Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Three Best Ways to See The Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

From the moment I opened the curtains at my hotel in Kuala Lumpur and saw the Petronas Towers for the first time, I fell in love. Living in London, I'm no stranger to skyscrapers, but these twin buildings are so surreal looking. Like something out of Metropolis, they shimmer in the sunlight by day and light up majestically at night. In my five days in KL, I never tired of looking at them, but there were a few vantage points that I loved:

1) Traders Hotel Sky Lounge

Sky Lounge, Kuala Lumpur

Sky Lounge, Kuala Lumpur

I stayed at the hotel itself and it was beautiful, but the bar on the top floor is open to the public. Home to a gorgeous swimming pool and a very well stocked bar (albeit the drinks are pretty pricey, even for super cheap Kuala Lumpur), you can settle in on a lounger built into a cosy alcove see the tops of the Towers just across the park. They look especially spectacular over an evening cocktail.

2) KLCC Park

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Fountains outside Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

This sounds obvious because it's where the Towers are based, and the views during the day are particularly good from the little bridge going over the lake, but I specifically mean the fountains at the base of the building, in front of Suria KLCC mall. At night they perform a wonderfully cheesy but extremely pretty light and music show. The Towers peer over the crowds and looking up at them is truly awesome. On my final night in KL it was this view that made me feel rather emotional.

3) From the top of the Towers themselves

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

It's kind of a given that if you visit Kuala Lumpur you'll go up to the top of the Petronas Towers, but if you're thinking otherwise, I really do insist on it. From the 88th floor of one Tower you see the intricacies that make up the buildings and give them their unique shape. The views from the top are obviously stunning on a clear day and you can also walk across the bridge between the two Towers (although it was closed when I was there, sadly). The cost is only about £11 so it is a total bargain and really lives up to the hype.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Added Extras #27

best uk travel blogs

It's been 12 days since I last posted and it's for various reasons:

1) No time
2) No wifi
3) I am having THE BEST time in New Zealand right now and getting my laptop out is literally the furthest thing from my mind.

These weekly Added Extras are supposed to be about the little things that have made me happy, but there is so much that goes in that camp recently that it's near on impossible to whittle it down. I'll give a little round-up but seriously, I could write about this trip until I pass out from exhaustion!

1) I was so fortunate to be taken in by my friend Emma's parents when I arrived in Auckland. Feeling a bit emotional and very homesick, they fed me, took me everywhere and gave me big cuddles when I had a meltdown one evening. They are such wonderful people and I am so grateful to them.

2) I headed up to the Bay of Islands for one night and it was absolutely stunning. Crystal clear blue seas, green islands and hardly any people. I took a boat to the Hole in the Rock (which does exactly what it says on the tin) and it was seriously beautiful.

hole in the rock boat cruise in Bay of Islands, New Zealand

3) In case you didn't know, I'm touring New Zealand by bus and on Thursday last week I met the people I would be spending at least the next week with. This group is a random mish-mish from a 20 year old German guy on a gap year to a 37 year old college professor from Ohio and they are all wonderful. I haven't laughed so much in such a long time and they are all brilliantly bonkers and have such a love of life and new experiences that I find them all totally inspiring.

4) I battled my claustrophobia and went caving in Waitomo Caves. I was almost in tears as I climbed down the ladder to get in but it was amazing inside, with the highlight being when we turned off our head lamps and went tubing through a section covered in thousands of glow worms. I may have cried...

waitomo caves tubing, new zealand

5) I have felt so lucky to be immersed into Maori culture twice so far on this trip. One night we stayed in a marae and I learnt the Haka (if you missed it on Snapchat, I'll put it on here at some point!), and the next night we stayed with an amazing family who cooked us a traditional hangi meal. This doesn't even touch the sides in explaining what else we did, but time and wifi connection is low so more on this to come.

maori haka

6) I have been very homesick despite all the awesome things I've been getting up to and at 6am on Saturday morning I Facetimed into my Banagarang girls' Friday night drinks. They sang Hero by Mariah Carey at me and I cried. God, I cannot wait to squeeeeeeeeze them all when I'm home!

7)  I went to Hobbiton and it was god damn ADORABLE. Plus the scenery was absolutely out of this world.

hobbiton tour, new zealand

8) I'm thrilled to say that sleeping in dorms isn't all that bad! I've figured out who the snorers are and keep the hell away from them, and although the beds aren't always that comfy, it's great to share with the people I've met. It just makes the whole experience more inclusive and friendly.

9) Whilst in a hostel in Raglan, a few of us girls went up into the native bush and did a well-needed yoga lesson. I stretched and cleared my mind of all sorts of shit that I shouldn't be thinking of and as a result slept like a dream.

10) We made a pit stop at some sulphuric hot springs which was certainly something new! Stripping down to a bikini, walking through mud in the freezing cold and then sitting in wonderfully warm water was not something I thought I would ever do. It stank because of the sulphur, but it was still pretty special.

hot springs, new zealand

11) Oh my god, pretty much every hostel we've stayed at has had a dog and it's made me so happy. I am that person that ditches other humans to sit outside with the pooches.

12) We had such a fun night staying in at our lodge in the middle of nowhere just off from National Park. As we didn't have to get up stupidly early for a bus as we've done every other day, we got a lot of booze in, played a lot of games and didn't go to bed until 4am. So much fun.

13) I tried my hand at clay pigeon shooting for the first time ever! I had 10 shots and wasn't doing very well but on my last go I hit something and I was so happy!

clay pigeon shooting, new zealand

14) We stayed on a farm and this goat had his selfie pose perfected.

goat on a farm

I have no idea when I'll next be able to write a post (although I only have three weeks left until I get back to the UK, waaaaaah!), but keep up to date with me on Instagram and Snapchat too!


Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Best Hawker Food in Singapore

Hawker centre food in Singapore

With fancy hotels and shiny skyscrapers, I was expecting Singapore to be one of the more expensive parts of my big trip. However, not only is local food obscenely cheap, it is also unbelievably good. Hawker centres are imperative to every day live for Singaporeans, with a handy bus advert informing me that locals eat at them 6 - 7 times a week, and I basically followed suit during my stay. It is the best way to sample authentic food and I made my way around a whole heap of them so you don't have to (although you really, really should).

Hawker Centre: Satay by the Bay
Dish: Satay from Sri Geylang Sate

Mutton, chicken and beef satay sticks

Satay by the Bay is located in the famous Gardens by the Bay, so it's perfect to stop by once you've seen the famous Supertrees all lit up at night. I chose to sample the eponymous satay and got a combination of chicken, mutton and beef sticks. They were all marinaded in a sticky, sweet sauce and had a crunchy peanut sauce to use for dipping that I may have licked clean...

Mutton, chicken and beef satay sticks

Satay sticks

Hawker Centre: Gluttons Bay
Dish: Chicken Rice and Carrot Cake

Chicken rice and carrot cake at Gluttons Bay hawker centre, Singapore

This was the closest hawker centre to my hotel and had a great view over to Marina Bay Sands hotel. I met up with Kristabel to sample some local dishes and first up was the Chicken Rice. It's a very basic dish in principle, but it's about the balancing of flavours that makes it special. The chicken is poached with ginger and spring onions in very salty water, so the skin isn't crispy at all. The rice is boiled in the chicken broth and there's a chilli sauce to throw over the top. It's not mind-blowing flavours, but it is special.

Chicken rice

The Carrot Cake doesn't have carrot in it at all! Instead it's rice flour mixed with white radish (or white carrot), steamed into cubes and fried with garlic, egg and preserved radish. I had the black version which is when it's fried with sweet dark soy sauce. I loved the saltiness with the egg and it was soft with a slight crisp to some of the pieces. It was almost like a cake-y omelette and I actually really enjoyed it.

Carrot cake in Singapore

Hawker Centre: Amoy Street Food Centre
Dish: Nasi Goreng from Bismillan Muslim Food Stall

Nasi goreng, curry sauce and egg roti

I couldn't believe the portion sizes in hawker centres, especially for the price. This huge plate of Nasi Goreng (Malay for 'fried rice') was less than £3 and was so filling. It's essentially an egg fried rice but the chilli and tamarind used with it makes it different to the standard one you'd get from a Chinese takeaway. With soy sauce, shallots and garlic, it is a meal in itself rather than a side dish, and I mopped mine up with an egg roti dipped in chilli sauce.

Nasi goreng

Egg roti and curry sauce

Hawker Centre: Rasapura Masters
Dish: Laksa

Singaporean Laksa curry

This is what I was most excited about eating in Singapore and it didn't disappoint. Rasapura Masters is in the cavernous Marina Bay Sands mall and the hawker stalls there are a tad more expensive than those out in the street. I was expecting it to be lacklustre and owned by chains, but the laksa I had was gloriously spicy. A coconut milk curry with turmeric, coriander, lemongrass and garlic, I slurped up the rice noodles and nibbled on the fish and prawns that had soaked up all the flavour. I made a total mess of my white top but it was worth it.

Hawker Centre: Tekka Centre
Dish: Murtabak from Ar Rahman Royal Prata

Murtabak with curry sauce

This was hands down my favourite dish in Singapore. The dough was thrown about, stretched out and repeatedly folded over so that it had the consistency of a paratha. It's filled with minced mutton, potatoes, garlic, egg and onion so it ends up like a filled flatbread. It was flaky and every layer was filled with the spicy filling. Served with a curry sauce to dip it into, it was so incredibly delicious and I am on a mission to find one in London. Send recommendations my way!

Man making murtabak at Tekka Centre hawker centre, Singapore


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