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Penang in Pictures

April 15, 2014

Just a four hour drive north of KL sits Penang Island.  With its laid back charm, cool street art, unbeatable street food and abundance of cultural sites Penang Island makes for a vibrant weekend getaway.  Here are a few highlights (just kidding!  I couldn’t help myself and have included lots of pictures) from our excursion to this exceptionally photogenic place.

There is plenty of great food around every corner.  Just watch out for these guys! (Unless you are into being punished by your food...then, carry on : )

There is plenty of great food around every corner. Just watch out for these guys! (Unless you are into being punished by your food…then, carry on : )

At night the city lights up with street side restaurants.  We happily tried as many as we could.  My daughter gave them all 5 stars.

At night the city lights up with street side restaurants. We happily tried as many as we could. My daughter gave them each 5 stars.

The beach was lovely.

The beach was lovely.

Treasure Hunter : )

Treasure Hunter : )

Penang Beaches

One thing to watch out for in the water are jellyfish.  After being spotted, this one quickly met his maker.

One thing to watch out for in the water are jellyfish. After being spotted, this one quickly met his maker.

A convenient way to get around.

A convenient way to get around.

Penang Rickshaw

Penang Art

The Khoo Kongsi Leong San Tong  clan house was built over 100 years ago.  It's a definite "must see."

The Khoo Kongsi Leong San Tong clan house was built over 100 years ago. It’s a definite “must see.”

The Kek Lok Si Temple the place to go if you have wishes that need granting. : )

The Kek Lok Si Temple the place to go if you have wishes that need granting. : )

Wishing Ribbons 1RM (a small price to pay I'd say)/

Wishing Ribbons 1RM (a small price to pay I’d say)

Lots to choose from...

Lots to choose from…

Crockery Dealer : )

Crockery Dealer : )

My favorite part of this trip was seeing all the street art.  It's surprisingly interactive.

My favorite part of this trip was seeing all the street art. It’s surprisingly interactive.

Penang Street Art

Penang Street Art

Penang Street Art

Penang Street Art

 

Penang Street Art

Don't we all...

Don’t we all…

Penang Street Art

They weren't kidding about this...

They weren’t kidding about this…

Penang

Getting home took a bit longer than we expected.

Quick Bite: OMG Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

March 18, 2014

Enjoying a cup of ice cream at the mall is a pretty standard activity, and one that usually occurs without fanfare.  The folks behind OMG Ice Cream are out to change that with a method for crafting sweet treats that is borderline magical.

It all looks very high-tech.

It all looks very high-tech.

OMG’s  kiosk in Pavilion mall looks like some kind of ice cream laboratory.  Mixers connected to elaborate hoses are situated next to a menu whose extensive range is just about as maniacal as the process itself. What makes this place so different?  OMG uses liquid nitrogen to instantly turn their fresh ingredients into super smooth ice cream.  And the best part (well, besides the delicious ice cream) is that you get to see the whole process (which only takes 1 minute) as the place is set up for you to watch every step.

The magic is happening!

The magic is happening!

Your chosen ingredients are placed in a mixer and before you know it white gas is careening out of the bowl (much to the delight of any child within view). When your order is done, you are handed a super fresh treat that tastes as good as it looks.

Cold Fact.

Cold Fact.

You may be thinking that OMG stands for the ubiquitous phrase, “Oh My Gosh.”  You would be wrong on that point, as it actually stands for the much less appealing, but more amusing slogan, “Ooh My Gas.”  Aside from the full name, the sizing too is a little off kilter as the two sizing options are Cutie (small) and Sexy (large).  It could just be me, but there is something a little weird about ordering a five year old a “sexy” ice cream.  Luckily that was not a bridge I had to cross as Cutie size was just perfect for us.

OMG ICE CREAM KUALA LUMPUR

Have I mentioned how good the ice cream is?  When it comes to menus with customizable options I tend to stick with the prefab ones, because when left to my own devices I end up blending all of my favorites together which somehow never works out. (Like mixing all the play dough colors together thinking you’ll get the best color of all and ending up with a sad brown hue.  These instances must fall under the “Too Much of a Good Thing is Bad” rule.)

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions…

One of the rare instances  where the pictures look identical to the actual product.

One of the rare instances where the pictures look identical to the actual product.

Two Cuties.

Two Cuties.

But I digress.  The ice cream is so silky and the flavors we tried were truly satisfying.  The Apple Strudel was my favorite, while my daughter loved the Strawberry Cheesecake and my little son was smitten with the Mint Chocolate Chip.  We will definitely head back to OMG next time we need a sweet fix and/or a science lesson.

Apple strudel, Mint Chocolate chip, & Strawberry Cheesecake. : )

Apple strudel, Mint Chocolate chip, & Strawberry Cheesecake. : )

And then there were none...

And then there were none…

OMG  (Ooh My Gas Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream : )

NO. 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Pavilion

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 55100

P.S. “Like” them of Facebook and receive a free extra topping.

Follow OMG on Twitter and Instagram for special promos and info.

Flossy’s Favorite: Desa ParkCity

February 26, 2014
Flossy in her happy place.

Flossy in her happy place.

Moving from a yard with a house (which is I’m sure how Flossy would describe it)  to an apartment has been an adjustment for our 3 year old golden retriever.  Our building is advertised as “dog friendly” but in reality it is “dog tolerant” at best.  There is no place for her to run free outside, and when we take her for walks we are relegated to using the service elevator and can walk her only in a few very specific areas of the complex.

While we still take her for walks several times a day, and give her lots of indoor playtime, we are always on the lookout for a good park to take Flossy for some outdoor fun.  Recently we headed over to Desa ParkCity, which friends had highly recommended as a great place for dogs, and happily this is definitely the case.

Desa Parkcity Dog Park

The park surrounds a huge man-made lake which is pleasant to walk around.

Not the friendliest sign, but hey, at least they provide disposal bags.

Not the friendliest sign, but hey, at least they provide disposal bags.

There are also nearby restaurants, a handful of which have outdoor/pet friendly seating.  But Flossy’s favorite spot was at the playground.  The playground is large and beautiful, and as you can imagine the place to be if you are around 5-12 years old.  All Flossy had to do was sit in the shade and as if on cue, a parade of new friends stopped by for a chat.

Desa Parkcity Dog Park

For a gentle giant like Flossy, all the attention was heavenly.

Desa Parkcity Dog Park

Of course, there was some cute competition. But there was plenty of love to go around.

Desa Parkcity Dog Park

As the sun went down and the heat retreated, the park became even more lively as more people came out to walk their pups and grab a bite to eat.

Desa Parkcity Dog Park

I definitely recommend heading out in the late afternoon when the heat is less intense.  Be sure to pack extra water for your pet.  This is a great spot for the whole family.  Enjoy!

☞ Desa ParkCity
5, Persiaran Residen
Desa ParkCity
52200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Desa ParkCity Facebook
Desaparkcity.com

In Search of the Highlands

February 4, 2014

After months in the city I was ready to be surrounded by nature.  I wanted to wake up and hear birds instead of construction, and see more green than gray.  Don’t get me wrong, city life has its rewards, but there are times when nature is the best remedy.  Herman Melville sums it up, “Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul… I account it high time to get to the sea as soon as I can.”

The Cameron Highlands

The sea wasn’t really an option this time around, instead we headed to the hills for a visit to the Cameron Highlands.

The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

The Cameron Highlands is one of Malaysia’s top tourist attractions.  Known for the cooler temperatures, venues where you can pick strawberries and mushrooms, tea plantations, and scenic vistas, we found in the Cameron Highlands the perfect getaway spot.

The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

There is also an air of mystery here as this is the place where Jim Thompson (who created a veritable silk empire in Thailand) disappeared.  While on vacation here Thompson went for a walk and never returned.  A massive manhunt ensued, to no avail.  To this day no one knows what happened to the textile giant, and many have found a way to cash in on the mystery, offering special tours and menu items dedicated to the man.

Cameron Highlands, 2013 231

For us, the hillsides offered crisp air and a fresh perspective.

The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Everywhere you turn there are souvenir shops brimming with strawberry themed knick-knacks.  If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a strawberry shaped pillow, this is the place for you.

The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

What I loved about the Cameron Highlands was the sheer variety of plant life on display.  Little shops featuring exotic mushrooms, cacti, (did I mention strawberries?), and even lavender dot the road, inviting you to see or try something new.

What a captivating color palette to stumble upon.

What a captivating color palette to stumble upon.

Succulent succulents : )

Succulent succulents : )

The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Our timing wasn’t right in terms of picking strawberries, but we were able to purchase and enjoy them nonetheless.

Self plucking? Who knew!

Self plucking? Who knew!

Not quite ready for us.

Not quite ready for us.

The best souvenir is the kind you can eat.

The best souvenir is the kind you can eat.

We were able to feast our eyes on lush tea plantations, and taste yam flavored ice cream (it was delicious) and strawberry coffee (which oddly did not taste like strawberries… or coffee).

Tea time.

Tea time.

Even Ben & Jerry would give a thumbs up to this flavor.

Even Ben & Jerry would give a thumbs up to this flavor.

This one I might pass on.

This one I might pass on.

Two days in the Highlands was not nearly enough time to explore all they have to offer, but it was the perfect respite from the noise and stress of Kuala Lumpur.

The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Giveaway Time!

December 17, 2013

I’ve been wanting to do something special for my readers/subscribers for awhile and since it is the season of giving,  it occurred to me that now would be the perfect time to have a special giveaway!

One lucky reader will be receiving this special Olio clutch featuring the Celosia print in Red Rumor from Tulisan.

 Tulisan Giveaway

So pretty : )

I love all things Tulisan.  The prints are so bright and cheerful and the quality of each product is impeccable.  I happen to write for this brand, but I picked out this clutch and paid for it with my own bucks. I would love to  buy each subscriber a great gift like this, but Mama ain’t got that kind of cash (but I do wish everyone good luck!).

Tulisan accessories  instantly infuse any outfit witha lush sense of personal style : )

Tulisan accessories instantly infuse any outfit with a lush sense of personal style : )

All you have to do to enter is:

  1.  Subscribe to WanderlustandWonder.com
  2. Leave a comment below sharing what your favorite holiday tradition is.  It doesn’t have to be related to Christmas; any special holiday tradition will enter you in the contest.
  3. Only one comment allowed per person.

The winner will be chosen at random at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, December 23nd and notified by email.  It doesn’t matter where you live, if you win I will mail you this lovely clutch.  Should the winner for some reason not claim her/his prize, then another will be randomly selected.

I love my Tulisan clutch.  It holds everything, and doubles as a wallet too.  Tulisan makes such lovely gifts.  Have a look at their website to find out more.

I can easily fit my checkbook, iPhone, and all my cards and notes in here.

I can easily fit my checkbook, iPhone, and all my cards and notes in here.

P.S. you may have noticed the blue expatsblog.com badge in the right hand corner of this page.  I entered a blogging contest for the first time.  If you have a couple minutes to spare please have a look at my post and leave a comment of ten words or more below it.  I’d appreciate the support and would love to read your comment!

Happy Holidays!  And, good luck!

~Melany.

Extra Special

November 29, 2013
The Set

The Set

Setting the stage

Setting the stage

Behind the scenes : )

Behind the scenes : )

It takes effort to look that good : )

It takes effort to look that good : )

If I were ever to sit down and craft a bucket list, certainly being an extra in a TV movie would be on there, right?  Good, then I can cross that one off my would-be list as recently I got to play myself (i.e. nondescript American female) in the upcoming TV movie for Oh My English.

"Action!"

“Action!”

The Ambassador was a great sport, and actor.

The Ambassador was a great sport, and actor.

This incredibly popular Malaysian sitcom centers on a group of struggling students on a zany quest to learn English.  Interestingly, the series was created by the Ministry of Education in partnership with Astro TV as a means to promote better pronunciation and the use of proper English among viewers.  With over half a million ‘likes’ on the show’s official Facebook page, it seems the series has resonated with the tweens/teens it targets.

Spoiler Alert! Something funny happens here :D

Spoiler Alert! Something funny happens here :D

Behind the scenes Oh My English

Behind the scenes Oh My English

Oh My English airs weekly, but soon they will feature a special movie (which the director’s assistant described to me as a High School Musical version of the show).  For this episode, in which the students receive exciting news from the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, they needed a few Americans to watch and applaud as the story unfolds.

They loved the funny cat pics I sent!

It seems they loved the funny cat pics I sent! Score!

It was very cool to see the production being taped right before my eyes.  The kids did the scene several times, each time perfectly in character.  But when the scene was over they instantly morphed back to regular folks just goofing around.

The cast was extremely warm and friendly.

The cast was extremely warm and friendly.

From what I can tell the episode is really funny and I’m looking forward to getting to watch it.  Oh, and I’ve’ve got an agent now so if anyone needs a 5’5″ brunette to clap on cue, I now have enough experience to handle the job!

Roll Credits!

Roll Credits!

Playing by Heart

November 15, 2013

I will never forget when Guns N’ Roses first appeared on my radar.  I was in fourth grade riding the bus home from school and my best friend’s older brother pulled his gramophone (an early predecessor to the iPhone, for the youngsters out there) out of his backpack, turned the volume way up, and “Paradise City” invaded my airspace.

Instantly my fourth grade posse was hooked because: 1. the older (and by default, cooler) kids were into it and 2. there is something inherently freeing about blasting music and singing like a  badass.  Subsequently, for the rest of the year, “Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty” became our mantra, rallying call, and collective theme song.

It’s funny how music can instantly transport you back to a moment or time in your life.  I hear that song, and bam! I’m on the bus feeling like teachers don’t know anything and I might just go on tour myself one of these days.

Turns out, you need more than a sassy attitude and penchant for noisiness to make it as a rock star. That was a disappointing realization.

Recently though, solo artist, producer, hot sauce king,  and Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot”  Thal visited Kuala Lumpur and incredibly our paths crossed.  I was able to tag along with other press people on his “Appetite for Durian” tour as he visited an orphanage and performed at  Auditorium Balai Seni Visual Negara.  I wasn’t sure how it would all go down when I was given the chance to meet him, but Ron Thal was as genuine a person as I’ve ever met.  I was able to catch many moments where his humanity, patience, and kindness were front and center, so I will let these images speak of his authentic nature.

The kids were excited to meet Ron Thal, but they too weren't sure what to expect.

The kids were excited to meet Ron Thal, but they too weren’t sure what to expect.

Bumblefoot appeared excited to perform for the children.

Bumblefoot appeared excited to perform for the children.

The guitarist was extremely patient with his youngest fans.

The guitarist was extremely patient with his youngest fans.

Bumblefoot in Kuala Kumpur

True to form, the softspoken musician who always comes prepared had learned several Malaysian songs which he played for his eager audience.

Bumblefoot in Kuala Kumpur

He welcomed anyone brave enough to have a go at playing his iconic guitar.

He welcomed anyone brave enough to have a go at playing his iconic guitar.

When his mini concert was over he signed autographs for every child (and grown up) who wanted one.

When his mini concert was over he signed autographs for every child (and grown up) who wanted one. Everyone wanted one.

Ron Thal made sure that each child's name was spelled correctly, and tried to get each to laugh.

Ron Thal joked around while making sure he spelled each name correctly.

Each kid left with personalized proof that they  really had  met the American Rock Star.

Each kid left with personalized proof that they really had met the American Rock Star.

After signing autographs he then went on to do interviews with local media in attendance.

After signing autographs he then went on to do interviews with local media in attendance.

Bumblefoot in Kuala Kumpur

The next day he did a private concert at Auditorium Balai Seni Visual Negara.  It is here that I should mention his passion for hot sauce.  In fact he brought his own brand of spicy concoctions everywhere with him and encouraged fearless souls to give them a try.  Malaysians aren’t wimps when it comes to heat, so when I saw the people in front of me start to sweat, I quietly backed away from the line.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

If this looks appealing/fun/not like torture to you, then by all means, please visit his site to find out more.

He even played "Paradise City" to the super pumped up crowd.  That was a dream come true : )

He even played “Paradise City” to the super pumped up crowd. That was a dream come true : )

Does it get any better? (no, no it does not)

Does it get any better? (no. no it does not)

Malaysian rock legend, Amy Search made a special appearance and jammed with the star.

Malaysian rock legend, Amy Search made a special appearance and jammed with the star.

It amazing to see this improbable pair rock on stage.

It was amazing to see this improbable pair rock on stage.

After the set was over Bumblefoot once again set about signing autographs for each fan in attendance.

After the set was over Bumblefoot once again set about signing autographs for each fan in attendance.

How he had the energy to make each fan feel appreciated and sign autographs for over an hour and a half (after playing for over an hour) is a great mystery.  But Ron Thal did not leave a single fan disappointed.

How he had the energy to make each fan feel appreciated and sign autographs for over an hour and a half (after playing for over an hour) is a great mystery. But Ron Thal did not leave a single fan in Malaysia disappointed.

Ron Thal with a fan-made guitar crafted from Durian.  If you're wondering if this thing smelled terrible, it did.

Ron Thal with a fan-made guitar crafted from Durian. If you’re wondering if this thing smelled terrible, it did.

When you meet someone exceedingly talented and also famous who turns out to be kindhearted, open, and grounded, you feel like your admiration was not wasted.  I never heard Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal complain, or grow tired of the seemingly endless flow of admirers that approached him.  He never put a time limit on how long he would sign autographs for.  He went out with local musicians and got to know KL through their eyes.  Hopefully Bumblefoot’s appetite for durian remains strong, as fans here would love to welcome back this true Guitar Hero.

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