I have learned to become adventurous due to my travels. After all, constant compromise and risk-takings are essential for survival during long haul trips. But there is one thing that I never compromise – food! I am droll and boring when it comes to food. If there is a chance I would hate what I am about to order and experiment on, I back off and get the safest, most common food on the menu.
Contrary to popular belief – that my travels involve dieting – I do get to eat more often than usual. The reason for this is simple: I will never find myself starved in the middle of a road trip where accessible food is nowhere to be found. Thus, much like diarrheic patients, I practice “small frequent feeding” – and lots of fluids! I eat and eat when I can – little amounts every so often. I usually deplete and burn them fast anyway. My travels are actually strenuous and burn a lot of energy.
Last December, I unknowingly lost 10 pounds after a month of travels in Malaysia, Bangladesh and India. Last March, I lost 5 pounds after 1 month of travels all over Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. Bangladesh and India were a tough place to live – in terms of eating! These processed “halal” food (food that are permissible to eat by Muslim law) were effective weight reducers. I didn’t favor the taste, the food consistency, the smell, even the color. And eating dhal every so often just didn’t agree with my appetite – most especially cause I hate spicy food – and chili and spice are the gastronomic soul of Indian dining!
Being a Muslim country, Malaysia isn’t so much different. They serve halal food, BUT there is more variety that suits the western tongue (I am Pinoy but my taste buds have been primed like an American tongue haha!). There is KFC and McDonalds. Chicken tastes like chicken! In India, the taste of chicken perplexed me no end!
Was I alone with this observation?
Last March, while I was in north Myanmar – in the royal city of Mandalay, I met a Polish guy named Adam! He was also in India the whole November last year. He kept dropping “fuckin shits” and “idiots” and other expletives while he was recounting his trips. And I would stop and tell him – “You should not say, fuck you, to them!” I was such a daddy! Haha!
Adam explored India from North to South. He loved Cochin (which is south India) the best coz, according to him, “they were mostly Catholics”, and this heavily influenced the kind of food that the region consumed; i.e. “non-halal”. As a result, Adam lost 25 pounds from the whole Indian experience. He said he was constantly starving and craving for something edible. I was the same but there was somehow food that tentatively suited my taste buds! It wasn’t so bad – BUT I lost 10 pounds anyway!
On the other hand, Malaysia has a more varied range of selection. Pork is available for the non-muslims. Coffeeshops, Mamak stalls, mall food courts, fine dining – they’re all available in Malaysia, especially in KL. In middle-of-the-road areas (as in Jalan Pudu), simple restaurants display a colorful mix of viands. And the colors are, to say the least, eye-popping – orange, yellows, red, maroons – these chili paste-rich food choices just seem to jump out of their trays. On food, I am a little scared of too much color.
So here is my Eye in the Sky of food to be had in Malaysia!