TBT, Travel

My Penang

This time last year, I would have already spent exactly 1 out of 5 months in Penang, Malaysia. It’s crazy how short that amount of time seems compared to how big of a part it’s played in my life. Every time it’s mentioned at work, my manager interrupts to say I went because I was “finding myself.” I went for a exchange semester, but I really did learn so much. I got to travel and live in a different country by myself! Something not a ton of people would be able to say they’ve done at my age… or ever.

I’ve always been so proud of myself for taking that opportunity, and I’ve always regretted not starting this blog sooner so that I can share my experiences and knowledge.. Hence, I decided to do a few blog posts here and there of anything related to my travels where I visited a total of 9 countries.

First destination: Penang, Malaysia!

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AKA my home base and it was a good one. The reason I wanted to do an exchange was because for me, it was a reason to travel… and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t in it for academics. Penang was great because it was close to everything! I had so many means of travel available to me; plane, bus, boat, and even train. It was super cheap to travel, for example it cost me $30 to Singapore by plane and $50 to go to Thailand by doing a combination of flying and taking a boat.

Penang is also known as having one of the best street food in the world (I think they’re ranked #2 after Thailand). It’s not hard to see why once you get there, too. They have what they described as “asian food courts” which is also known as Hawker Centers. This is where you go for cheap but good food. I swear, everything cost under $5 there. Sometimes I would spend $10-$15 and get 5 different meals when I wanted to treat myself lmao! You can really get away with only getting one or two dishes though, depending on the proportions of what you get.

It was also very multicultural (another reason why they’re Hawker Centers were so great), there were so many different languages and religions everywhere and it was nice to be able to learn all about them. Penang is also a mix of tradition and modern and when I got home sick, it wasn’t too difficult to go out and sit in a cafe to feel somewhat home (they were very popular).

Here’s some of my favorites in Penang: 

Means of transportation: Uber (extremely cheap but safety is a concern)
Must do: Georgetown Street Art (rent a bike and go on a scavenger hunt)
Must try food: Roti Pisang (Roti w/ bananas, condensed milk, curry sauce)
Must see: Kek Lok Si Temple (so different in the morning vs at night)
Random fun activity: Upside Down Museum
Hawker Center: Super Tanker (cheap(er) food), Red Garden (more exp but better proportions)
Place to drink: Antarabangsa Enterprise (casual drinking and cheap beer)
Breakfast Spot: Sechawan ‘n’ Such (the best bennies… ever!)
Cafe: Black Kettle (good food and good wifi)
Mall: Queensbay Mall

There were so many things to do and places to eat in Penang, so the list of my favorites is really just a peek of all the places I went and enjoyed. There’s also a lot of touristy things on that list, but I do genuinely enjoy a balance of checking out tourist vs local spots! Of course there were so many other things (like people!) that made it such a great trip, but all I can say was that Penang was such a great opportunity to experience and somewhere I miss being everyday.

KD

boyfriend, Food, yyc

My Favorite Time of the Year

…. the Big Taste!

For Calgary’s biggest foodie festival this year, the boyfriend and I decided to go to Model Milk. The last time I went to Model Milk was years ago for a friend’s birthday, and while I don’t remember much about the food, I do remember that it was a little too expensive for my then 18-years-old self. Which is probably the reason I haven’t gone back since, ha! But what’s a better excuse to visit fancy restaurants that you probably won’t go to other than the Big Taste?! I love this event cause if you have time and don’t want to spend too much for a 3 course meal (like me), then it’s perfect!

This was the 3-course meal that was offered at Model Milk for $35/person. We both got different items when we could to make sure we could try as much as we can.

His: Calamari, Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek and Model Milk Cream Puff

I had a few bites of both the Calamari and the Wagyu Beef Cheek, and they were delicious. The Calamari was a little spicy and even had edamame and croutons which gave it a lot of texture as well. The Wagyu Beef Cheek was probably my favorite and I kept asking Shahn to give me bites of his food, hehe. It was so tender that it quite literally melted in my mouth. The only downside is that the portion was a little small.

Mine: Wagyu Beef Tartare, Model Milk Fried Chicken and Model Milk Cream Puff

Sadly, my meal was not as impressive as his. I really loved the simple taste of the Beef Tartare – it was so soft and melted in mouth, but almost felt like I was eating raw meat (haha!)… It was good nonetheless and I have no complaints. My disappointment was towards my main dish. I got the Fried Chicken and other than being cooked to perfection, it was nothing special. I got one big piece of drumstick and the breading had a strong vinegary taste. It was also insane to me it was regularly $58 for a sharing plate! Totally not worth it, in my opinion.

For Dessert, they only offered one menu item which was the Model Milk Cream Puff. We were both really impressed and enjoyed every bite. It had white chocolate and hazelnuts, the perfect dessert combination!

Other than the Fried Chicken, I enjoyed our dinner at Model Milk but I’m not sure if I could justify coming back again. Sadly, the Big Taste is only on for a week but I do get to try another restaurant on the weekend with my girlfriend’s so I’m v excited for that!

 KD

Food, friends, Travel

Girls Trip to Windy L.A!

This trip is probably one of the most memorable and fun that I’ve had with my best friends, and what made it so much better was the spontaneity of it all. We went in having only planned 3 things (aside from rental car + bnb’s, obvi), everything else was just what we felt like doing. Here’s what our mostly unplanned itinerary end up being; including food, tips and what to do in L.A!

img_5557 Day 1: Picked up the rental car and were on our way by 7:30 am. We drove for around 13 hours to get to our halfway mark and spent the night in Salt Lake City. Our highlight of the day: a place called the Chicken Shack in Butte, Montana we randomly stopped at. Surprise, surprise, it looked like actual shack located in the middle of a campground. But, it was probably one of the best chicken burgers we’ve tasted. I wish I had saved some sort of picture, but here’s where we learned to never judge a book (restaurant) by its cover (appearance).

Sidenote: this is probably where our burger craze started.

Day 2: We got up early in the morning and got on our way to L.A! Excceeept that didn’t really happen. Our original plan was to stop at Vegas for lunch and maybe look around a bit – until Nik told us she’s never been so we decided to stay. We booked a room at the Cosmopolitan and that happened instead.

For lunch, we ate at one of my favorite burger places – Burgr, by Gordon Ramsay. 3/4 of us ended up getting the Euro Burger and added portobello mushrooms. My favorites from here probably isn’t the burger, but the truffle and parm fries and their milkshakes. Take it from someone who is lactose, they’re worth it and more. My favorite was Shake #4 which consisted of creme brulee and oreos.

(Tip: slide a $20 bill to the concierge and simply ask if they can do anything to make your stay better.. and if they can’t, they won’t take it!) The third photo above is the view from our room where we could see the Bellagio fountains.

Day 3: After a spontaneous day/night out in Vegas, we headed to our original destination. We finally got to our Airbnb near Venice beach and quickly got ready for… Jojo! I’m a Day 1 fan and was so excited (also how I was convinced to come) to be able to finally cross her off my concert bucket list. She had her show at the Fonda Theatre, and although she was sick, she was amazing. We got super lucky and dodged a bullet when she cancelled her next few shows after L.A cause she had laryngitis. Afterwards, we decided to spend the rest of the night being typical tourists looking for our favorite star’s name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and having a photo shoot at the LACMA lights.

I also got to try In N Out! I’ve had it before, but have never ordered from the secret menu. Although I really like animal fries, the only downside is that it gets cold too fast and you have to eat it right away.

Day 4: Before we got the day started, we decided to check out EggSlut. They specialize on breakfast sandwiches (aka another burger for us, yay), and I’ve turned into a big fan. First off, I love the name and second I love the sandwiches. I got the Fairfax and they cooked the scrambled eggs soft, exactly how I want it. It had chives, cheddar and siracha mayo on a brioche bun. It was delicious but super messy, so forks were necessary.

It was another big day for us… Especially Nikita and I. The day we get to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Hollywood! Through (real life) wizards fights, trivia champs, tattoos (mine), midnight releases and all other things HP related – this was a big deal. I won’t go into it too much cause I’ll be writing forever, but it was my happy place. We even got to go on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride twice cause our first time had technical difficulties. Definitely recommended. We also got to go around the rest of Universal and even saw Mario Lopez!

We decided to head to the Santa Monica Pier to grab dinner afterwards. I am absolutely in love with the ocean and it was nice being near it again. We didn’t really do much at the Pier, but it seemed like there was a lot to do there like rides, the arcade, games and the beach (duh).

After Universal, we somehow ended up in Hollywood again.. This time we ran into Snoop Dogg and Russell Simmons! I was so excited about seeing Snoop I didn’t get to come up to him and meet him, but he was so tall haha!

img_5557 Day 5:  It was our chill day that day and since we’ve gotten up early every single day of the trip, we decided to sleep in. Personally, I call this day my Foodie Day. When we finally got up, we decided to try another breakfast joint called SuperBa. We’ve eaten so much junk that it was nice to finally get something a little healthier. From SuperBa, I ended up getting the Prosciutto Tartine which had prosciutto, arugula and olive oil on bread. I also got some scrambled eggs on the side for some protein. It was was nice and healthy, but I felt as though it was too plain for my liking. I also ended up getting an almond croissant – which was tasty!

After breakfast, we decided to check out the Griffith Observatory. It was gorgeous, as well as educational – not kidding. I definitely recommend watching the film at the Planetarium, but be careful not to fall asleep like I did haha.

We ended up having my favorite meal of the trip that day at SushiOne in Ktown. They probably had one of the freshest sushi I’ve had, and apparently they hand pick their fish every day. We all got a sashimi bowl that had everything in it. I usually won’t have other fish other than tuna, salmon and sometimes shrimp – but I devoured everything from my bowl. They also offered us unlimited miso soup which was awesome. We sat at the bar and watched them prepare our dishes as well, it was amazing watching them execute their art. After dinner, we went to check out Porto’s Bakery & Cafe. Porto’s is another place I saw on Worth It! Em and I ordered and ended up getting so carried away, everything just looked so delicious. And, well… the photos could speak for itself.

Day 5: For another unplanned day, we decided to check out The Broad which is a modern art museum. It was super cool and probably one of the my most favorite museums I’ve gone to. We were told to go early because the line gets super long, so we got there around 30 minutes before it opened (at 11). The line wasn’t too bad, probably because it was a weekday. They let us in after the people who got tickets beforehand and we signed up to see Yayai Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room. You get to be in there for a minute, so naturally the wait adds up. Luckily, we went in early enough that we only had to wait an hour, but I did overhear when it was our turn that the wait went up to 4 hours long! Either way, the wait, at least our wait time, was definitely worth it.

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After the Broad, we walked over to Pez Cantina for Mexican and it was delicious. I’ve been on a search (and a lot of fails) in Calgary to find an amazing Mexican restaurant and this was a good break from that. We started off with chips and guac, which was amazing. Then for our main(s) we shared their blackened albacore tuna chilled ceviche. Although it wasn’t served as traditional ceviche, it was probably one of our most favorite from that meal and everything was good so that’s saying something. Finally, we all ordered a few tacos. I got 2 fish tacos and 1 carne asada, I found that the meat was cooked perfectly and it wasn’t overstuffed or dry, and had a good amount of sauce + toppings. Afterwards we headed home to rest and only went out to grab poke bowls in Venice beach. We went to a place called the Poke Shack, I was feeling a little sick so I didn’t get to finish my bowl but it tasted fresh and everyone working there was super nice!

Day 6: For our last day in L.A, we wen’t ATV’ing! It was actually so cool and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I got stuck… a lot. We signed up for 5 hours, but ended a little earlier as it was actually a long time and the weather wasn’t in our favor that day. I would definitely recommend this activity as it was super fun. We were super tired afterwards so we went home to rest for our long drive the next day. For dinner, Em and I went out to get… burgers! We wanted to try Shake Shack and my only comment is that their Salted Caramel milkshake is bomb af.

Tip: Bundle up in the dessert with a sweater and long pants. Closed toe shoes are obvious, but it does get pretty chilly in the desert and dirty!

Day 7 & 8:  The last couple of days of our trip just consisted of driving back. We stopped at Utah overnight again and then headed straight back to Calgary this time. Our last burger stop was made in Las Vegas for Bachi Burger. We actually meant to get Ramen, but got intrigued by the burgers on the menu instead. I don’t actually remember what I ended up getting and they don’t have their menu on the website (the worst), but it had a Wagyu beef patty, caramelized bacon, fried egg and onion rings in it. I loved that you had a choice of how you wanted your patty cooked, and unlike Burgr, they had actually cooked it to our liking and was consistent.

After driving a total of 48 hours, we were finally home. The ride home was extra long, but for the obvious reason that we were going home. So that was it for this girls trip, a lot of it was unplanned but turned out to be so much fun. Also, a special shout out to Jaks for basically organizing this trip for everyone!

This was quite a lengthy post, but hopefully you’ve found something useful in it…? Or we’re at least entertained by our adventure! One thing’s for sure, I probably won’t be eating anymore burgers anytime soon.

KD