The Cellular Jail & The Chaotic Market

Second trip to India, finally got some time to explore Port Blair! Otherwise it's usually cooped up in the hotel after spending long hours in the plane, in transit... you get the idea....

And where do we go sightseeing? Not the beautiful beaches... Not the museum... Not even the local town. We went to a prison... lol. Well, not just any prison. A historical prison called Cellular Jail where political prisoners who fought for independence during the British occupation were exiled.

The jail is only a short drive away from our hotel - well, I think in the case of Port Blair, every other location is pretty much a short ride away... The town is that small...

Anything goes in this country... lol. One corner we spotted this dude on makeshift bamboo stilts, and another corner we saw another 'electrician' dude fiddling with wires in a box.... all form of safety out the window. Working with a company that is completely anal about health and safety issues, this is quite a laugh for us.

A little history lesson... The jail was built in 1896 by the British in an effort to smother the voices of the Indian freedom fighters. To exile them is a better term to use here. You will notice that most of the tourists here are Indians, you hardly see many foreigners. Which is a shame, really... I just wish that even basic hygiene is more practised by the local people. It's such a shame when a perfectly beautiful place like Port Blair is tainted with trash...

Digressing, there was once we were passing by a government building in Port Blair and first sight that caught my attention was the heaping amount of garbage that was lumped at the back of the building. It was such an eyesore, and then moving towards the front of the building, none of these could be seen! Just horrible....


The bricks used to build the buildings were shipped in from Burma!

This quaint looking, chunky lock that you don't see around anymore...

Each cell has a dimension of 4.5m x 2.7m with a small little window at 3m. Prisoners are in solitary confinement.

The tower in the middle of the jail serves the guards to watch over the seven wings (now only 2 wings are left).

 The wings are designed such that one wing faces the back of another wing to eliminate any possibility of the prisoners from communicating with one another.

Prison term overlooking the Andaman Sea... Okla, the prisoners won't really get a view of this, but the guards do :/

A tree that a passer-by pointed out to bloom only during the night and produces a fragrant scent. Also apparently good for joints lol.

What the jail used to look like in this model.

I really do think this is a pretty artsy fartsy shot, don't you think? :P

Always a nice touch to visit the gallows...

And a marbled memorial erected in honour of the people who have fought for the country.

My first attempt at 'street food' in India! Lol... Ok, fine it's not exactly street food but fresh coconut juice, cut on the street side. I still think it's a risk taker! lol.

Not in the best conditions I assure you... Well, it seems I was bravest among all the other angmohs. None of them wanted to try the coconut. Venki, our Indian colleague asked if I wanted fresh coconut juice and I was game! Just something strange about the coconuts here though.... They're not really the sweet variety... but more of the salty kind. It was disappointing, to say the least :( I was hoping for fat juicy, sweet ones like the kind you get in Thailand :D

After the not-so-thirst-quenching drink, we were on our way to destination number 2.... the local market.

With bunch of angmohs drawing attention from the locals.

Didn't get anything interesting here.... Also because it was the start of the trip and I didn't want to buy anything to weigh down my luggage. There's a weight restriction on the chopper to the vessel, we can only carry 12kg worth of belongings :( Bleargh.

There's just something about India that gives it a dirty, unhygienic kind of vibe. Not sure if it's just the dust, the people or the colour of the buildings? Hmm...

The roads are chaotic - I lost count the number of times we were honked at hahahaha. It is a gamble of life to cross these roads here in India but I trust that it's actually way better here and 'organised' compared to say, Chennai, or Mumbai! Can't imagine what it's like there now.

I quite like this shot on top unfortunately it's slightly marred by that one angmoh at the bottom right corner :/

Street vendors selling colourful juices, dare you try them?
The other angmohs again decided to take the safe way back to the hotel via our designated van and driver but three of us - Venki, Denis (the only brave and adventurous French with us) and I decided to hire a tuk-tuk. Lol. I LOVE open-air rides!

Like all tourists, die die must take one photo with tuk tuk lol.

It's actually pretty safe... maybe there's three of us, so the tuk-tuk, being heavier, couldn't speed as fast as it usually does hahaha but we still got back to our hotel in one piece (Amitabha). The tuk-tuk driver even humoured us when Denis requested for a song to be played, like a Hindi dance music lol. But this driver only had some boom boom songs... sipek luan hor....

K, that's all for Port Blair. Keen on extending my stay next time for dives.. hmm....

Burger Lab

I really only selectively blog about makan places, usually revolving shops/restaurants that I fancy. Recent trip to KL, Mei Ying arranged dinner at this place called myBurgerLab. Now, I've read of myBurgerLab, mostly through Facebook with people posting photos of the recognisable black bun and of the ridiculous crowd thronging the shop. Naturally I thought it was all just a hype.

Well, I was one of those ridiculous crowd lining up on a Friday evening while trying to get my hands on the charcoal bun burger.

They open at 5pm, we were there at 5:15pm and even then, the place was already packed! A queue has also formed.... talk about dedicated customers....

Interesting wall art

myBurgerLab menu with a choice of beef, chicken or vegetarian (where the patty is replaced with portobello mushroom). I must say, pretty interesting combination they have here with optional mix and match options of fries and drinks. See that 'Stink Bomb'? Curious about the ingredients? Beef patty, complete with sambal petai and blue cheese. I bet you're squirming now in your seat imagining that combustion of flavours haha. A friend ordered that and strangely, it's not too bad. Now, I love sambal petai but I hate blue cheese with all my life. One good thing about this stink bomb is the blue cheese is not overwhelming... Those brains behind myBurgerLab have got things sorted then.

Anyhoo, a set of burger of your choice, complete with fries and a soda sets you back by RM25 or so. It's more expensive if you opt for juice, or a la carte fries, or mineral water. Definitely not cheap, even for KL standards as the ambience is very casual and the portion, small.

Mei Ying told me about this special burger that they offer called Elvis which is not on the menu. Well, of course I would order that! ;)

Oh, and the staffs are mostly made up of college-going kiddos! Including the ones in the kitchen, grilling burgers, etc. Oh wait, even the ones dining there also relatively young me thinks. Gives a young-ish vibe to the place I suppose. But still, RM25 for a meal, especially for a student has got to be too much right? I remember back when I was a student, going for KFC or McDonalds (RM12-15?) itself was a huge treat already......

After ordering and paying at the counter, we were handed our receipts along with our queue number. Wait wasn't long (approximately 10 minutes?) before our number was up to collect our meals but more and more customers are already filling in to the relatively small shop.

Mirror tricks ;)

Perfect companions to a burger - mustard, ketchup and of course a fizzy, soft drink (they only have Pepsi but I so wanted a Coke :/ )

See, see, filled to the brim oredy.

Does the burger look good or what?! Elvis: Beef patty with caramelised onions, cranberry sauce, cheese with charcoal buns spread with peanut butter. Unconventional, but totally spot on! One gripe I have though, is that they probably did not spread the buns properly with the PB and by the time I am mid way through the burger, the buns start feeling soggy.

And don't even get me started on their fries! Fried to a crispy golden brown and sprinkled with rosemary, it's already a great combination but the dip! I can't describe what was in the dip, but I can sure as hell tell you it's goooooood. I think it's a little like mayo mixed with chilli sauce, with a lemony zest kick to it.

Just another peek at the burger...

Mei Ying's A+ chicken burger. As you can see, the bun is already starting to get soggy...

The portobello strips 'fries' were undeniably awesome! Sprinkled with rosemary as well, the breaded batter holds in the portobello juices which all just melts in your mouth. Two different types of dips are available for their portobello fries, one which is mustard, and another which has a Twisties-type of flavour to it, we call it the melted Twisties dip lol.

Second visit a few days later and I ordered this... Kick in the Face beef burger. Contains horseradish sauce, jalapeno and cheese, but it wasn't that hot though, very mild on the spicy scale, I must say. Not too bad but I think I still preferred the Elvis burger lah, with the portobello fries! Yum, yum, yum.

 One point worth noting at this restaurant.... service was impeccable. Tables quickly cleared for the next customers. A friend accidentally knocked down his burger and fries while one of the staff was wiping the table clean. The staff quickly offered to bring him another burger, complete with fries. Very good strategy indeed..... Ah, I'm craving for another Elvis right now :(

A December Food Trail

Continuing where I left off previously...Traveled south towards KL and Mei Ying was already hurrying me to reach her place and start decorating her Christmas tree in time for the house-warming/pre-Xmas party, lol. Arrived at her place 5ish, and immediately started taking out the faux tree from the box and got to work with her on my case :P She's gotten all the ornaments and baubles and whatnot EXCEPT!! The tree-topper! So I told her, it's ok, I'm pretty sure we can improvise and looked around her 'office' and spotted this teddy bear hahaha. Like what they say, the rest is history.

I must say, pretty impressed myself with the results ;)

Excuse the very pinkish faces, low lighting hor.

 Creative director and the marvelous, joy-filled Christmas tree ;)

 Can't remember which night it was and Mei Ying wasn't feeling very well so she asked if it's okay if we have salad. Anything high fibre and healthy, I'm a direct convert! (we were initially supposed to get bakuteh). But after a couple of weeks back home and gorging myself on good food almost daily, this is a great step back of mild detox.. lol. She also introduced me to quinoa, which I think complements the salad nicely and kinda rounds it up! I think I'll be having more of these in the future... :)

Too soon I speak of a detox, the next morning we visited the much hyped about Village Park for their so-called famous nasi lemak and even more famous deep fried chicken. It was, most unfortunately, my idea to visit the place after hearing much hype from my old colleagues back in KLCC about its crunchy and out-of-this-world fried chicken and sambal..........

The queue was really long, even though it was on a working day, but then again, it was Xmas Eve, so I guess most people are taking the day off. What's also bad about the place is the fact that their system is annoyingly inefficient. There was only one entrance/exit and on both sides of the already narrow corridor were two long queues, one for ordering and one for payment. There were waiters but they only seem able to take orders for drinks when they could also have included meal orders as well. Oh well, Malaysia Boleh and anyhow no matter how bad their system is, there's still a long line of nasi lemak-deprived people so willingly to push and shove their way for that plate of nasi lemak.

Verdict on Village Park nasi lemak: chicken looks nice, succulent but the taste just doesn't quite make the cut for me. I'd still take the Lucky Plaza deliciously mouth-watering ayam penyet any other day. Sambal was not bad, but it's more on the mild/sweet side. Me, I love my sambal burning hot :D

Had a lot of fun preparing our Xmas dinner. Cranked up the music, karaoke-ed to the songs, and started with the multiple chopping, peeling and cooking. Don't know whether you should be drinking and cooking but Evan then made this refreshing Italian soda, alcoholic no doubt lol.

Bombarding the chicken in the tray before it gets shoved into the oven. No turkey this time, but a whole chicken. Still, not complaining...

Stuffed with cooked, chopped onions, minced meat and garlic along with other miscellaneous herbs and spices, roasting with a tray full of other wholesome ingredients: carrots, capsicums, taters, onions, cucumber, basil leaves, whole garlic, the works. All with a dash of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Yum, yum, yum. (Please excuse the remnants of the chicken feet on the corner).

Slowly baking for an-hour-and-a-half...


Are you drooling already, or are you drooling already?? The chicken carcass deliciously browned and succulent, the meat just falling off the bones. And the vegs! Fully caramelised, and just melting in the mouth! And the garlic! Steamed in its own clove skin..... so soft and bursting with flavour. Bon Appetit!

The chicken and its other complementing friends... The others made fun of me as I prepared my classic Christmas ceviche (thanks again Su Jen for the recipe, lol, been making it every so often). They claimed I took too long at my own sweet time to chop the ingredients for the recipe, lol. That's called preparation with love, y'all ;) Even Evan who has done preparing a couple of dishes was insulted when he came beside me, frying onions, garlic and minced meat for the second time and I taunted him 'ko chai cha' (frying again) that got him fired up hahaha.

Initially thought that with the roasted chicken and ceviche would be too much, but considering the size of the chicken, it was good that we also have pasta as well! Wiped everything clean that night :) Brussel sprouts was a huge mistake on its appearance in the Xmas dinner. A colleague calls it whistle berries, and rightly so! Whole night after dinner my stomach felt full of wind, not a comfortable feeling, I assure you :/

Dinner did not end on a flat note, no way that's going to happen. After another round of drinks, our sweet palate came in the form of a beautiful pine-nut-and-walnut-covered carrot cake, inspired by the curvaceous Nigella Lawson. The cake contains all the necessary ingredients for the makings of my favourite carrot cake: rum, raisin and walnuts. It was heavenly, needless to say.

Please take a moment to admire the beauty of this flawless cake :D

We didn't do much that night, just drank, karaoke-ed some more and fooling around with the camera lol. All good fun.

Topped cake with lemon zest mascarporne cheese cream... mmmmm..............

I don't know what's with me and this new job that I am taking up, but I realize that I've been slacking off so much more than usual. Sleeping for longer hours (I used to wake up when the sunlight hits me), do things at a relatively slow pace.... Maybe I'm just more laid back now? Not sure if it's a good or bad thing... yet...

Boxing Day.. A little ex-LGs reunion. Visited this nice little designer coffee place @ Typica in KL.

Typica sells expensive 'designer' coffee. I tried this iced coffee drink that was served in a martini glass. That little heart-shaped thing in it is in fact frozen gula Malacca! The barista then poured my cold coffee over it and each sip taken will give you a different taste experience as the iced gula Malacca slowly melts! Genius.

And on the way down south.... towards Malacca.

And what else can you do in Malacca besides eating? More eating!

Chicken rice balls are a must... Kenneth brought us to this place which is further from town so we can avoid the massive jams that is so infamous in Malacca's central.

Chicken, oh so tender! It's seriously just as good as the one in Jonker Street, minus all that long queues. Way too much hassle. In any case, even the garlicky, chilli sauce is also pretty good in my opinion (which may have turn out to be a generous compliment now that my taste standard has seriously deteriorated after serving time in Singapore and on the vessel...). Blogging about this now is a serious mistake..... On the vessel now and devoid of real, good food :(


Next stop is the must-go-place while in Malacca. Nadeje. Kenneth again brought us to another branch of Nadeje where we can avoid the horrendous traffic. 

Mille crepe, or thousand layer cakes :3

I only ever fancy the original flavour, the other flavours don't quite cut it. Plus, these crepes have cream in between their thousand layers or so, and after a few mouthfuls, you just can't go on anymore! Fills you up real easily. But of course, being Lifeguards (ex), it's only a matter of minutes before all nine pieces of mille crepes are annihilated...

Proceed with our drive down south and detoured over to Segamat, Johor for some stinking fruits that Segamat is so famous for.

Been a while since I'd been in Segamat, Wei Inn's hometown. 

Now, I'm not a big fan of durians but this round of durian feast is really something! I particularly enjoyed this breed of durian which has a tinge of orange to its flesh. Creamy and rich.... super! I may have just turned into a durian convert!

Complete with mangosteen for the non-durian eaters. It's really more fun to eat durians! At least when you burp, you can guiltlessly burp with the other durian eaters :D

The Georgian Adventure - Hike to Chalaadi Glacier

Our third, and last hike in Svaneti. There are so many more places to hike and explore around Georgia, it was a hard decision to premature...