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Amazing Sights at Batu Caves (plus: monkeys!)

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaI’ve seen a lot of impressive things over the course of this trip, but the entrance to Batu Caves — featuring a towering, 140 foot golden statue — is right up there.

I mean, look at that thing.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Then you climb up all those stairs (it’s a lot of stairs), and there’s an enormous cave with multiple temples inside.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It’s pretty incredible.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

That’s not to mention the monkeys!

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There are dozens of monkeys that just hang around on the steps and near the entrance to the cave.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

As you can see, they were pretty much the best.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Even if the caves themselves weren’t spectacular (which they were), it would be worth coming here just to see the monkeys.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Plus, here’s some video I took of a monkey eating a banana.  Yes: I got to see a real-life monkey eating a banana, so I think it’s safe to say that my life has peaked and that it’s all downhill from here.

McDonald’s Around the World: Malaysia Edition

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaWell, the trip is drawing to a close, which means that this is my last taste of international McDonald’s weirdness.

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

First up: the Golden Prosperity Burger, which consists of a chicken patty (it’s also available in beef), a hash brown, black pepper sauce, and onions.  I didn’t care for this one at all.  For one thing, it was easily the sloppiest burger I’ve ever had at McDonald’s; the soft bun was barely even able to hold up under all that sauce.  The chicken patty was really bottom-of-the-barrel — it was one of the shoddiest reconstituted chicken patties I’ve ever had.  Plus, the sauce was just one-note peppery.  It really needed pickles or something acidic to balance things out a bit.

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Up next was the Bubur Ayam McD, which was a rice porridge with chicken, green onions, fried shallots, ginger, and sliced chilis.  This was actually not bad at all — the rice had a good texture, and all of the flavours worked pretty well together, with the fried shallots adding some crunch.

McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Last but not least was the Red Bean Pie.  This was about as close to a sure thing as it gets.  I mean, it’s a crispy fried McDonald’s pie filled with tasty red bean filling.  Yeah, it was quite good.

Uncle Bean

Uncle Bean in Kuala LumpurLine-ups for food are a traveler’s best friend.  Have I mentioned this before?  I have?  A million times?  Well, it’s true.

The latest line-based discovery: a street food stand called Uncle Bean, which serves up some seriously delicious tofu-based desserts.

There’s a few things on the menu, but most people seemed to be ordering the tau fu fa, which is an incredibly creamy tofu pudding.  They have a few different syrups you can top it with (the tofu itself isn’t sweet at all); I got the brown sugar ginger.

Uncle Bean in Kuala Lumpur

It was really, really good.  The tofu is silky and amazing; it doesn’t taste like much, but that’s what the syrup is for.  A lot of ginger-based desserts are a bit too overpowering for me, but the syrup here managed to strike a perfect balance of sweetness with a very subtle ginger kick.  Bonus: it cost about 50 cents Canadian.  I could eat a million of these.

Is it a Speedboat or Public Transit? It’s Both!

Speedboat / public transit in Bangkok, ThailandThe other day I plugged my destination into Google Maps, as I am wont to do (no joke: Google Maps single-handedly makes this trip possible, because my navigation skills are nonexistent).  The public transit directions seemed to indicate that I take a boat, which seemed odd, but I went with it.

The directions brought me to a rickety old dock next to a narrow river.  After a couple of minutes, boat showed up, pulled over to the side of the dock for about ten seconds, then left again.

About five minutes later, another boat pulled up; this time I got on.  There’s no plank — you just jump on, and then someone comes around to collect your fare.

It was an odd experience, especially since the boat goes fast.

I felt pretty woozy by the time I got to my destination, but it was such a memorable way to get there that I didn’t even mind.

It’s Offaly Good

Nai-Ek Roll NoodlesFunnily enough, one of the best things I’ve eaten in Bangkok isn’t Thai at all — it’s Chinese, from a Michelin-rated restaurant in Bangkok’s Chinatown called Nai-Ek Roll Noodles.

As you’d expect from a place that’s cheap and Michelin-approved, it’s quite busy.  But the line moves fast, so within ten minutes or so, I was in.

Nai-Ek Roll Noodles

The menu is fairly extensive, but “Roll Noodles” is right there in the name.  I got a bowl of noodle soup that came with minced pork, sliced pork, and crispy pork belly, along with some organs — stomach, liver, kidney, and tongue (plus, they don’t mention it in the menu, but there were also intestines in there; it was quite the cornucopia of pig innards).

Nai-Ek Roll Noodles

It was really, really good.  The soup had a bit of a kick, with a nice peppery flavour.  And the noodles were kind of like a Chinese version of penne pasta.

Nai-Ek Roll Noodles

Plus, the pork belly managed to stay crispy even in the soup, and all of the various organs were prepared perfectly — no off flavours here at all.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho in Bangkok, ThailandOne of the more memorable things I’ve seen so far in Bangkok is an enormous temple complex dating from the 16th century called Wat Pho.

Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

There are so many amazing buildings here.

Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

Not to mention the statues.

Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

And these weird pointy… things… I have no idea what these are.  They look quite nice, though.

Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

Then of course there’s the most famous thing here: the reclining Buddha statue.

Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

I don’t think the photos quite give you a sense of how big this thing was, but it was absolutely enormous.

Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

They also had this thing in the same room with the statue where you could buy a small bucket full of coins, and then individually plunk them into various pots lined up along the wall.  I had no idea what this was for, so I didn’t do it.  I’m sure I missed out on a potential good luck bonanza.

A couple more pictures:

Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

It’s Pho-nominal

Pho in VietnamObviously I wasn’t going to leave Vietnam without having pho.  I’m not a crazy person.

I didn’t know this before getting here, but there are actually two types of pho: there’s the beef version, called pho bo.  That’s the one that we’re more familiar with back home.  There’s also a chicken version called pho ga.

I tried both, of course.  Again, I’m not a crazy person.

First up is pho ga, the chicken version, which I had at a restaurant called Pho Lam Nam Ngu in Hanoi.

Pho in VietnamTopped with green onion and some sliced chicken, and served with a very generous amount of slightly mushy noodles, this was quite tasty.

It’s essentially the platonic ideal of a bowl of chicken soup; it had an exceptionally clean, simple (and delicious) flavour.  It’s tasty on its own, but once you jazz it up with a spritz of lime and a bit of the chili sauce they’ve got on the table, it really starts to sing.

Pho in Vietnam

I wish the noodles had been a bit firmer, but all in all this was a satisfying bowl of noodle soup.

The second restaurant was called Pho Gia Truyen.  It’s super popular.  The first time I showed up, the place was an absolute mad house; I came back the next day right when it opened, and there was still a line, but it was a bit more reasonable.

Pho in Vietnam

It’s packed for a reason.  The soup had such an intensely satisfying beefy flavour — with just enough spicing to compliment it but not get in the way — that I didn’t even bother putting any chili sauce or any of the other condiments on the table.  I didn’t want to mess with it.  It was perfection.

Pho in Vietnam

It was topped with a surprisingly generous amount of thinly-sliced beef; that beef was bananas.  It was super tender, with a shockingly rich flavour.  This was obviously some top-shelf stuff, because it tasted good.

Pho in Vietnam

The noodles were pretty great, too.  It’s easily the best bowl of pho that I’ve ever had.

Pho in Vietnam

I think I might have actually ruined pho for myself, because I’m never going to be able to find anything this good back home.  Oh well.