I have redefined retirement at age 23. I have a lifestyle where I do the things I like, with the time I have and still get paid for it. I designed my freedom these two decades, traveling to more than 40 countries. I run a successful business doing consulting works as a Corporate Writer, Corporate Emcee, Event Producer and a Workshop Facilitator. I am also a talk-show host on an Internet Radio station with two programs "A Course In Miracles for Work-Life" and "Freedom Speaks". Life is Healthy, Rich & FREE! You can design this lifestyle according to your willingness. I hope mine will inspire you to achieve that freedom too.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Travel Munich With The City Sightseeing Tour Bus

Nymphenburg Palace is just west on the outskirt of the city of Munich.

Going around as a tourist in the city of Munich is very easy.   All you need do is to hop-on and hop-off their city's red or blue city sightseeing tour buses.  The price for the 1-day pass costs under €16.  I had the city tour bus ticket included in the train tickets and accommodation I purchased from the best local tour agency in Germany, www.toeurope.eu.  The transport system in Germany is seamless and very efficient.  With so much to see and do in Europe, you've got to get on their trains to have a relaxing travel, especially to spend your entire holiday in Germany.

I got on a train in Salzburg, Austria and just about 2 hours, I arrived in Munich, the largest city of the German state of Bavaria.  This is also where BMW's HQ is situated.  Now I know why it is known as Bavarian Motor Works.  

With the hop-on- hop-off city sightseeing tour bus, it was easy for me to visit several places within a day.  There is the Nymphenburg Palace, where you will be awed by the opulent living lifestyle and their residences in the times when aristocracy reigns supreme.  I could imagine the clinging of champagne flutes and couples waltzing to Beethoven's Gertrude's Dream. 

The tour bus is conveniently parked across the street from the train station's exit.  With the excellent choice of 4-star hotels in the vicinity, finding my way to the hotel was easy.  In under 10 minutes, I found the hotel and checked in without hassle.  I like this kind of arrangement, especially during winter.  I only need to get all the train schedules listed for my easy reference, with a few train tickets in my bag, with the hotels within walking distance, the rest of the trip was relaxing and cheerful. 

Try it the next time you plan your travel to Germany.  Just get train tickets and accommodation, you will have the best holiday without getting into the rush of getting in and out of tour buses and traveling on the road for long hours.  

Trust me, in winter, it's best to have more time to sit and have a cup of coffee... plus a piece of Germany's apple strudel.

LCD display of the train's next destination.  It showed Munchen Hbf.  We were on the right track.
Comfortable seats on the train, WC is available and they even have wi-fi on board.

The interior of the spacious hop-on hop-off city sightseeing tour bus.

One of the sightseeing stop - BMW's HQ.

The hop-on hop-off city sightseeing bus.  Across the road is Munich Main Train Station.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The world Eats - Langkawi

I was in Langkawi, believe it or not, on a culinary discovery, a sojourn of food and sunsets.  After 15 years, I am back in Langkawi and the first place I went for dinner was at Bon Ton.  I have been patronizing Bon Ton since its opening in KL in 1987 till they sold off their operations in KL in 1999.  I particularly enjoyed Bon Ton's back-to-kampung feel, even when they were in KL.  When they took up a beachfront locale in Langkawi in 1994, they brought the kampung concept to boutique style.  The result is stunning, relaxing and truly home-coming resort to stay, to rejuvenate and experience the authenticity of Malaysian hospitality at its best.

The quality and the leave-in-your-tongue taste of the delicious food are next to nothing I can compare.  For all these years, Bon Ton has kept to their promise of making their place "not only for the food, but for the experience".  The experience that is so fresh in my palate has taken me to Bon Ton over and over again since 1987.

Even when I was in Langkawi, I've got to get there.  Even though the whole area in Pantai Cenang has been cleared so much with so many choice resorts, Bon Ton still remain THE ONE I must go to have my first dinner on the island.  The menu has changed, which they have been doing on a  quarterly basis for the past twenty years.  This time, the prices on the menu have increased many folds, but for me, every increase is justified with their freshest catch, freshest ingredients and the best of spices.

This time I tried the Rock Lobster Platter which cost RM94.  There were 3 medium-size lobsters, fried calamari, and a few medium-size prawns.  Even the side salad was sweet and tangy with the pickled guava.

Regrettably, the scenery was not what I get when I was there 15 years ago.  What I had framed in my head is Bon Ton having a white beach front and in the evening, the breeze will come in occasionally having a plane taking flight from the nearby airport, flickering its tail light.  But in 2013, what is left is a pond filled with lalang and the beach is no where to be seen.  I was told that some contractors came in to reclaim the land but later found that it was not feasible for construction.  It was left with all the extra landfill and gradually the weeds took over what the humans did not complete.  So, there goes the beach front.  Bon Ton is now left with the swampy pond.  They have kept it clean and beautiful, nevertheless.  I still like it.

The next restaurant that I tried was La Sal Restaurant at Casa del Mar at Pantai Cenang.  The atmosphere alone was worth your effort getting there and spending your hard earned money for an unforgettable evening.  If you have only one place to go for good, fine dining, then order the 3-course menu at RM120 nett each.  You will get a starter, a main course and a dessert, come with coffee or tea.  Then, order a bottle of champagne for RM90.  That is a good dinner to while your evening away, mesmerizing in Langkawi.

Just take that extra few days to relax and drive around Langkawi for the culinary experience, I am sure that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed!

(Bon Ton) Nam restaurant rustic outlook.  No walls dining.

Next to Nam Restaurant is the Bon Ton Resort with 8 villas.

Nam Restaurant signature cocktails RM22 each.

Rock Lobster Platter - RM94

Nyonya Platter - RM74

My reservation with La Sal Restaurant at Casa del Mar Resort, Pantai Cenang.

Evening sunset dining.

Our tables are all laid out on the soft white sandy beach.

My starter, soft shell crab salad.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The World Eats - Yunnan, China

When you travel in China, you can't miss eating all the variety of foods available.  The foods have such distinct taste and preparation which are passed down from generations.  The ways the foods are cooked and the ingredients they use depend on the climate, the culture and the living conditions of the people living in that area.

As I travel, I either listen to their stories about their food or I will read about them on the walls of restaurants.  Such beautiful stories give each dish its extra sentiment, that when I slurp the noodles or scoop up a spoonful of chillies, I will think about the lovely hands and hearts that went into making such delicious meals.

One such enjoyment is getting to know about the Cross Bridge Noodle 过桥米线.   It is Yunnan's most famous "small eats 小吃", side dishes.  It is the king of all side dishes in Yunnan.  In fact, the story about the noodle has such draw that if you are in Yunnan, especially in Kunming and Dali, and you have not tried this noodle, it is said that you have not been to Yunnan at all.

Restaurant in Kunming for Cross Bridge Noodle: 桥春园
Ingredients served in small plates and the softened noodles.
So, what is so good about this Cross Bridge Noodle?  The way they serve this dish is fascinating.  The meat, could be chicken or fish, is sliced thinly and accompanied with small condiment plates where each plate is filled with a few types of different raw leaves (even edible flowers) or mushroom,  and different type of pickles.  Some restaurant will add a raw egg.  The servings look as if you are having a feast.  A bowl of softened noodles come alongside the small plates.  At this time, you think that's about all they serve and you want to begin your feast, to my surprise, there came a big bowl of soup, which they told me that the soup is kept at 60℃ to 70℃.   The way to eat this is to put all the ingredients into the hot soup, one plate at a time, including the egg.  The heat of the soup will briefly "cook" all the ingredients.  Now, you are ready to eat your noodles.

This dish has a history and a beautiful story that show us how love is used in the way the Cross Bridge Noodle is served.

A long time ago, there lived a scholar with his wife.  The scholar was studying for his imperial exams and he needed a quiet place to study.  He found a place a distance from his home where he had to across a bridge to get there.  Not to let him miss his meals, his wife prepared lunch and walked the distance carrying food in a basket to his study sanctuary.  After a few days, she couldn't help but realize that the food kept getting cold when she served him.  She could not think of a better way to keep the food warm as there were no food warmer or thermos tiffin then.

One day, she prepared him chicken soup.  While crossing the bridge, she felt tired and thought of taking a rest.  She woke up with a jolt when she realized that she had fallen asleep.  She quickly opened the basket to check if the soup had turned cold.  Instead, she found to her amazement that the chicken soup was still warm.  She suddenly get the idea, the oil from the chicken had risen to the top of the soup keeping it warm for a longer time.

From that day on, she separated the soup with the noodles and the ingredients leaving a layer of oil on top of the soup.  When she served the scholar, the food was still warm.

Doesn't this story add sentiments when you eat Cross Bridge Noodle the next time?

Also, when you are in Yunnan, do try its beer which is named after Yunnan's complex climate and its topography.  The beer is called "wind flower snow moon 风花雪月".

There are also two dishes you would not want to miss: 沙锅鱼local fish claypot and 黄焖鸡chilli fried fiery chicken.

Cross Bridge Noodle was served in the biggest bowl ever in Lijiang, Yunnan.

Local fish cooked in claypot, a Dali delicacy.

Chili fried fiery chicken.  Also a Dali special dish.
Yunnan local beer.

My dinner in Dali, a feast with beer for 2, less than RMB100.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The World Eats - Würzburg, Germany

When I checked into Hotel Wurzburger Hof in Wurzburg, Germany, the first thing I wanted to know was where to eat?  I asked the the person at the reception, if they were to go for dinner, where would the locals go?  She asked me what kind of food I would like to eat.  We were in Bavaria, Germany, so of course I would prefer everything that is authentically Bavarian, the local dark beer included.

She gave us a few restaurant names and locations, but finally, she highly recommeded Alte Mainmühle, a restaurant that serves authentic Bavarian food and it has the best view of the impressive Marienberg Fortress.

The Fortress was constructed in the year 1201 for Würzburg's prince-bishops.

My favorite comfort food when in Germany has always been the sausages and the pork knuckle.  I've tried the sausages and the pork knuckle cooked in various style in different places while traveling in Germany.  Every pork dish was made with the restaurant's signature sauces and cooking method.  My taste-buds were always tantalized with the special spices and ingredients.

The restaurant was just walking distance from the hotel we stayed.  Hotel Wurzburger Hof is situated about 5 minutes walk from the train station.  Walk out of the train station, go straight towards the square, cross the road and walk up the road.  The road is flanked by rows of shops.  Look up and you will see the hotel right ahead. 

When we arrived that day, it snowed.  We waited until the snow stopped, then we walked out to the streets where it is the market square.  You will know that it is where locals convene because the city church with its spires is located at the central square. 

It was a lovely winter evening, walking the streets was truly calming.

The restaurant entrance to the level facing the river.

A romantic view of Marienberg Fortress located on the Main River in Würzburg, Germany.  Can be viewed at the entrance of the restaurant.

5 piece grilled sausage with sides €7 (sauerkraut and mustard).

Pork Shoulder with Dark Beer Sauce, creamy savoy cabbage and home bread dumpling €16.

The interior of the restaurant on the lower level.  On warmer days, the doors are open to the balcony for the view of Marienberg Fortress.

We finished our foods, 5 grilled sausages and the pork shoulder.

Alte Mainmühle: The exterior.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Strolling in Insadong

Where are the places to shop in Seoul?

There are many exciting shopping districts in Seoul.  I like the most is Insadong, a quintessential artsy and unpretentious place where people can perform and display their 'personality'.  They can be as loud, literally shouting, as in street hawking.  At times, there will be someone sitting in the middle of the street with a few pieces of cloth, written all over them in Korean, then reciting what seemed to be a chant.  An attention-getter indeed, a crowd puller, but I could not make out what was said. 

You can find all kinds of art pieces, new and old, here at Insadong.  Insadong is a shopping street which is only a stone throw away from the infamous Gyeongbokgung (the royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty).  During the Joseon Dynasty, this place was apparently the get-together sojourn for artist and painters.

Insadong is still such a place where you are able to find arts, painting, the writing and drawing instruments.  Art lovers set up shops in the narrow alleyways, the place is filled with folk crafts, pottery, and paintings.

Then, in the evening, take a walk along Cheonggyecheon stream, a 5.8km restored site where there are over a dozen bridges and the sidewalk is about 15 feet below street level.  Surprisingly the busy neighborhood never seem to affect the serenity of the flowing stream below.  After that, go for a bucket of beers in one of the neon-lit pubs along the stream before you hit the sack.  The beautiful autumn weather will keep you awake for more surprises for your Seoul holiday.

A small but uniquely designed shopping mall with four floors lined with shops.

I had my first manicure and my first nail art done by an artist in Seoul.

The many attractions and bridges along the restored Cheonggyecheon stream.

The Cheonggyecheon stream is flanked by one of the busiest office boulevard in Seoul.

The plaque where it is inscribed a brief introduction and history of Cheonggyecheon stream.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seoul walk

What are the must-see tourist attractions in Seoul?  One of the must-see tourist attraction when you are in Seoul is the Gyeongbokgung, the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty.  (Entrance fee is 3,000 won, about RM9 per adult)

I was there in the Fall, a very good weather to walk around with just a light jacket.  Average temperature was about 15°C.  It was cool and dry.  When I was at the palace, I had a pleasant walkabout because it was not crowded even though it was a Sunday.  It is definitely a good place to learn about Seoul at the reign of their monarch and its history.

It was my third trip to Seoul and South Korea.  I will go back again, first for the food, then to shop and only if I have more time to spare, will visit other palaces and Korean arts.

Buildings such as this has a secret mechanism which raises the doors to the ceiling to create open spaces.

Doorways to many rooms and palace compound.

This is a patio-like extension of the main palace gate.  I guess this is the place where the officers rest while they wait for their turn to enter the palace.

The entrance walkway into the main palace compound.  Very sandy in the Fall, but clean and well-kept.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The World Eats - Manila, Phillipines

SM Mall of Asia in Manila, close to Manila Bay in Pasay City, Manila, is one of Forbes' World's 10 Largest Shopping Malls.  It is a must visit tourist destination in Manila.

I was amazed with the development.  It looks more like a city by itself, self-sustainable with everything you need under one, no, several roofs, stretching over 42 hectares (104 acres).

It was packed with locals and tourists, especially at the esplanade, where there were plenty of activities to keep the visitors busy.  Everyone seemed to be having fun. 

One of my star discoveries was Abé Restaurant on level 1 of the Seaside Boulevard.  The restaurant is facing the sea, there is a live band playing on the patio outside the restaurant where you can also choose to have alfresco dining.  You can stay for drinks in the evening while you enjoy being serenaded by the ever talented Filipinos singers.  It seemed that every Filipino can sing and dance too.

The dining atmosphere in Abé Restaurant is modern and casual.  It felt more like dining in a fusion cafe, in vast contrast to the authentic Pinoy food they dished out.  The must-try should be the pork knuckle, crispy and crackling.

This is the famous crackling pork knuckle that is a must-try when you are in Manila. Lookout for this dish anywhere you are in the city, most will serve the best with their very own recipe.

Me, LeAnn and Sharon.  For the few days in Manila, the best time we had was searching for the finest, most authentic Pinoy food. We had a table full of food. Bamboo steamed rice with herbs. Pork knuckle. Fish belly in guava juice.

Sinigang fish belly cooked in crushed guava and sour broth. Thick soup with fish, served in hot-pot style. Taste the sweet greenish taste of guava, best eaten piping hot. When cold, a bit too gooey. The taste was so special that we finished it even though we were already very full.  Only P395 (RM30)

We picked the dishes based on its very descriptive menu.  Even the prices were so good. Good food, good price!

This was dessert. Ube Jalea with Macapuno. Wild mountain yam cooked in special Pinoy way. P150 (RM11)
This restaurant's owner has a very colorful and exciting life.  Must have been a jovial fella.