card

Time from credit card cash withdrawal to payment: Less than 1 hour (much of it spent lining up at the CDM)

It’s a good thing that I went up this weekend – I bought all my clothes from the same store coz it had an additional 30% discount for Genting card holders. I’ve been a Silver member since end of 2007, not too long after I got out of rehab.

I got two pairs of shirts and pants each – I don’t always buy new attire for Chinese New Year, but this time I wanted to.

horrible clothes

I also make it a point to buy one shirt that looks horrible on me each year…but a friend and the sales promoter stopped me. Haha!

I went for the blue version of this instead. It looks much better. I spent about RM 600 on clothes and a new pair of shoes! Technically, this is from my nett winnings. ;)

It was a fun trip – the drinking, the early morning burger run before sleeping and waking up at 9 am to sing impromptu karaoke at the balcony.

I also told myself I’ll stop hitting the casinos after this. I intend to honor it this time.

no easy day

The only easy day was yesterday” – SEAL team mantra

Guess what? I won Magnum 4D!

magnum 4d win
THIS IS A WINNING TICKET

I had a feeling that I was going to get lucky yesterday so I went to the SS2 Magnum 4D outlet where I usually have my lunch and got some lottery tickets. I checked at night during dinner and thought I didn’t win but when I went back home and looked at the ticket – it was indeed a winning number! :)

lottery winnings

My number is 8179

I have *never* won Magnum 4D before.

winning lottery ticket

It came out as a Special Prize (RM 180) and I bought RM 3 of that number so I thought I won around RM 600 as I posted it up on the sixthseal.com Facebook page last night.

jackpot winnings

I just cashed it in and it seems like the Jackpot 4 prize is much larger than I thought. I read it was just RM 68 but when the payout ticket came out it’s RM 68 (Jackpot 4 bonus) x RM 2 (Jackpot minimum bet) x RM 3 (amount bet) = RM 408.

total 4d winnings

Thus RM 540 (RM 180 Special Prize) + RM 408 (Jackpot bonus) = RM 948.

8179 is a concatenation of a family number: 19(81) + 19(79).

The first is my year of birth and the other is the year my only other sibling – my sister – was born.

It’s a small win but I’m quite happy coz I’ve successfully beaten the insane odds. I’ve also had a winning Sports Toto ticket before and stopped buying after that.

winning face

Here’s a cheesy shot of me in recognition of the original one from 2006. (see the Sports Toto link from my post back then)

I had hoped to win a couple million from the Jackpot and send my mom and dad for a vacation to the States or Europe and get my mom better treatment but there are no shortcuts in life.

claim 4d

I am officially stopping any further bets from Magnum 4D since I just want to buck the odds. I used to occasionally get the tickets but seriously, the odds are just not there. I’m glad I finally beat it. It’s not much but it’s a bonus Chinese New Year ang pow. :)

Authentic Nepal Food in the heart of Kuala Lumpur

nepal food kl

It’s a good toss-up about whether this place is called Indreni Restaurant (which is what is printed on the menu) or Kathmandu Restaurant Dan Dohari (which is what the staircase says). What I do know is that you’ll have a tough time ordering in English. smirk

english speaking waitress

The place is staffed by Nepalese immigrants – there is one friendly girl who tries her very best to speak bits of barely understandable English but communicating will largely be relegated to largely pointing at the menu and the only English-speaking waitress trying to say “pig or chicken”.

kathmandu restaurant

Not pork. Pig.

nepalese restaurant kl

It’s quite a hard place to find too, considering the restaurant’s name is partially obscured by a huge banner and it’s on the second floor, beside a store, also Nepalese owned and a dodgy locked stairwell which I think leads to living quarters.

little nepal kl

I didn’t know we have a Little Nepal, but there you go. Even the papers are all from around the region.

nepalese restaurant

They do have weird items on the menu like Western and local eats, with a Nepalese twist but I wanted to eat something that’s more or less authentic so I asked her about it and she pointed out three dishes:

(it sounds like the process is simple but it took about 15 minutes of gestures and communication)

Jhaneko Bangur Sekuwa (RM 10)

This is a sizzling dish of pork that’s meant to be eaten with beer or liquor as a side dish. It comes to your table still violently popping off bits of oil everywhere and it’s a pork dish with tomatoes, onions, shallots, peppers and chilli oil. Lots of chilli oil.

sizzling pork

It’s really, really good though – spicy hot pork that’s coated with chilli oil and dried chillis. You have to eat it when it’s still hot though.

Mai (RM 3)

mai

This is yogurt drinks – home-made and very sour. I had the plain one but you can also opt for fruit based choices. The apple one beside is made with real apples blended with the yoghurt!

Thakali Set (RM 8)

You can have this in either pork, chicken or mutton (chose the latter) and it’s served with sides of pickled vegetables, dhall and a soup that tastes interestingly neutral-sour.

thakali set

The mutton/chicken/pork is in curry form and there’s more fat than meat and I soon come to realize that this is place catering for Nepalese immigrants.

Dhindo Set (RM 10)

dhindo set

This is another set rice curry combo with all the same sides as the previous one, except dhindo comes with a mound of purple goo in lieu of rice.

dhindo

The purple pudding seems to be a mix of semolina/flour/whatever and it tastes like crumbly starch that has been made pliable with oil. I couldn’t get the waitress to explain what it is, the language barrier is too high.

clientale nepalese

This is a very interesting place to go to. The clientèle seems to be all Nepalese migrants who comes in to drink bottles of whiskey in small glasses. I’ve got to go back and try that sometime. They also serve good momos (Nepalese dumplings) but like I said be prepared for a significant language barrier.

eating dhindo

I thought it was a lot of fun trying to get myself understood with the waitress, who was very patient and friendly. Kathmandu / Indreni Restaurant is certainly an intriguing nook in the middle of KL. The price is cheap for us but not necessarily for an migrant worker, so I’m guessing this is a relatively nice place to socialize and drink.

nepal order

I enjoyed my time there but not the food (except the excellent yogurt and interesting purple dhindo).

Black Thorn durians – more expensive than Musang King!

black thorn durians

I just came back from a Black Thorn durian session with Poey. I’ve been eagerly awaiting to taste this particular durian since I inquired about it. It’s much more expensive than Musang King (currently going for an average of RM 22 / kg), which is an overrated culvitar IMHO.

new black thorn durian

It’s not easy to get either. I dropped by several times and the only stall that sells it says they don’t have stock and I finally got the guy’s number so I can call and check if they have it before I drive over.

black thorn durian

The banner advertising the Black Thorn durian says that it won some kind of award in 2012, which is probably their justification for the high price. The Chinese words seem to translate literally – hei tze (black thorn).

black thorn size

The NEW Black Thorn durian goes for RM 30 / kg. The price didn’t budge until I asked the dude if I can get a lowered price if I come today. He offered it at RM 25 / kg.

durian black thorn

Note that only three (3) durians in the topmost row in the display picture are Black Thorn, the others are just chucked there. The interesting thing I noticed about Black Thorn durian is that it has a flat bottom, much like Musang King:

how to tell black thorn durian

There are no thorns at the end of the durian (opposite from the stalk). This particular durian cultivar originates from Penang and another interesting quality that distinguishes it besides the flat bottom is the presence of a longkang (drain) like Teka durians, except this looks more…er, anatomical in nature. smirk

black thorn characteristics

Black Thorn pretty much tastes like advertised – the durian flesh is a bright hue of orange, a color some people like and feel is more palatable. It starts out sweet and has a bitter end note, like XO durians – just as intense but not quite so long lasting. It’s creamy and sticky – the flesh comes off the seed well.

poey hb

It also has little to no fiber, which is a plus point…it makes the durian coat the palate easily and overwhelm it it does – this is a very rich durian, make no mistake about it.

hei chi durians

It’s a medium to large sized durian (ours is almost 3 kg) and the others are pretty much in the same weight league. It was sold for RM 65 for this 2.6 kg durian.

black thorn durian flesh

However, there are abundant seeds inside – counted 14 seeds and despite having medium seeds (I don’t call that small seeds, misleading advertising) it does have a lot of flesh on it – quality flesh to boot.

hb black thorn

I’ll rate this as a not very complex durian flavor wise but it’s a good, rich and satisfying one. It’s the *KING* of the King of Fruits, price-wise at least. I wouldn’t say it’s worth the price though, but definitely a must try for all durian fans. :D

Secret of Louisiana Wine & Dine crawfish dinner

louisiana wine dinner

I just gotta say this:

connie hb blog

Look ma! My blog is on display! smirk

live crawfish

I was at the Secret of Louisiana Wine & Dine event on Monday. It’s a four-course dinner paired with wine and there are various exhibits of Americana (or should I say Louisiana) on display during cocktails. There’s a tank of live crawfish for one. I’m not sure if I ate one of them later but at this point they’re all alive. ;)

bayou

I like how the canopy is set along the lake so all dining is al fresco. There are videos and cooking demonstrations (had some pretty good Cajun shrimp made with just 4 spices) and I love how they printed the menu on re-labelled wine glasses together with the table number.

New Orleans Chowder
A wonderful rich soup, loaded with clams, shrimp & calamari, slow simmered with diced potato, onion and celery in a creamy thick soup.

dessert wine

This was paired with a Kim Crawford Pinot Savignon Blanc that I thought was very appropriate – it’s very refreshing, bubbly and easy-to-drink, a perfect starter wine. The chowder each had a whole crawfish inside too!

new orleans chowder

I loved the creamy soup – I had two in fact. There’s loads of seafood treasures inside and you can crack the crawfish and eat it if you want, although it’s meagre pickings. Crawfish like this doesn’t have a lot of meat inside but the soup more than makes up for it! Lovely!

Louisiana Bayous
Best ingredients from the bayou. Creole crawfish, creamy seafood gumbo & crabmeat mashed potato on corn fritter.

This is a dish of three different small appetizers. I like the crab meat mashed potato on corn fritter but I felt that this dish came out too late – it was already slightly cold (room temperature). The timing was a bit off for this one, some things are no doubt meant to be served cold and vice versa, but not at ambient temperature.

louisiana bayous

I can understand that cooking for so many people presents a unique challenge, but this was the only dish that was served slightly late. All the other dishes were nice and warm (even the dessert!). However, I can see the awesome potential – I loved the crab meat on corn fritter! :)

Trinity Jambalaya
Famous blackened red fish and jerk chicken with a rice dish consisting of onion, pepper and celery which makes up the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking.

trinity jambalaya

I absolutely adore this dish! It’s full of seafood – huge shrimps, mussels, scallops! The red fish was wonderfully spiced – I love the hearty dose of pepper coating the fish. It’s a very heavy dish, broken up with several asparagus stalks.

wine hb

This is paired with a Wente Bayer Ranch Zinfandel, a nice red that goes against the guidelines of white meat with white wine and red meat with red wine, yet pulls it off with panache (it’s just a general rule of thumb many wine dinners I’ve been to has espoused). Absolutely the best dish of the night – perfect representation of Cajun style cooking and everything was still smoking hot!

(except the wine, as far as I know mulled wine does not originate from Louisiana)

Mud Pie & Praline
A rich New Orleans treat – roasted pecan on buttery praline and rich warm chocolate cake.

mud pie praline

A wonderful end to the dinner. It’s paired with a McGuigan Black Label Moscato, a sweet dessert wine. I liked the mud pie but what really got me was the buttery praline!

It’s awesomeness distilled into a messy chunk on your plate. I loved it so much I ate the entire caramel-like praline that left me wanting for more!

eiling hb

A great finish to a wonderful dinner! Eiling and Ziling was there too – good to see you again!

blog post signing

Oh, and here’s one of me signing the printed out Secret of Louisiana review of the first dinner. Heh.

kings and queens

Thanks again to Connie for a wonderful dinner! I learned a great deal about how to properly pronounce the etymology of the word “jambalaya” from the US Embassy representative.

us embassy

It’s sham-pal-ha-ya. :)

Caviar and chocolate on wholemeal crisp rolls

chocolate caviar rolls

I’ve been down with the flu for the past few days and just woke up totally ravished after not eating for almost 24 hours. I rummaged about in my severely diminished pantry and decided to go with something very salty which doesn’t require much preparation as I’m still a bit sluggish.

Enter the tube of Smogaskaviar I got a few days ago. It’s not real caviar (cod roe, salthe roe, pacific cod roe for 51% of the total contents) but it is extremely salty. Heh.

It comes in a tube that I’ll rather call fish roe spread and I squeezed it all over a bag of wholemeal crisp rolls. I wanted to break the salty monotony (and monopoly) after the fifth one so I decided to top it off with a piece of dark chocolate.

chocolate caviar crisp roll

It’s surprisingly good, but would taste better if I had melted the chocolate.

It ain’t chicken soup for the soul but it sure is another one for the continuing bread story. smirk

Durian Degustation – 5 great late season durians!

1. D160 / Teka / Green Bamboo

durian teka

This is a rather distinctive durian that is easily identifiable from the “longkang” (drain) running down the middle of the fruit. It was purchased for RM 15 / kg and the fruits are normally medium sized. This particular durian weighs 2.1 kg – about the average for this cultivar, making it over RM 30.

green bamboo durian

There are only 10 seeds in the durian, which translates to about RM 3 per seed. The seeds are tooth shaped – these come from Pahang and there are regional differences when planted in different locations.

teka durian

The Teka in the market now are delicious sweet to bittersweet specimens, but rather expensive – the original listed price is RM 18 / kg. It does have a very high flesh to seed ratio though.

2. Udang Merah / Red Prawn / Ang Heh

ang heh pahang

Look at the unique shape of the durian! It’s a star-shaped durian with 5 sides like a durian I came across not too long ago. These are not the original Balik Papan, Penang Red Prawn durians but cultivars that has been transplanted in…Pahang.

pahang udang merah

It’s where we get most of our durians here. The flesh is orange to reddish, the distinctive color that gives the durian it’s name.

red prawn pahang

I got it at a great time – RM 11 / kg and it’s absolutely fabulous with tiny seeds. These Pahang Ang Heh really tastes good but the drops are irregular so it’s hard to come by.

red prawn pahang durians

I’ve only had it three times this season.

3. Mas Selangor

mas selangor durian

This is a popular durian – sweet and creamy. The 1.6 kg fruit we chose is sold at RM 14 / kg. There’s only five (5) seeds inside so that works out to about RM 4.50 per seed.

mas selangor

It’s not a durian with a very complex flavor profile.

durian mas selangor

I reckon the Mas Selangor breed is more for the times when you just want a classic, fleshy, sweet durian. :)

4. D163 / Holo / Hor Lor

holo durian

This is named after a gourd – the words “hor lor” actually means water gourd. It’s a Northern durian but the ones we get are from Pahang. It’s listed as RM 15 / kg but managed to get it at RM 14 / kg. It’s also a medium sized fruit, got a 2kg + durian for RM 33.

horlor durian

Holo is great for those people who likes a dry, bittersweet, creamy and sticky durian with medium seeds that coats the palate and tongue like nothing else. Highly recommended.

5. Kan Yao (D158)

durian kan yao

This is an absolute bargain at RM 6 / kg. I had a 2.1 kg fruit for just RM 12. The Kan Yao we get here is also from Pahang and it’s bitter to bittersweet, just the way I like it.

kanyao durian

The seeds are large but with the low price it’s a good buy, and the season has just about ended so if you see any, I’ll go for it. :D

There’s Nothing Like Australia!

Interesting fact:
This blog was started on the 19th of April, 2002 when I was living in Melbourne

kangaroo

I’ve lived in Australia for 4 years while doing my college and uni. I’ve also stayed in other places while growing up but nothing beats Australia in my heart. I’ve always loved the place and have been back three times since graduating! :)

It’s a great country that has a bit of everything due to its unique location – you’ve got the temperate climates to the north to the infamous 4-seasons-in-a-day weather in Melbourne, towards the south. This makes it the perfect place for adventure lovers – there is a wide variety of activities to suit all tastes.

surfing byron

…and the things to do!

carving

I like to travel around and experience new things and I did a lot of that while I was there. Hands down my favorite is snowboarding – Mount Buller in Victoria is where I learned skiing and snowboarding when I was there.

sea kayaking

There’s also sea kayaking in Byron Bay, New South Wales where you power over the surf and get to watch dolphins and sometimes even whales migrating. I thought that was a lot of fun!

katoomba

If you love running, don’t miss the Six Foot Track 45 kilometer super marathon from Katoomba to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. It’s Australia’s largest 100% off-road running event.

bridge climb

Australia also boasts of having two of the three legal bridge climbs in the world. Well, you can technically climb bridges anywhere but you’ll be liable to a fine or jail time. Heh. Or you can do it legally at Sydney Harbour Bridge and Brisbane’s Story Bridge.

camels

Highlighting the pure diversity of Australia, there are also camels in the “outback” – the desert interior. These are the only feral herds of their kind in the world. You can have a camel safari right at the outback! Bet you didn’t know that about Australia! :)

sand dunes australia

The Stockton Sand Dunes near Port Stephens are some of the largest sand dunes in the entire Southern Hemisphere. It can go up to 1 kilometer wide and 30 meters high at some places.

There’s also an abundance of nature activities and magnificent vistas in the Land Down Under:

It’s a very beautiful country – there’s the Great Ocean Walk between 12 Apostles and Apollo Bay. It’s Victoria’s (the state Melbourne is in) premier long-distance walking track where you get to see the tallest cliffs in mainland Australia, waterfalls cascading down limestone walls, ancient shipwrecks, Aboriginal middens and manna gums with resident koala populations.

I’ve heard that the 12 Apostles (rock stacks in the ocean) are steadily getting eroded so it would be a good idea to go visit soon!

12 apostles

Of course, there’s also Phillip Island with its unique population of little penguins. You can see the cute little things landing on Summerland Beach every evening during the “penguin parade”. Photography is permitted but no flash is allowed coz you’ll scare them off.

Lake Eyre in South Australia is another popular destination – it’s one of the world’s largest salt pans and since it only fills up a few times a century, it’s drying up fast so this is another one to go for before it completely dries up. There are scenic flights over the lake.

sydney

There’s really something for everyone in Australia and while I’m talking about adventure and the outdoors over here (it’s what I’m into) there are a myriad of other activities for those who have interests that lies elsewhere. I haven’t touched even a tiny portion of what’s available for adrenaline lovers Down Under.

crab

Shopping, dining (the best crab meal I’ve had was on a chartered river cruise in NSW), or just plain sightseeing, there’s a newly revamped portal at australia.com for you to browse through and decide what you want to do before you go.

uluru

The amazing thing is that every article in that extremely detailed website is also translated into perfect Bahasa Malaysia! There are also other language options and I found the new tourism video to be very aspirational – it’s the one that I titled this post after and you can see it right at the main page of australia.com

aboriginal dance

Cheers and I hope that you’ll come to love the country where I spent about 1/3 of my adult life living in as much as I do! :)

A wonderful array of Indian sweets

sss

I’ve been a huge fan of these absurdly sweet concoctions since I first encountered a variant of the diabetic-inducing delicacies in Sri Lanka. The first time I had it, I had a look of pure shock in my face from the insulin response. It delighted the Sri Lankan shopkeepers.

The SHEER amount of sugar inside will astound you.

indian sweet vendor

I recently found one a place in town called Bakti Woodlands that offer similar sweets. It called mithai and touted as South Indian in origin, but most are from the continental Indian area (most of the sweets are similar throughout the region, with just different names).

sample box

They had a sample box of 10 different types of sweets for RM 10. I bought that and spent the night savoring the sweets and went back for more a few days ago.

They didn’t have the boxes anymore – I was told that the sample boxes are only sold during festive seasons. I knew what I liked and what I didn’t so I bought it a la carte at RM 1 each.

mithai

What I like about these sweets is that you can taste the different types of milk (goat, cow etc) inside. Here’s a sample of the sugar laden, ghee-infused concoctions that will delight (and challenge) everyone with a sugar tooth:

Jangiri

jangiri

This is the most common sweet you’ll find around here. It tastes like a very light and fluffy doughnut and is made with urad flour and sugar before being deep fried in ghee (clarified butter).

indian sweet stall

There’s a stall just beside Bakti Woodlands selling it for RM 0.70 instead of RM 1 but I find the former to taste slightly better.

Mysore pak

indian confection

This wonderful slice of sweet heaven is made with a truckload of ghee, sugar and gram flour/dhall flour. The interesting thing about dhall flour is that it’s gluten-free, which means my niece can probably eat it. This is my second favorite mithai (Indian confection / sweet).

The dude who was behind the counter didn’t recognize me at first until I brought up the topic of the sample box. He was intrigued and asked me if I was doing research. I wasn’t. Heh. I bought RM 30 worth the second time, and here’s the second video of him introducing the sweets – first one didn’t turn out right.

Laddu

laddu

There’s a type of laddu that costs RM 2.50 (as opposed to RM 1 for the others, like the one above). It’s a huge, fist-sized round ball made with brown sugar, cashew nuts and dried fruits.

There’s also a smaller type of laddu, generically named Ghee Ladhu here:

coconut laddu

The word laddu means “small ball” and can contain almost anything. There are some with ground coconut (the red one) but I prefer the plain ones with raisins inside.

Halwa

indian sweets

This has gotta be my favorite mithai ever!

Halwa is a very generic term that describes a lot of sweets across the Indian subcontinent and even to the Middle East. The name itself is Arabic for “sweet”. I first encountered it in Sri Lanka. I’ve also heard it referred to as barfi.

almond halwa

I like the white almond slices that contains an obscene amount of condensed milk. Halwa tends to be crumbly and insanely sweet. I imagine the recipe for it looks a little like this:

  • 2 tons of sugar
  • 40 kgs of ghee

for a tray of sweets. Heh.

apple halwa

I’m particularly fond of the apple shaped halwas. I highly recommend this if you’re willing to test the limits of your insulin tolerance. It’s sweet, crumbly and has a distinctive milky taste that you can smell as well as taste. The “stem” of the “apple” is made from a clove stick! :)

apple sweet with cinnamon stick

You might need a shot of insulin to stabalize but its worth it! Melt-in-your-mouth buttery goodness! :D

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