6 things we did during our Raya staycation

1. Had dinner at one of the best restaurants in KL

Sage KL

My better half surprised me with this treat. It’s actually the second most expensive meal we’ve ever had in KL (the first being the Michelin star Le Gavroche chef who came to town) but I thought it was worth it. Delicious appetizers and mains – thanks for booking us dinner at Sage dear.

2. Watched Ant-Man

Ant-Man

I’ve been wanting to watch Ant-Man for a long time. We even had passes to the premiere screening but missed it coz I thought it was the next day. Thus, I got ourselves Premier Class tickets (RM 63) at The Gardens to go watch the movie. I had actually wanted Gold Class but my dear thought it was too expensive. It used to cost RM 40 per pax but that’s the price of Premier Class now – Gold Class is double.

GSC Premier Class

It’s still quite an exclusive viewing experience though – the seats are all couple seats, which you can remove the middle partition so you can snuggle up together. That’s actually a *necessity* since the air-conditioning was so cold everyone in the Premier Class cinema was shivering. It’s still better than watching it in their regular cinemas though, this is a more intimate environment where no one talks loudly or uses their mobile phones – the higher ticket prices weeds out most badly behaved cinema goers. Ant-Man was awesome, a nice conclusion to Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

3. Ate escargots and drank Valrhona hot chocolate

Yeast Mid-Valley

We had lunch at a Parisian style bistro/bakery which also serves wine. I had Escargots a la Bourguignonne while my dear had a ham and cheese croissant (Croissant au Jambon et au Fromage). This was our lunch the day we checked in, she also had a Valrhona hot chocolate – we bought a lot of the famous French chocolate a while back, it’s not for kids, their single origin stuff is utterly bitter, in a good way.

4. Walked around the mall

Lifejuice Gardens

We loaded up with fresh cold pressed juice before spending most of the day walking around the mall. My dear wanted to get a clutch bag and we went to most of the stores in The Gardens and Mid-Valley but couldn’t find one that she wanted. I was secretly observing at what kind of bags she was looking at so I could KIV for our anniversary. smirk

Lifejuice

The Sun Kissed Stress Reliever (RM 13) is a mixture of ginger, red apple, pineapple, orange, carrot and grapefruit in a glass bottle. I liked the Nutty Professor Energy Booster (hazelnut, almond, cashew, soy milk, raw cacao, Medjool dates) and 50 Shades of Grey Stamina Booster (Earl Grey team hazelnut, Himalayan salt, coconut, agave necter) too.

5. Chilled in our hotel room

St Giles Gardens

I booked a room as St Giles The Gardens, the best hotel among the 3 at Mid-Valley. I also considered Pullman Bangsar (which has a shuttle service to Mid-Valley) but ultimately wanted to stay at Mid-Valley itself since we were out almost the entire day!

6. Had a hearty breakfast

Antipodean

This was at Antipodean, which my better half wanted to try. It was decent and cheap (relatively) fare but not as good as their original Bangsar Telawi II outlet, probably due to the huge crowd here. We had to wait five (5) minutes in queue while we got seated and that’s considered a very quick seating. The service was good though and I quite liked my order of Eggs Marlborough with Salmon.

I think we spent only 10 hours or so total in our room but it was fun and we got to spend the time with each other during our staycation. :)

Our Hari Raya Aidilfitri Staycation @ St Giles The Gardens

The Gardens Hotel

I decided to surprise my better half with a night at a local hotel during the long holiday weekend. Yup, it’s our biannual staycation, where we spend a night (or two) at a KL or PJ hotel and chill, eat and shop. My better half suggested Mid Valley this time but I don’t really like Cititel Hotel (although it’s the cheapest option, the rooms reek of cigarette smoke).

MidValley Gardens

Thus, it’s down to St Giles Boulevard or St Giles The Gardens. The latter is slightly more grand, a step up in both standards and price so I splurged a little and went for that. The rooms are significantly larger than St Giles Boulevard (27 sq m) and make the ones at Cititel Mid Valley (18 sq m) look almost like closets. smirk

St Giles The Gardens

All three hotels are managed by the same people – it’s supposed to be for different segments of the market with St Giles The Gardens as the premier choice, with larger rooms (38 sq m). I paid USD 116.26 (RM 442.35 per night) for our room and thought I overpaid coz I forgot to switch the currency to MYR. It turns out that MYR was even more expensive at RM 452 so it’s a good thing I have a PayPal account with USD inside.

St Giles The Gardens Rooms

I almost went for the 72 sq m 1 bedroom suite which is about RM 80 more but I ended up going for a deluxe room instead and the extra cash went towards a single glass of wine (more on that later).

St Giles The Gardens Us

It was a lot of fun, we crammed all the things couples do into a 24 hour period – ate at a restaurant rated as one of the best in KL, watched a movie we’ve missed and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a great and relaxing staycation, plus we managed to stay within the budget of RM 1,500 for everything – can’t wait to do it again! :)

I’ll write more soon.

Our biannual staycation in KL!

Hotel Royal

We have made a tradition of taking time out to do a staycation (which refers to staying at a local hotel, not staying at home) twice a year in addition to our yearly overseas trips (Melbourne last year and Frankfurt and Paris this year) and our shorter trips like to Hat Yai about a month ago.

Pavilion KL

You could say that travelling is our passion in life. :)

Timelapse Hotel

It’s actually a lot of fun and you get to experience the city where you live from a visitor’s perspective!

Hotel Royal KL

This time around, we stayed at Hotel Royal in Kuala Lumpur and basically:

Staycation Food

1. Ate a lot of food

Mamma Mia Musical KL

2. Caught a musical

Blurry Photo

3. Enjoyed each other’s company.

Staycation 2014

I’ll write more tomorrow, part of the purpose of having a staycation is to get away from the daily things you do and not do anything remotely work related. smirk

Posted: 10:38 pm Kuala Lumpur time

10 things we did during our weekend staycation

staycation

I’ll like to think that I’ve been pioneering the concept of a staycation before the term even came into existence. It was more out of necessity (a friend of mine described my apartment at that time as “having it’s own ecosystem with new and constantly evolving species of fungi” smirk) and an excess of funds from legally questionable endeavors that prompted me to live primarily in hotels and serviced apartments like Somerset Gateway in Kuching during the weekends back then.

staycation room

However, I’ve gotten all those wild days of drugs, sex and rock and roll out of my system and prefer a quiet weekend spent with my loved one nowadays. My dad happened to have excess points from a vacation rewards system that he couldn’t use so he asked me if I wanted it coz it’ll go to waste otherwise.

the atrium

I jumped at the idea and booked a nice room at Pyramid Tower Hotel at Sunway Lagoon.

staycation hotel

The room cost RM 340/night but it was deducted from 11,551 points in Club Asia International so it didn’t really cost us anything. It’s next to Sunway Pyramid so that was pretty convenient. We checked in at 2 pm and dumped our bags before heading to the mall to get some lunch.

1. Had a fun lunch

coffee milk

We went to the food court and ate local food together. We acted like we were in a foreign country (Dubai was the place we decided on – inside joke) so it was a lot of fun and very different from the stress of finding an empty bay in the carpark, braving the thongs of people, and getting stuck in traffic.

2. Chilled out in the room

chill hotel

This is one of the most appealing things about a staycation! Since you’re at your very own hometown (it was just 15 minutes away) there’s not much to see, so you can really relax and enjoy the hotel amenities – the tub, the pool, the cable TV and plush bed!

3. Snacked on takoyaki

making takoyaki

The hotel is right next to the mall with a connected walkway that takes all of 3 minutes to traverse. We decided to eat regular baby octopus takoyaki (delicious) and also sampled some salmon takoyaki (not very nice). The place also serves okonomiyaki.

takoyaki

We ordered so much that we had to take some of it back to the hotel room to eat!

4. Posed for funny photos

funny pose

This is one of the things you do when you have too much time on your hands and have put the daily worries and work out of your mind for the entire staycation. :)

5. Went out for bubble tea

georgpeck

We were both craving for bubble tea and I noticed this new place called GeorgPeck. We shared a bubble milk tea with aloe vera jelly, which was really good.

bubble tea

It seems that everything tastes better when your mind think it’s on vacation!

6. Walked around the mall

ice skating

…and watched people falling down at the ice skating ring. Haha!

7. Took a long afternoon nap

sunway tower hotel

That’s the beauty of a staycation! You don’t feel the urge to get up early in the morning less you miss out on precious time which you can use to visit all the attractions in a foreign country. There’s a lot more time for real R&R during a staycation.

8. Nice dinner for two

poison dinner

We dressed up and went out for dinner at night again! It was at O’Viet by Du Viet and I had a funny incident that entails a close call with a near poisoning. Heh.

9. Ate Red Velvet Cake in bed

coffee bean

My dear bought this from the Coffee Bean outlet before we went back to the hotel room for the night. She opted for Red Velvet Cake and since we were still full from dinner, we had it to go so we can eat it later at night, since we had planned to stay up late and sleep in the next day.

red velvet cake

We ate this while watching movies in bed! Simple pleasures in life are the best…

10. Pigged out at the hotel buffet breakfast

buffet breakfast

I set the alarm just before the hotel buffet breakfast ended and totally pigged out with a full plate of food, and cereal, and yoghurt, and some croissants with maple syrup…

breakfast pigout

…before heading back to the room to hibernate.

cereal

We had asked for late check-out and left at 1:30 pm.

hotel

It was a fun staycation and it’s also an early celebration for our 1st anniversary together as a couple. We had our first vacation together in Melbourne, where I stayed for over 4 years and we’re looking to go abroad again soon!

staycation us

However, a staycation when you don’t have a lot of time and holiday leave to burn is an awesome option. :D

The potentially deadly dinner at O’Viet by Du Viet

duviet oviet

“She saved me from embarrassment and potentially poisoning myself to death!” smirk

oviet duviet

We had dinner at O’Viet by Du Viet last night as part of our weekend staycation, which we just came back from. It’s a restaurant that markets itself as having food influenced by the ancient royal capital of Hue in Vietnam.

duviet booth

As we perused the menu before going in, I remember a lot of the dishes from my trip to Hanoi. The place just shouted out to us while we were walking around the mall beside the hotel and my dear decided to have dinner here.

duviet bill

The ambiance is great and they have a secluded back booth with period decorations which I thought was really nice. The service is great too but the prices are a little on the high side. The bill for the both of us came up to RM 104.39.

fish soup price

I wanted to eat the Sour Fish Soup Noodles (RM 33) and noticed that it had a *sticker* with a revised (!!!) price on it. Curious, I peeled it back to see what the original price was.

price revealed

It was RM 19.90. I understand that black cod is seasonal though, so since it’s out of season (and thus probably not that fresh – low food miles, eating in-season ingredients and all that) I chose their flagship dish.

vietnam spring roll

My dear ordered Nem Saigon (Fresh Summer Rolls) for appetizers. This is what people normally associate with Vietnamese steamed wrapped rolls and costs RM 9.90. We had made Vietnamese rolls at home before and while mine wasn’t successful, she managed to perfect it. There’s options of chicken, prawn, beef and vegetarian. We went for the prawn.

prawn spring roll

It’s served with a peanut sauce that I found rather intriguing. It has a bit of heat in it but just right to balance the sweetness. The perfect dipping sauce! The downside is that there was just a tiny shrimp in each roll.

pho

She also ordered the Pho Hai San (Special Seafood Soup Noodles) coz she wanted to eat pho. It came in a huge bowl with fresh prawns, fish fillet, fried shrimp balls, squid and cuttlefish in a mildly spicy soup. It was priced at RM 15.90 and I loved the soup base – it’s seafood-y goodness! :D

vietnamese hot pot

I ordered the Du Viet’s signature dish – Beef in Vinegar Hot Pot (RM 49.90).

hue winter hotpot

It’s marketed as a classic Vietnamese winter dish from Hue.

hue hotpot beef

It’s basically a communal soup hot pot with thin slices of beef topped with a raw egg yolk on the side.

duviet condiments

You’re supposed to swish the beef in the soup and then make your own roll with the large plate of condiments (rice vermicelli, various traditional vegetables etc) and there’s a salty fish sauce dipping sauce too.

winter hot pot

This dish came with four (4) separate plates, each with it’s own translucent wrap. There’s four wraps in total and it’s meant to be a shared dish, which I didn’t know.

hue roll

However, the beef tasted really nice when dunked into the hot pot – the soup is a medley of ingredients that makes it slightly sweet and it’s a real pleasure to drink from.

vietnam roll

However, the fuel source burned out before we could finish eating, and we didn’t even notice it until after a while. This prompted us to chuck the remaining pieces of beef into the hot pot to cook in the ambient heat. It worked. :)

fresh egg soda

I also noticed that they have a drink I’ve been craving for since I came back from Vietnam – Fresh Egg Soda & Cream (RM 8.90). It’s basically raw egg mixed with ice cream soda (that’s vanilla flavored soda for those of you unfamiliar with the nomenclature) and cream – you can find it in various street vendors in Hanoi and it’s delicious.

vietnamese coffee

I also ordered Vietnamese Drip Coffee (RM 8.50). It came in the same nifty ground coffee drip system I’ve seen in a Vietnamese restaurant in Sibu way back in 2004 and also while I was at an authentic coffee shop in Hanoi.

duviet us

I had asked for condensed milk and ice on the side and I thought that the bowl on the left is a nicely decorated wooden ice bucket that’s supposed to fit into the drip system. I thought:

deadly ice cubes

“How interesting! They made ice cubes in a similarly sized metal container that *connects with* the Vietnamese drip coffee. I’ll put it under the drip so it’ll cool down my coffee”

flame

…and that was what I was about to do when the waitress re-appeared and *lit* what I thought was ice cubes at first glance in the dark back booth. She just saved me from potential embarrassment and the likelihood of a deadly poisoning. Haha!

hue hot pot

The “ice cubes” turned out to be the fuel for the Hue Winter Hot Pot that I had ordered.

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