Things To Do In Kaohsiung

Things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan: Markets, Food & a Cool Beach!

After 4 rainy days in Taipei and 3 bright and sunny days in Taichung, it was time to move to Kaohsiung on the incredible fast train which connects the cities of the west coast.  Even though fast trains in Taiwan are slightly slower than some trains in Japan, they still reach about 300km/h and are extremely fun! I wrote about how to get from Taichung to Kaohsiung on the fast train here.

Kaohsiung is a far more southerly town than either Taipei or Taichung and because of that, the weather is usually warmer than its more northerly neighbours. That makes the city and especially the beach areas really pleasant to walk around. So what is there to do in Kaohsiung? Let’s get to it:Dome Of Light Kaohsiung

1. Formosa Boulevard

This isn’t really a tourist spot, but it’s an interesting place to come and visit nonetheless. So what is Formosa Boulevard? It’s actually just an underground station! But at one of the station exits there is an awesome stained glass dome which really does have to be seen to be believed. Designed by an Italian artist, it’s better know as the “dome of light” and has a diameter of 30 meters and is made up of 4500 individual glass panels.Formosa Boulevard KaohsiungIf you happen to pass through the station on your travels around Kaohsiung, you’re bound to see people pointing their cameras upward trying to get a shot of the awesome artwork. For me, I got to see it multiple times because my hotel was literally next door. Better still, I was able to swing by later in the evening when the commuter crowd had died down.Dome Of Light Formosa BoulevardHow to get here: Dome of Light is on level B1 of Formosa Boulevard metro station near exit 2, 4, 5, 7. 

2. Liuhe Night Market

As usual, you can’t get the feeling of a Taiwanese city without visiting its night markets.  Liuhe Night Market was located just a short walk from my hotel in Kaohsiung making it the perfect spot to go and grab a late night snack (I stayed at the Centre Hotel for $30 per night). When you read some of the reviews of this market online, some people claim it’s a simple tourist market and some claim it’s a good market to go and eat local food. For me, this really didn’t feel too touristy and a lot of the signs were still in Chinese… So maybe touristy if you’re Chinese, but not if you’re an English speaker.

I walked up and down the market a couple of times and it’s not really that big to be honest stretching only 1 full block. As usual, there are food carts on the left and right and in the middle there are tables and chairs where you can sit and eat your food.Liuhe Night Market KoahsiungEven though it’s an interesting market to walk around, I found it difficult to find a full meal here that took my fancy. I did, however, find the banana roti and black pepper bun which I wrote about in my post about food in Kaohsiung.Banana Roti Liuhe Night Market

3. Cijin Island

Now, this place is really cool and perhaps a highlight of your trip to Kaohsiung. Cijin Island is a large island a short 5 minute ferry ride from Kaohsiung where you’ll find lots of cool things to see and do. It’s an island with residents just like the mainland, but the infrastructure here is set up primarily for the local tourist crowd which gather here on the weekends.Cijin Beach KaohsiungSo what is there along the beach on Cijin Island? Well, there are two main objects: a Giant Shell a a thing called the Rainbow Church. Apparently the giant shell is there because it’s next to the shell museum, but I had no interest in visiting a shell museum so I didn’t go inside.Giant Shell Cijin IslandThe Rainbow Church actually isn’t a church. It’s just a bunch of colourful sticks representing an art installation which provides a good backdrop for some Instagram pics. There are 2 installations next to each other: one square shaped and the other similar to a chapel which you might see on the beach in somewhere like Bali. And of course they’re both full of colour hence the name “Rainbow”. Simple, but worth visiting!Art Installation Cijin BeachGetting a photo here is free, but there are sometimes queues of people wanting to take photos. When I arrived, there was no queue at all so we had the place to ourselves for a good 10 minutes. But then a bunch of people turned up out of nowhere and started lining up to get a shot. And they were polite! No pushing and shoving and standing in other people’s photos. That’s one of the beauties of Taiwan. The people are so damned polite!Rainbow Church KaohsiungAside from the spots alongside the beach, there are a bunch of other interesting spots around Cijin such as Cijin Star Tunnel, Cihou Lighthouse, Cihou Fort, Tianhou Temple, flower park near the beach and Windpower Park. Tip: prepare one full day if you want to explore Cijin Island properly as there is lots to see and do.Flower Garden Cijin IslandHow to get to Cijin Island: Take metro Orange Line, get off at Sizihwan (R01), take exit 1, turn left and walk about 10 minutes to the ferry port. Buy the ferry ticket on the spot. (NT$25 per person, use exact money). Ferries depart every 10 to 15 minutes. 

4. Pier 2 Art District / Kaohsiung Railway Cultural Park

Pier 2 is an art park/district located in and around old train warehouses which are no longer used for their original purpose and is now claimed by local artists where they display their works of art.

The area is quite large and some of the installations are huge such as the large suitcase shown in the photo below which is made from old rail carriages. They also have houses which are designed so that they appear upside down, but when I was there they were in the process of renovation. Aside from the outdoor installations, there are a few old warehouses where they conduct exhibitions which usually require payment to enter.Pier 2 Art Centre KaohsiungEntry to the park itself is free and well worth a visit because there are lots of cool things to see. In other words, lots of instagrammable spots. A word of warning that busloads of tour groups tend to buzz through every now and then causing the place to become extremely crowded and noisy. But not long after they arrive, they depart again.

How to get here: Take metro Orange Line and get off at Yanchengpu station,  walk 5 minutes to Pier 2 Art District.Kaohsiung Railway Cultural Park

5. Lotus Pond

As the name suggest, Lotus Pond is famous for its lotus plants. But don’t think of a small pond with a few lotuses in it. No… this is actually a massive lake filled with wildlife, temples and also the odd lotus. Opened in 1951, this lake is always busy with tourists coming to check out the various temples.Lotus Pond KaohsiungOne of the highlights of the Lotus Pond is the pair of towers known as the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas with one of the pagodas having an entrance in the shape of a dragon and the other having an entrance in the shape of a tiger. What’s cool is that there is a rule where you have to enter through the dragon and exit through the tiger. The reason being, according to Chinese culture, that if you enter in the correct direction, you’ll draw good luck to yourself. Seems too good to be true!Dragon And Tiger PagodasEach pagoda is 7 storeys tall and contains a spiral staircase in the centre allowing you to reach the top where the views are pretty special. And there are quite a few other temples around the lake as well such as the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, Confucius Temple and a few palaces. If you want to visit them all, you’re going to need quite a few hours as the distance between them is quite far and will require more or less a full circuit of the lake on foot.View From Top Of Pagodas Lotus PondHow to get here: Take the train in the direction of Zuoying (where the high speed rail station of Kaohsiung is), get off at Zuoying and walk 20 minutes to the Lotus Pond. The other option if you’re too lazy to walk is to catch a bus: Red Line #35 from in front of Zuoying station which drops you off at the twin pagodas..

6. Ruifeng Night Market

This is my favourite night market in Kaohsiung. Unfortunately it was raining really hard when I was there and I wasn’t able to enjoy it is as much as I would have liked. Ruifeng Night Market is a night market focused primarily on food.

Ruifeng Night Market isn’t like many other night markets in Taiwan where they block off a street and set up stalls — it’s more like a dedicated fixed market which makes it feel a little bit different to many other night markets you might have been to. Each stall has its own roof so that when it rains, you get wet half the time and the other half you’re safe under someone’s stall. But move in the wrong direction and you’ll catch the deluge running off the canopy — they could probably fix this.Ruifeng Night Market KaohsiungA few of the foods I tried: grilled marinated chicken, taro milk (made from freshly steamed taro and then blended to order), deep fried octopus and bubble tea filled toast! So if you can, try and visit this particular night market because the food is really interesting. Just make sure you arrive on an empty stomach.

How to get here: Take train route Red Line and get off at Kaohsiung Arena Station, walk 3 minutes to Ruifeng Night Market.Bubble Tea Sandwich Ruifeng Night MarketIf you have more time in Kaohsiung, there’s actually plenty more to explore around Kaohsiung such as Kenting National Park, but you’re probably going to need a car and driver to do it. FYI, there are direct flights from Singapore to Kaohsiung these days meaning you don’t even have to go to Taipei at all if you don’t want to (check airfares here). Or better still, fly into Kaohsiung and fly out of Taipei or vice versa. Whatever the case, Kaohsiung is definitely worth a visit if you’re going to Taiwan.

PS If you’re looking for a place to stay, I stayed at the extremely good value Centre hotel for about $30 per night. Check prices here!

What To Eat in Kaohsiung: Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks!

After hunting for good local food in di Taipei City and trying out the food in Taichung, I just had to get the low down on the eating situation in Kaohsiung. Because I was only in Kaohsiung for 2 nights, the following list is not everything you might want to try and it is heavy on market food, but it’s a good start. There are cafes, coffee shops and bakeries as well! Here’s what I tried!

1. Banana Roti

Banana Roti KaohsiungThis first one isn’t really taiwanese specialty food, but it’s worth trying anyway at the Liuhe Night Market. I waited in line with a bunch of other people who were also waiting for the Banana Roti. It looks like a tourist friendly cart because of the 4 languages which are on display: Chinese, Korean, Japanese and English. The ordering process is really simple as you’d expect and you’re allowed to choose a topping: caramel (syrup), condensed milk, chocolate (syrup), sliced almonds, cotton candy and raisins.

I chose the standard combination: chocolate and condensed milk. The roti was cruchy and the banana was super sweet and soft because it had already been pre-cooked. Simple yet awesome. Especially for those who love sweet foods and don’t fear diabetes!

Location: Liuhe Night Market
Price: NT$60

2. Blackpepper Bun

Blackpepper Bun KaohsiungI was curious about these blackpepper buns since seeing them at Raohe Night Market in Taipei. At that time there was a single counter with a massive line just to get these tiny blackpepper buns. Being someone who can’t stand waiting in long lines for food, I skipped the blackpepper buns at Raohe. So when I saw them for sale at Liuhe Night Market there was only one thing on my mind. MUST EAT BLACKPEPPER BUN!

The blackpepper buns are similar to bakpau with main difference being that one is baked and the other is steamed. It makes a massive difference mainly because there is no chance you’re going to get one of those over-steamed slimy bakpaus you often get in Asia *shudder*. In fact, this bun had distinct crispness about it that I really loved! The inside of the bun is filled with minced beef seasoned with black pepper and tastes similar to a black pepper beef you might get at a Chinese restaurant anywhere around the world — except much better!

Location: Liuhe Night Market
Price: NT$50

3. Rose Jelly Fig

Rose Jelly Fig KaohsiungI stumbled across this dessert accidentally when walking around the Pier 2 Arts Center and was impressed! From the front, the cafe itself looks really interesting and the fact that there is an English sign out the front invites you right inside. The cafe itself specialises in serving ice desserts containing fig jelly in the shape of roses — so weird! Who on earth comes up with these ideas?

The number of combinations of flavours is pretty staggering, so to save stressing about which flavour to get, I just got the standard recommended one. The bowl is filled with 4 jelly roses mixed with multi-coloured pearls, shaved ice and lemon syrup. It was a combination I’d never had before, but the flavour was fantastic and really refreshing. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area and it’s hot outside.

Location: Pier 2 Arts Center
Price: NT$90

4. Simtree Coffee

Cake Simtree Coffee KaohsiungI really love cakes and pastries and if I find a bakery or cake shop in a new country, I have to try it. Simtree Coffee isn’t just a coffee shop as the name might suggest, but also a cake and pastry shop — I’m in heaven! And the pastries on offer aren’t just sweet ones, they also have a range of savoury ones making it a decent spot for lunch.

I tried a cake and a quiche both of which looked interesting! The cake itself was quite complicated and really interesting to eat — I love a cake which takes a departure for the same old same old. The cafe itself is quite big spreading over 2 spacious floors and it’s quite empty if you get there at opening time. The concept of the cafe is quite interesting in that they have an environmental focus with lots of reusable cutlery and cakes provided with just a napkin instead of also being placed on a paper plate. It’s a small point, but something which I’d love to see a lot more of.

Location: No 73, Zhongheng 3rd Road.
Price: NT$485 for 2 drinks and 2 cakes/pastries

5. OH! Cafe

OH Coffee KaohsiungIf you’re searching the internet for coffee in Kaohsiung, you might run into OH! cafe. Unfortuntely, the cafe is more of a grab and go kind of place and not really built as a sit down place. The reason is that it’s right out the front of the ferry terminal leading to Cijin Island. So yeah, lots of people want to order a coffee in a paper cup and drink it on the ferry which is a shame as the coffee is really good!

If you hate drinking coffee from a paper cup (that’s me, I know it’s not a popular view), they do have one or two proper cups which they’ll gladly serve you your coffee in.

Location: In front of the ferry terminal to Cijin Island
Price: NT$140 for 1 coffee and 1 iced tea

6. Local Din Tai Fung

Local Din Tai Fung KaohsiungThere are loads of restaurants in Taiwan that serve food which is similar to Din Tai Fung and they’re usually named something you can’t understand unless you can read Chinese characters. These “Local Din Tai Fungs” serve up delicious XLBs (pork dumplings with broth inside), dumplings in chili oil as well as lots of vege and meat dishes.

Prices at these places are almost always cheaper than the original Din Tai Fung and in my view, the taste is not all that different. If you love Din Tai Fung in your home country, look for these local versions all throughout Taiwan when you arrive. And don’t be afraid of the language barrier. Someone will always be willing to help you out. If all else fails, you can type what you want into google translate.

Location: everywhere
Price: NT$185 for 3 portions of dumplings and 1 sweet roti

7. Lu Rou Fan

Lu Rou Fan KaohsiungIf you’re looking for cheap food, Lu Rou Fan is Taiwanese budget fare which is super delicious! It’s a simple dish of steamed rice topped with soy sauce flavoured pork belly. Yum! I stumbled upon this particular place while on the way back from the ferry terminal to Cijin Island. Simply point to what you want on the menu and out it comes.

Location: Binhai 1st Road, next to Lane 88 Binhaiyi Road. Before the ferry terminal to Cijin Island.
Price: NT$65 for 1 portion of lu rou fan + 1 portion of noodles with minced meat

8. Souffle Pancake

Souffle Pancake Shiba Cafe KaohsiungI accidentally found this cafe while looking for something for breakfast around my hotel. From the name, I kind of expected that the cafe would have some sort of connection with Shiba Inu. And true to its name, the cafe is named Shiba Cafe because there is often a Shiba Inu dog hanging out in the corner.

But the main reason I visited this particular cafe was for the souffle pancake which I had read was awesome. And it was. Originally from Japan, the souffle pancake is a pancake made in a souffle style so that it rises and becomes super fluffy. Add some stewed fruit, a bit of cream and even some caramel sauce and you have sugar heaven.

Location: Shiba Cafe, intersection of Zhongzheng 4th Road Lane 63 and Nantai Road Lane 43.
Price: NT$330 for 1 souffle pancake & 2 drinks

9. Chicken Skewers

Chicken Skewer Ruifeng Market KaohsiungChopped chicken on a stick. What could be better as a quick snack? The chicken stick is covered with some herbs and spices and placed on a hot plate where it is slightly burnt/caramelised. The chicken comes off the grill piping hot and super juicy — not a dry piece of chicken to be found! Better still, those spices amp the flavour levels right up giving you a perfectly delicious chicken stick. Simple food done right.

Location: Ruifeng Night Market
Price: NT$45

10. Taro Milk

Taro Milk Ruifeng Night Market KaohsiungFor me, this was one my favourite food/drinks in Kaohsiung. Usually when you drink an ice taro latte or something of the sort, you’re usually drinking a coloured powder mixed with milk. But at this place they actually steam big chunks of taro and then blend them with milk to make a perfectly fresh and original taro milk — so awesome! Just to make sure you’re getting the freshest drink possible, they don’t make it in bulk in advance. They steam each piece of taro on the spot and blend it to order. Definitely something you need to seek out in Kaohsiung.

Location: Ruifeng Night Market
Price: NT$50

11. Fried Octopus

Fried Octopus KaohsiungWhen walking through Ruifeng Night Market, I had the sudden feeling of being pulled in by these gigantic tentacles, battered and deep fried. Because you rarely see octopus tentacles for sale like this, I just had to order a portion. They even weigh the portion to make sure you get the same amount for the same price every single time. The tentacles are then chopped up again and served with a squeeze of lemon of the top. Sweet, juicy, delicious!

Location: Ruifeng Night Market
Price: NT$100

12. Bubble-filled Toast & Earl Grey Tea Jam

Toast Bubble Earl Grey KaohsiungToast filled with egg, sausage or cheese is pretty standard these days around the world. But at one counter at Ruifeng Night Market you can get toast filled with bubble pearls mixed with earl grey tea jam. So weird, but so good! As weird as it seems, it actually tastes pretty normal as all the flavours really go together — almost like a bubble tea with a bit of crispy bread in it. The bubbles are hot because the bread is toasted in a sandwich press just like you’d make a toasted cheese sandwich. Definitely worth trying out if you’re into bubbles and are looking for something different.

Location: Ruifeng Night Market
Price: NT$60

Banana Roti Liuhe Night MarketThe food situation in Kaohsiung is really quite good as you’d expect. Enjoy your culinary journey in Kaohsiung!

Goutte Coffee Tea

Goutte Coffee & Tea, Bandung: Drink Coffee While Relaxing in a Courtyard Garden

Goutte is a tiny coffee shop located in the creative working space called Taman Tengah not too far from the busyness of Jalan Riau.

It’s such a peaceful space that you can hardly believe the hustle and bustle of Jalan Riau is so close. Not only is it peaceful, the fit out the garden area is tastefully designed and pleasing to the eye.Taman Tengah GoutteFive large picnic tables serve as the space for sitting and opening a laptop or nongkronging with your friends.

We tried a iced banana latte and an iced coffee. Both delivered what they promised — icy cold flavoured milk in a plastic cup. We weren’t disappointed.Drinks At Goutte Coffee TeaThe shared wifi here was extremely slow when we tried it and there were no other customers. 0.5mbps both up and down. But when we tried the Goutte private wifi, it was much fast at 10/1.5. So if you want to work here, make sure you choose the Goutte wifi rather than the communal one.Goutte Coffee Tea BandungOther than that, we really liked this place. It’s just a shame that it’s not as popular as it should be.Taman Tengah BandungLastly, we need to talk about price. This is one of those CHEAP coffee shops. With coffee under Rp20.000 and good wifi, it’s a great place for ppl on a budget.

Goutte Coffee & Tea
Jalan Wira Angun-angun (Taman Tengah), Bandung
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 21:00, Fri from 13:00
Banana Latte: Rp15.000
Iced Coffee: Rp18.000

Please Please Please Bandung

Please Please Please, Bandung: Good Food & Coffee, Really Weird Fitout

Please Please Please is a place which has been crazy popular for a couple of years now especially on weekends when hordes of Jakartans descend on the cafe.

So of course we just had to try it out to see if lives up to the hype. And for us, it does not live it up to the hype. And here’s why.Please Please Please BandungWhen you walk in to Please Please Please, you’re immediately presented with a really weird fit out. It’s clearly an old building which has had some renovations done on it, but not everywhere. So in some areas you get a modern feel, in some areas it’s really old fashioned. And old fashioned in a bad way.Please Please Please Progo BandungNot only that, the old parts of the building haven’t really been looked after with evidence of sticky tape on the walls, window frames and some tables. It just looks like someone forgot to clean it up. The fitout really annoys me.Cofffee At Please Please PleaseThe coffee tasted brilliant. Two minor gripes. It was luke warm. And it was served in the wrong cup. But I have to say that the flavour of the coffee and texture of the milk made up for these two minor criticisms. It was excellent.Hor Lee Fuk Fried RiceThe food was good too. We had the Ho Lee Fuk Rice and Salted Egg Chicken Rice Bowl. Both were tasty and good quality.Nasi Ayam Saus Telur AsinSo while we really don’t like the fitout of this place, it’s still quite a good cafe to come to. Just forget about all the hype you see on social media as this hype sometimes has the effect of raising your expectations too high. Just come here and enjoy a good meal and excellent coffee.

Wifi 4mbps down & 2.5mbps up. Not really a place for working.

Please Please Please
Jalan Progo 37, Bandung
(022) 2051 2715
Opening Hours: 07:00 – 22:00, Fri & Sat until 23:00
Ho Lee Fuk Rice: Rp59.000
Salted Egg Rice Bowl: Rp49.000
Magic: Rp28.000
Vitamin Booster: Rp38.000
* All prices add 15% tax & service

Wheelers Coffee Bandung

Wheeler’s Coffee, Bandung: Strong, Quality Coffee

In Bandung these days, you really have to be special if you want to be a coffee shop which stands out from the crowd. It’s not good enough to have a good coffee shop. You need something different or something which is the best.

Wheeler’s Coffee is good and we enjoyed our drinks here. We also enjoyed nongkronging on the lounge listening to the music and surfing the internet. But to be honest, you can do this in many places in Bandung these days. So while we really like Wheeler’s Coffee, we’re asking ourselves what it is that’s going to bring us back next time.Wheelers CoffeeI had a magic and Susan had a caramel macchiato. The magic was super strong and very enjoyable. It’s what we expect in Bandung these days. Good reliable strong coffee. They do that well here at Wheeler’s Coffee.Coffee At Wheelers CoffeeThey also have a range of dishes to eat here such as ham & cheese sandwich, salad bowl and crispy chicken sandwich. We didn’t try the food.Cozy Sofa At Wheelers CoffeeThe fit out of the cafe is pleasant enough with a couple of lounges to sit on and a few tables to work out. There’s and outdoor area for those who smoke.Wheelers Coffee Jalan VeteranThe wifi here is quite fast. 20mbps down and 4mbps up. I’d be very happy to come here and open a laptop to get some work done.

All in all a good coffee shop with good coffee. Worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Wheeler’s Coffee
Jalan Veteran 21, Bandung
Instagram: @wheelers_coffee
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 07:30 – 21:00, Fri-Sun until 22:00
Magic: Rp30.000
Caramel Macchiato: Rp32.000
No tax!

Best Sunset Spots In Blue Mountains

6 Great Sunset Spots in the Blue Mountains

With the massive uptick in Instagram usage, the need for new Instagram spots is unrelenting. Luckily, I’ve already visited a bunch of sunsets spots in the Blue Mountains which are perfect for your Instagram feed. These are my favourite sunset locations in the Blue Mountains.

Cahill’s Lookout

Cahill's Lookout Sunset Blue MountainsNot long ago Cahill’s Lookout used to be just a dirt track on the side of a suburban road with very few visitors. But it was improved a couple of years back to include a reasonable car park and a nice concrete path. And now it’s often packed with sunset hunters including the odd small tour bus. But it’s worth it.

With sunsets like this, how can you not be tempted?!

And besides, it’s really close to Katoomba.

Lincoln Rock (AKA Flat Rock)

Flat Rock At Lincoln RockLincoln Rock is a booming place mainly because it looks a bit like Wedding Cake Rock in the royal national park. Well, sort of. It’s flat… and you can get photos at it. And lots of people go there. So yeah, you can too.

At sunset, it’s really cool with the sun setting in the background. Be sure to check out the nearby cave where you can get a classic Instagram shot of the sun setting through the opening of the cave.

It’s in the Wentworth Falls area and you’ll need a car to get out there. Definitely worth a look, but not my favourite spot despite it being a hit with Instagrammers.

Blackheath Lookout

Blackheath LookoutIf you’re further up the mountains than Katoomba, there are a couple of good spots in Blackheath for sunset. The first one is Blackheath Lookout.

This is the spot that hang gliders take off from and it has a great view over the Megalong Valley. The sunset from here is bang on. Also a good spot to capture the milky way.Blackheath Lookout SunsetJust head over the railway tracks from Blackheath and follow the signs. If not, this map will help.

Hargraves Lookout

Hargreaves Lookout Blue MountainsHargraves is one of my favourite spots for sunset in the Blue Mountains primarily because it has such a massive area where you can set up your rig, take in the peace and quiet and basically avoid other humans.

The best spots are right down the end of the ridge amongst the trees. It’s also possible to get the Milky Way from here, but it can be crazy cold in winter. Think of 0ºC with 50km/h winds. Nasty.

It’s also an easy place to get to with a car, but forget about it if you’re on foot.

Sunset Rock

Sunset Rock Mt VictoriaSunset Rock is famous for sunsets, funnily enough. And it’s very unpopular. That is, I’ve never seen another person there. Maybe that’s because it’s high up in the Blue Mountains at Mt Victoria, away from public transport. Also, I’ve only ever been there in winter.

The good thing about this view point is that there are plenty of great foreground objects and well as some interesting undulating landscapes.

This is another favourite of mine because of the lack of other humans.

Hassan’s Walls

Hassan’s Walls is not a tourist destination. But plenty of locals like to come up here for sunset. They’re smart. Because Hassan’s Walls is my favourite spot for sunset in the whole of the Blue Mountains (even though it’s just outside of the Blue Mountains in Lithgow – I can still do that, right?).

Hassan’s Walls has been up(down)graded over the years to include a massive metal boardwalk with fencing. So you’re going to need to jump that to get any good photos, just like any instagrammer worth his or her salt is prone to do.

My favourite spot at Hassan’s Walls is to the right near the cave. Jump the fence before entering the cave and there are lots of great sunset spots. Just don’t fall off the edge or death is a near certainty.

These are my favourite sunset spots in the Blue Mountains! Share your favourite spots in the comments and I’ll try and get out there and update this post.

BA34 787 9 Economy Cabin

Review: BA34 from Kuala Lumpur to London

I recently was really lucky to get a great deal on flights to Madrid via an odd route. Basically, you had to book through an OTA such as Expedia or last minute and select a European destination and a different return city from you departure city. I chose KUL-MAD-SIN and ended up on BA34 to London as this is where is transited.

The flight departed on time and although it was a full flight, the departure lounge felt half empty. I’m guessing that’s due to the configuration of the cabin on this 787-9 which has a tiny economy section and quite spacious premium sections.BA34 787 9 Seat Back EntertainmentIf you’ve flown on a 787 in economy before, you know what the deal is. Narrow seats, large overhead storage bins, nifty tinted windows.

As soon as the plane took off, drinks were served and there was loads of alcohol. One of the things with airlines such as Qatar is that they’re sometimes a bit stingy on alcohol. British Airways were not.

After drinks dinner was served. The choice was between chicken satay and meat and potatoes. The dessert was some sort of cake which was enjoyable. Even though the dishes were ugly, they tasted quite good and so much better than I was expecting. Better than my previous flight with Qatar I think.BA34 FoodI find sleeping on a 787 really difficult. It’s all the more difficult when there is a metal entertainment unit under the seat in front like there was for me. If you have big feet and long legs, you can’t fully stretch out both legs under the seat in front of you and it greatly disturbs your sleep. How on earth I can buy an iPad with 256gb of memory that’s as 1cm thick and yet we still have entertainment units the size of a 1990s PC is beyond me. It needs to be fixed.BA34 787 9 Entertainment Unit Under SeatAfter many hours of trying to get comfortable, I was finally able to sleep. I think I got close to 6 hours of on and off sleep which is the minimum I was aiming for on this 12.5 hour flight.

Breakfast sounded disgusting. Vegetarian omelette or omelette and steak. Of course no one wants a steak for breakfast, so by the time the meal service came to me, all the vegetarian options were taken. Needless to say, the steak was really nice! I’m glad I got it in the end. Of course the omelette was like a piece of rubber, but it was edible. A standard airline omelette.BA34 MealsThe staff. I haven’t flown on Western airlines much over the past decade so I’ve gotten used to Asian and Middle Eastern service. And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly the BA crew. Not that over the top sickly sweet thing you can sometimes get, but a genuine pleasantness that is sometimes missing from the Asian airlines. And they felt much more professional than some of the Asian airlines as well. If there was an emergency, you felt that they had things under control.

The flight arrived into London slightly early without any hiccups whatsoever. A perfectly uneventful flight with pleasant staff and decent food. The $350 for the return journey was money well spent and I can highly recommend BA on the KUL-LON route.

Secret tip: pick an aisle seat on a window block of 3 to avoid getting an entertainment unit under your seat.

Chocha Foodstore KL

Chocha Foodstore, Kuala Lumpur: Incredible Modern Asian Food

Located in a newly gentrified area of Chinatown in a shop which not long ago was the bedroom for homeless people, Chocha Foodstore is the very epitomy of modern Chinatown.

The building is a stunner. An old shophouse with original tiles throughout and even much of the original paintwork. This combined with an architect’s eye transforms this once rundown shop into one of the trendiest cafes in Malaysia.In Front Chocha FoodstoreWe ordered the Biang Biang Inspired Noodles, Duck Confit Rice Bowl and a couple of drinks. We loved it all.Duck Confit Biang Biang NoodlesThe Biang Biang Noodles were thick & wide sheets of pasta topped with crushed peanuts and chilli oil. For me, the noodles were slightly too thick and wide, but you do sort of need something big for all the saucy goodness to rest on.

The duck confit was great and the mix of barley and rice was enjoyable. The asian style salad was a beauty and its sharpness cut through the fattiness of the duck just perfectly.Drinks Chocha FoodstoreThe drinks were a fermented ginger drink and a sour plum thing. Both were delightful and something quite different from typical cafe drinks.Patio ChochaOne thing to note is that coffee is not available here. And usually for me that’s a cardinal sin. But I agree with the owners that coffee just doesn’t fit in this cafe. And that’s kind of refreshing.Inside Chocha FoodstoreInternet here is very fast at 30mbps down and 20mbps up and there is plenty of space for opening a laptop if you need to get a few bits and pieces done.

Lastly, we need to talk about price. I’ve read a few reviews saying this place is over priced. This place is expensive by Malaysian standards, but it’s definitely not overpriced. You get handmade noodles, house made drinks from fresh ingredients and perhaps the best looking cafe in Malaysia. For that, you have to pay above average prices. And here you do. But the prices are so reasonable by world standards that it’s just not worth commenting on.Chocha Foodstore Kuala LumpurIf you’ve got no cash, don’t come here.

Love this place.

Chocha Foodstore
156 Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
Instagram: @chochafoodstore
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 23:00 (closed Monday)
Biang Biang Noodles: Rm18
Duck Confit Rice Bowl: Rm26
Ginger & Sour Plum Drinks: Rm18 each

Best Socks For The Camino De Santiago

Best Socks for the Camino de Santiago: Are Expensive Socks Really Worth It?

Darn Tough Socks are expensive, but durable and super comfortable. No Blisters!

Quality: 5/5
Durability: 5/5
Comfort: 5/5
Price: 3/5

I’ve walked the Camino 3 times now and on my most recent walk, I decided to try a new pair of socks with the hope that I could stop the shocking blisters that had dogged my first 2 Caminos. And so it was that I turned to Darn Tough socks for the 500 miles from Merida to Santiago.Camino De SantiagoWhen I received the socks from Darn Tough, I was surprised at how thick they were. They were a lot thicker than socks I had previously worn on the Camino and this worried me. Would they make my blisters worse because of more sweat? Would they dry in time at the end of the day? Would they cramp my feet in my shoes?

The first day out of Merida was only 10miles (16km), but the temperature was 97ºF (36ºC) and it was physically exhausting. I was sweating like I’d never sweated before. But strangely enough, my feet felt completely dry throughout the whole day. The socks have an incredible ability to wick away as much sweat as you can throw at them. So despite being thicker socks, they never really overheated my feet and my feet never got wet.Darn Tough Micro Crew For CaminoThe first afternoon of washing the socks was also a test of how quickly they would dry. And to my surprise, they dried quicker than my underwear. This was a story that repeated itself even as temperatures started to fall as we crossed the mountains. They’re a mix of merino wool & nylon and that’s probably the secret — great wicking and quite quick drying.  The socks always managed to dry before being needed the next day!Darn Tough Merino Wool NylonAfter 500miles (790km), I arrived in the ancient city of Santiago and the socks were still like brand new and my feet didn’t even have the first sign of a blister. Success!

What’s more, the socks today still feel like they are brand new. They fit perfectly, they stretch like they did when I first bought them, and they don’t have any signs of wear. I could easily wear these for another Camino without having to replace them. Incredible!

And that’s the great thing about Darn Tough socks. They are guaranteed for life. If they get a hole in them at any stage in their life, simply send them back to Darn Tough and they will send you a new pair. No questions asked.Socks For Camino Darn ToughThese socks are expensive. I used the ATC Micro Crew which cost $21 (check current price). But when you consider how much use you get out them, I actually think the price is quite reasonable. I also own a pair of much thicker Full Cushion socks and think they would be best for cooler weather. Perhaps a winter Camino! But for a October/November Camino, the ATC Micro Crew Darn Tough socks were perfect.

So if you’re looking for the best socks for the Camino, Darn Tough socks are my recommendation. They are worth every cent. Check out their website here –>

Lazy Lolla, Bandung Front

Lazy Lolla, Bandung: Disappointing All Round, Lots of Room to Improve

Lazy Lolla is one of those places that has been promoted crazily by Bandung food bloggers over the past few months and we just had to try it out for ourselves. Is the food really like that of a 5 star hotel? Amazing? Awesome?

Well, all we can say is that we didn’t feel quite excited about Lazy Lolla as many food bloggers. We ordered a cappuccino, taro shake, nasi goreng lazy lolla and creamy chicken mushroom and vegetable.Lazy Lolla, Bandung Food And DrinkFirstly, the food tasted quite good. The nasi goreng was wrapped in an omelette as you might get in Thailand and was quite decent. But it’s not as good as the Nasi Goreng Cikur you can get next door at Roempi. The Creamy Chicken was also not bad and something that most people would be happy with.Lazy Lolla, Bandung FoodBut the coffee wasn’t good. My cappuccino had good temperature, but the milk was frothed in a very old school style and the overall flavour wasn’t nice. I wouldn’t order this coffee again. The Taro Shake was quite good and we were happy with that.Lazy Lolla, Bandung DrinksThe fitout here is spacious and quite comfortable, but I was a bit confused about the big lounge chairs. They didn’t seem to match.Lazy Lolla, Bandung InsideI tested the internet at 16mbps down and 4mbps up which is fast enough for most things that people want to do. It’s actually a pretty relaxed place to open a laptop and get things done!

Prices here are low. In fact, they are super cheap for the sort of place they are. Thumbs up.Lazy Lolla, Bandung Coffee MachineSo all in all, Lazy Lolla is a pretty good place, but the standard in Bandung is so high right now that they need to be better.

Lazy Lolla
Jalan Anggrek 29, Bandung
Instagram: @lazy.lolla
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 23:00
Cappuccino: Ro22.000
Taro Shake: Rp25.000
Nasi Goreng: Rp31.500
Creamy Chicken: Rp35.000
* Add 15.5% tax & service to all items