Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand and Laos – Part 26: Mamak Fried Rice

Previously: Part 25: Night Market

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Day 7: Sunday, 1 September 2013

I woke up heavy-heartedly. I wanted to stay longer, but I could not. My budget was limited and though I thought of moving on northward and doing odd-jobs to cater to my expenses, no, my family would be damned too worry. I cleaned myself up and I walked to the riverside, looking for a place to have my breakfast.

Woke up to a gloomy day. And to a lot of videos from my friends showing the Merdeka fireworks.

Aku bangun dalam keadaan sangat berat hati. Rasa macam nak tinggal lebih lama, tapi kewangan aku tak mengizinkan. Kalau ikut hati, nak aje aku teruskan perjalanan ke utara, lepas tu cari lah sumber kewangan dengan bekerja kat mana-mana. Tapi, nanti mesti keluarga aku risau giler. Aku pun bersiap untuk cari tempat nak bersarapan pagi.

One of the halal restaurants in Vientiane.

There were quite a few Halal restaurants around Vientiane. I have written a dedicated article on that here. After walking along the main road, I decided to go to Fathima restaurant, because they sell Indian and Malaysian food. And I missed Malaysian food. I ordered a lassi and a fried rice, which later turned out to have the same look, smell and taste as the mamak fried rice back home.

The word ‘Malaysia’ really captured my heart and mind.

Ada beberapa restoran halal di sekitar Vientiane. Aku ada tulis satu artikel khusus berkenaan restoran halal di Vientiane (link di perenggan atas). Lepas jalan sepanjang jalan utama, aku buat keputusan untuk makan kat restoran Fathima sebab dia kata dia jual makanan India dan Malaysia. Aku rindu makanan Malaysia sangat. Aku order segelas lassi dan sepinggan nasi goreng. Bila nasi goreng sampai, aku terharu sangat. Bentuk, bau dan rasa sebijik macam nasi goreng mamak kat Malaysia.

One week and I have already missing Malaysian food.

Whilst enjoying my food alone (I was the only patron there), suddenly the waiter asked me, “Seorang aja? / Alone?”. I was shocked! I haven’t spoken in my mother tongue for a week and suddenly, here I was, in a foreign land, speaking Bahasa Melayu with an Indian. Turned out, he had been working in Brunei for 13 years before decided to move on and expand the business to Laos. We had a good conversation over breakfast and I thanked him for the good mamak fried rice.

Whilst waiting for my food to arrive, I checked how far I have travelled since last week.

Masa aku tengah makan seorang diri, tiba-tiba pelayan tu tanya, “Sorang aja?”. Terkejut aku! Dah seminggu tak bercakap dalam bahasa ibunda, tiba-tiba di tanah asing ni, seorang lelaki India menegur aku dalam bahasa Melayu. Rupanya, dia pernah kerja 13 tahun di Brunei sebelum buat keputusan untuk berhijrah ke Laos. Kami berbual mesra sementara aku makan sarapan aku dan sebelum meninggalkan restoran dia, aku ucapkan terima kasih untuk nasi goreng mamak yang mengimbau kenangan di tanah tumpah darahku.

The mamak fried rice. With the cili potong!

When you travel, what are the things from your country that you miss the most?

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To be continued – Part 27

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Fathima Restaurant is located on Fangum Road, Vientiane. Facing the Mekong River, turn left along the road and walk straight ahead. The restaurant is one of the restaurants facing the Chao Anauvong Park, near the riverside.

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Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand and Laos – Part 25: Night Market

Previously: Part 24: And the Cycling Continues

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Still Day 6: Saturday, 31 August 2013

That evening, my feeling was somehow different. I knew that tonight would be my final night in Vientiane. Although people said that there was nothing much to see and to do in Vientiane, I beg to differ. I saw a lot of things; how the people lives, how they developed the city, how they go through their everyday life and so on and so forth.

Petang tu, perasaan aku agak berbeza. Aku tahu, malam ni akan jadi malam terakhir aku di bumi Vientiane. Walaupun orang kata tak banyak benda boleh dibuat atau dilihat di Vientiane, tapi aku tak rasa macam tu. Aku rasa seronok dapat tengok macam mana orang kat sini hidup, macam mana pembangunannya, macam mana penduduk menjalani kehidupan sehari-harian.

The riverside in the evening.

After spending some time at the Patuxai people-watching, Martin, Emma and I decided to walk to the riverside and blended in with the locals who swarmed the place for various activities. There were people jogging, cycling, selling things, picnicking and various other activities which made the place looks liveable. We chatted, talked about our travel journeys and exchanged currencies whilst watching the Mekong River which cut this part of land with Nong Khai, Thailand on the other side of the riverbank.

Lepas lepak di Patuxai, aku, Martin dan Emma buat keputusan untuk berjalan kaki ke kawasan tebing sungai dan tengok penduduk tempatan yang melepak di situ. Ramai penduduk tempatan yang duduk di kawasan tebing sungai ni. Ada yang jogging, kayuh basikal, jual barang, berkelah dan macam-macam lagi aktiviti. Nampak hidup sangat di sini. Bagi kami bertiga, kami duduk berbual tentang perjalanan kami setakat ni dan bertukar-tukar matawang Ringgit Malaysia dan Euro sambil melihat Sungai Mekong yang memisahkan Vientiane dan Nong Khai.

The Mekong River, separating Laos and Thailand.

Before dusk, we decided to come again to the riverside since there will be a night market every single night at the riverside. We parted and promised to meet back here at 7.00 pm. I went back to the hostel, returned my rental bicycle and went to the bathroom to clean myself up and to perform my ablution. Soon after performing my obligation, I was back at the riverside on foot.

Sebelum senja, kami bercadang nak ke sini lagi sebab setiap malam ada pasar malam. Kami berpisah dan berjanji untuk jumpa kembali dalam jam 7.00 malam. Aku kembali ke guesthouse, pulangkan basikal sewa dan bergegas untuk mandi dan solat. Tak lama kemudian, aku kembali ke kawasan riverside dengan berjalan kaki.

The Mekong Riverside night market.

The night market was nothing spectacular, especially with the abundance of night markets in Malaysia. So, we just walked pass one shop to the other until the end of the road. It was one long night market and I would say one of the biggest night market that I have ever been to. They sell handicrafts, t-shirts, souvenirs as well as street food and drinks. Since there was nothing to buy, we went for dinner, continued our conversation from one issue to another before saying goodbye and head back to our respective hostels. Since it would be our final night in Vientiane (Emma and Martin were leaving too), we promised to meet up at their hostel at 11.00 am the next day.

Pasar malam di sini tak ada apa yang istimewa bagi aku. Mungkin sebab dah terbiasa ada banyak pasar malam kat Malaysia. Cuma, pasar malam di sini sangat panjang dan mungkin salah satu yang terbesar yang pernah aku pergi. Ada penjual yang jual t-shirt, cenderamata, makanan dan minuman. Sebab tak ada apa yang kami nak beli, kami terus ke restoran untuk makan malam. Kami sambung berbual sambil makan malam, dari satu isu ke satu isu yang lain. Bila malam dah lewat, kami pun berpisah dan pulang ke hostel masing-masing. Malam ni ialah malam terakhir untuk kami bertiga di Vientiane, dan kami berjanji untuk bertemu semula pukul 11.00 pagi esok di hotel Martin dan Emma.

Have you been to any night market in any part of the world? Do you think it is unique?

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To be continued – Part 26

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Vientiane biggest night market is open daily and is held at the riverside.

Happy Malaysia Day 2014!

First of all, I would like to apologize for my absence. It is not that I want to leave blogging because writing has been my passion since High School, but I just joined a new workplace and though the works are not as hard as when I was still practicing as a lawyer, the volumes are definitely much more crazier. So, I can’t steal time to blog, as what I did previously.

Nevertheless, today 16th of September 2014 is Malaysia Day. A public holiday in Malaysia and apart from that, it is a special day to commemorate the establishment of a new country called Malaysia.

51 years ago, Malaysia was formed. The states in the Federation of Malaya together with Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed Malaysia on this very day, 51 years ago. 51 years had passed, and I think we have achieved so much though some we are still lacking behind.

…. WHEREAS by an Agreement made on the Ninth day of July in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three between the Federation of Malaya, the United Kingdom, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore it was agreed that there shall be federated the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore with the Federation of Malaya comprising the states of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang and Malacca, and that the Federation shall thereafter be called “MALAYSIA”

…that MALAYSIA comprising the States of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Malacca, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak shall by the Grace of God, the Lord of the Universe, forever be an independent and sovereign democratic State founded upon liberty and justice, ever seeking to defend and uphold peace and harmony among its people and to perpetuate peace among nations.

To my fellow Malaysians, no matter where we are, who we are, be it orang Semenanjung, orang Sabah, orang Sarawak, Malays, Chinese, Indians, Dusuns, Ibans, Bajaus, orang dan lain-lain or orang Singapura for that matter (Singaporeans were once Malaysians too), let us unite as one, because no matter what, we are all Malaysians.

Selamat Hari Malaysia Ke-51 2014.

Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand and Laos – Part 24: And the Cycling Continues

Previously: Part 23 – Pyongyang? No, it’s Vientiane!

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Still Day 6: Saturday, 31 August 2013

And so, the three of us cycled together towards… well we did not decide yet, actually. I accompanied them for lunch first before we cycled back towards the city centre. So far, Avenue Kaysone Phomvihane is the busiest road in Vientiane for me.

Kami bertiga pun terus mengayuh basikal ke destinasi seterusnya… ke… okay sebenarnya kami pun tak buat keputusan lagi nak pergi mana sebenarnya. Aku teman diorang berdua makan sebelum sambung mengayuh ke kawasan pusat bandar. Pada aku, memang Avenue Kaysone Phomvihane ni jalan yang paling sibuk di Vientiane.

Next stop – this museum.

We cycled and cycled whilst soaking ourselves in the sights and sound of Vientiane which is 100% different from Kuala Lumpur.  The city is dusty, the signboards are in foreign scripts and the smell, well, it was different.

Kami kayuh dan terus kayuh sambil menghayati suasana di Vientiane. Memang suasana kat sini 100% berbeza dari Kuala Lumpur. Dengan habuknya, tulisan yang sepatah haram aku tak fahamnya, baunya… Semuanya memang berbeza.

Typical view of museums/government buildings in Vientiane.

Martin and I, both are self-confessed history lovers, decided to check the Lao People’s Army Museum as it might show how the people fought for Laos’ independence. When we reached the museum and saw its golden fighters statue, we were excited to check it out.

Aku dan Martin, dua-dua suka sejarah, ingat nak tengok Muzium Tentera Rakyat Laos. Sesampainya kami kat muzium tu, kami nampak pulak patung emas tentara Laos, terus jadi teruja gila.

An old fighter jet being exhibited in the museum’s compound.

However, turned out it was close for the day (the same for other government’s establishment too – they close at 4.00 pm). We just snapped some photos before cycled to the Patuxai to catch some breath.

Malangnya, nasib tak menyebelahi kami. Jam dah pukul 4 petang dan macam pejabat kerajaan lain kat Laos, muzium ni dah tutup. Kami ambil gambar dari luar sebelum kayuh ke Patuxai untuk lepak-lepak ambil angin.

The golden statue.

As we reached Patuxai, we sat on the bench and had a wonderful chit chat in the evening. We also did people-watching and commented on the acts of the people who were at the Patuxai. It was fun and memorable.

Dekat Patuxai, kami bukan buat apa pun. Duduk-duduk sembang lepas tu usha orang ramai. Seronok usha orang tau sebab kami dapat tengok macam-macam gelagat orang kat sini.

People swarming the Patuxai.

There were so many people at Patuxai in the evening, mostly families with small kids. There were also people with cameras hanging on their neck, asking if one wants to have their photos taken. These photographers went to families and showed them a laminated sheet of paper containing samples of their works.

Ramai orang kat Patuxai waktu petang, kebanyakannya dengan keluarga yang ada anak kecil. Aku perasan, ada ramai jugak orang yang bawak kamera gantung kat leher, tanya pengunjung kat situ nak tak gambar diambil. Photographer ni akan pergi kat keluarga dan tunjuk sampel gambar-gambar yang diorang dah ambil.

Instant official photo? Anyone?

One surprise though: they brought together a portable printer and laminating machines! So, those who choose to have their photos taken will get their photos on the spot.

Satu benda yang aku terkejut lepas dok usha photographer ni, diorang siap bawak printer mudah alih dan mesin nak laminate! Jadi, boleh dapat gambar on the spot.

Perhaps they are negotiating the price of the photo.

Have you ever bought the photographs taken by the so-called official photographers at any attraction that you visited? 

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To be continued – Part 25

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Lao’s People Army Museum is located near Patuxai. As with other museums and government offices in Vientiane, it closes around 4.00 pm.

The entrance fee is  3,000 kip [as of August 2013].

Visit Malaysia: Tioman Island, Pahang – A World Class Tropical Island Paradise

Malaysia is blessed with many beautiful islands dotting her coastline. However, when talking about the perfect island getaway, most of us tend to look at Maldives, Bali and Krabi as examples of island paradises instead of our own Perhentian, Tioman or Redang.

Speaking of myself, my island experience in Malaysia is limited to Penang, Langkawi and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. As such Tioman Island was, not surprisingly, a revelation for me considering the fact that I am an avid traveller, so to speak.

Click here to continue reading and for more awesome photos.

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This article was first published by Virtual Malaysia.

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