Today a bit later in the day I fly the 40 minute flight from KL International Airport to Kuantan. Kuantan is on the eastern side of Malaysia. There is a lot to see there. One of the chief business areas there is tourism. I will spend 5 days there touring around to wherever my feet are gonna take me. On the 20th of March, its my last stop in Malaysia for this trip up to Penang. I had decided to spend a month in Penang because its what I do. I don’t like being in a place for a week or 3 days. Penang then leads to Bangkok for two months just about but I’m getting ahead of myself :-).
I’m looking forward to seeing the differences in yet another city but this time on the eastern side of Malaysia. I’m sure restaurants are gonna be the main thing there since food and the enjoyment of food is a big deal here. Nothing like the aspects of food in Malaysia when you can have Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, western or just about whatever you want. I think about food a lot! Not that its one of my indicators of choosing a place but lets face it. The majority of places I have been are foodie places. If I wrote a link bait post on my favorite places for foodie exploration, they would have to be (and not in descending order):
- Cambodia. Whether you are in Phnom Penh, Kampot, Battambang, or Siem Reap the food choices are superb. Siem Reap particularly stands out to me given one of my favorite restaurants in Cambodia is the breakfast and coffee place Sister Srey right along the river. But Kampot is no slouch either. Its a smaller city but the food choices go in all different directions. I had a really good hamburger there cooked by an ex-pat American that told me stories of Kampot ten years before. Then there is Phnom Penh. Eating in Phnom Penh is an adventure not only in food but in getting there sometimes. The tuk tuks weave this way and that to make your place for you and I have eaten really nice Khmer foods for cheap within walking distance but in the tuk tuks to such a variety of western, Indian, Mexican, and Vietnamese foods. One that stands out for me in Phnom Penh is where my friend Katy and I go. Its called Magnolia and it does both Khmer and Vietnamese foods.
- Vietnam. You could never go to Vietnam and not hear about the signature Bun Cha or Pho but there is so much more. There are also the geographic specialities like around Hue where Bun Bo Hue comes from. My favorite place in Vietnam for eating, fun, strolling, and picture taking is Da Nang. I can take or leave Hoi An. I think its vastly over-rated and expensive but you can get there easily from Da Nang. Along the Han River there you can find all kinds of restaurants but most are tailored to tourists. I did find one of the best Banh Mi Sandwich places right off the riverfront avenue. Packed all the time for breakfast and brunch, they served some really good sandwiches and coffees. Then there are the coffee houses. Lets just face it; coffee is supreme in Vietnam. Whether you are in Hanoi for some egg coffee or Da Lat where they grow the stuff, you will find some of the best coffee choices in the world. Ho Chi Minh City is wonderful for just about everything from craft beer pubs to little local places where the food is cheap, the waitstaff want to ask about America, and the beer flows pretty freely.
- Malaysia. There is so much to be said about food here. Indian, Malaysian, Chinese, western, pizza. Whatever you want. I found an excellent Mexican burrito shop right in KL Sentral but the local choices rule. Down every street you will find restaurants worthy of your stop. You can expect to pay from about $1.50 to $2.50 at local places for plates full of food. There is even more though. When you travel to Melaka you get to their local food choices which is a fusion of Dutch, Portuguese and Malaysian. The Nyonya food is a spicy and rich choice and my favorite is the pineapple prawns with the rich curry gravy and steamed rice but the beef rendang is good there too. To go to Malaysia and not eat is a crime. You must get Nasi and all the different varieties You must try the breakfast meals in a local Chinese coffee shop. The half-boiled eggs, toast bread, and coffee will get you going in the morning!
- Singapore. It would be hard not to include Singapore! The people that say its all expensive there are wrong folks. Its not just the food stalls but its the neighborhoods. I stayed in Geylang District and other than being known as a red light district its also a cheap place to live for awhile and eat. The local food centers are almost hawker stands but often only have a stand or two for food. You can find curry noodles with pork for cheaper so I always would eat dinners by the hotel. For lunch I would find myself in Little India or downtown core area and would eat at places I found there. You can see just about every kind of food you could imagine in Singapore. One thing in common with Malaysia is that while the food can be cheaper, the beer is not. I would spend more for a bottle of tiger beer than the meal. Go figure.
I could include Japan and Hong Kong but truth be told, food costs too much and I always ate on the cheap. $20 for a burger in Hong Kong just about did it for me last year. I love Japanese food but I am not willing to spend the money on the big places so I would opt for bento lunch or the cheap noodle or udon places I would find hiking around. Hong Kong has so much to offer with food but it all costs besides the almost hidden street food stands. I could not find much in the way of coffee there either where the other places all offered some coffee culture. Nothing though like Vietnam and Cambodia. Those two places are the royalty of coffee in my book although the rich Malaccan coffee is something to try and Kopi is good too!
Anyways, its almost noon here and I bought a few extra hours at the hotel so I could enjoy the AC and wifi. I have to pack a bit more and relax because being retired is very stressful 🙂 Catch you all later in my next places.