Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas Edition (Issue 4) of Northbound Magazine is out!

We talk about the Belenismo of Tarlac, Giant Lantern Festival, Sinukwan Festival, Christmas shopping and more in Issue 4 of Northbound Magazine, your free quarterly travel guide to North Philippines (Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, the Cordilleras and Central Luzon). It will be available in hotels, restaurants and information centers around the region beginning next week. This magazine is a publication of the North Philippines Visitors Bureau. You can download the online version here.

Previous issues
Issue 1 (Q1 2009)
Issue 2 (Q2 2009)
Issue 3 (Q3 2009)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Malaysia: Genting Higlands and theme park fun at the peak!

Who said Genting Highlands is all about casinos? The Genting Theme Park in Genting Highlands is one exciting Malaysian destination for the young and young at heart. I really don't visit theme parks on my own. So when Tourism Malaysia invited us over to Genting Theme Park, why would I refuse?

For a change, we tried public transportation going to Genting Highlands. In fact, there are many ways to catch a bus to Genting Highlands. Buses depart from One Utama, KL Sentral, Puduraya, and Pasarakyat among other places. But these buses go through KL traffic and we were advised one of the fastest ways of getting to Genting Highlands was to catch the bus at the Terminal Putra in Gombak which is on one end of the Kelana Jaya (Pink) Line of the RapidKL LRT. So if you're in a hurry, this is one option.

We left after rush hour since we didn't want to join the KL commuter crush. From Terminal Putra, you can catch the bus to Genting Highlands. But in our case, our van picked us up there and brought us to the terminal of the Genting Skyway, said to be the longest and fastest cable car in Asia, for our trip up to Genting Highlands.

We went straight to the Genting Theme Park as soon as we got there. Given that the weather was unpredictable, we decided to go for the outdoor rides first and reserved the indoor rides for the afternoon since it usually rained later in the day.

Of course, our priority was the park's signature rides which included the Flying Coaster and Space Shot. The Flying Coaster is a roller coaster. But instead of sitting down, you lie on your stomach face down, which gives you a sensation of flying. While the Space Shot is a 185-foot drop that gives you a few seconds of weightlessness.

After our second ride, it started to rain. So we moved indoors and had lunch at the Penang Food Village, one of the many restaurants in the area. From the restaurant window, one could see Kuala Lumpur down below (it's the same view from the top of the Space Shot). Our food inlcuded fried kuay teow, mee mamak, kuay teow soup, asam laksa, lobak and rojak.

Later in the afternoon, since the rains didn't stop, we tried out the bump cars and another signature attraction of Genting Highlands which is Snow World. The Sports Unlimited crew was also shooting inside which explains our TV appearance some weeks back.

Anyway, after more rides and some shopping (believe it or not, they can have good bargains there in Genting), we had to rush back to KL for a dinner appointment. We took the Genting Skyway back down where our van was waiting for us. If only we could have stayed longer, there were more rides we wanted to try out!

Related entries
Sunway Lagoon, a premier Malaysian theme park
BOH Tea Plantation and more from Cameron Highlands

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Singapore: Singapore's version of bak kut teh

Bak kut teh is not only found in Malaysia. In fact, Singapore has its own version of this "pork bone tea" as bak kut teh is translated in English. The difference though is that the Malaysian version is dark while the Singapore version is light.

Singapore Bak kut teh is a Teochew-style broth with garlic and fresh peppers as the main ingredient while Malaysian bak kut teh is a Hokkien-style herbal pork broth, a complex mixture of several herbs and spices boiled with pork ribs for hours. And one of the best versions of Singapore bak kut teh can be enjoyed at Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant.

If the number of photos of celebrities who've been to the restaurant that are posted on the walls of the place is an indicator of how popular this bak kut teh restaurant is, then it must be good! It surely did not disappoint. We also ordered braised pork trotters to go with our soup.

Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant
347 Balestier Road, Singapore
+65 63526192

Related entries
Klang's legendary bak kut teh
Bah kut teh, chicken rice and more food from Kuala Lumpur

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Singapore: Holland Village's eateries and watering holes

Holland Village is a small commercial enclave that has become a popular area for younger Singaporeans and expats. Known for its eateries and watering holes, among the many establishments you could find there include bars and up-market dining options, a 24-hour kopitiam, a market, and a food court that features both local and western dishes. I was there in 2007 and got to try out a lot of the local fare courtesy of my Singaporean friends.

Laksa is a dish of rice noodles, shrimps, cockles, fish cake and chilli paste in thick coconut-based soup. Katong laksa, which originated from the Katong area of Singapore, is sometimes referred to as Singapore's national dish by many of its fans. So while in Holland Village, we tried out the Katong laksa! Take note that Katong laksa is served with a spoon alone (no need for chopsticks) since the noodles are cut up into small pieces.

We also had Nasi lemak which is usually composed of coconut rice with omelette, anchovies (ikan bilis), peanuts, cucumber, sambal, and sometimes fried chicken. In Holland Village, you can point what viand you want to include in your Nasi lemak (you basically pay for what you get) from a wide selection of dishes. Everything is placed on top of brown wax paper and served with the coconut rice.

The eating just didn't stop and when I thought it was all over, we got sting ray, chicken wings and satay.

Singapore: Orchard Road, Lau Pa Sat and more food adventures in Singapore

Singapore, just like neighboring Malaysia, is a culinary delight. Every time I visit Singapore, my friends take me around to all these great food places, especially hawker food. This trip was no different.

Before proceeding to Formula One, we had an early lunch at Crystal Jade Golden Palace at the Paragon Shopping Centre along Orchard Road. We had a lot of dimsum. And what we thought was going to be a light snack turned out to be a really heavy meal. Thanks to Ian for the dimsum binge! I was so busy eating, I forgot to take note of what we ate. Maybe you guys could help me name the dishes?

Update: Here are the names: first photo - pan fried carrot cake, steamed char siew (barbecue pork) bun, steamed rice rolls, steamed (har kau) prawn dumpling, baked barbecue pork pastry, xiao long bao; second photo - diced barbecue pork, mango and seafood spring roll, pan fried rice rolls with XO sauce, steamed pork ribs with fermented black beans, egg tarts, baked sesame pancake, steamed siew mai (pork).

After the race, another friend treated us out to more food. This tme it was at Lau Pa Sat (Telok Ayer Market) an early 19th century market in the central business district of Singapore which had been conserved and adaptively-reused as a food centre.

In the evening, the street beside it makes way to hawker stalls which sell the best satay in town! I missed the satay so much, I made sure to have a serving that night. We had chicken and lamb satay with the really yummy peanut sauce. Thank you to Joy for the satay!

After dinner, I had another late dinner with another Singaporean friend who took me for some Singapore bah kut teh. I'll talk about that in another post. Thanks to Leon for the bak kut teh!

Crystal Jade Golden Palace
290 Orchard Road
#05-22/24 Paragon
+65 6734 6866
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