Day 2: Exploring the Gorgeous Town, Salento!

We checked out of our hostel around 7am and got breakfast at El Secreto del Amor. We just had to try ajicaco (chicken potato soup, top right on the pic below) popular dish in Bogota.

Ajicaco was good, but the Changua (Colombian egg and milk soup) was my favorite. It was creamy and hearty but the cilantro gives it a fresh taste.

We went straight to the airport after breakfast and flew to Pereira. We ended up Ubering to our hostel in Salento which took us about a hour.

Salento is a small town known for the coffee estates and the scenery. Our hostel was 20 minutes away from the city area, accessible by a Jeep service or a 30-40 minute walk.

We stayed at the La Serrana Eco and Hostel, which had a beautiful view.

It felt like we were at some paradise getaway because the hostel was surrounded by nature and amazing scenery. The hostel had a main lounging area where reception and majority of the rooms were. They also had “glamping” tents which was a 5 minute walking distance from the lodge.

I’m putting “glamping” in quotations because they weren’t luxurious at all. Just two beds, a closet and a couple of chairs.

There was no wifi either which explains the lag time between each of my blog posts. Uploading pictures takes forever and most of the time, it would fail. I don’t blame anyone, it makes sense since we were in some “remote” area and a really small town.

After checking in, we decided to walk from our hostel to Salento. The Jeep would’ve taken us to the main plaza within 10 minutes but we wanted to get the best experience and walk.

It took us around 45 minutes probably and you can see the transition as we got closer to the city.

The city was pretty small and since we walked from our hostel, we actually explored a good amount of the town before we got to the main plaza.

For lunch, we want to a local spot called Saber Casero, where we had a hard time communicating with our waiter since none of us spoke Spanish. One bystander helped us get the rice dish, which was really good. It was tomato-ey and reminded me of another dish but I just can’t put my tongue on it.

The other two dishes we got was the porcion chicharron + patacon (fried pork + fried plantains) and the trucha con champinoes (trout with mushrooms in milk sauce).

The trucha dish was very creamy and reminded me of the changua. It seemed like trout was a popular dish in Salento because we kept seeing it everywhere.

Definitely recommend getting lunch at Saber Casero. It was really cheap for all the food we had and it seems like only locals eat there. One thing to keep in mind is that it takes a while for the food to come out because the kitchen is REALLY small and there’s only one cook.

After lunch, we walked around the main plaza of Salento. The town was alive and colorful. You can hear the music and smell the food. There was so much going on that it felt like we arrived in Salento at the right time.

I got a limonada de coco which is a drink with lemonade and coconut. The one I got from the fruit stand above, wasn’t exactly what I wanted. It was not limonada de coco at all, the vendor probably put his own spin on it.

After walking around the plaza, we decided to take a coffee break at Fika Cafe Salento. We got a nice seat on the second floor by the window, relaxed and people watched.

Right after our quick break, we walked on Carrera 6 where all of the stores and much of the people of Salento were. We stopped by a couple of stores, listened to street artists sing and hiked up the stairs to Mirador Alto De La Cruz.

We got a great view of the town at the viewpoint. It’s just crazy how small the town is. The other view was the view of the surrounding mountains.

From Mirador Alto De La Cruz, we hiked to Mirador de Salento and stopped by Frutal de Salento for some snacks. In the order of the pictures, we got cholao, obleas and limonada de coco.

Cholao is a beverage made with fresh fruit and condensed milk. Obleas was a thin wafer sandwich with jam filling in between. This time, the limonada de coco that we ordered was the right one and it is now my favorite drink in Colombia! There’s a good balance of flavors – the richness of the coconut and the acidity of the lime makes this a refreshing drink.

Right when we got our order, it started to pour. We got lucky that we had seats inside the small icecream stall. We sat in there until the rain passed.

We walked back to the main street with all the vendors. I tried really good cold brew at Cafe Jesus Martin Calle Real. Then we noticed people sitting on the patio and we were able to find that same restaurant (El Patio) to take pictures from the patio.

At this time, we were exhausted. Instead of walking back we decided to take the Jeep service back to our hostel and settle in. It was getting dark and I was able to get some nice snaps of the clouds before the sun was down.

We were physically exhausted at this point and decided to relax in the main building of the hostel. We watched half of Juno and made a friend.

It was around late 8ish, when we decided to get dinner before we called it an early night. We took the Jeep service back into Salento and at this time, most restaurants were closing. The only place we wanted to try that was open was all the way back near the stairs where you head up to the Mirador.

Dinner at Camino Real Parilla Bar was okay. We tried a sampling platter and steak and overall it was just too dry for us. The bacon chorizo however was delicious.

Once we were done, it was past 10pm and there was literally no Jeep service. We thought about calling a taxi but ultimately decided to walk all the way back to our hostel. It felt kinda sketchy at first because we were literally the only 3 tourist walking in the city at night. Then once we were out of the city it was just pitch black and we used our phones as flashlights. Good thing we walked to the city from our hostel in the morning or else we wouldn’t have been familiar with the path at all.

We got back to our hostel safe and sound. We’re hiking Cocora Valley early next morning!

Advertisements

Day 13 – Last day in Singapore & End of Trip

Check out was at 1pm, normally 11am but we were able to score late check out since we got our room late! We basically spent our whole morning in the hotel room, taking our time and slowly packing. We weren’t flying out until 11pm so we had plenty of time to kill.

We checked out exactly at 1pm and stored our luggage at Marina Bay Sands’ luggage storage. The best part about MBS’s storage was that you can use your luggage ticket to take one last shower in their gym facility before we pick up your luggage and fly to the airport. Pretty much a game changer so you don’t have to worry about sweating in the Singapore heat as we explore.

Surprisingly, the first thing we did was walk around the mall instead of food since we had plans for afternoon tea at 3pm. I wanted to buy last minute souvenirs or shop a little but the mall was just full of luxury brands, ones that weren’t meant for the average consumer. It was perfect that we had to walk through the mall to get to the ArtScience Museum. Basically killing two birds with one stone since it aligns with our schedule.

The ArtScience Museum is definitely on my list of favorite museums. I didn’t get any pictures of the museum itself but it was beautifully shaped like a flower. There were two exhibits we wanted to check out – Future World: Where Art Meets Science and Marvel Studios’ Ten Years of Heroes.

We started with the Marvel Studios exhibit. I am a huge marvel fan so much most the information wasn’t new to me. It was more of a exhibit to celebrate all the movies in the past 10 years leading up to Infinity Wars which we already seen. I would only recommend it, if you’re a big marvel fan!

I would say the main attraction would be Future World. The exhibit itself explains a lot, art created with technology.

We sped through the exhibit pretty quickly since we had an afternoon tea reservation at Pollen. Future World is perfect for kids since there were so many areas with interactive art created just for them. If I had kids this is the perfect spot to bring them in Singapore. Next stop was Garden by the Bay for afternoon tea and because we haven’t had the chance to visit the Flower Dome or Cloud Forest yet.

We walked to the mall from the museum to get to back to MBS where we took a shuttle to Flower Dome. The restaurant we were having afternoon tea was inside the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. I was surprised that we were able to get last minute reservations since we weren’t able to the day before. Pollen was right by the Mediterranean Gardens in the Flower Dome. It was the perfect setting for tea and it basically felt like we were somewhere in the country side.

Our amazing spread at the Pollen

Our afternoon tea spread was beautiful. Absolutely made for pictures. They taste even better than they look! I highly recommend afternoon tea at Pollen, if you get the chance to visit Gardens by the Bay. If you eat at Pollen, you get free admission to the Flower Dome so it’s definitely worth it!!

After our lovely tea session, we took a stroll around the Flower Dome. It’s insane how many different species of plants they have from all of the world. It’s one of the biggest green houses in the world and you don’t really notice it when you’re inside the Flower Dome because of all the beautiful plants

After Flower Dome, we went to Cloud Forest. Cloud Forest is more of an educational dome, letting visitors learn about forests located high in the mountains. You wouldn’t believe that this is a man-made mountain when you see it in person.

Cloud Forest was more of a short hike compared to Flower Dome. You just follow the path that brings you up and eventually loops back down to the exit.

We only had a couple of hours left in Singapore before we catch our flight back to Kuala Lumpur to head back home to New York. Since Jacqueline didn’t get the chance to see the Merlion, we decided to take a short Grab ride to Merlion Park for one last activity.

I personally think it looks nicer at night when everything is lit up, but you just can’t capture the overall beauty of the Merlion and MBS at night.

Before we head to the airport, we took a nice refreshing shower at the Marina Bay Sands gym. Nothing feels better than a cold shower after a long day of activities in the Singapore heat.

The flight back to New York was rough, mainly due to our long layover in Malaysia. It was one of those airports where you wouldn’t be able to get through security until the gate for your flight is open. We spent 8 hours+ on uncomfortable airport chairs – which makes my lists of things I would never want to experience ever again.

I can’t believe it took 44 days to wrap up the last post of my Malaysia & Singapore post. Better late than never I guess! (It has been a busy month with a lot of big changes). I definitely need to visit Singapore again someday. 3 days was just not enough to get the most out of it.

P.S. I’ll be heading to Rhode Island for 3 days, so the blog will continue! I promise I’ll try to share my adventures with y’all ASAP!

Day 9: An Unplanned Stay in Malacca/Melaka

We woke up to a beautiful view and wanted to take full advantage of our villa before we checked out so we basically stayed in all morning until we had to check out.

For breakfast we ate at one of the cafes within the resort. We redeemed our free drinks and ate a light meal. I got the Nasi Lemak which was probably the best food I had at the resort.

Before we left the resort, we stopped by the archery range to shoot targets. It was my first time and it’s way harder than it looks! I might stop by a range that one of my friends owns back in New York since it was pretty fun.

Since we had nothing planned, we could’ve head straight back to Kuala Lumpur or stop by Melaka first and take pictures of the historic red buildings before heading back. We ended up finding so many things for us to check out in Melaka that it only made sense to stay the night.

The first thing we did when we arrived in Melaka was eat. We ate at Mamee Jonker House which also had a DIY noodle package similar to the Cup Noodle Museum in Japan. For those who don’t know what Mamee is, its a Malaysian company that makes snacks and one of the popular snacks is uncooked ramen. Their mascot/character is a blue monster if that rings a bell.

Chicken rice balls.

Chicken!

The food was way better than I expected since it looked kinda tacky. Melaka was known for chicken rice balls and I’m surprised to say that Mamee Jonker House version was AMAZING.

Afterwards, we just walked around the area and I fell in love with the city. There were so many coffee shops and beautiful architecture. I would say that Melaka comes close to Penang as my favorite city in Malaysia.

There was this one coffee shop, The Daily Fix. I wish we ate here because I love all the decor and the ambiance. It was a mix of modern and traditional. The coffee was amazing.

Another beautiful cafe was Heesan. This was right after I stopped by The Daily Fix, so I didn’t wanna go in to look around holding coffee from somewhere else.

This whole area was north of the popular tourist spot, the Windmill Dutch Square Melaka. Afterwards we stopped by the square before walking south of it.

We walked around Taman Merdeka, which was a park with a bunch of attractions. There was a train and an airplane for people to take pictures of.

I was less interested in these since the plants were beautiful.

We decided to go on a rotating observation deck that overlooks the city. At first we were hesitant, but it was a good way to absorb the view in the refreshing AC and giving our feet some rest.

Here are some pictures taken on the deck:

We walked back to the square afterwards since we parked nearby and there were some hidden gems that I just couldn’t resist taking pictures of!

After settling in our hotel, we walked around Jalan Merdeka. Our hotel was surrounded by food stalls so there were tons of dinner options. We opted for Indian Malaysian food which had the best Roti Tisu (tissue), I ever had.

It was our last night in Malaysia which means our trip is coming to an end. I’ll miss all the amazing (and cheap) food in Malaysia, but I’m excited for Singapore.

Day 5: A Hot & Slow Day in Penang

We were finally blessed with a beautiful day. It was sunny and hot, a perfect vacation weather. Our plan was to spend the day at the beach a hour north from George Town at the very top of Penang. Up north was known for the beautiful beaches and resorts.

We were heading to Batu Ferringhi and during the drive up we passed by a bunch of big resorts and their private beaches. We should’ve stayed a stayed a night at a resort and do some R&R since we our itinerary was light since Penang Hills was closed.

We were driving around the area only to find out that majority of the beaches are now either private for resort use only or just too dirty to actual go on. We were too hungry to continue searching so we had to get food and eat while we decide what to do next.

We got Indian food at a restaurant along the main road called Enca Cafe. It’s funny since I was craving naan when I woke up. I finally got to try Teh Tarik which literally translates to pulled tea. I realize that all the coffee and tea here is just too sweet for me, but it’s refreshing especially when you’re dripping in sweat from the heat and humidity.

Butter Chicken, chicken tikka masala, noodles and naan (cheesy garlic naan, and we tried onion and lamb naan as well)

After lunch we just stopped by a small beach off the main road to check it out. It sucks that all the nice parts are now owned by resorts. We decided not to go with our two back up plans which was monkey beach and the snake temple. Instead we drove back to George Town to explore the area a bit more since it was the perfect weather to do so.

George Town

The city was so alive, full of people walking around. Our first stop was walking through the Art Lane. It was like an indoors alleyway full of art, mostly graffiti and then some sculptures. I think artists all over the world come here to leave their mark and you can see a variety of different styles on the walls. We even got to see an artist at work!

Right next door to Art Lane, was a hipster lifestyle clothing style that had really nice decor. I ended up getting a jacket/cardigan and two solid colognes – something I never seen before. Unintentional shopping is the most dangerous kind.

I was able to get some more shots of Georgetown as we explored as well!

Afterwards, we walked towards the Jetties to see the how different it was during the day time. In the day time, there were a ton of people, both tourists and locals. All the shops were opened too. We walked through the narrow pier surround by shops and you can feel the wooden planks squeak. It feels like you’re walking along the boardwalk on the beach but with way less space to move. I definite enjoyed Chew Jetty way more during the day than the night.

We decided to head back to the Airbnb early and have a more relaxing night. My sister and parents went to the pool while Jacqueline and I relaxed in the AC.

For dinner, we decided to eat around Park Fortune since there was so many restaurants around us. We ended up getting Korean BBQ which was literally 5 minutes from our Airbnb. The banchan (Korean appetizers/side dishes) and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) were really good but the meat for the BBQ smelled better than it tasted. It was too bland and I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean Korean food in Malaysia… I was pretty disappointed with dinner, I really wanted to get some more street food in Penang before we head back to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.

We walked by the water for a bit before heading back and do some light packing since we were checking out at 11am.

Day 4: Disappointments, Exploring George Town and a Pasar Malam (night market)

The weather hasn’t been on our side on this trip. We woke up to a light drizzle and it didn’t stop when we were heading out. We were lucky that it didn’t end up pouring.

We got breakfast at a place a couple of minutes away called Borneo Kopitiam. I ordered the Malaysian 3 layered tea (from bottom to top: palm sugar syrup, evaporated milk and black tea) and Charsu Wan Thun Mee. Of course I took pictures of everyone else’s food too.

Charsu Wan Tun Mee
3 Layered Tea
Nasi Lemak
Kuey Teow

Penang Hill and Sky Walk was going to be the highlight of Penang. One of the top tourist destinations that I was excited for. It was just our luck that it was closed for renovations and it wasn’t going to be opened to the public until July.

Kek Lok Si Temple

Disappointed, our backup plan was the Kek Lok Si Temple which was only 10 minutes away. The temple itself was pretty big and we ended up spending a good amount of time there. I love the vibrant colors of the buildings and the view from the temple was amazing.

Didn’t forget the view from the temple!

Fort Cornwallis

After trekking down the temple, Fort Cornwallis was next on our list. It was built by the British East India Company and is the largest standing fort in Malaysia.

Only half of the fort was open for tourists since they were working on the other half. It was still drizzling at this point so we ate lunch at the restaurant located inside the fort.

Kota was a modern restaurant that specialized in Malaysian Fusion food. Inside the restaurant there was a rustic feel to it and if you were randomly dropped inside the restaurant, you would think it was located in New York or LA.

Nyonya Redang Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

Samosas

Sesame Noodles

Spring rolls, don’t remember the full name.

The Sunset drink

The food was amazing, a great mix of Nyonya and western flavors. If this restaurant was in NYC, the bill would’ve probably came out to be in the mid-$100 range. The bill ended up being 130 Rmb (roughly around $30) and that was after we got a 50 Rmb discount from the tickets we got for Fort Cornwallis.

It only took us 20 mins or so to see everything since half of the fort was being worked on and there was no show in the amphitheater.

It started to drizzle a little harder, so we decided to walk towards George Town and find a cafe to escape the rain and plan our walking route.

George Town

It stopped raining when we got to the coffee shop so we decided to take advantage of the weather and start exploring George Town. There were tons of shops, cafes and colorful buildings. I love the architecture of Penang – it was a mix of British, Chinese, Indian, Islamic influence. These buildings will catch your eye as you’re walking down the streets. It’s great that Penang was able to preserve so many heritage buildings. Apparently it has the largest collection of pre-war buildings in Southeast Asia. I wasn’t able to take good pictures that capture how beautiful these buildings were.

We walked around Little India and then hunted for Penang Street Art and were able to find most of them thanks to Google Maps. There was so much street art, it kind of reminded me of Williamsburg. One thing I love about George Town is how hipster it was. It was a good mix of historic and modern.

Penang Street Art

Beastly Street Art

Boy on Motorcycle

Boy with Pet Monster

Susu Soya Asli & Segar

Brother & Sister on a Swing

Children Playing Basketball

Architecture shots

We took a quick rest a cafe called Coffee On The Table, which specialized in 3D latte art.

Afterwards we decided to check out the malls in the area. The first mall we went to was Penang Times Square and it was kind of underwhelming. It felt more of a mall for the locals, so we decided to walk to the 1st Avenue Shopping Mall afterwards. 1st Avenue was much more modern and western. I didn’t get anything aside from necessities to bring back to the Airbnb.

By the time we got back to the car from the mall, it was already dark. It was interesting seeing the locals close up their shops and get a sense of how their day ends.

Farlim Pasar Malam

For dinner, we decided to stop by the Farlim Pasar Malam (night market) to get food.

Pasar Malam is an Indonesian and Malay word for night market. These night markets consist of different types of vendors from food to clothes to all kinds of accessories. These markets happen in a certain location and at a set day of the week.

These markets are full of vendors and people. You can buy and eat food there or take it to go. We tried a few things there and it explains all the bad pictures that I have of the food since it was so dark.

Char Keoy Kak

Cendol – creamy dessert made of coconut milk, green jelly noodles and pale sugar.

Fried cuttlefish

My favorite was the Char Koey Kak, which is fried rice cake. I got the one with duck egg and it was fucking amazing. Probably the best food I ate so far on this trip. So good that we got seconds to bring back. One thing I didn’t mention in my earlier post is that anything you take to go (food) comes in a plastic bag even drinks! It’s not the best for the environment but it’s probably cheaper than cups and containers here.

We ended up hauling a bunch of food back to our Airbnb to eat while we plan the last half our trip.

I don’t recommend planning during your trip since it’s even more tiring than you think, but my dad wanted to be super flexible. My flight to Singapore ended up being more expensive than it would’ve been if I booked everything earlier.

Nothing feels better than sleeping after a long day of walking.