I’m a crappy traveler when it comes to my own home country of Malaysia. I can probably count the number of places in Malaysia that I have been to and spent at least a night (minus KL and Selangor, where I grow up is not considered of course) with all my fingers. Let’s count:
- Melaka – my Mom’s hometown
- Johor Bahru – multiple times on working trips
- Ipoh – attending a few wedding dinners
- Genting Highlands – friends outing
- Taiping – my dad’s hometown
- Penang – I work here now
- Kuching – attending a friend’s wedding dinner
You see, only 6 places, all of them towns and cities, and all but one of them was because I go there for the leisurely purpose of travel and vacation.
I have never been to the east coast of the Peninsula, and I have never been to anywhere else on the Borneo side apart from Kuching.
I’m trying to justify why I sucks big time in exploring my own country. As a student and teenager, I spent all my free time helping my dad with his school bags business, so I guess that was kind of justifiable. Then when I started working and in Penang, I spend all my planned vacation time back home to be with my family and friends, in recent years more family than friends. I already have limited vacation leaves, and it felt wrong to not spend them at home with my parents.
And then there are occasions such as today. My parents are going to JB for some stuff and they had to leave early in the morning. My siblings have their own stuff to do. So I quickly made plans to leave for Penang early in the morning too. I wanted to break this lame “crappy home country traveling” duck. I was particularly interested in the Teluk Intan chee cheong fun that Mun blogged about, and the Sitiawan kompiah that Claire blogged about.
The plan was to exit the North-South highway at Bidor, head to Teluk Intan for a foodie stop, then drive along the coastal small roads to reach Sitiawan for another foodie stop, then continue to on to Pantai Remis for another stop because I saw in AEC channel last night, there’s an ahpek boat making master there, and then rejoin the highway at Taiping.
That was the plan. Well, it was a well thought out plan, if I do say so myself. But that was all it was, a plan. The reality? When I woke up in the morning, I had a sudden craving of chee cheong fun. Not the Teluk Intan one, but the KL one. With all those fried bean curd skin, fried dumplings and pork balls. With the most amazing sauce of curry + sweet sauce (I don’t know the actual English word) + chili sauce.
Hmm… it’s alright to have chee cheong fun for breakfast AND lunch, isn’t it? I can have KL chee cheong fun for breakfast, then Teluk Intan chee cheong fun for lunch, can’t I? With that idea in mind, I dropped by at the food court near my house for breakfast before departing.
My oh my, it is getting expensive, isn’t it? But then it was more than what I used to have: 2 ccf, 2 pork balls, 1 fish ball, 1 okra, 1 fried bean curd skin, 1 fried triangular tofu and 1 fried dumpling. More importantly, it tasted exactly as I remember, which is super delicious.
As I was leaving the food court extremely satisfied, I walked pass the pastries stall. Then another craving hit me. I miss these sweet noms too!
Without thinking, I quickly blurted out: “Auntie, 蛋挞一个 dan tart yat gor, 咖央角一个 kayang kok yat gor! (one egg tart, one kaya puff!)”
These 2 little buddies would be my snack while driving.
Seriously, look at that kaya puff. The skin is just a thin layer of crispy goodness. Once you bite through that crispy layer, your mouth will immediately go through an explosion of warmth and sweetness and all sorts of wonderful feelings! Don’t leave me any comments about how terribly sweet it is. THAT IS THE POINT OF A KAYA PUFF! If you don’t like it, go eat something else!
[For the international readers, kaya is coconut jam. It is made of coconut milk, eggs, pandan leaves and sugar. You can read more about it here. Kaya is the Malay word for this delicious jam. Strangely, for the Chinese/Cantonese speaking people, we call it kayang, I have no idea why 😀 ]
Content with my breakfast and snacks haul, I started driving.
I stopped at Behrang R&R for a quick pee. Then I kept driving.
I stopped at Simpang Pulai R&R for another quick pee and some coffee. Then I kept driving.
Then I stopped at Taiping R&R for another round of quick pee. I drink a lot of water nowadays, so constant pee-ing is unavoidable.
And then it hit me.
“EH? TAIPING? WTF?! I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO EXIT FROM BIDOR?!”
I am so accustomed to the monotonous driving on the North-South highway that I don’t notice as the road and exits fly by. I totally forgot about having to exit somewhere, my body and mind have been programmed with: Start point: KL, Destination point: Penang. It did not help that I was not hungry. I always stuff myself with KL food before leaving, and then forget about my on-the-way foodie plans when driving because I was too full and sleepy to think about it.
To make matters worse, I did not feel all that bad about it. As I was driving out of Taiping R&R, I was only thinking about things like, “It’s okay lah, I’m full anyway, good that I missed it and did not need to over eat.” and “Next time, I will try to remember“, except I have been next time-ing all the time!
This is not the first time it happened, it is just one of many times. In the past, I made plans to exit at Tanjung Malim for the famous Pau (buns), Bidor for the duck noodles, Ipoh for the salt baked chicken. Every time the plans were thwarted by my own lack of
enthusiasm concentration to exit the highway at the right place.
I repeat, I suck as a home country traveler 🙁 .