Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Indonesian have Tong Yuen too

We passed by many es drinks in the hot afternoon (es as in ice) but told ourselves that we will be back for them when we had an emptier stomach. Come night, and sadly all the es es stalls were closed. All was left was this Ronde stall.

I was skeptical in trying at first... but what the hell, we were short of one more meal to finish our '5 course' dinner for the night.

We ordered a bowl to share, sat on the cement road divider, and listen to the musicians playing for the folks at the Lesehan. ..I think we sat too long because 2 of them started playing in front of us. It was odd. Our own entertainment? Funny, annoying, but well, we were foreigners after all.

The Ronde was actually not bad. The ginger soup was really fragrant with the smell of ginger and the soup was spicy enough to just slightly burn the tongue, but not give a sore throat. The glutinous rice ball, 2 huge one, sunk in the middle. Was quite delicious. The sea coconut ..the pink stuff was a little too soft. Have no idea why bread squares were added in there.

Overall nice, and definitely more interesting that the yearly Tong Yuen I eat in KL.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

I miss Gunung Rajah

Our customary Jump Shot! A must at the peaks. Gunung Rajah's peak was nice. We could see Genting Highlands from there and I am also guessing one distant mountain (which still looked tall) was Gunung Tahan.

I broke 1 out of 12 eggs. Acceptable ma right? I mean the egg was at the corner. It was no protection like the other eggs on the inside. And it was a long 10 hours climb up... ok la.

Breakfast was ... well ... weird. This is my first time cooking canned beans with mini "pak choy". The eggs, usual. But "pak choy"? I guess there's a first time for everything.

We over did lunch. We weren't hungry ... or at least I wasn't. I ate for the sake of eating and to also take the below picture.

Imagine *Sausage, eggs and luncheon meat burger at the waterfalls* .... fantastic!

What was more fun was to watch the guys jump down about 6 to 7 meters into the waterfall pool. Awesome! ...I tau tau berenang la.. Didn't dare to jump. Had a stupid problem with my toes as well. Kept on cramping when I stay in the cold water too long =(

I miss Gunung Rajah.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nothing can go wrong with instant noodles

Honestly, nothing can go wrong if you go with instant noodles.

Some climbers I know thinks that instant noodles is sad though. Climb so susah-susah (difficult) to enjoy instant noodles? All I can say is that I rather have instant noodles than rice... carrying up mini bags of rice kills!

I was the cook on the first night when a couple of us hit Gunung Rajah. Maggie Mee TomYam. Honestly, nothing can go wrong with the "perencah" (seasoning) that came with the pack.

Squid balls, white Swiss mushrooms and mini "pak choy" with our noodles. DELICIOUS! Honestly, this is the first time eating such luxury Maggie Mee TomYam.

Yay hey! Passed the test! HAHAHAHA!

That night was wet... it was raining and our tent got flooded! I was practically trying to sleep over a puddle of water. Not fun, not fun at all.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Climbing Mount Merapi

"Mount Merapi, Gunung Merapi (literally Mountain of Fire) in Indonesian language, is a conical volcano located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It is the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548."

Mount Merapi is my most enjoyable climb so far. Good weather, awesome view, and great company of climbers. And also not forgetting good food.

Joe carried a watermelon up! This is the most delicious watermelon I have eaten! Very juicy and very sweet!

I know what you are thinking, me being up in the mountains, hungry and tirsty, anything and everything will taste nice. Honestly, I it wasn't the mountains that made it taste nice.. it was really good!

Joe and Topig later made tea, and we all had crackers with it before breaking to made camp. ..Well, Topig and Andhy made camp. The rest of us slept in caves.

While the rest was busy with their thing, Darren was determine to catch the sunset. Clouds all the way, and we were at the wrong side of the mountain.

After saying goodbye to the sun we headed back to the camp cave site for dinner. Dinner was yummy! Abang Rashid's rendang flew in all the way from KL (imported rendang LOL!) was so delicious! He made it back home and actually checked it in the flight to Jogya. He froze it brought it up to Merapi with dry ice. Tempeh was sliced and cook in the mountain. Delicious as well.

We hit the sac early and tried to catch some sleep before the 4.30am breakfast. Joe made Indonesian style sandwich. Awesome stuff! Hotdog buns were sliced into half and fried in margarine. Stuffed in between the buns was fluffy egg omelet, serunding (the beef floss) and sweet and spicy chili sauce.

We started climbing up to the peak at 5.30am.. early but the sun was already catching up with us. Bob and the rest was far ahead but I slacked because Hi Sunrise! Andhy was the sweeper so we hung out a while to watch the sun.

When darkness dies with the speed of light...

After scrambling up loose rocks of Mount Merapi, we all had our Victory drink at Garuda Peak. YATTA!

After feeding our stomach with junk food and feeding the camera with loads of pictures and videos, we descended to the middle peak. I totally LOVE being there!

To my front, oceans of white cumulus clouds.
To my left, the view of Mount Merapi's peak.
The back, narrow rock and hilly path ways which leads to a "the hills are alive with the Sound of Music" type of view.
And to my right, Mount Merbabu!

Spectacular view of Mount Merbabu just opposite Mount Merapi.

I actually fell in love of the sight if Merbabu when we were in the van on the way to the foot of Mount Merapi. Looking at the view of Mount Merbabu from Merapi took my breath away and instantly made me decide that I will be back to climb it.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Kopi Luwak

100%! That's was how I felt when I absorbed the atmosphere at the lower second peak after my Garuda Peak climb in Mount Merapi. Did the taste of Kopi Luwak bring me to 100%? Well, read on.

As you know, or may not know, Kopi Luwak is the most expansive coffee in the world. (Actually, not that expensive if you think about it...75,000Rp is RM27...ok what) Why?

"Kopi Luwak (pronounced [╦łkopi 'luak]) or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and other related civets. The civets eat the berries, but the beans inside pass through their system undigested."

"Civets consume the red coffee cherries, when available, containing the fruit and seed, and they tend to pick the ripest and sweetest fruit. Thus there is a natural selection for the ripest coffee beans. The inner bean of the berry is not digested, but a unique combination of enzymes in the stomach of the civet add to the coffee's flavor by breaking down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste. The beans are defecated, still covered in some inner layers of the berry. The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as to not destroy the complex flavors that develop through the process. Light roasting is considered particularly desirable in coffees that do not exhibit bitterness, and the most pronounced characteristic of Kopi Luwak is a marked reduction in bitterness."

The whole process of the Luwak eating and processing the berries is actually really simple. The tough part is actually looking for the "output" of all that processing.

A friend of mine who is in the coffee roasting business told me that the beans stays fresh in the Luwak's manure. The manure dried, stored in air tight jar, can last up to 5 years without roasting. Once the beans are separated from the manure, they will have to be roasted and can only be kept up to 6 months before it looses its smell and flavor.

At the Kopi Luwak cafe, the coffee was made in front of us. The waitress removed the sealed and serialized coffee sachet from an organza pouch. (I was like... wahh so prestigious one ah) I think I had a "ulu" face on and she noticed. She asked if I wanted to smell the coffee powder and of course I said YES!

The coffee was so aromatic! The BEST coffee smell ever!

She then poured the coffee powder in a ceramic cup and poured hot water into it. Stir, and then put the lid on. She said "Tunggu 2 minit" ...so 2 minutes it is.

The verdict? Well, I am not a coffee drinker so I can't comment much. I like my coffee with a cocoa base taste so I didn't like the Kopi Luwak. The bitterness of the coffee was there but the aroma of the coffee power was gone. There was another smell that I can't describe.. not a good or bad smell, just a smell.

Not too sure of the coffee is worth a try but for my case, definitely worth paying for the smell!

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bats at Malioboro Street, Yogyakarta

So.. went to Jogya for the second time and it was the second time I went hunting for food along the Malioboro Street. During my first trip, I remembered I saw a lady selling bats in front of Pasar Beringharjo. When I tried to take pictures but she chooed me away because I wasn't interested in buying... I was just there for the pictures.

This time, I managed to take a few close shots =)

I learn that folks in Yogyakarta buys the bats for medication purposes. Either deep fry them to eat, or boil them in soup to make some traditional soup thingy. Guess what the bat supposedly would cure?

Answer: Asthma.

Not like I have astma, but I would have bought some if they were ready to be eaten. But would have to bring it home to cook. My mom would freak out and dad would surely give me the looks of disgust. I did see another customer come by and pick out a few bats. There are different piles and the different piles represents different grades. The each low grade bats went for 100,000IDR each.. that's about RM35 each!

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vulcano Beancurd!

Volcano Beancurd served at Must Love Restaurant in Bandar Sri Menjarala, Kepong.

Hm...I haven't been much of a food blogger lately... I have been climbing mountains more than I blog! I will heading to Yogyakarta tomorrow to climb Mount Merapi aka Mountain of Fire. This is going to be my first volcano climb trip and I got a feeling this is going to be a really exciting climb.

Mount Merapi is actually an active volcano so I get to see and smell first hand the stink of sulfur. I read it smells like rotten eggs so I hope I don't choke on the smell and vomit... HAHAHA! Looking forward to my sunset, the sky full of stars and my sunrise too!

..and of course, I'm not forgetting the food. Will be chowing down my share of Gudeg and Lumpia!

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Boiling water in the wilderness

While folks are either celebrating Hari Raya or just bumming around during the holiday, I went on a hiking trip with 8 others. 2 days 1 night trip from Gopeng to Cameron.

This trek starts from the Gopeng fruit orchards through the palm oil estates cutting pass the orang Asli villages and through Kinta forest, passing another orang Asli village and climb up to Tahan Rata in Cameron Highlands.

This trip was a real leechy experience for me and thought me not to under estimate the power of leeches. You might think "Heh.. it's just leeches, bite, then let it bite lah" well that was what I thought too. I had a total of 41 leech bites when I completed the 35km trek. If you think that is a lot, my trek buddies topped me with 50+ bites. Salt, alcohol, tobacco, insect repellent and even Bygone did not help much… Kinta forest was laughing at us. I can hear Kinta’s soul mocking us “all those are kids play, welcome to the real deal” HAHAHA ok… it’s dramatic but honestly I can’t find another way to describe the experience.

I can continue for pages, raving and ranting on the Kinta forest (I call it leech valley), and all the back to back bad luck that we faces, but this is a food blog… I'll get to the more stomach filling portion of the trek.

Taken from my Facebook description...
"Can't cross the swelling river, raining heavily, freezing cold, wet clothes, LEECHES EVERYWHERE, no tent, and I was thinking to myself...I CANNOT sleep here with the leeches...HOW HOW... stand and sleep? Then this was the part where I wore my poncho even when I was already wet (too cold ma) and sat on a tree root. I felt the leeches up my body, arms, legs, neck... I lost it. My low low lowest point during the trek.

...then there's fire! AMEN!"

Alang, one of our guides "saved" us with building up a fire. When it stopped raining, we collected water from the river using bamboos. Crumpled leafs were stuffed in the opening of the bamboo to make sure nothing gets in and also to keep the heat in while the water is boiling. The water filled bamboo is placed against the fire and let boil.

20 minutes later, hot water and cooked noodles. I popped an egg into my noodles and Korean instant noodles have never tasted so good. The small tray of eggs which was carried in a recycled paper tray were still perfect. None cracked. (Don't spend your money on plastic egg carriers, those pasar malam recycle paper trays works the best.)

The night was cold... and leechy... so many stories to tell... but fast forward to the next morning.

The Campbell Mushroom soup with oats I made wasn't as delicious as the noodles last night. Maybe because I knew I would be out of leech valley in an hour and am really not interested in anything other than crossing that darn river. We had to sleep in leech valley because the last river that we were suppose to cross before we reach the orang Asli kampung was at least a grade 3..maybe 3.5. From the looks of it, I wouldn't even want to raft on it, definitely a big No No if you are asking me to cross it.

I had the soup at about 6am, along with crackers and a peanut butter and jam sandwich. Should have eaten a heavier breakfast because my stomach started calling out to me. Breakfast didn't even last me for 2 hours.

While taking a break, there was this bunch of orang Asli kids making fire. Very interesting because when the fire was big enough, they emptied their bags which was filled with tapioca! I was so so so tempted to ask for a piece but ... hehehe shy la. The tapiocas was skinned and thrown into the fire. Alang mentioned that they were armatures in burning the tapiocas. The white surface turned all black very quickly from all the ash and coal. The elderly orang Asli would have been able to burn the tapioca but still able to maintain the “whiteness” of the tapioca.

It was another couple of hours walk until we reached Bharat tea farm in Tanah Rata where it started to rain again!... but everyone was just glad we made it out of leech valley in one piece.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rattan has fruits?

Back in the good old days of primary school, I was a very innocent and good student. *ahem ahem* The school I studied at is small and the headmaster (I still remember Mr.Teoh! He was a really good headmaster!) knew all the students, if not by name, by their faces. He knows who the bad ass nottie students and the less naughty students. He used to have a collection of rattan (I think about 6 of them all in different thickness) in this office to whoalup whoever that did bad.

How did I know all this? Well, I never kena rotan before la.

Mr.Teoh always walks around with this thickest rattan. He used to always use it to point at rubbish and instruct students to pick them up and throw it in the dustbin. When he sees students being rebellious, he will ask some other student to head to his room and fetch him his other rattans.

Mr.Teoh: Teckiee, go to my room. Take number 5 for me.
Teckiee: OK.
*walks to the headmaster's office, looks behind the door. WOAHHH! the rattan is neatly hung on the wall with numberings above the nail*

Number 5 is the second thinnest rattan...6 being the thinnest (and I say most painful!)
*fiak fiak fiak* Itulah consequences of behind a naughty student.

Anyway, I had this flash back when David, the owner of Gopeng Rainforest Resort should me this.

Rattan fruit. Yeah I know... they have fruits?! Apparently they do! This one is really ripe. I did a search on Google and found that those on the rattans are more yellow in colour like the skin of a longan fruit.

David also mentioned that they can be eaten! Yay! Sourish little things. It tasted like lime with lychee's texture. It is quite nice actually. So next time you come across bundles of rattan fruits... make sure you try them.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Round sea grapes - Caulerpa lentillifera

I know. It's been a while. But please forgive me for my long hiatus because I was stranded in the middle of the ocean and was forced to LOB (live on board) for the past few couple of months.

HAHAHA! Ok, jokes aside. It's good to be back! I have been working odd hours and it was really taxing me. Ocean = office. LOB = Camped at work so many times that I lost track of it. But all is good now because if I don't work hard, I won't be able to enjoy as much when I play harder :p

In Nov 2008, I joined a group of student researchers from SOS Malaysia to Sungai Pulai (the river that separates Malaysia and Singapore) for seahorse and pipe fish survey. During the trip, we were suppose to look out and catch seahorses/pipe fish for tagging.

I was quite disappointed because for the few hours that we were at the sand bank, not even a single seahorse was spotted. We saw a bunch of pipe fishes but they swam really fast. It was difficult to catch them using only our bare hands and a plastic bag.

However, I did come across a few other interesting creatures.

Sea cucumber, the boring one.

Sea cucumber, the interesting one!

Sea urchin.

We took the speed boat back to the SOS hut, change of clothes.. and hey.. I saw one of the researcher taking out a full bag of seaweeds. Tons of them and all different species. She slowly place them in water and took one bunch up... and started to eat them!

The seaweed that she ate resembles bunches of little grapes. Each 'grape' is a tiny spherical bead, and these are tightly packed on a vertical 'stem' to form a sausage-like shape (2-8cm long). The 'grape' has a distinct constriction where it attaches to the 'stem'. These bunches of 'grapes' emerge from a long horizontal 'stem' that creeps over the surface. It grows on coral rubble or on rocks. Colours range from bright green to bluish and olive green.
I regretted that I didn't ask for them and try.

Lucky me, I saw them again all the way in Kota Kinabalu's night market for RM1 a plate. I knew I had to try them so I bought and took it back to the lodge I was staying.

Guess what... I had no idea how to clean them! HAHAHAHA! (People who went with me to Kinabalu better not read this) I kind of just rinse them in water. Pluck the stem off. And threw away the parts which I though looked like it was rotting. But aiyorrr! I have not touch these Caulerpa lentillifera (that's the scientific name for it by the way) in my life and now I have to clean them? I just kasi hentam lah hahahaha.

I ate a bit ... and YUCK! tasted like sea water. DUH! My apologies to Lf, Andy, Sim, Darren... and I kind of forgot who else tried them.

The kind folks at Borneo backpacker lodge not only let me wash the fishy smelling seaweed in the pantry but later taught me how to eat them. I need lime and chili and a little salt. But errr.. it tasted like sea water! Do you really need salt?! I head downstairs to the local style post war coffee shop (really cool antiques there!) to ask if I could borrow some lime. The young shop owner was really kind because he asked the chef to see what I can do with the bowl of round sea grapes I had with me. I later found out that I cleaned them right but I had to rinse them more, and with warm/hot water.

I tasted them again and Yup! the sea water taste and smell was gone and it tasted really good with lime and chili padi! Crunchy and filled with water (not salty) on the inside. Too bad I couldn't buy some home.

ps, for those who missed me.. thanks dears! and *waves to J2Kfm!*

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Descending Mount Batukaru

It was late... or should I say early in the morning... where I heard weird noises outside (and also in the test. 4 men where having their midnight orchestra, if you know what I mean and I had a hard time falling asleep) the tent. The rain was pouring down hard and the wind blew the at the tent. The tarp keep flapping. I couldn't sleep. I wasn't tired. And when I could sleep, I was awaken by animal noises again. There was one part where a civet wild cat actually went sliding down the tarp. I saw shadows and it kind of freaked me out.

From Batukaru, you can see Gunung Agung, the highest mountain in Bali island.

But... the climb up, the sprained ankle and the sleepless night was all so worth it when I saw this. The orange ray was peaking through the heavy rain clouds. The wind was blowing hard so the sight of the sun rays and the quick moving clouds was awesome.

At first, the clouds covered everything. We couldn't see a single thing other that sun and clouds. But then the clouds started to clear, Wayan pointed out the Bedugul lake.

If the sky was really clear, Wayan said that we could actually see villages at the bottom. But too bad. The cloud was still covering part of the view.

After taking pictures, I went back to the tent and found Pak Susi making breakfast. The was the weirdest breakfast I had in Bali hahaha! Instant porridge with boiled egg, prawn crackers and sweeten ground nuts. Those were the only ingredients we had so mix into the porridge. Tasted fine though hehe.

Went back for another round of photo taking after breakfast. Being up there really felt good! ...until Pak Susi said it was time to decent.

The decent was hell for me. I had to stop many times to give my ankle the rest. There was a point I really felt hopeless and wanting to give up. The pain was *&%$&%#&*(%#$. What was worst is that everyone just wanted to get back to "land" and go home and was full speed ahead when it come to decending. They were going down fast and I couldn't catch up. Kok and Made was ahead while Wayan and Pak Susi stayed with me. Pak Susi even helped me with my daypack. We took a longer break at the last stop before the final stretch of decent started. I was freaking out because I know the climb up was hard, and the climb down will be harder.

Wayan came across this red mushroom. I was so so tired that I couldn't keep my hands steady to take a nice macro. I didn't want to touch the mushroom because anything in bright colors in the wild are usually poisonous. Wayan just plucked it and offered it to me! He said the mushroom is edible. And I did try it. Tasted like spring water.

One thing I learn, it may seem hard, it may look hard, but honestly, I made it through the final decent without all that stupid negative thoughts I had earlier. The whole decent would have been much easier if I was more positive. I kind of regretted being so weak and negative.

We finally reached the bottom 6 hours and 20 minutes later.

My first leach bite. HAHA! You know, little leachy was kind of cute. Looks fat and juice and ...delicious is another thing. You one actually eat leaches?

The conclusion of the climb? The climb was an eye opener for me... much on the climb and mental strength, but much much more on unmentionable truth. The climb made me stronger mentaly and changed me. I think even my best buddy noticed that. Will I climb Batukaru again? Yes! definitely! (But this time I'll bring a separate tent and a sleeping bag! Haha!)

With the tired legs, Wayan drove us to the best traditional nasi babi guling in Tabanan. Warong Nasi Andi Jaya. I asked about the famous babi guling at Ibu Oka (Ubud) but Wayan told me that the Babi Guling there wasn't as original as Andi Jaya. I was told that Ibu Oka's babi guling was modified to suit the tourist taste. I do not know anything about the "real taste" of nasi babi guling.. but Andi Jaya's one was nice... and freaking spicy!

The lawar and sambal chili in the nasi. Lawar is actually young jack fruit cooked with boiled pork skin and chilies. Kind of like an appetizer. A really spicy appetizer.

The other half of the nasi was of course the Babi Guling itself along with deep fried pig skin, intestines and liver.

The pork soto soup is a must with the nasi! The rice was dry and the soup gave it moisture. I could have drank the soto on its own actually. The soto was is nicer than any chicken soto I have tasted in KL. ...maybe because pork is sweeter than chicken.

After lunch we head back home. It was 4pm when we finally reach Ngis. Yay! We unpacked. And I took a really long cold bath. I smelt nice after that. HAHA! Wayan, Kok and myself spent the rest of the evening talking about the climb, had an early dinner, and took a good night sleep.

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