Thursday, August 18, 2011

Much ado about satay...and Travelife in Malacca

The Travelife teams
at afternoon tea
in Malacca, Malaysia today.

Hello from Malacca, a charming UNESCO World Heritage town that we all immediately fell in love with the moment we set foot in it. It helps that we're staying in one of the most romantic boutique hotels in this part of the world, and the rooms and furnishings -- although not over the top luxurious -- have simply taken everyone's breath away with its good taste and fine craftsmanship.


It's been a pretty long day that began at about 5 am today at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang. We'd been in Penang for about four marvelous days and today we checked out early to get the first flight out to Kuala Lumpur and then it was on to Malacca. Malacca, Malaysia's oldest city, is about a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur along a great highway.

Malacca isn't very big but the old town has been beautifully restored so that you can walk through time and place yourself back in colonial times. The narrow streets and riverfront shophouses have all the charm of Europe, and the new developments -- at least those around the old town, which is where it counts -- have sprung up in a way that is not at all unpleasing to the eye. Nothing really sticks out as an eyesore -- and this is something quite unusual in Asia, where not much thought is usually given to proper urban planning.


This afternoon, the entire team for Travelife Magazine and Travelife TV -- two incredibly hardworking and extremely professional groups who've been traveling in tandem but largely working independently for the past few days -- actually had afternoon high tea together, and it was so much fun. We sat in a very civilized dining room straight out of the olden days and partook of a beautifully laid out spread of Western and Malay specialties.

These were all laid out in three-tier cake trays so that it was quite an eclectic mix per tray: home-made scones, spicy samosas, moist chocolate cake, smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches, coconut cookies, and a puff pastry with chicken and mushroom, among many others. These were all washed down with pots of Cameron tea, which is fragrant black tea from Malaysia's Cameron Highlands. I first had this at an afternoon tea in KL a few days ago, and have been drinking it ever since. I must confess it's wonderful tea you can easily get addicted to.


Then, I don't know how we did it, but 45 minutes after our afternoon tea, there we were in Malaysia's most famous satay restaurant (read more about it in an upcoming issue of Travelife) -- a large hole-in-the-wall of a place with a line of customers so long it stretched down the whole black, in spite of the fast turnover. We quickly made friends with the fourth-generation owner, who afterwards spent the evening walking around his own restaurant saying "I love Travelife. Travelife is number one," to anyone and everyone. That certainly made our day.


The delicious satay also made our day. When I eat in Malaysian or Indonesian restaurants, I usually only get satay in chicken or beef form. But tonight, we were treated to a feast of the freshest seafoods to dip into a bubbling cauldron of peanut sauce: large slices of abalone, giant shrimps, clams, and all kinds of shellfish. We all ate very happily. Then we got on a boat and partied up and down the Malacca river with music playing very loud. It was like being in Republiq but with a set out of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean.

But that's another story in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful, Travelife.

Say "Satay." Travelife editor Miko
with the satay joint owner

Some of Travelife's editorial team, Carlo, June and Bernice,
with our new friend Mr. How.

These people were patiently waiting in line...

Our satay meal began with
a relatively harmless pot of peanut sauce
surrounded by plates of cucumber and bread

This is how the table eventually looked

Join us in Italy this September.

with Margarita Fores
and the Embassy of Italy & Bacchus Epicerie
September 8 at Whitespace

Please call TRAVELIFE at 8138400/ 8922620
to reserve a limited seat

For reservations and information, please contact:
Bernice or Rachel at TRAVELIFE
813-8400/ 892-2620


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