Roadside KFC

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In the heart of KL nearby the historical Pudu jail, lies a stretch of hawker stalls in between the streets. Still doesn't ring a bell? The location is a stone's throw away from the popular yong tau fu shoplot that, I believe, most people should know.

At first impression, the hawker stalls street aka Wai Sek Kai didn't seem to be an ideal choice for me & WL's dinner date on a Saturday. No doubt I have pet peeves for less hygienic food premise ie badly lit, dirty tables & chairs, stalls being too near the stinking & severely clogged drains. The occasional sightings of rodents & the territorial system added on to my resentment. When I mentioned territorial, I meant literally being shooed away by the owners for sitting too near the stores without ordering any of their food. Some business sense they've got, huh? -.-"

Despite all that, I'm quite satisfied with the pork noodles that WL claimed to be one of the best. The soup is not oily & less salty to my liking. I wouldn't call it the best cuz pork noodles seemed the same to me. Unless the hor fun is made thin & smooth =).

Of course the one that truly impressed me was the fried chicken. Ta-da!

I know you won't believe this. It tasted exactly like KFC! Yes, you read it right. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Period. And I'd say that the chicken kicks ass big time cuz it's way, way cheaper. WL paid merely RM4.80 for breast meat & another piece near the drumstick. For all I know, the chicken tasted even better some of the KFC outlets that I've patronised. Shame on you, KFC! Go tantalize your taste buds with this Pudu chicken & tell me what you think. Trust me, it's finger linkin' good. Yum~ *drools*

Yeo's Retreat 2010 & 2011

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The big day has finally arrived for the team to embark on a journey to Ho Chi Minh, the largest city in Vietnam. Despite the thought of dragging our feet up early in the morning to catch the earliest flight, our sleepy faces & pursed lips couldn't help but curled into eager smiles.

Being the inexperienced traveller, I was unprepared with sufficient luggage space for a 4D3N trip. It didn't occur to me that my family rarely travels around & wouldn't have varying luggage sizes to cater to different needs. Instead of using a huge old Delsey hard case without the telescopic handle, I had to make do with an 18" trolley bag from Shiseido. I stuffed all my necessities & left my bath towel behind cuz the clothes are starting to spill over. This goes to show that sometimes saving a few hundred bucks from buying a new luggage won't do you any good. And I totally forgot about asking my aunt. Bummer! -_-"

Me & WL took the coach from PJ to LCCT, arriving the destination at 7am plus. Our flight is scheduled at 9.05am & we had slightly more than 1 hour before departure. At the departure hall, I couldn't help but took out my camera to take a snapshot of a plane nearby. I felt a gush of excitement as I counted the number of years since the last time I took a flight overseas. Almost 13 years ago...

Not long after that, we were served with meals which were pre-purchased online. I supposed there weren't much variety as most of us are eating similar food. I got nasi lemak + 100ml water while others had nasi briyani.

Approximately 1 1/2 hour later, we landed at Tan Son Nhat Airport - slightly earlier than the scheduled 2 hours flight. I supposed the plane taxi-ing, luggage collection & immigration adds up to the remaining half hour. When the plane slowed down to a halt, most of the passengers stood up immediately & unloaded their luggages off the cabin - standing & waiting impatiently for the air stewardess to open up the exit door. I remained seated & looked on; not wanting to fight my way through & risk getting pushed around. :/

Minutes later, the indoor lights & air-cond was shut off leaving the whole plane warm & stuffy. I was flabbergasted. The Southern RSM seated next to me chuckled, "They do save cost in every possible way, don't they?". I grinned in response. Subsequently, we were provided the luxury to walk through the skybridge connecting both the plane & the terminal. At LCCT, we had to walk on the grounds to the plane. Imagined if it's raining cats & dogs. -.-"

Here we were in between the skybridge, spotting 3 spectacular "metal birds" parked majestically side by side - the proud property of Vietnam Airlines.

The airport is relatively smaller than KLIA but despite the size, it's bustling with activity unlike the quiet halls you see at KLIA.

Here we are, entering the city with barely 15 mins drive from the airport.

Traffic in Ho Chi Minh is total madness! If you think that Malaysians are reckless, wait until you see Vietnamese on the road. Motorcyclists reign supreme there & they don't even stop at zebra crossings to allow pedestrians to cross.

Even the warm temperatures are unbeatable. During April & May, the temperature could reach up to 34 degrees Celsius. If you think KL is hot & sunny, you have yet to experience the worse. At Ho Chi Minh, the sun rises early at 6am - as bright as 7am to 8am in Malaysia although the city is an hour slower. The air gets warm & humid as the hour passes by; to the extend of stuffy & congested - like there's no air to breathe.

Throughout the trip, we had had all sorts of Vietnamese & Chinese dishes alike. Sadly, it wasn't a pleasant experience when it came to food mainly cuz our tour is fairly cheap - hence, the less tasty food we get to indulge in. Here's the good & bad...

Good: Beef noodles
I ordered this at Pho 24 for a quick meal not long after we arrived at the hotel from the airport. Pho 24 is not known for serving the best beef noodles in town but this is considerably good. Apparently the famous one is few blocks down the street but the group who followed us don't consume beef & we were just too tired to walk anyways :/.

Bad: Steamed tilapia fish
This dish was served at the floating restaurant on our first night. The miserable size was meant to feed 6 people. Not only was it insufficient, it was cold & not fresh. Coming all the way to Ho Chi Minh to dine on this dish is total waste of money. This dish obviously tasted so much better back home.

Good: Steamed rice cake
The only dish that is mouth-watering & worth a second serving. It tasted like the usual HK style steamed chee cheung fun which is also made of rice flour except that this cake uses fish sauce instead of soya sauce. In Vietnam, fish sauce is used as a substitute for soya sauce to give a savoury taste to all dishes. Imho, it does taste good but some restaurants served the sauce that has a slight hint of fishy smell. Boo-boo!

Bad: Glutinuous rice cake with dried shrimps
I gagged each time I took a bite on this Vietnamese delicacy. It was a known fact that I dislike eating dried shrimps aka har mai & glutinuous rice cake in general. Oh the horror when the waiter brought a plateful to the table for us cuz it's the worse combination I could ever imagine. Moreover, the dried shrimps were not the small ones that we normally see in Malaysian dishes but these are comparable to the size of a 20 cent coin. It's gummy texture & odd taste crept up all over my tastebuds upon chewing the first bite & trust me, it was a torturous experience to endure. Bleagh!

It was fun travelling overseas with colleagues but it was WL's presence that made the whole trip more safe, warm & meaningful. Although it wasn't our personal trip, it was our first time travelling out of the country. He was no doubt protective of me but he's an awesome bargain hunter. Ask for any price & he can almost persuade the sellers to agree. Honestly, I felt ashamed that being a woman - I'm such a lousy shopper *sighs*. Hmm, we weren't shy to hug each other close while taking pictures. One is not stupid enough to not notice that we're in a relationship. The whole company knows, I supposed. But we still pretend to be oblivious to how much others are well-informed about us. We just couldn't be bothered ;)

On the last day, it was free & easy for those are bound for the last flight home. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, we set foot early in the morning to Ben Tanh Market which is only 10 minutes away from our hotel. We stocked up on souvenirs to bring home - lotus seeds, Vietnamese coffee, almonds, decorations etc. As mentioned earlier, I came with only an 18" luggage which barefly fits all my clothes. Plus the goodies from the night market shopping I did the last two nights, there is no way I can stuff the food & non-food items into my tiny luggage nor WL's cuz his one is full too. In desperate need for a luggage, we ended up buying a Polo Club imitation 20" luggage for only RM40+. Can you imagine that kind of price?? But don't expect much as I'll elaborate on that later. Once back to the hotel, I transferred my clothes & necessities to my new luggage to check in & the 18" to store the souvenirs for carry-in.

There were a couple of hours away before we head to the airport. We decided to drop by Lotteria (finally! =D) for a munch. This is the most popular fast food chain in Vietnam besides KFC. That's right, McD doesn't exist here. The great thing about overseas fast food chain is that it serves non-halal burgers which leads to an array of flavours to choose from. I settled for a Lotteria Combo Meal - beef burger, fries & Pepsi for 55,000 dong. Now that's not cheap nor expensive cuz the burger portion is small, just like Malaysia. The burger does taste yummy for a change. =)

The next few hours were a blurry past of events as we hurried over to the respective departure gate to catch our flight home. Little did we expect that our flight will be delayed for more than hour. It was frustrating & exhausting, yet seeing all the long faces of passengers stuck in the same predicament does worsen my mood. I was starving too cuz the flight was late & I haven't had my meal yet. =(

Alas, we boarded the plane at almost 9.30pm (Vietnam time). I was so relieved. I bid Ho Chi Minh farewell for the last time & fell into a deep slumber.

Upon touchdown at LCCT, I noticed a really groovy AirAsia plane. One of a kind~

It was already 1.30am when I reached home. Gosh, I was so dead tired. The thought of turning up to the office the next day kills me >.<. Anyways, back to the luggage story. When we were waiting to collect our luggage at LCCT, I found out that one side of my luggage stand was broken. I wasn't sure to laugh or cry cuz it was BRAND NEW, for God's sake. Now you know that cheap is not always good. Don't squeeze that penny too much.

The next epic thing is I bought a set of sportswear; more like an attire for tennis that is branded "Adidas" but with the tag "Made in Singapore". Who am I kidding? Only RM20 & the "Adidas" word was misspelt anyways. Epic fail!

For more pictures of the trip, go to my FB profile. You don't expect me uploading all here, do you? XD

Back to home sweet home

Friday, June 04, 2010

Several days after my return from Ho Chi Minh, I'm still feeling the tired bug in me. Every inch in my body screams exhaustion. I wonder why...

I supposed the scorching weather at Vietnam really drained all our fluids dry, leaving us suffering & in desperate need for rehydration. In addition, boarding the last flight home turned out to be a 1 hour delay nightmare. According to the pilot captain, the delay was inevitable due to a storm at Kuching en route to Ho Chi Minh. -_-"

Home is still the best place in the world. I'm still in the midst of transferring the pics & uploading it on my FB. Keep a lookout in my upcoming post.