Pontianak Trip Part II: Oukie Bakmie Kepiting, Kopi Asiang, Gado Gado Jln Merapi, Es Krim Angi, Bebek Boedjang, Mie Tiaw Apollo Daging Sapi, Roti Durian Cheese, Bubur Ikan Ahian, Che Hun Tiau Ahui

Bong came to pick me up the next morning for a Pontianak breakfast special. I haven’t seen him for at least 10 years! I knew he was working in Kalimantan and it turned out that he was in Pontianak at this time too. One of my to-eat items was Bakmie Kepiting. This is a local specialty of dry tossed noodles with crab meat (!). We headed down to Oukie Bakmie Kepiting (Oukie Crab Bakmi). 🦀

1. Oukie Bakmie Kepiting (Sibu)

There are several bakmie kepiting (crab bakmi) stalls in Pontianak, all bearing the same name – Oukie. Turns out Oukie was the original guy who brought this dish here and all the current stalls are his descendants (sons, daughters, nephews). Strangely, they all bear the name “Sibu” which my hometown!

We puzzled over this. Did the original Oukie come from Sibu? Do they claim that this bakmi is exactly like what Sibu offers? Coz it’s definitely not. We don’t have a similar dish in Sibu. Nothing close. The closest is probably Foochow noodles with crab, which is a relatively new invention.

Sometimes Bakmi Kepiting is served with a whole crab claw but these items are in high demand and sell out very fast. They were all sold out at this stall by the time we got there.

In addition to the crab meat, there’s fish balls, fish slices and a piece of crispy deep-fried wonton. The noodles are tossed with a variety of sauces and you’re served a hot bowl of soup on the side.

I really liked these crab noodles! I thought this will be a perfunctory visit just to experience their local noodles but I loved the combination of flavors in this bowl of noodles. It’s very good! There wasn’t a lot of crab meat though – just a sprinkling, but crab is expensive and this is street food.

I can’t remember how much it cost coz Bong insisted on buying me breakfast. Cheers!

2. Kopi Asiang

Bong also brought me to this local Pontianak coffee shop. I went to Aming Coffee yesterday and he said this place was very good too. It’s exceedingly packed and we had to take a table under the hot sun but the coffee was indeed excellent!

I tried the regular ones without condensed milk this time. Rich, fragrant and delicious – coffee here is a real treat! You can see the grease slick at the top of my coffee shimmering in the sun. The coffee beans are usually fried with butter or margarine, which is where the oil comes from.

He also ordered soft boiled eggs for us. This was served in a glass, complete with spoon so it’s easy for you to consume.

3. Gado Gado Jln Merapi

Gado gado is another food item on my hit list. It’s basically a cold noodle dish that’s more like a salad.

Rice vermicelli is topped with vegetables like bean sprouts and kangkong are tossed with tofu and crackers and the whole thing is doused with peanut sauce.

This is what it looks like when it’s served – the different crunchy and soft items make for an interesting dish with good mouth-feel. I enjoyed this one as well! It’s 24,000 IDR (RM 7) for this plate.

4. Es Krim Angi

This is probably the most famous ice cream parlour in Pontianak. They’re known for serving home-made ice cream in a coconut shell complete with coconut meat you can scrape up and eat together with the ice cream!

This “parlour” is actually a converted residential house that’s located beside a Catholic school. The place was *packed* despite being the middle of the afternoon on a working weekday. Motorcycles are the preferred mode of transport here so you’ll see heaps of them parked haphazardly in front.

The guys will tell you the flavors of the day and you choose which one you want. I went for all three – pandan, durian and chocolate. The chocolate and pandan was the best.

The ice cream is “sliced” out of the vats with a spoon so you get thin segments instead of a round scoop. I like this format, it makes for good eating! The flat surface fits perfectly on your tongue.

You can also choose the toppings you want – all complimentary. I went for a little bit of everything but I liked the squiggly transparent noodles best.

This coconut bowl of ice cream cost 23,000 IDR (RM 6.70). Excellent value! I like the combination of the slippery coconut flesh and homemade ice cream.

5. Bebek Boedjang

This spicy duck recommendation came from Bong. It didn’t even register on my radar and didn’t make it to my original list. I’m glad I tried it though coz it’s the best meal I’ve had, other than Pondok Kakap! This restaurant is in a huge wooden complex and I saw many Gojek and Grab Food drivers waiting in line to fulfil food deliveries.

To drink, we have an iced mango drink called Es Mangga Boedjang (15,000 IDR) with mango cubes at the bottom. This came recommended by the menu and the waitress but it was so sweet I didn’t care for it. I find most drinks in Pontianak overly sweet and cloying but if you like tons of sugar in your drink, you’ll enjoy this.

Bebek Paha Bakar Bumbu Rica (30,900 IDR) is the main event! This is smoked duck leg with spices. It’s served with rice, which is a 5,500 IDR add-on. The duck leg is still fork tender and has an intense smoky quality that I enjoy. The spices are a sweet-spicy blend that lends itself very well to nice. I wish I had space for 2 of these babies.

Cumi Tumis Cabe Ijo (16,960 IDR). Cumi means squid (sotong) in Indonesian. This is one of their flagship sides – squid cooked with green chillies. Wow! Does it pack a flavour punch! I was almost knocked out by the sheer intensity of seasoning on my palate. Welcome to Flavortown! There are tomatoes to add umami, onions for that pleasing aroma, tender squid and a gravy that’s sweet/salty/spicy. I used all of the gravy with rice, and when my rice was finished, I drank it by the spoonful.

Tumis Jamur Tiram (9,790 IDR) is another one of their signature side dishes – oyster mushrooms cooked in some kind of sauce which hits all the 5 flavor profiles at once. There’s some insane flavouring alchemy going on here. Delicious.

I left Bebek Boedjang a very happy man. The bill came up to 78,100 IDR (RM 23). That’s an exceedingly fair price for such a decent spread. An excellent meal that I wish was closer so I can partake of it once a month.

6. Mie Tiaw Apollo Daging Sapi

I have read stories about these two neighbours. Apollo was the original beef kueh tiaw and is run by siblings. Unfortunately, they had a huge falling out one day. One of the brothers moved out and rented a shoplot right beside Apollo and called it Mie Tiau Polo. They even had snarky signs put up!

Apollo said “Mie Tiaw Apollo. Sejak 1968. Tak Pernah Pindah.” (Apollo Mie Tiaw. Since 1968. Never Moved.). Polo put up one that read “Mie Tiau Polo. Pindahan Dari Sebelah.” (Polo Mie Tiau. Moved From Beside.) I thought that was hilarious! Unfortunately, the crabby signs have since been taken down so you can only see them in Google Images.

They only serve one thing – beef mie tiaw (which is something like kueh tiaw). They use all parts of the beef, including innards. You can see tripe, beef slices, tendon and even stomach on offer. The mie tiaw is fried in huge woks on high heat and the beef parts added.

I went to the original Mie Tiaw Apollo and the version they do is a wetter style. This isn’t as wet e.g. gravy filled as local Malay kueh tiaw but merely very moist. It’s also quite oily! The sodium levels are really high too. I found it almost unpalatably salty and had to struggle to finish it. I might enjoy it more if it were less greasy and salty coz the beef tasted pretty good and the flavors were decent. It’s 28,000 IDR or RM 8.50.

7. Roti Durian Orchard

What is this, you might ask? It’s a loaf of bread spread with durian jam and sprinkled liberally with grated cheese. If that sounds awesome to you, you’re at the right place! I didn’t know Pontianak is famous for this and only chanced upon this beacon of light while walking back from Apollo. I popped my head in and asked what they serve and immediately decided to try.

The loaf of bread is actually made up of 5-6 long buns and the clerk slices it in half and spread massive quantities of durian jam into the soft pillowy bread.

The entire shebang is then topped with prodigious amounts of grated cheese. It tastes heavenly!

This loaf was too much for me to finish so I had to eat it over two sessions – for supper and as a snack the next day.

I really enjoyed the flavors here. It’s rich, sweet and savory at the same time! The bread remains ultra soft even the next day. 32,000 IDR (RM 9.50) for the durian cheese loaf.

8. Bubur Ikan Ahian

This was my last savory meal before leaving Pontianak. My flight to KL was at noon so I woke up early to have fish porridge at Ahian. This isn’t really porridge/congee per se but fish soup served with rice. You can also opt to have the rice dunked into the soup, which they call “porridge”.

The front part of the restaurant is taken over by a fish processing station. Different types of fish are brought here to be broken down into slices and bones for cooking soup. They have a selection of different types of fishes at differing price points.

I opted for a mixture of all the fishes for 55,000 IDR (RM 16). It’s a little steep for local standards but a steal in Malaysia. The fish slices were all very fresh!

I loved the flavourful soup too. I don’t normally like soup but I enjoyed the strong flavors and sesame oil here. The soup is very different from the bland soup we get locally. This is savory and packed with taste! It goes so well with rice.

You can mix the remainder of your rice into the soup for the porridge style too!

9. Che Hun Tiau Ahui

Che Hun Tiau is a local shaved ice dessert. The famous one is called Ahua and located a stone’s throw away from Ahian fish porridge. Unfortunately, it was still closed when I went, although it opened 30 minutes later when I was leaving to return to my hotel). There are several other che hun tiau carts in that area so I picked one at random.

Ice is shaved on top of various items like red bean, a gelatinous mass of jelly, and my favorite – slippery strands of transparent noodles.

Here’s a closer look. I really enjoy the mouthfeel of the noodle things. This cost just 6,000 IDR (RM 1.75).

I had a fun 3D/2N trip to Pontianak. This was my first time here but I’ll be back for more eating adventures in the Kalimantan region! I like these remote semi-developed areas. I find them relaxing and unpretentious. It’ll be nice to head to a more rural area next time.

Pontianak Trip Part I: Nasi Ayam Asan 333, Aming Coffee, Chai Kue Panas Siam Ahin, Pondok Kakap, Thien Mie Mie durian, Tugu Khatulistiwa (Equator Monument)

I was really hungry upon touching down in Pontianak. My flight from Kuching was delayed for more than an hour! I had a list of everything I wanted to eat during my short 3D/2N stay in this remote part of Indonesia and I wanted to make sure I hit every single one. I did, and more! Here’s a list of the things I ate, drank and saw during my time in Kalimantan – in chronological order:

1. Nasi Ayam Asan 333

I wanted to try Nasi Ayam Afu but they were closed for renovations. Nasi Ayam Asan 333 Pontianak was my second choice – they’re just a 6-minute walk away.

The owner here is Indonesian Chinese and she told me they have an air-conditioned outlet just beside, which might me more comfortable. She pegged me as a non-local instantly.

I chose to sit here though coz I thought I’ll be really fast. The seating is via long rows of shared cafeteria-type tables.

This is what “nasi ayam” in Pontianak looks like. It’s a selection of many different meats – Indonesian Chinese style char siu, siu yoke, pork sausage, and chopped up roast chicken. Everything looks familiar, yet slightly off, like a strange alternate universe. The sauce is THICK and flavorful and there’s bits of pickled vegetable to cut the strong flavors. I really like it! It’s different from local Chinese chicken rice in Malaysia. It’s 33,000 IDR (RM 9.50) for this plate.

2. Aming Coffee

This is a sprawling coffee shop with two outlets located opposite each other. Locals come here to smoke, play games, hang out and drink coffee.

Just look at how packed it is!

Pontianak is majority Muslim so alcohol isn’t a common form of socializing. Instead, they drink coffee – even late at night!

It’s so busy here even during a weekday off-peak afternoon. Every single table was occupied and I had to share one with a local Muslim girl. She turned out to be a university student and was on her laptop doing some slides.

I ordered an iced coffee and a Milo toast (basically Milo powder and condensed milk inside one slice of toasted bread folded together). 16,000 IDR or RM 4.70.

3. Chai Kue Panas Siam Ahin

This is a shack located around the corner from Aming Coffee. Most places in Pontianak town are within walking distance of each other, if you don’t mind walking up to 10 minutes under the hot sun. Gojek is available for little more than ringgits for a short ride, which I took advantage of more than a few times.

This is the Indonesian take on chai kueh – a vegetable stuffed kueh. The Pontianak version is very, very oily though – they literally brush each kueh and the banana leaf it is steamed on with cooking oil! Minimum order is 5 pieces and I struggled to finish it due to the oiliness. I like how they’re steamed to order though. 7,500 IDR (RM 2.20).

4. Pondok Kakap

The best smoked crab ever! This is the first time I’ve had smoked crab and the intense smoky rendang flavors are awesome! It’s so delicious, I felt it deserved its own blog post. Read my review of Pondok Kakap in Pontianak here. It’s a bit expensive compared to the others but definitely worth the price.

5. Thien Mie Mie durian

This is a durian hailing from Sungai Jawi. I gather it’s a popular breed here. I paid 60,000 IDR (RM 18) for a small durian with only 5 seeds.

This is likely coz I found the durian stall outside Pondok Kakap – a high end seafood restaurant, among the best in Pontianak. I later saw durians of the same breed being sold for 5,000-15,000 IDR (RM 1.50 – RM 4.50) elsewhere.

Taste wise it was decent, although a little less ripe that most Malaysians would prefer.

6. Tugu Khatulistiwa (Equator Monument)

This was the only touristy thing I did in Pontianak. I heard Pontianak is the only city in the world to sit along the equator line so I thought I’ll go visit the Equator Monument. This monument slash park is located 30 minutes from town – a 64,000 IDR (RM 19) Gojek ride away.

It’s supposed to be a place of interest but the park is so run down and ill-maintained that I do not think a visit is warranted. It looks like a forgotten and deserted government-run attraction that time forgot. There’s a sleepy security guard but all the F&B stalls and kiosks were closed, probably due to lack of business.

There’s no entry fee but there’s nothing much to see here either. I found 2 other souls there – a couple from Surabaya. Including the security guard and the old makcik running the dusty and sad souvenir shop, only 5 people were present at the park.

It was disappointing. There’s not much to see or do, and I would recommend you skip this place unless you really want a photo with the equator monument.

Part II of my Pontianak trip coming soon!

Restoran Pondok Kakap: Smoked Crab (Kepiting Asap) in Pontianak

Pontianak is famous for crab. There’s crab noodles (Bakmi Kepiting Ou Kie) and lots of seafood restaurants offering a local specialty – smoked crab. I was keen to check this out so I headed over to Restoran Pondok Kakap for some of their famous smoked crab. This restaurant is rated #1 on TripAdvisor and seems to get good reviews (except for one guy who claims he was overcharged for semah fish).

I was surprised to see how large Restoran Pondok Kakap was. It looked rather grand too and I told myself I’ll better pay attention to the menu prices before I order. Haha. It isn’t too expensive by Malaysian standards though – crab goes for 200,000 IDR (about RM 58) per portion. I mostly eat street food and local favorites here so it’s alright to splurge a little.

Es Jeruk (15,000 IDR). This is a pickle juice of sorts. Not bad but exceedingly sweet. Actually everything here is either very sweet or very salty. The flavor profile of food in Pontianak is dialed up to a 10. The dishes are very intense tasting. Indeed, you’ll here of them complaining our Malaysian food is bland (tawar).

Kepiting Asap (220,000 IDR). This is their famous smoked crab. The smoky flavors are super in-your-face and intense. I can smell burning wood in the crab. I meant that as a compliment. The sauce is similar to rendang – full of spices and flavor. There’s not much sauce but the little here goes a long way with rice! I love how the crab is filled with roe that I could dig out and eat with my rice. The meat was succulent and sweet too. 10/10.

For my vegetable dish, I went with Yam Pakis (30,000 IDR). This is a type of fern similar to midin in Sarawak. It’s recommended by Pondok Kakap and cooked with an acidic and sweet mixture that made my mouth water. I love the dried shrimp they sprinkle on top too. The sweet and sour flavors really whet my appetite. Excellent!

The total inclusive of white rice (7,500 IDR) and a 27,250 IDR tax came up to 299,750 IDR. That works out to RM 87. It’s not cheap but worth the price. I highly recommend the amazing smoked crab. It’s easily the best meal I had in Pontianak and I will definitely come back if I return. The smoky flavor profile and interesting rendang sauce of the crab is spectacular – not a flavor combination we can find in Malaysia.

Posted: 9:39 pm Pontianak time (10:39 pm Malaysian time)

Bebek Bengil Dirty Duck Diner @ Ubud, Bali

Bebek Bengil Dirty Duck Diner

We were looking for something local to eat and happened to chance across Bebek Bengil in Google Maps. It actually took us more than 30 minutes to walk over but I thought it was worth it since it’s touted as “The Original Crispy Duck Since 1990”. Bebek Bengil Dirty Duck Diner is known for their crispy grilled duck.

Bebek Bengil Waitresses

This is a different dish from the popular bebek betutu in Bali. Bebek Betutu is a seasoned steamed or roasted duck that’s popular in Bali. Bebek Bengil (which means dirty duck) serves crispy duck. You can even order 1 whole duck for IDR 300,000 if you book one day in advance. It’s a pretty good deal at RM 94/duck if you want to go for it. The service by the uniform clad waitresses is pleasantly discreet and unobstructive.

Bebek Bengil (IDR 125,000)

Bebek Bengil

I had this original dish, which is half a duck steamed in Indonesian spices which is then deep fried for a crispy finish. It’s served with rice and Balinese vegetables and it cost RM 40. It’s their flagship signature dish and it tasted alright. I’m not a huge fan of deep fried duck and I thought it was slightly too crispy but personal tastes aside, it was pretty good.

Thirsty Duck (IDR 44,000)

Thirsty Duck

This is what my better half had – it’s a concoction of pure orange, markisa (passionfruit in the local language) and melon sugar.

Ice Bebek Putih Jambul (IDR 39,000)

Ice Bebek Putih Jambul

The drink I had was chosen at random from the duck-themed options. It turns out to be a shaved ice confection with lots of interesting goodies at the bottom – love the white squiggles and fresh fruit slices.

Bebek Pelalah (IDR 122,000)

Bebek Pelalah

My dear ordered this dish. It’s one of the specialties and the Balinese recipe came from one Ibu Agung Raka Sueni. I have no idea who that is but the owners of Bebek Bengil thought it was noteworthy enough to highlight this in their menu. This is the grilled version of the duck (as opposed to my steamed and deep fried duck) with Balinese sauce and steamed rice. It’s very spicy! I really like the sauce here.

Bebek Bengil Bali

I thought the ambience of Bebek Bengil is unique – the place is totally dark (as you can probably gather from the photos) with the exception of mood lighting from the pavilions where we were seated. There were not a lot of people due to the higher than usual prices. The meal came up to around RM 140 for the two of us and it’s worth a visit for the atmosphere alone. The water features around the raised dining pavilions made it really romantic.

Bebek Bengil Ubud

Bebek Bengil Dirty Duck Diner
Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal,
Ubud, Bali

Ubud Morning Market & Ubud Traditional Art Market

Ubud Morning Market

We went to Ubud Morning Market as part of our cooking class. There are actually two markets in Ubud, both interconnected. The Ubud Morning Market is where the locals go while the Ubud Traditional Art Market is a more tourist oriented market. The latter was featured in Eat Pray Love and is known locally as Pasar Seni Ubud.

Ubud-Wet Market

I thought that going for a Balinese cooking lesson was a cool thing to do while on vacation, although I can’t claim credit for it. My better half was the one who thought of it and booked us the classes. The van picked us up in the morning and we went to the Ubud Morning Market for a tour of the place and to sample some local produce as well.

Bali Spices

Our guide took us through the sight, sounds and smells of the Ubud Morning Market…

Bali Market

…and I thought it was very refreshing that there was no attempt to sell us on anything (probably coz these are mostly produce).

Ubud Market

The fruits, vegetables and meat are mostly familiar except for this unusual specimen:

Bali Passionfruit

This was described as a “sweet passionfruit” to us and we all got a taste of it. I thought it was a buah salak at first. It’s not passionfruit as we know it, this is a South American breed called granadilla. Unlike our purple passionfruit, this is orange and features a seed matrix that looks like kiwano (horned melon).

Granadilla

It’s very sweet with no sour notes and nice to eat by itself. The pulp is very tasty.

Balinese Orange

A clockwork orange. :)

Bali Grapes

Bali is also able to grow their own grapes now. I tried one of the first batches of Balinese wine made from Balinese grapes in Club Med Bali in 2013 and it was decent, if rather immature.

Ubud Handicrafts

There are also knives and other local goods on display at the Bali Morning Market.

Bali Crafts

My dear spotted a mortar that she really liked – it’s made out of volcanic rock from Bali! I paid IDR 60,000 (about RM 20) which is quite a good deal.

Ubud Traditional Art Market

We also walked around the touristy Ubud Traditional Art Market after we finished our cooking lesson. It’s worth a stroll even though you’ll find most of the things here are mass produced souvenir kitsch. My better half also had a theory that if we were carrying a certain color of plastic bag, it means that we were willing to spend more, or rather am susceptible to be conned more easily. Haha!

Pasar Seni Ubud

I don’t know how true that is, but I had limited headway while bargaining for a set of three kittens that my dear liked. I think we ended up paying RM 80 for it. I don’t think there’s a plastic bag conspiracy though, it seems quite unlikely in the free market everyone-for-themselves nature of the tourist trade, but you never know. smirk

My disastrous schedule malfunction, 1.3 million bill at the spa and other interesting stories from Ubud, Bali

Bali Padi Fields

This is mostly about the scheduling malfunction. I’m currently sitting in the airport in Bali alone coz of a series of unfortunate events. I realized too late that my Taipei trip overlapped with my Bali departure so it was decided that my better half would fly out first and I’ll go join her in Ubud when I came back from Taiwan.

I hadn’t realized that the ticket conditions prevented me from taking the return trip if I hadn’t shown up for the departure.

AirAsia Bali

Yup, the original ticket was on Malaysia Airlines, not a point-to-point airline like AirAsia or I wouldn’t have this problem.

My dear had bought us both tickets to Bali but since I was in Taiwan at the time, I had to buy another ticket from KL to Denpasar (cost me RM 432). I don’t have a problem with this, little did I know that since I was a “no show”, I revoked my rights to travel back on the return leg.

Bali Breakfast

I’ve been travelling quite frequently since I was a kid and never ran into problems like this until the downgrading of Malaysia Airlines (in the glory full service days, you could just about do anything). Maybe all you needed was a small rebooking fee, but with the cost saving measures by MAS, it’s now effectively a low-cost airline with restrictions. It’s definitely not a premium airline anymore.

Ngurah Rai Airport

I assumed that I could travel back on the return flight and didn’t think to do anything until my better half told me she couldn’t check in for me and I wasn’t listed. After talking to a distinctively unhelpful Khairul (“I’m the only Khairul in Customer Service“) in Malaysia Airlines, it turns out that he couldn’t help and I decided to just rebook my return flight using AirAsia.

I managed to get one slightly after my original flight for an additional IDR 1,512,350 – you need to pay in rupiah if you’re in Indonesia while booking online, it’s about RM 504.

Venezia Spa Ubud

This was very late into the night, we had just came back from Venezia Day Spa & Salon in Ubud where the rather misleading Honeymoon Package (IDR 607,000) is the price for one, not for two. At least my better half thought it was for the both of us, I had suspected that it’s just a name and it’s the price per person.

Venezia Massage Bali

It turns out that the total price was IDR 1,214,000 or IDR 1,358,699 with 12% tax of IDR 145,680. It’s still decent for a 5 hour treatment since 1.3 million rupiah is about MYR 452 and the important part was that she enjoyed herself. I didn’t mind the treatments too, I’m just not used to these kind of things – my first manicure and pedicure.

Million Dollar Spa Bill

Anyway, after realizing late into the night that my return flight wasn’t secure, I had to quickly book another ticket back on the rather unreliable hotel WiFi – it took me the better part of an hour before the credit card payment went though.

Bali Airport

I’m writing this now from Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali while awaiting for my flight – it’s been a long week with little sleep but it sure was fun though, certainly an interesting past few days. It was great, we needed the break and it made us all the more closer. :)

My trip to Club Med Bali – Body and Soul: Four Colors in Four Days

club med bali

I just came back from Club Med Bali a couple of days ago. There was a really interesting event going on called Body and Soul: Four Colors in Four Days. I was there for 5 days for the Club Med experience and thought this was a great concept.

garden yoga

It was a lot like my Club Med Phuket trip in that everything is all inclusive and there are friendly GO’s who answers any questions you might have and even eats with you. The best thing about Club Med is that everything is all-inclusive and you can choose to do whatever you want…or nothing at all.

zoomba

Anyway, since the 4-day Body and Soul event was running, I went for each of the themed events. There’s a new color every day and that color denotes the “theme of the day” which encompasses everything from activities to food!

club med bali restaurant

  • Rejuvenation in Yellow
  • Energy in Red
  • Balance in Green
  • Revitalization in Purple

club med food

Body and Soul: Four Colors in Four Days is meant for people who want to immerse themselves in a health and wellness program. It’s a way to get away from the hectic city life and check into Club Med to awaken your spirit, heal your hearts and bodies and even your sense of well-being.

chi balls

I must say I was rejuvenated by the end of the program. :)

kayaking

It’s really quite interesting – for example, on Green Day: Balance – there’s kayaking to start the day…

yoga window

…followed by a session of yoga with Yin Yang Chi Balls by experts from the award winning Australian fitness company Physical BestLisa Westlake, the fitness instructor/owner/physiotherapist/presenter/author (there’s little she doesn’t do) and Lynley Gladdis (an international presenter in the area of mind and body fitness with degrees in Arts Dance and Remedial Massage)

aqua aerobics

There was a really upbeat class of aqua aerobics which I totally enjoyed – had a blast doing this, it’s a lot of fun! :)

I even had a video of me doing aqua aerobics – thanks Becky!

green day food

There’s also green themed food and special platters that highlights nutrition based on this color.

cucumber sushi

Cucumber sushi with fish roe

green tea macaroons

Green tea macaroons <3 cucumber olives

Cucumber with olives

spring rolls

It’s pretty amazing, eh? They even had pistachio ice cream on green day!

body soul club med

There are also kids programs with the similar theme and night entertainment (green party during green day). Thus, each day is broken down into several activities e.g. for Red Day: Energy:

red food

Main Program
Cherating Beach: Tree Top
Bali: Flying Trapeze
Fun Family Mini-Olympic

Expert Program
Tribal Rhythm
Zumba

Kids Program
Tie dye T-shirts

Night Entertainment
Latin night

cindy

If you think Club Med is fun, wait till you experience the Four Colors in Four Days event! I did things with my body that my girlfriend didn’t believe until I showed her the photos from yoga (that’s Cindy from Malaysia, who’s a yoga instructor on vacation at Club Med Bali).

tribal dance

Body and Soul: Four Colors in Four Days was held on Club Med Bali in March and will kick off in Club Med Cherating Beach from 7th – 14th April 2013! Yup, it’s coming to Malaysia right after Bali. It’s a health and wellness retreat to boost well-being through a series of 4 consecutive color themed days with the color included in everything from diet to parties!

yoga

You can also safely leave your kids in Club Med, that’s why I love the place so much. They’ll have stuff to do and be entertained while you go do your own stuff. Check out Club Med Cherating Beach if you’re interested to know more about the upcoming Body and Soul event in Malaysia! They have special packages for a 4D/3N stay!

(Related: Visit the following to find the best optiate alternatives)

Thanks for the invite Jisan! :)

Bakmi babi in Jakarta

bakmi pork indonesia

Bakmi literally means meat noodles and despite the Muslim majority capital of Indonesia, there are shops which caters for people who wants a dose of porcine goodness. One of these is located in Mangga Besar – a quirky name which means “big mango” (a tropical variant of the Big Apple ;)).

Bakmi Ahau claims to have been around since 1962 – that’s a good 50 years (!!!) of operation. It’s still situated in a dingy stall right by the roadside but that’s part of the appeal. If the claims are true (or if the date is based on the Muslim calendar, which produces its peculiar brand of irony) it means that they must serve a really good bowl of bakmi babi (pork noodles)…

bakmi ahau 1962

…and I can attest to that!

It has been around for a couple of years at least, a friend of mine brought me here to eat a very late supper when I was in Jakarta. The place was packed even though it was way past midnight.

bakmi jakarta

The bakso (that’s meatballs) accompanying the bakmi here is made with pork and it’s deep fried before being served, producing a crunchiness that goes very well with the juicy pork meatballs. They don’t skimp on the meat – there’s just a thin coating of batter on top. I reckon it’s the deep fried bakso that makes this stall stand out.

bakmi mangga besar

The noodles are also tossed with lard and there’s bit of char siew (barbecued pork) and deep fried pork skin to go with it. It’s also not fully “dry” – almost a quarter of the dish is filled with the seasoning gravy (or bumbu) which is a mixture of lard, soy sauce, and other things the workers are reluctant to divulge.

pork bakmi

However, it is 100% goodness! I have had a lot of pork noodle dishes and this is one of the times where it stood out in my mind. The bakmi in Mangga Besar is just one stall in a long chain but you can find it from the distinctive t-shirts that they wear.

bakmi jakarta me

A large bowl of pork bakmi with extra bakso with a glass of iced jeruk (local Mandarin orange juice) from the stall beside just cost under 20,000 rupiah (about RM 6) – a nice break if you want something other than chicken in Jakarta. A mean and delicious dish of authentic roadside bakmi at a price that’s hard to beat.

A morning stroll at Kota Tua Jakarta

old batavia

Kota Tua is loosely translated as “Old Town” and it’s the old part of Jakarta. It’s also known as Old Batavia and you can still see the scars of the 1998 riots here – burned buildings are still around and refurbishment hasn’t touched most of it yet.

kota tua

We were staying at a hotel just nearby and one morning, Jazz woke me up to experience the place. The streets were closed on that day, due to a function that’s happening on the square.

kota tua no vehicles

It was the event itself that caused the closure of the streets – it’s called Hari Bebas Kenderaan Bermotor Kawasan Kota Tua 2012 which translates to “(Motorized) Vehicle Free Day (in) Kota Tua Area 2012”. Heh.

kali besar

Kota Tua is bordered by a canal called Kali Besar which is famous for its overpowering stench. I could smell it, but it wasn’t anywhere as bad as I was told.

buskers

The beauty of Kota Tua Jakarta lies in its vibrant community of stalls and buskers – there were people playing various musical instruments and I even saw an improvised percussion system made of glass bottles nestled on a wood frame!

pos indonesia

This is one of the refurbished buildings – their post office. It’s part of their efforts at making this historical town into a UNESCO heritage site.

kota tua stalls

It is primarily a tourist attraction with it’s souvenir stalls – there’s also a theater called Museum Wayang there that plays traditional Indonesian Wayang Kulit (a shadow play with puppets).

museum wayang

Several vendors also offers rides on pimped up (or rather dolled up) bicycles for two, complete with flowery hats.

old jakarta bicycles

However, it’s definitely worth a visit – you can catch a local puppet show or grab a snack from a roadside stall. I had Otak Otak Ikan which is completely different from the soggy fish paste we get here.

otak otak indonesia

The Indonesian version of otak otak is crispy and eaten with a chilli paste. It’s cheap street food, I think I paid less than RM 1 for this.

indonesian otak otak

Kota Tua Jakarta has something for everyone. It’s called Old Jakarta for a reason – a lot of history and heritage can be found in this area. I’ll allocate at least half a day for a proper visit, and a full day if you want to pop into all the museums and catch a wayang kulit show.

kota tua indonesia

…or you can just sit at one of the cafes and watch the vibrant scenes – families at play, people collecting discarded cans for recycling money, old men chatting animatedly while standing around in loose circles.

3 interesting things I saw while grocery shopping in Jakarta

1. Two feet long aloe vera

huge aloe vera

It’s called lidah buaya in the local parlance, except these monstrosities grow up to 2 feet long (!). The shortest one is easily 1 1/2 foot and the girth is pretty impressive too.

2. Sukkari dates

sukkari dates

The appearance of dates means the fasting month of Ramadan for Muslims is around the corner. Sukkari dates hails all the way from Medina in Saudi Arabia and it’s hard, dry and intensely sweet. The appearance is conical and Sukkari dates are considered a delicacy – premium items that’s very much in demand according to the people at Hero (a grocery store chain in Jakarta). It retails for IDR 35,000 (RM 12) for 100 grams and I ate a couple thanks to the person manning the place.

They also sell Anbara dates – the largest date species in the world, and the polar opposite to Sukkari dates texture-wise. I had Anbara dates a couple of years ago and it’s soft and chewy unlike the “grainy” mouthfeel of Sukkari dates.

3. Short bean sprouts

short bean sprouts

This is something I’ve never seen before despite trawling the specialty grocery stores back home. It’s simply called “short taugeh” and you can see the bean with just a hint of sprout. The unusual retarded sprouting process is pictured next to regular bean sprouts for comparison. It looks like an adolescent trying to grow facial hair. smirk

Posted: 1:55 am Jakarta time (GMT +7)



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