Malaysian Food

There is a huge variety of dishes in Malaysia. One thing they have in common is the exuberant use of sauces. Another common aspect is the huge amount of sugar that is being used for cooking.

I have never experienced another cuisine where sugar is added to nearly everything. Supposedly to balance the hotness of the other spices – but for me, personally, it’s just too much.

Look at a few of our dishes here:

This was dinner in a Chinese-Malaysian restaurant. Clockwise from upper left: Sambal squid (too much sugar in the chillie mixture), pork offals (heavy sauce with loads of sugar), Hainan style noodles (only little sugar) and clams (spicy sauce with too much sugar).

Dinner in a Malaysian-Thai (hehe) restaurant in Kampung Baru:

Excellent quail with nice “stinky beans” but a heavy, fatty sauce :(

Clams in a heavy, sugary sauce that killed the whole dish…

First class Malaysian food at a very upmarket restaurant with Yavor and his lady: many sauces and a principally fabulous “Nasi Lemak” (“Rich Rice”). Unfortunately, by that time I had already developed a “sugar phobia” and could not enjoy the food as much any more as I wanted to.

I felt very sorry for Yavor and his girlfriend Joan. They put so much effort into introducing me to all facets of their cuisine. And there I was – afraid of the sugar…

I sure will recover from this phobia – but I am afraid that Malaysian cuisine won’t make it to the top of my favourites list.

The people in Malaysia certainly love their sugar with everything. They are also famous for their chocolate-covered fruits (!). Unfortunately, this reflects on the figures of mainly the ladies. There is a high percentage of “well built” Malaysian women around…and in restaurants I saw quite frequently women that ate considerably more than their men :)

Another astonishing observation was to see some special kinds of dishes available in restaurants that all had the name “Maggi” in their description, for example here:

I cannot blame only the Malaysians for this, as Nestle with its Maggi has conquered all of Asia and the use of their products is widespread everywhere. But to see a Maggi-dish advertised in a restaurant like something “traditional” was new for me :)

KL – the Magic

An absolutely magical object in KL are definitely the Petronas Towers! By day and by night this landmark not only catches your eye but puts a spell on you. It’s a work of genius by Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli – and for me one of the wonders of the world.

Here some evening views from the bottom of it and seen from different areas of the city:

Wherever you go in KL the Petronas Towers are omnipresent.

Here, finally, seen at eye-level during a lunch session at the rotating restaurant on top of the KL Tower:

The spikes:

The KL Tower (by the way: it’s absolutely worth it to book lunch there – if the weather is right and the views are good):

And here an overview of the rest of KL:

The Times Square shopping mall with the two brown side-towers. My hotel in the middle in front of it:

 

I have already decided where to stay at during my next visit to KL:

Another magical side of KL is related to food. I will talk about this separately :)

 

 

 

KL – Is it Magic? Is it Madness?

KL is an extremely popular shopping destination. The number of malls and “shopping villages” goes beyond my counting capabilities. There are a lot of Australians, many Chinese, Koreans and Japanese but also people from Europe and especially the Middle East. The Arabs come predominantly in summer. One of the reasons why KL is so popular with them is that on one side, being Muslim territory, the Arabs feel at home and accepted while on the other side local Islam is very liberal and they can drink alcohol and do whatever they want here without feeling bad.

Personally, I find KL too expensive for shopping. Everything here costs more than I would have to pay on Amazon in Europe. And if you need the “thrill” of a mall: Bangkok is much more competitive. But people from Australia and the Middle East find it cheap here :)

Here is the view from my hotel room, of course right onto the Times Square Shopping Mall:

Inside it’s all about Christmas, of course, in a Muslim country :)

Right next to the hotel was also a “lifestyle” mall – with hundreds of shops selling the latest mobile phones, laptops, GPS’… and accessories at ruthless prices

The only other mall I came close to was KLCC (at the Petronas Towers) because of meeting my friend Yavor and his sweetheart for dinner there:

So, if it’s up to me this side of KL – the shopping – is the madness part :)

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to KL

At first you think that Kuala Lumpur is a city of antagonisms. But then you realise that the different ethnic groups have already mingled so much that they have become nearly homogeneous again :P There is, however, a strong visual impact from all the Muslim women with their scarves, as Islam is the strongest religion in Malaysia (since the 16th century). When you look at the men, you can’t be sure if they are Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Buddhists…

On the other hand, there are still a few “ethnic” quarters in KL like “Chinatown” or “Little India” or a Malaysian remains “Kampung Baru”. The Malaysian “Kampung Baru” is the last area in the city that has not been replaced by highrise buildings. You still find colourful traditional houses there.

We nearly reached the end of Kampung Baru when dusk set in, and the muezzin from the local mosque started reciting the surahs. That gave this predominantly Muslim place a very authentic atmosphere:

To stroll around such areas is a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the shopping madness…

 

 

 

Kuala Lumpur- Malaysia – First Impressions

Already when you make your way through the arrivals hall of the airport you realise you are not in “your” Indochina any more. People look completely different here. A bit rougher hewn, skins darker.

Once you are in the centre of Kuala Lumpur you start realising that you have probably come to the biggest melting pot of cultures on the planet. Chinese, Indian, Malayan, Thai  physiognomies, dresses, foods, the majority of women with head scarves – all mingled. A very interesting experience. Completely unlike New York or London where different cultures exist separate from each other. Here it’s all mixed up.

That was the first thing I noticed. Then came the food. Myriads of restaurants. And two major directions: Chinese and Indian. But the “Indian” dishes were mixtures with Malay recipes (I assume) – everything a mixture :P It made choosing a restaurant difficult.

Third came the “drink-price-shock”. Beer prices starting at around 25 MR (12 Leva – 6.10€) a bottle! Not to talk about prices for “hard” stuff or wine! So, I have changed my diet to mineral water :) A healthy change that will make me fit for my next round in Hanoi )

The amount of construction in KL (as everybody calls it) over the last decade or so must have been enormous. And it still continues. A mixture of all imaginable styles. Of course, the Petronas towers dwarf everything else. This is definitely the most impressive human construction I have ever seen in my life. Truly amazing!

Expect more…

Suffering in Hanoi!

Today is a very tough day for me. As I am heading for a guest appearance in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow I have to get rid of all the food in the fridge today!

As there are no street dogs or cats here (I wonder why ;) ) I will have to sacrifice myself! And I better start early.

Among other things there is about 1kg of Australian beef fillet, a huge slice of head cheese, peppers and green stuff, loads of fruits etc…

I guess I will start with a nice fillet steak on whole grain baguette for second breakfast now. Can’t waste precious stomach space for side dishes…

In the meantime I am munching on some fresh sugar cane, recommended by my dentist…

Why is it always me that has to suffer so much?

3 Million Motorbikes on the Streets of Hanoi?

Yesterday I spent the time from 4.30pm till 6,30 pm in my favourite “Bia Hoi” hangout around the corner from my apartment.

This local street pub is on the corner of two small streets – where traffic is not as busy or dense as elsewhere. I felt it was still quite busy enough to raise my curiosity and find out how much traffic there actually is.

All in all I measured the flow of motorbikes 4 times between 4.30 and 6.30. I started my stop-watch and counted 50 bikes and hit the stop-button. Interestingly the traffic flow was constant all the time. It took between 25 and 29 seconds for 50 motorbikes to pass – on average 27 seconds. That’s 111 motorbikes per minute or a whopping 6,666 per hour – or more than 13,000 during the two hours I was sitting there! At the corner of two small streets, not even in the centre of Hanoi.Bloody amazing!

In some tourist guide I read that there are an estimated 1.8 million motorbikes in Hanoi. I believe that these figures are old and outdated. With about 7 million inhabitants my guess would be between 2.5 and 3 million motorbikes in Hanoi. You simply cannot imagine the amount of traffic here! I have not seen anything like this anywhere in Asia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZEN

Normally I know what makes me tick. And I consider this the biggest achievement in my life. Not the fortunes I have made (and most of them spent), not the career that led me to the European management board of the biggest and richest investment bank on the planet (back then), nor any of the other countless touchable achievements I have collected on my way.

My biggest achievement is to have found peace with myself – and peace with the world. To have only friends and no enemies.To “understand” (and live) life. To prefer  giving over taking (and this way receiving much more than most people ever will). To be spiritually and financially independent to afford doing only what I consider right. And so on. All this comes from understanding yourself and having a glimpse of the universe…

Sounds arrogant, doesn’t it? Maybe so, but I feel humble. And I enjoy life more than anybody else I know or ever met in my life!!! Now, that’s a statement, isn’t it :)

Everybody has to find his own way himself. Most people never do. The Dalai Lama can say whatever he wants, publish whatever books he pleases, people still don’t learn from him :) Because it comes from inside :) C’est la vie!

I got carried away again. I wanted to write about the reasons why I love Bulgaria and also took a liking to Vietnam – despite that both countries are so far from being perfect. But this is a longer subject and I will keep it for another time when I am “in the mood” :)