Visiting KL: Tasty Outlet to SEA!

Kuala Lumpur has me by the heart and wallet, even though food is cheap and I’m not buying any clothes.  I’m finding that KL – for me, subjective obviously – is one of the most livable stops for a digital nomad so far on our Remote Year itinerary.  I explored why this is by writing it all out, so wanted to share with you!

Convenience

Kuala Lumpur is known for its intense mall scene, which can be off-putting for some.  But guess what?  I’m a Jersey girl.  I grew up in a mall.  If you compare this to other Asian countries where I need to go to 4 different places to get food, socks, a phone charger, and a bottle of wine – this is a dream.

My coworking space was in a great location in Bukit Bintang.  We were a stone’s throw from three (count em, three) malls.  Our office space shares the building with a mall.  Across the street?  Big doozy of a mall.  And a block down the road is another mall.

Admittedly, I did very little shopping, for two reasons.  One, I’m spending my money on experiences not things, and Two I have no space in my suitcase for extra crap.  But, looking at this city as a potential place to live long-term, the convenience of this city is very attractive.

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Culture

Our city managers explained this well our first week in KL – when you say culture, in KL this means FOOD.

Jalan Alor is a road home to the coolest street food night market, which I lovingly call ‘food street.’  Here the food is ready to eat, cheap ($2 ish for a meal), and even though you might not know 100% what it is, it’s a ton of fun.  The place becomes alive at night and stays open till who knows when, I’m in bed by then anyway #grandmastatus.

Now, I mentioned malls before.  A favorite during my month in KL was the big doozy called the Pavilion, mainly because of its intense food court.  This may be a more, shall I say, diluted experience compared to Jalan Alor, but you can get regional food freshly prepared for you for about $3-4.  I enjoyed the curry hot plate, Mee Goring at the Indian/Malay spot, and really I can’t count how many other things I tried.  I often forgot to take pics of my food but here’s a few.

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Another great spot is the food court at the Lot 10 mall, which I stumbled upon by accident before remembering it was highly recommended by the RY city team.  You go down an escalator to the home of a collection of delicious street food stalls.  Fun fact: the owner of Lot 10 convinced the owners of these stalls (spread around the city) to open a location in his mall to attract younger generations to the traditional food, and to preserve longstanding cooking methods and dishes.  Very cool.

 

I can’t even begin to touch on the amazing noms we had during our food tours, like hot bacon in Chinatown or banana fritters in Little India.  There was so much to explore and I feel as though I’ve bearly scratched the surface!

 

Accessibility

Pro tip: flights from KL to almost anywhere else in Southeast Asia are super affordable.  I went to Bali (I’m a brat, I know) for $130 RT and I could have done it cheaper had I bought the ticket earlier.  Flights to Sydney can run $300-400.  Singapore for $40.  Bangkok for $70.  Ho Chi Minh City for $80.  This makes KL a great hub as you continue to travel.  If home is where your big suitcase is, then make a place for yourself in Malaysia.

 

So this is certainly not a goodbye to KL, this is a see you later.

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Viet Noms!

Blog takeovers are so HANOING!

Ugh Casey, puns are the worst, pho real.

Welcome to my sister Tori who’s assisting me in recapping our week in Hanoi, where we ate our way through the city and lived to tell the tale.

NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of every single thing that went into my mouth that week.  I refuse to tally up exactly how much nem and bia hoi I had, for guilt and sanity reasons.

 

 

Saturday

Bun cuon


Tori’s first meal in Hanoi was lunch, and I took her to a local place that serves Bun cuon, which is a rice crepe filled with pork and mushrooms, topped with crispy onions. My brain was unable to understand what time zone I was in, but my tummy totally understood that this was delicious. 

 

Tiger beer

After walking for about 45 minutes, we enjoyed Vietnam’s finest brew (most percentage alcohol) overlooking the Hoan Kiem lake. Beer is plentiful in Vietnam, but it’s pretty tame if you are the craft IPA type. I happen to enjoy a lighter beer when it’s hot and humid, perfect for winter in Hanoi.

Side note that we played a game called “Try to count to 5 without hearing a horn honk.”  We both lost.

 

Obama Bun Cha


Tori’s first dinner in Asia had to be special, so we visited the spot where Anthony Bourdain took President Obama.  Metal tables, blue plastic chairs, nothing fancy or particularly nice-looking about this place, but they make a decent bun cha.  Broth, noodles, herbs, and grilled pork.  This place is much more expensive than other delicious bun cha spots (dinner was $6 and not $2), but well worth the visit.

BUN CHA!!! I hope I can find you stateside, you delicious bowl of goodness.

 

Hanoi beer


Part of the Obama combo was a local beer called, that’s right, Hanoi Beer. Thanks Obama! Good choice!

 

Ice cream pops


After dinner, we walked back along the lake and into the Night Market.  We saw a person swirling a gigantic metal pot and stopped to see what was inside – ice cream pops!  Strawberry for me, Coconut for Tor. Tip: if you are curious about something in Vietnam, just get it. Especially if there’s a crowd. ESPECIALLY if it’s food.

 

Sunday

Banh Mi, juice, coffee at Banh Mi 25


You can check out my review of a Banh Mi in my other post, but we had some delicious breakfast Tori’s first true morning. Great for a hangover. Probably, I wouldn’t know.

 

Avocado toast at Hanoi Social Club


It’s not a Sunday without Sunday brunch.  Tori and I met up with some of my friends at the Hanoi Social Club, which is a cute expat cafe where we enjoyed a cocktail and avocado toast with cheese, figs, and red onion. I was very jetlagged at this point, but it was so nice to finally meet some other Remotes!

 

Monday

Coconut

On Monday, we took a day trip to Ha Long Bay, and as we checked out a cave we found coconuts for sale!


Oh, remember how I said you should definitely try anything you might be curious about? It is not entirely foolproof. After a walk through a limestone cave, everyone was stopping to get coconuts. You drink the coconut water, then a tiny lady machetes it open for you to enjoy the coconut meat. I joined in, only to discover that coconut water is gross. So, I convinced people to drink mine because I KNEW I was going to love the coconut meat. Nope. It’s bitter and gross. I’ll be sticking to the sweet, shaved coconut of my youth, but at least now I know!

 

Corner bia hoi


After an exceedingly long bus ride back from the bay, we literally stumbled across the street to our corner bia hoi food joint.  I’ve been here about 20 times already this month, so we ordered a plate of nem (fried spring rolls) with a miso dipping sauce and a chicken/veggie stir fry.  And a beer, of course. Nem, all day, every day. Ideally while you sit on a tiny plastic chair and watch the hustle and bustle of the Old Quarter.

 

Tuesday

Raw smoothies


Raw is a local juice/smoothie shop (mostly filled with expats) near the office.  A good way to get in some fresh fruit and greens in between the salty goodness of the local cuisine. Also good for a hangover. I assume, again, I wouldn’t know.

 

Bun Bo Nam Bo


My personal favorite.  Noodles, some broth, greens, and beef or pork with crispy onions. Also wins the award for the most fun to say!

 

Vietnamese coffee


Got Tori to try the crack cocaine oops I mean Vietnamese coffee – which is crazy strong coffee with condensed milk.  It’s sugary sweet and caffeinated so obviously Tori liked it. Very yummy, but it didn’t make me loopy like Casey.

 

 

Wednesday

Pho 10


What did you think Tor?

First pho! Certainly not my last, it gives you a great opportunity to perfect your chopstick skills and noodle slurp.

 

Thursday

Thanksgiving

Remote Year held a gigantic potluck in a treehouse for Thanksgiving, because if you’re gonna have a weird Asian style Thanksgiving, may as well go all out in the trees.

 


We ordered in a turkey and gravy, but everyone was responsible for making something of their own.  We got creative, with a no-bake pumpkin pie!  Turned out really well, wish I had gone back for seconds.

 

 

All in all, a delicious trip with happy hearts and tummies.  And that’s all folks!  Cheers.

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New Country, New Breakfast

My priorities upon arriving to a new country are as follows:

  1. Unpack
  2. Get google maps set up and drop a pin for my new apartment
  3. Find grocery store and buy breakfast for the following morning: yogurt/fruit/eggs
  4. Find workspace
  5. Find gym

 

Breakfast, as you can see, is towards the top of the list.  I am a breakfast person.  I like breakfast, breakfast likes me.  We get along, we need each other.

I arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam on Sunday evening.  It’s now Tuesday morning my time, and I’ve had a total of 3 breakfasts, which doesn’t add up but that’s okay.

Breakfast in Hanoi is not like breakfast anywhere I’ve been before.  In Spain, we had toast with tomato spread.  Portugal, I basically had wine for breakfast (Whatever. Do you boo boo).  Morocco was croissants and fruit.  Bulgaria was banitsa.  Serbia was pastries and cappuccinos.

Hanoi is all about salty and savory.  The items you’d eat for breakfast you may as well call lunch or dinner, because you can also eat them for lunch or dinner.

 

Exhibit A: Banh Mi


This is a Vietnamese street food sandwich – a baguette with pork or chicken and pickled veggies.  This was my first breakfast in Vietnam, and I was feeling a little odd about such a heavy start to the day so I ordered an egg and cheese banh mi.  DELISH.

 

Exhibit B: Banh Cuon

 

This is a steamed rice roll filled with mushrooms and ground pork, topped with crispy onions with a miso dip.  They make the rolls like a crepe, which is fun to watch.  I wasn’t super confident in this breakfast at first – not the food, but the fact I was eating it at 9am.  Luckily it was very good, but personally I’d rather enjoy this for lunch.  Will be going back.

 

 

Exhibit C: Smoothie


More my speed, happy to find this place on the walk to work.  Spinach, Mango, Banana.

 

Exhibit D: Vietnamese Coffee


This is crack.  Plain and simple.

 

Who knows what I’ll be eating tomorrow, might have to try Pho for breakfast.  Stay tuned.