As I said in my previous post, my parents are here. And while they are perfectly happy to spend all day sitting on the balcony under the fan or to lie by the pool I like to take them out every day for a few hours to do something interesting.
This has its advantages for Ian and me because we get cross some of the things off our own must-do lists at the same time.
Inevitably, as this is their second trip, there are a few things my parents want to do that we did before and so their visit is proving to be a pleasant mix of old and new taken at a leisurely pace that gives me enough time to work every morning. Perfect.
And so, last weekend, we took them to the TTDI market (Pasar Besar TTDI) to buy fresh fish and vegetables but more importantly for breakfast Malay style.
We arrive at 10am, which we discovered was too late for the roti canai man we’d so enjoyed before our last Lazat cooking class. So, instead we wandered the food court trying to decide. The lady on the Sri Lankan curry stall was really chatty and rather than trying to explain what everything was that she had on sale she simply suggested, “Let me give you some things to try. You can pay later.”
So we perched on the immovable concrete chairs that line the long tables and waited for what looked like a white bubbly pancake with an egg buried inside it to arrive. This was appam. Made from fermented rice flour batter the idea is that you sprinkle the surface with fresh sweet coconut milk and dig in. It was delicious.
Soon, a charming couple with a young boy joined us at the table and we soon engaged in conversation. It transpired that he was the stallholder’s half brother and, inevitably, her food was renowned. ‘Ganesh’ then proceeded to give us a list of all the best places to eat in KL (the vegetarian buffet at the Temple of Fine Arts in Brickfields, apparently) and insisted on introducing us to roti jala sold by a lady a few stalls down. This was a yummy rolled up pancake that is lacy and yellow and served with a peanut sauce.
We drank sweet tea and bought our favourite nasi lemak from another stall and enjoyed a terrific South East Asian breakfast that cost less than five quid for the four of us.
So that was the ‘new’ for that day, but that evening we took my parents to Suzi’s Corner, the place they say is the best for steaks. We’ve been there a few times, to this food court beside a roundabout over in Ampang. It feels like you are eating in a car park and is always crowded. We were joined by some friends of ours and introduced my parents to their third ‘unusual pancake’ of the day, this time in the form of the roti tissu. This crispy pancake is served in a pyramid shape and drizzled with sticky syrup and torn and eaten with the fingers.
After all that eating the following day we chose some non-food based activities. First the butterfly park. I expected it to be rather contrived, as the European variety tend to be set inside vast greenhouses crammed with fake tropical scenery. Here, of course, there is no need for more than a large green net to keep the butterflies in and the jungle is real. Well, real-ish. There are lots of fake walkways and waterfalls and bridges but it really is beautiful.
We spent a happy hour and a half there just watching the creatures flit and glide and flap, zigzagging in and out of view. It was meditative and mesmerizing and definitely worth a return trip.
But the butterflies had made us thirsty so we moved onto to do something that had been on my list since I arrived. I wanted to take a look at the large colonial boutique hotel that had once been inhabited by the first British High Commissioners of Malaya and was built in 1896.
Carcosa Seri Negara hides beside the Lake Gardens, the very botanical gardens I so love to walk in, right beside where I live and yet I have never been able to spot it however hard I look behind the trees or up the hill. This place is famous for its English style high teas and I knew you had to book, so was surprised when we were allowed to simply have a cup of tea.
They showed us to a beautiful verandah, filled with soft sofas underneath whirling fans and right beside the sprawling, green slopes of the grounds. From here I could see clearly across to the KL Sentral area but try as I might I could not see our condominium, even though it was actually just over the road. The tea was served in individual silver pots along with eight homemade shortbread biscuits. It was easily the most expensive cup of tea I’ve had here but it was certainly one to be repeated.
I write this almost a week into my parents’ stay now and am looking forward to introducing them to their first banana leaf meal this lunchtime at our favourite place – Nirvana. Having visitors can be such fun.