Saturday, August 19, 2017

[Travel] Kompong Phluk & MeChrey Siem Reap Floating Villages @ Cambodia

Back to a casual update on my trip to Cambodia, so I have visited most of the historical temples in Angkor Archaeological Park and explored the rest of Siem Reap Town. You must be wondering what else to visit there. As suggested by many tuk-tuk drivers and travellers online, the next best thing to do in Siem Reap is to go for a Floating Village trip around Tonle Sap lake

It is truly a good experience for those who have not seen similar places before, otherwise you may find it boring and not worth the entry fee of $20 for this short tour that takes about 2 hours. 

Chong Kneas and Kompong Khleang are amongst the floating villages that become top tourists' attractions, but seriously you'd get pissed off because there are just too many locals pushing you to buy stuff and young kids asking for donations. Hence, I prefer Kompong Phluk, totally peaceful and free from disturbances. 

The boat journey is actually quite scenic and enjoyable. I read online about the growing flow of tourists here with dozens of boats at the dock, but during my trip, Kompong Phluk is pretty quiet and has kept a lot of its authenticity.

Well, Kompong Phluk is a small village, so the boat ride is consequently quite short, passing by a mangrove swamp along a narrow stream of river. To hop onto the smaller boat and explore the mangrove swamp, there will be additional charge of $5 but we skip that because there are plenty of similar scenes in our country. 

Honestly the scene is unpleasant initially, with plenty of filthy smell and trash in the water. But as soon as our boat navigates towards the ocean, the smell goes away and I am very glad to see the oceanic blue sea right in front of me. 

Overall, it is a short but nice experience, to be able to get closer to the nature and enjoy the oceanic breeze.

On the following day, we spend our afternoon visiting another floating village, which is less discovered by the tourists and travel agencies. I particularly love this place more because it is truly authentic, despite of the long distance away from Siem Reap town (It takes 1.5 hours tuk-tuk ride to the small pier!) 

Thanks to its low number of visitors, MeChrey floating village feels genuinely untouched and peaceful. When we arrive by the small pier around 2pm, there are literally no other tourists' tuk tuk or van around. 

Upon arriving at MeChrey, you will see several dozens of wooden houses floating on the river as far as the eye can see.  Then I am surprised that this village moves along the river and Tonlé Sap lake according to the seasons. Sounds amazing right?


More than a village, MeChrey is a small town with a primary school, floating market and everything that such a large community requires to function. Along the way, you can ask the boat operator to stop for some photographs.

Here we can see how the little kids row their boats home, some younger ones are assisted by their seniors while the girls here are as strong as boys! As I personally have never seen such things before, it is a truly mind-boggling experience.

School children are rowing their boats home during sunset.

One of the best things about MeChrey is the picturesque scenery of sunset that truly captivates my heart when I am in the middle of the lake. Looking at those kids, I can't help but to feel how blessed I am to be able to live in the city complete with facilities that make my life so much easier compared to the less fortunate ones in Cambodia. 

Also, at MeChrey, there are few floating homes that sell freshly caught seafood at $2 per kg. This service is operated by the locals, and it is entirely up to us whether to buy anything from them. No forcing at all. I really hope it remains this way in future. 

But we show our support by buying a fish from them, and have it cooked at Khmer Organic Kitchen for our dinner. It is located in the village along the returning way from MeChrey, so we stop by for a traditional Khmer 4-course meal.

Sitting on the lovely rugs in the attap hut, it feels very relaxing to sip on the
fresh young coconut as the breezy wind sweeps lightly against the skin.

The trip to MeChrey including the delicious Khmer dinner costs USD $30 per person, which I feel slightly overpriced but totally worth the overall experience that perfects my trip to Cambodia.

Overall, the floating villages are worth visiting if you have spare time (Half a day or 1 day) in Siem Reap. The experience of living like a local here is indeed memorable for me :)

Other Siem Reap related blog posts:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tut's Egyptian Eatery @ 1 Utama Shopping Centre, PJ

Think about Egypt, I see images of deserts and giant pyramids floating in my mind almost instantly. What about Egyptian food? I was guessing it could be something close to Arabic cuisine since Egypt is one of the Arab countries, but NO, now let Tut's Egyptian Eatery reveals the truth.....

Named after King Tut, the monarch who once ruled ancient Egypt over 3000 years ago, Tut's Egyptian Eatery is the very first Egyptian restaurant in town. Now we can save a trip to Egypt and just head to 1 Utama Shopping Centre and be among the first to experience the authentic taste of Egypt in Malaysia!

Location wise, Tut's is tucked at the corner lot in the Oval Concourse, LG Floor in New Wing, right next to the exit to the Rainforest. It does not take us too long to search for this shop since we are frequent shoppers here.

Ambiance wise, the family-friendly interior exudes very strong influence of Middle Eastern flairs. Bright, vibrant and nothing overly elaborated.

Also, don’t forget to have a good read on the infographics on the table. It explains the main ingredients used in typical Egyptian dishes – rice, pasta, lentils, and Middle Eastern spices any other Arab fare – which combine as one comfort food at its finest.

So, all the dishes we are having today are the timesless Egyptian classics savoured from the streets to royal palaces, prepared with love using the homemade recipes passed down from family to family.

Upon being seated, we are treated with the welcoming snack – Crisp toast with TUT’s fiery chilli dip – before indulging into the Egyptian gourmet.


(From Left to Right) Egyptian Lemon Mint @ RM8.00
(Citrusy lemon and sharp mint in milk concoction)
Sobya Milk @ RM7.50
(Milky sweet coconut drink)
Tropical Tamarind @ RM7.50
(Exotic aged tamarind drink similar to the local “Asam Boi”) 
Kiwi Pineapple Mixer @ RM8.00
(Kiwi, pineapple, what else can give Vitamin C boost more htan this?)

The first 3 are timeless Egyptian beverages which are commonly prepared at every Egyptian home to beat the heat and quench thirst, while the one on most right is a modern blend of fruity goodness to deliver all the vitamins you need.

My personal favourite goes to the Sobya Milk which tickles my taste buds with smooth lingering sweetness and strong aroma of coconut milk. Slightly thick, but neither too creamy nor filing for my liking. I heard it is the “must-have beverage” during Buka Puasa (Muslim’s fast breaking) in Egypt too. Interesting!


Molokhia Minced Leaf Stew @ RM9.90

The soup arrives first as the starter, but this warm bowl of finely chopped Molokhia leaf stew is not an ordinary soup. The Egyptians love cooking it with lots of spices such as fine butter, garlic, coriander, cumin and black pepper to make it an extremely savoury stew.

I am delighted that there is no “raw earthy” taste in it at all, and the aroma of butter does help to enhance the flavours well. Since it is served with a choice of side, we choose the Egyptian-style “Royal Rice”. The aromatic flavoured rice is slightly sweet on its own, and pairs well with the leafy stew as a comfort meal for light eaters.


Koshari Mixed Grain Bowl @ RM14.30

Our star of the day is no other than this staple Egyptian dish which is widely available all over Egypt, from street stalls to restaurants. Back in the olden days, Egyptians cannot afford having meat in every meal, hence they have Koshari - a delightful blend of pasta, rice, lentils, onions and beans that yield an absolutely delicious harmony of aroma and taste.

Although it is dubbed as the "poor man's food", the taste isn't poor at all! TUT's version is served with tomato sauce, TUT’s chilli sauce, chick peas, lentils, and fried onions - all are refillable as much as you wish. Mix the ingredients together, and enjoy every spoonful with bursting flavours of sweet, sour, spicy and savoury!


Oh I don't mind having healthy carbs like these!


Herbal Hot Plate Chicken with Baked Rice + Vegetables (Original/Spicy) @ RM25.90

Surprises come one after another. The slow-grilled chicken served on a hot plate is, again, not an ordinary "chicken chop" dish. Thanks to TUT’s secret herbs and sauces, the chicken is rich in exotic Egyptian flavours - so tender and aromatic with the charness on point. It tastes better than any BBQ chicken I've ever tried! The complementing handpicked potatoes, bell peppers and rice are just perfect for a hearty meal.

Available in 3 options, in case if you don't fancy much rice / vegetables:
 Herbal Hot Plate Chicken + Vegetables + Baked Rice
 Herbal Hot Plate Chicken + Baked Rice
 Herbal Hot Plate Chicken + Vegetables


Tut’s Dynasty Fries / Sweet Potato Fries @ RM4.50 per portion

If you feel like having more side dishes to perfect the meal, there are 11 options to choose from! I go for the two best-selling fries with an interesting twist of flavours, and I have never thought that the fries can be so special here.

Tut's Dynasty Fries is breaded with TUT’s secret herbs for a tastier, fuller flavour to the crisp potatoes. Be warned, once hooked, you may not be able to stop munching these yummy fries!

Whereas the Herbs-coated Sweet Potato Fries are classic favourites. Overall, it is ideal for communal sharing as it keeps the streams of conversations going. Best served with the oh-so-cheesy homemade TUT’s Cheesy Sauce!

DESSERTS

To put a sweet endnote to our Egyptian gastronomic journey, we pick the top 3 crowd’s favourites among the 5 types of desserts available on the menu, which are also the classics created since the ancient Egypt.


Roz b Laban Creamy Delight @ RM 6.85

"Roz B Laban" simply translates to "Rice and Milk" in the Egyptian dialect. Traditionally it is eaten during breakfast as it is the most crucial time of the day to get that high energy boost. With a little twist to the dish, it can also be a delicious dessert that pleases the palate with cool sweet flavours of milk and vanilla.


Nutty Nile Nougat @ RM7.50

My eyes are wide open with excitement when I see "Nougat" on the dessert menu. I mean, I am a super fan of nougat snack bars, but this is my first time having deconstructed nougat in a glass. Digging into the chilled creamy concoction, I discover loads of crunchy almond chunks in every spoonful that adds biting pleasure to the sweet treat.


Om Ali Bread Pudding @ RM9.80

If you prefer something sweeter, try this traditional Egyptian dessert. The base is pretty similar to the Western-style bread pudding, so soft and warm with strong milky flavours. Topping it off with two mini scoops of Sangkaya's Coconut or Gula Melaka ice cream adds an interesting local twist to the dessert and balances it with coolness that leaves you wanting more.

Verdict:
1.
 
Overall, an amazing Egyptian affair with local and Western twists that is ideal for friends and families alike.
2. The dishes here are suited for local taste buds, and I find that the main ingredients i.e. spices used in Egyptian cuisine are easily acceptable. Nothing shocking, all pleasing to the palate.
3. Must try: Koshari Mixed Grain Bowl and Herbal Hot Plate Chicken with Baked Rice

Tut's Egyptian Eatery
LG333A New Wing
(next to the Rainforest)
1 Utama Shopping Centre,
Bandar Utama,
47800 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor.
Facebook: fb.com/tutsmy
Instagram: @tutsmy
Business Hours: 10am-10pm daily

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Review: MAMONDE Flower Pop Eye Brick + Blusher


It’s been only a year plus journey for Mamonde’s expansion journey in Malaysia but
the brand has never failed to wow us with new floral-inspired lineup and brand concept.

Feel free to check out my previous reviews for Mamonde:

If you do not already know, Mamonde is a skincare brand that mainly uses only flowers as its key ingredient. Latest in the store are the 2 new Mamonde products – Flower Pop Eye Brick and Flower Pop Blusher.


Mamonde Flower Pop Eye Brick (2.3g x 4) @ RM99

Available in 5 colours:
No.1 Golden Beige
No.2 Laura Coral (as shown on picture above)
No.3 Burgundy Pansy
No.4 Pale Purple
No.5 Rosy Road

I’m in love with Mamonde’s all-new multipurpose, portable eyeshadow quad! Look at the pearlescent shades with light shimmers, so pretty right? Plus, it is infused with White Flower Complex (which comprises Madonna Lily, Edelweiss and Lily Magnolia) that helps keep the skin around the eyes moisturised.

How To Use:
Step 1: Lightly apply and spread the base colour (#2) over the eyelids.
Step 2: Apply the medium colour (#3) up to the centre of the eyelids and blend the colours.
Step 3: Give a touch of the deep colour (#4) along the lashes to add dimension to the look.
Step 4: Add an extra touch of the highlight colour (#1) at the centre of the eyelids and along the under lashes for a shimmering effect.

My No.2 Laura Coral palette is a sweet-looking palette of 4 golden shades:
Light gold, basic gold, rose gold and shimmery bronze.

Texture: 
The fine powder is easy to pick up using a brush, and it glides smoothly along the eyelids.

Feel: 
Very smooth, almost gel-like texture that sits on the eyelids well.

Color Payoff (Without Flash)

Color Payoff (With Flash)

Color Payoff: 
The shades are shimmery but very light. The beautiful blend of colors is beautiful,
plus it does not look heavy and mottled on the eyes.


Adherence: 
No traces of excess powder upon application over other parts of the face.

What I Like: 
The shade I am using here (No.2 Laura Coral) is suitable for a sweet "princess" makeup look.
If you love that naturally-looking, demure eye makeup, this is for you.


Mamonde Flower Pop Blusher (7.5g) @ RM59>

Who say blushers must be pink or red? Mamonde has recently released this series of newly-formulated blusher that offers an array of fresh colours to brighten up the complexion. No, it doesn’t contain any shimmering pearls, but it comes with a coat of camellia oil that promises a glowing complexion once applied onto the cheek.

Available in 6 different shades:
No.1 Pansy (as shown on picture above)
No.3 Daisy
No.5 Peony
No.6 Camellia
No.7 Rose Bay
No.8 Ginger

The formula is rather special here – It uses the Flexible Binder System to hold the highly pure powder particles in ensuring a clear, sheer and longer lasting colour on the cheek.

Inside the clear, see-through round casing, the blush is molded into a rose shape. Plus, it also comes with floral fragrances. Isn’t this a love at first sight?

The shade No.1 Pansy is a basic purple blusher, which many people tend to shy away because the color often appears shockingly deep or strong, but hey it can actually be more natural looking than the basic pink or peach! In fact, purple shade is great for color correction and brightening the complexion.

How To Use:
#1 Apply a little bit directly under your eyes to brighten dark circles.
#2 Apply lightly on cheeks and pair with pinky eye shadow and a pinky-nude lipcolor.
#3 Use it as a lipstick balancer.

Texture / Adherence: 
Fine, smooth powder is easy to apply against the cheekbones and stay in place well.

What I Like: 
I love pairing it with a peachy nude lip for that "softer" korean look.
Overall, the blusher is pretty versatile and pairs well with different makeup combinations.

Mamonde Flower Pop Eye Brick and Flower Pop Blusher are available at all Mamonde beauty counters nationwide.
 

A quick shoutout for the grand opening of Mamonde’s 6th beauty counter at Parkson KLCC!

Remember to check out the design of this beauty counter based on its latest brand concept ‘Journey of Flowers’, featuring an illustration of Mamonde’s very own pressed-flower pattern at the centre. Service wise, on top of skin consultation, the new counter also offers complimentary Flower Touch Hand Massage service to all its customers.

For more information about Mamonde, please visit:

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