Our second day in Malaysa was a very relaxing visit to Penang.

First, we took the Hop On Hop Off bus to get a nice feel for the actual city of Penang. The HOHO bus is pretty easy to use and stops at several interesting points of interest! Here are a couple of things we saw – I don’t know what any of them are! (In the photo at the bottom, there is a crowd of people outside of a temple, and I think they were taking part in some sort of religious ceremony.) We also passed by a lot of schools that were filled with children, which I thought was strange considering it was New Year’s Eve’s Eve (December 30).

Our main goal for the day was to enjoy the nature provided by Penang Hill, so we got off the bus at the appropriate stop, and were greeted by long, snaky lines for the funicular that would take visitors to the top of the hill. We decided to use the “fast pass” and paid around 3 times more than the regular price. We were then ushered to a shorter line for paying, a shorter line for waiting, and also an air-conditioned room! (It was definitely worth it.)

When we arrived at the top of the hill, we had a quick lunch, then it was off to The Habitat at Penang Hill, something of an educational nature conservation centre. There had recently been landslide activity in the area, so the regular entrance was closed, which meant we had to take shuttle busses (trucks) to enter the centre from its exit! Since there wasn’t enough space for our entire party to fit inside the truck, I jumped into the back and felt the wind in my hair as we travelled along the path and I’ve never felt more free!

Once we arrived at the Habitat, we started walking along the path and admiring the nature and animals. It’s not a difficult path; everything is paved. There are occasional lookouts, and some lookout points even have a swing that can easily fit 2 or 3 people! How picturesque! (I truly apologize for the lack of pictures … it really was so beautiful!)

As we walked along, we met a tour guide/naturalist who explained so many things to us and made the walk a lot more educational and useful. He explained what different plants ate and how they grew, how tarantulas buried themselves into rock by making perfect cylindrical burrows, and he even told us about biomimicry! This guy was so passionate and seriously loved biology; I found it quite admirable and inspiring! Our guide then explained to us that tour guides purposely don’t engage with visitors until after they’ve walked along the path for a little bit – giving people time to explore on their own and form their own questions naturally is a lot more interesting and engaging than if a tour guide just droned on and on about something that they deemed important. (As a teacher, I found this very cool.) We also walked across the canopy bridge (pictured above), where we saw a giant flying squirrel and monkeys!

We also visited the 360° observatory which is very very high off the ground. It took us far above the rainforest so that we had a beautiful view of the tops of the trees, as well as the city of Penang. It was a little bit shaky and there’s no reason to be afraid, but the wind does blow very hard and I can see how that can be disconcerting for some. The observatory also has information plaques to let you know what you’re looking at (for example, there are a couple of former colonial government buildings up in the trees (Why there? I don’t know.) and I learned about who lived there and what they did.)

After our afternoon of walking, we returned to the base of the hill, hopped back on the HOHO bus, and I promptly fell asleep until we arrived back at the cruise terminal.




Kuala Lumpur

The first stop of our lovely cruise was Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia! Our ship docked in Port Klang, which is about an hour’s drive from KL. We went on a taxi tour with our very personable guide, Kelvin, who took us to see all the exciting sites that Kuala Lumpur has to offer!


We visited a lot of temples on this trip, with this one being the first. (They all seemed to have the same name too!) We didn’t do much here except for admire the endless rows of red lanterns, as well as enjoy a pretty nice view of KL.

I also took off my shoes to enter the temple, then walked around inside in a circle!


Next, we went to the king’s second palace. (His first original residence has been converted into a royal museum!) We obviously couldn’t go inside, but we admired the gold decor, and my sister and her family took a picture with a guard who never smiled. (He was like a Malaysian version of a beefeater from Buckingham Palace! He positioned himself in the smaller arch, right beside the gates.)



I really enjoyed our next stop: the National Monument. The monument commemorates all Malaysians who have fought in battle, from Japanese occupation during World War Two to the Malayan Emergency, when Malaysia gained independence from Britain. There’s also a cenotaph which pays tribute to Malaysians who fought in both world wars, as well as the war for independence.

It was so peaceful and calm when visiting this area; the fountain and pond gave the space a very serene feeling. It would’ve been nice to have had an opportunity to learn a bit more about the events which were being commemorated, but I suppose that type of information is better shared at a museum than a memorial.




Next, two tall skyscrapers that house a shopping centre, a few offices, and an observatory! We spent all our time in the mall, which was decked out in Christmas decorations, which made me think of my fellow Canadians who were suffering in frigid -30°C weather while I bathed in my sweat in the hot Malaysian heat!

The mall offered a wonderful air-conditioned respite, but this was also the point in the day when my sister and I realized we needed to cover our legs for the next stop in our tour (which meant we would feel even warmer)! We ducked into a Uniqlo and bought some pants, all the while marvelling at the heavy parkas and thick sweaters that were for sale inside the store.


Our final stop of our Kuala Lumpur tour was the Batu Caves, a Hindu temple which has been carved/built into a giant cave. A large golden statue of a goddess and a very long set of stairs welcomed us into the temple.

The climb up the stairs was made all the more exciting – better to distract us from the danger of the uneven steps – by the wild monkeys! There were mother monkeys and baby monkeys, and they weren’t shy about running after bags of food and stealing snacks from unsuspecting tourists. On my way down, I even saw a monkey perched on the bannister, gulping down some sort of mango drink!

Walking through the caves is pretty fun as well. The temple is still under construction, and visitors can help out by carrying a brick from one level to the next. There are statues all over, and even a little marketplace to buy little trinkets!

The caves were also quite dark and cool, which felt good after a whole day of being out in the sun. Unfortunately and surprisingly, there were even more stairs once inside the cave, and these steps were even more precarious than the ones outside! Nevertheless, it was a nice experience, and I felt like I’d completed a workout after finally arriving at the top of the steps.

There is also an opportunity to go into the “dark caves” and learn about the flora and fauna that is found in the caves, aka bats! And some pretty gross-looking bugs! We didn’t have time to go, but it looked like it would’ve been fun as well as educational – visitors can only go on that tour if they are led by a trained guide.

And that is what I did in Kuala Lumpur – a bit of history, a bit of exercise, and a bit of wildlife!

A Morning in Singapore

That is literally all the time we had.

We arrived in Singapore from Hong Kong in the depths of the night, so we went straight to sleep, and had plans to leave our hotel for the cruise terminal around noon, which gave us ONE MORNING to explore all of Singapore! Luckily, Dangerous Dan and I had both been to Singapore in the past (click here to read some of my posts!), so we decided to go somewhere neither of us had been before in the short time we had: Little India.

The transit system in Singapore is fantastic and the subway ride from our hotel to Little India was extremely quick and easy. (It also helps that everything in Singapore is sparkling clean! It just makes you feel so great!)

We didn’t have any plans in Little India; we just wandered around and followed the helpful “Heritage Trail” maps that are dotted around the neighbourhood. These maps are often accompanied by a plaque that explains the historical significance of the site as well! (There is a heritage centre as well, which we might have visited if only we had had more time!)

We visited Tekka Market, full of sights and sounds and smells!

We also walked past the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, but we didn’t go inside because you had to take your shoes off. We decided to stay outside and just admire the intricate detail of the exterior designs of the temple!

Other things that we saw on our walk: a church, a memorial for Gandhi which doubled as an Indian education centre, and a former racecourse!

Lamma Island

Hong Kong is a busy, bustling city, but if you visit any of its outlying islands (there are more than 200 of them!), you’ll find that there are plenty of places and spaces in Hong Kong to take a break from the busyness and the crowds. (I should note that it takes around an hour-long ferry ride to get to some of these places!)

Lamma Island is one of the larger outlying islands, and it’s a popular place for Hong Kongers to visit. The trip to the island was easy enough – around 25 minutes, and I fell asleep so it felt even faster!


There are two major “cities/villages” on Lamma Island: Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan. We walked through Yung Shue Wan and admired all the storefronts and random animals (I saw a dog pooing!). The island is known for not allowing any cars except for service vehicles, and my dad really got a kick out of seeing the tiny ambulance and even tinier fire truck (it was smaller than a minivan). He was wondering when we’d get to see a police car when a police officer walked past and gruffly informed us that there were no police cars!

Lamma Island is a great place to explore nature without feeling like you’re truly working up a sweat. The walk between the two villages is mostly flat, and is supposed to take only an hour and a half. Unfortunately, my father is an avid photographer and so it took us around three hours to complete the same journey.

One of the highlights of the relaxing walk is Hung Shing Yeh Beach, which was so beautiful and quiet. There were very few people due to it being the winter months, which made it all the more serene.


The beach marked the beginning of the somewhat hilly climb towards Sok Kwu Wan.(Before this, we had just been walking through town.) It did get warm as we walked uphill and I even took off my sweater at one point, but otherwise it was a nice “hike” and the views were magnificent! We could even see parts of Hong Kong Island from where we stood!

When we arrived at Sok Kwu Wan, there wasn’t too much to see – just a long row of restaurants. We ate at Lamma Rainbow Seafood Restaurant, which seems to have a near-monopoly on this part of the island because it seemed that every third storefront was owned by them! (It was also the only restaurant that had customers …)

We took our seats right by the water which was so blue and littered with little fishing boats. My parents completely disregarded the menu and instead pointed at the various tanks to choose which seafood we would eat. The food was delicious and perfectly seasoned – we had snails, fried squid, steamed shrimp, soup, and a plate of veggies to round it all out. The best part was the PISSING SHRIMP (such a fantastic name – actually, its name in Cantonese has a bit more nuance to it … it’s more like shrimp-that-peed-itself). I was nervous to eat it because of the name, but I looked it up online and found out that the name is due to the stream of water which comes out of the shrimp when you pick it up. It was also very intense to eat – scissors were provided to cut the shell of the shrimp along its spine (?) and then you had to rip it open in order to get the meat! Good thing this type of shrimp is like the size of a lobster!


After our meal, the waiters informed us that the restaurant has a free ferry shuttle service back to Central and Tsim Sha Tsui, which saved us a couple of bucks! And after a foggy and rainy boat ride, we were back in the big city.

And that’s that for my trip to Lamma Island! There were a couple of things that I’d hoped to see but didn’t get a chance to, so I think I’d like to return in the future!


P.S. If you want to see some more outlying islands excitement, check out what I did in Cheung Chau the last time I came to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong: FOOD

Our first meal in Hong Kong was a typical dinner at a Chinese restaurant with my grandparents and a plethora of cousins. The experience was similar to any of my family dinners in Markham; the difference was that everyone except for my grandparents had literally just arrived in Hong Kong from somewhere in North America, so we were all falling asleep!

In any case, while I had lots and lots of food in Hong Kong, I did not always find it extremely exciting because I am constantly surrounded by Hong Kong cuisine even in Canada, and thus, I will highlight only two restaurants that Dangerous Dan and I visited. However, honourable mentions go out to Café de Coral (which Dangerous Dan insisted on having breakfast at … EVERY DAY) and Pizza Express in Times Square, where we didn’t speak a lick of Cantonese, even to the waiters, and felt like we were back in North America again. (Even the people beside us were speaking in English!)

GREENHOUSE / 10/F, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

We passed by Greenhouse the first time when we were on our way to Pizza Express (which is in the same mall). Greenhouse looked interesting and said it was “Asian cuisine with a Western twist,” so we decided to go back to try it later on during our trip. The restaurant has a nice cozy feel and so much plant-based decor!

To start, Dangerous Dan and I shared an appetizer, a Curry Crab Bruschetta. It wasn’t really bruschetta (very few tomatoes), but it was a sort of dip at least! It tasted really good, especially with the toasted bread and shrimp crackers!


For the main event, I had Fresh Salmon Spaghetti. I asked the waiter if I could have it as mild, but I guess my spice tolerance is too low because I still had trouble tasting the food amidst the spiciness! The salmon was delicious and I love cherry tomatoes though, so I still had a good time.


I also ate some of Dangerous Dan’s dish, which was simply named Singapore Noodles. It was so much more exciting than that though! The noodles were fried along with a smooth egg in a skillet, and it was all so interesting. I think I preferred his dish more than my own.


LAN FONG YUEN (蘭芳園) / Shop 26, WK Square, 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

This cha chaan teng is famous and important and world-renowned! The original location is somewhere in Central, but we went to this second location in TST because it was right by our hotel.

The whole process of getting in to the restaurant was hilariously intense! Since this location of Lan Fong Yuen is in a mall (sports-themed, at that!), we had to wait for the mall to open at 10:30 before we could go in, and a long line started to form at around 10:15. At 10:30 exactly, the metal door slowly moved upwards, and a staff member was standing there, warning us we couldn’t go in until the door was completely raised. This woman might as well have waved a checkered flag and screamed “GO!”, because once the door was completely raised, people ran in to the mall. We snaked through walls of running shoes and racks of soccer jerseys, and I shouted to my mother, “Mom, where are we going?! Do you know where this restaurant is?!” She responded that she did not know where she was going, but we continued to blindly follow the parade of joggers through the mall. We finally arrived at the storefront and quickly sat down in the restaurant, and the people who had been at the end of the line outside even had to continue waiting inside the mall. (That’s why we all ran!)

The food tasted pretty good and was classic Hong Kong-style cafe food. I decided to try something different and had fried instant noodles with BBQ chicken wings and a fried egg. It was all very tasty, although the chicken wings were a little spicy.

And to finish things off, delicious milk tea!

This was the last meal we ate before coming back to Canada, so it was a perfect way to say goodbye to Asia!

My Biennial Pilgrimage to the Motherland

*Biennial means every two years.

I am finally back on the blog after 500 years of not posting anything! If you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I recently spent some time in Asia! Visiting Asia is something that I am fortunate to have done several times over the last few years, and I try to do different things each visit, so I’m excited to share with you adventures from my travels!

First up: Hong Kong! I ate at some interesting restaurants, visited the Museum of History, and went to Lamma Island! I also spent time with family members who I don’t get to see very often, which was so lovely.


Then came the next leg of our trip: a cruise ship from Singapore to Malaysia and Thailand. For some reason, we were never really able to get over our jetlag, so we spent most of our time on the ship sleeping. I suppose that’s acceptable when you’re relaxing and on vacation! (Although my busybody self felt a little guilty every time I stayed in my room instead of participating in the silly activities on board!)

We spent less than 24 hours in Singapore, but we still tried to make the most of it by wandering around Little India.

In Malaysia, we visited Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Both ports had a wonderful mix of city life and wild nature!


Finally, in Thailand, we rode elephants and ate ~authentic~ Thai food in Phuket! (I apologize for the picture below of the food (or lack thereof) … I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture of our delicious meal before it was consumed!)

Given my recent track record in writing posts, who knows when the first actual post for this WINTER IN ASIA series will come out! While you wait (and wait and wait), here is what I did the last time I went to Asia, and the time before that too!

Wedding Greetings

This year, I went to a plethora of weddings, and I made cards for each of the happy couples!

Take a look:

I tried to play around with calligraphy and the shape of the cards. But I was also very lazy and often made these cards the morning of the weddings so they’re also not as beautiful as they could be! Also, I really should stop automatically moving towards pink for wedding cards. That is boring and so stereotypical.

P.S. Wedding cards I made last year.

Dangerous Dan Goes to New York

Welcome to my follow-up of Dangerous Dan Does Deutschland! Dangerous Dan abandoned me at home once again – this time, it was to attend his very own bachelor party! (Yes, we’re getting married! Exciting!) Dangerous Dan spent six glorious days in the Big Apple, and I asked him to share his experience with me (in words and in photos).

Why did you choose to go to New York City for your bachelor party?

We wanted to watch a baseball game, and then we decided we should go to a place with a nice park. We thought about going to Los Angeles, but realized it’s a bit far and it’s really inconvenient to get around in LA without a car so then we thought, “We should just go to New York.” Even though New York doesn’t have the nicest stadium, they still have a decent team. Plus, we chose a game where they [the New York Yankees] were playing the Red Sox, which is a classic rivalry.


Why did you watch so much baseball while in New York City?

We wanted to watch the Yankees game. The Mets game was just because we were in the city anyway, and it was an afternoon game so it gave us something to do. And Citifield was really nice.

Name the coolest place you visited while in New York City. 

There’s the High Line. It’s very interesting because it used to be a railroad for suppliers to get their food into the city. They don’t use it anymore obviously, but now they use it as a walkway, and it goes past many different buildings so it gives you a very unique look at some of the architecture.


We also went to watch the filming of The Late Show by Stephen Colbert. It was really interesting. It’s pretty much what happens in the episode, with just a little bit of music in between, and you get to hear him before the show. He talks to you and gives you a chance to do some Q and A.

Is Stephen Colbert everything you dreamed he’d be?

He’s less sarcastic in real life.


What was your favourite meal?

I went to the 3-Michelin star restaurant in the Trump International Hotel. I forgot what it was called … Can you look it up? (It’s Jean Georges.) We had a 3-course meal for $40-$50 for lunch. I think we all got the same salad … the shrimp salad. The shrimp was really good, the salad was really good. I had cod or something. It was okay. The other guys got better dishes. Then I got the chocolate cake. That was also very good.

Did you watch any exciting shows on Broadway?

Of course! We watched Kinky Boots. That was a lot of fun! We didn’t have anything to do on the first night, so we went to Times Square to the Broadway ticket booth, where you can get last-minute tickets for half the price. Kinky Boots was a lot of fun – the choreography and the music were really flashy. They had a sequence where they did a dance on conveyor belts. We also watched Wicked, which is like a Disney movie on stage.

What was the most interesting that happened to you during your trip? 

We decided to go to the 3-Michelin star restaurant in the morning. On the website it says you need to have formal dress, but none of us had formal wear, so we just wore untucked dress shirts and jeans, and then we showed up, and it was like 2:00 so it was after lunch and no one was there, but they still let us in and totally judged us.

Describe your Airbnb experience.

We lived in Jackson Heights in a small single-floor townhouse … I don’t know what that’s called in New York. It was very nice! Our hostess had a very nice place; it was very neat and tidy. And she gave us croissants!


To finish things off, here are some photos that Dangerous Dan took in Central Park:

And if you’re interested in what I did when I went to New York a few years ago, take a look here and here!

Pizza Disaster

So the other day I decided to be adventurous and try to make my own pizza. I’ve done this before with store-bought crust, but I didn’t feel like eating the usual tomato pizza, and the local NoFrills pizza crusts came with the tomato sauce in the little bag. Also, people keep saying that eating too many carbs is bad for you so I was trying to find a less carb-y alternative as well!

I wanted to use tortillas, but I couldn’t find them so I bought pita instead. It was also called “World’s Best Pita Bread” so I felt quite confident.

I will say that although I messed up big time in the execution of this pizza, I think the overall idea behind it is not bad so I’m going to go ahead and tell you what I did.

First, I cooked some minced turkey on the stove. While that was cooking, I prepared the pizza. I lined my dish with tin foil and rubbed some olive oil on it (not sure why I did this, but it seems like the thing to do). I laid down two pitas and inexplicably rubbed some olive oil on them too. Next, I slathered some leftover pesto sauce that a friend had gotten for me from Italy! Then a spinach and arugula mix made its way on to the pita. I started adding slices of mushrooms and zucchini as well, and the pizza was looking very full and heavy. But I hadn’t added the turkey yet! So I added that and covered it all in cheese to glue it all in place.

I placed it in the oven at 375°F for about 12 minutes while I cleaned up the kitchen.

That’s when things took a turn for the worse …

I decided to start broiling the pizza because I wanted that nice golden crust on my cheese. But then I got sidetracked looking for something to watch on Netflix …

Needless to say, I burned the pizza. I ate it anyway though, cutting away the cancerous sections, and it still tasted pretty good! As for the utility of pita bread as pizza crust – nothing really stayed on and the middle of the pizza was quite droopy, but it was nothing a knife and fork couldn’t fix!

I promise my recipes aren’t that bad! Although I feel like a large percentage of the recipes I share on this blog involve some sort of major issue …

P.S. The last time I cooked, which amazingly, didn’t end horribly.

Labour Day in Niagara Falls

Last weekend, I went to Niagara Falls to mourn the end of summer and celebrate my grandma’s 80th birthday.

Here’s the card I made:

The 80 is kind of hard to see because I’m not really sure how my grandma feels about this milestone birthday … She is always asking people if she looks younger than she actually is.

It was a very lazy weekend but still pretty fun nonetheless! Here are some of the things I got up to …

THE FLYING SAUCER / 6768 Lundy’s Lane, Niagara Falls / website

This 60’s-style, outer space-themed restaurant serves a pretty yummy brunch! I can’t say for certain that I would eat at this restaurant if it existed in Toronto instead, but we were in Niagara Falls so anything goes and plus I was with family!

I got the mushroom, spinach, and cheese omelette. The potatoes on the side were excellent! My father and I also shared a large, bottomless carafe of coffee which was also not bad! (Apologies for the bluish tinge of the food; the space decor was intense.)


Obviously, you have to see the falls when you go to Niagara Falls. My parents ventured out into the night and took beautiful photos of the falls, all lit up in funky colours, and they didn’t get back to the hotel until 1 in the morning! (I chose instead to watch TV and sleep.) Despite my laziness, I still wanted to see the beautiful, touristy nature that Canada has to offer us, so we went out the next day to try to get a good look at the falls. My grandpa’s had some mobility issues for the past few years, and unfortunately we weren’t able to find (or didn’t bother to find) parking that was close enough for him to walk comfortably to see the falls. And there were so many people! So my dad just drove past and we got a good look at all of the tourists, and that was that!

DECEW FALLS AND MORNINGSTAR MILLS / 2714 Decew Road, St. Catharines / Morningstar Mills website / Decew Falls website

Easily the most interesting part of the trip (since it didn’t involve me reading in bed in the hotel)! On our way back home, we stopped here to take a look at some lesser-known but still beautiful and exciting falls!

The site is the former home of the Morningstar family, who owned a mill here at the dawn of the 20th century. I really didn’t get to spend much time here so the history behind the site is pretty foggy to me, but from what I learned, the family operated the mill for many years and lived in the house on-site (pictured below), until generations later, the mill was sold to the City of St. Catharines for educational and heritage purposes!

As for the falls themselves, other visitors had clearly done their research and read ahead because they were arriving in workout gear and running shoes – you can hike down to the base of the falls, where I imagine you can feel the cool mist of the rushing water!

I definitely want to return to learn more about the history of the place, as well as to hike the area! I’ll even bring a yummy picnic lunch to enjoy – it certainly is idyllic!