July 26-28, 2016
Staying in the Heart of China Town
Our hostel was located in China Town around the corner from the popular Petaling Street market. Though the market sold mostly souvenirs and knock-off hand bags, it was peppered with curious and delicious snacks including:
Muah Chee: glutinous rice rolled into little tatter tot shapes covered in peanut crumbs and sugar. Watching it being made is an intriguing process. The dough is so stretchy and elastic that it springs around when being rolled at cut. This springy dough contributes to a chewy but delightful texture. It's just sweet and crunchy enough and makes an excellent snack.
Red Bean Buns: these are my new favorite pastry- flaky round little buns filled with a sweetened bean paste. The filling is made from Adzuki beans that have been boiled, mashed and sweetened with sugar or honey.
Bitter Fruits with Powdered Toppings: fruit stands are omnipresent selling whole fruit or small baggies of pre-sliced fruits. A common practice is to add powdered topping to these sliced fruits including salt, salt-sugar-chili powder or salty dried plum powder known in Chinese as li hing mui. Li hing mui has a simultaneously sweet, sour and salty flavor. It's a nice touch when added to bitter fruits like guava or tart unripe mangoes. Apparently low concentrations of salt suppress bitterness and enhance sweet flavors. We'll definitely take this fruit and salt combination back home with us.
Pandan Sweets: vibrant green breads and treats, flavored with juice from Pandanus Amaryllifolius leaves or extract, are common place in bakeries in South East Asia. These sweets turn green from the chlorophyll in the leaf juice. Sometimes green food coloring is used to enhance the color. The taste is subtle, sweet and unique- we can't get enough of everything pandan.
While in China Town we encountered a street vendor with a very distracting 4-inch wispy hair coming out of a mole on his chin (sorry to paint such a vivid imagine for you). It's actually not the first time we've seen long hairs growing out of moles, particularly on faces. Apparently these mole hairs are a sign of good luck,. But they're incredibly off-putting...especially when you spy them while being served food.
We've also noticed many long pinky finger nails on men (more so in Indonesia than here.) I can't quite get a consensus of the reason for this- it's either for cleaning the nose and ears (gross) or a status thing- to show that you are wealthy and 'above' manual labor. Another source stated, "a pinky nail that reaches past the last digit joint of the ring finger means wealth and intelligence. Many people's pinkies aren't that long, so men grow the pinky nails long to reach that goal."
Let's see, what else did we do during our stay in the luck-luster capital? We took an obligatory trek to the Petronas Twin Towers. We spent a lot of time walking around wondering where all the action was. We got lost among a sea of malls. We hulled up in a cafe so Scott could write his second article for an outdoor magazine about our trek to Everest Base Camp. So proud of him! We tried street-side steamboat (we know it as hotpot) where we picked meat and veggies on skewers (color coded for price), dunked them in steaming water and enjoyed. It was a super healthy and fulfilling meal. We also made a pass through Jalan Alor Food Street where the food is steaming, hot and fresh and the choices are endless.
Purradise Cat Cafe
Underwhelmed by the city, we decided to spend the last day not seeing the (very limited) sights, but playing with cats at the Purradise Cat Cafe instead. This cat cafe is home to 20 or so "kittizens," or rescue cats, Purradise's ultimate goal is to "foster rescue cats and socialize them to a loving environment before finding them their furrever homes." For 15 ringgit per person ($3.70) you get a free drink and one hour of play time with the adorable cats. After the first hour, each additional 15 minutes cost 3 ringgits ($0.74). The cafe is far from the city center, but well worth the trip! We were impressed with the cleanliness and professionalism of the place. The cats were also super friendly, clean, and sociable. We made a few new friends : )