Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Budapest - Architecture

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Budapest had some of the most amazing architecture I've ever seen. The connection to the Austro-Hungarian Empire is obvious; look at the similarities between Vienna and Budapest. The facades of even the most mundane buildings were works of art. The craftsmanship was impeccable. The decor of the interior of some of the more famous buildings hark back to Orthodox Church's influence on tastes.

Budapest, Opera House

Building facade - the most ordinary flats are housed in buildings like this
Angel guarding the Duna (Danube)
Budapest - Hungary's Parliament - notice the Riot Police. There were riots the day we got in.
Inside the Opera House
Hungary's Parliament
Another Building Facade
Sze's Apartment Block Courtyard
Some art museum / school

Another gorgeous facade - of a department store

Budapest is a melancholy city. As Sze says, Hungary is the only city that has public holidays commemorating failed revolutions and lost wars. As a matter of fact, the day we arrived was a public holiday in honour of the 23 Oct 1956 revolution, which Hungary lost. This air of melancholy pervades the atmosphere. However, people are very friendly and very accomodating once you get past that initial impression.

A Truly British (or is it Bri'ish) Wedding

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Instead of a chronological diary of events that occured on our Big Adventure, I thought it might be more interesting to relate stories or events that happened during that time. So there will be a series of stories and tales from our trip which won't be in any order. Just as long as a photo from my flickr collection piques my memory, I'll stick it in here as an entry.

As some of you may know, we didn't go to the UK on a whim. My young cuz was getting married to the man of her dreams (yes, she's sure, they've been going out for 9 years) and they were finally going to tie the knot. Her elder sister had just done the deed a few months before in KL and now it was Cee's turn.

So off we went.

The day of the wedding dawned bright and clear. Yes folks, Bright and Clear. In Cambridge. In the middle of an English Autumn. If that's not a sure sign of global warming I don't know what is. George Bush should have come over to have a look. He would have signed the Kyoto Protocols for sure!

And so, Allan and I had brought the wedding cake for Celia and we gave that as our present as well as the handbouquets for the Bride and Matron of Honour. Celia bought the flowers and Allan put the bouquets together. We were told that each bouquet could cost upwards of 100 Pounds. Insane.

In any case, the day proceeded beautifully and we have some memorable photos for keepsakes.





Now the curious thing about a Bri'ish wedding; like us it stretches through the day but in some ways, it's even more strenous than what we put ourselves through. They start at around 2pm with the ceremony. It was in the gorgeous Girton College of the University of Cambridge. And from the on, it's a non-stop affair. After the wedding proper there are snacks and photographs. By this time, it's around 4pm and they adjourn for the Wedding Breakfast...at 530pm or thereabouts. And it truly is a BREAK-FAST. Like Sahur! ;-)

People eat, drink, and be merry. Speeches in that droll British style. And after THAT, they invite a few more guests for the evening festivities which start at 8pm. And go on till the wee hours when the bride and groom make their escape.

Mum and Dad called time at around 7pm and Allan and I had to go back to our B&B for a nap before we came back for the evening festivities. Whew!

And what festivities they were.

The photos say it all.

Nigel, Padlick, Allan
Padlick, Allan
Cousin It
Richard, Viv
Vidya, Allan
American Beauty? ;-)
Padlick, Viv

Returning home to this?

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Mum and Dad came to pick me up at KL Sentral. We drove out to see this ongoing demonstraton. Wow! Al Jazeera reported this as a protest by Bersih, 71 NGOs, demanding a change in electoral rules so that we can have free and fair elections. Pictures of the FRU spraying foam on protestors have been played over and over on Al Jazeera. Curiously, BBC has not said a peep on it's website. I haven't watched the news over on BBC News on TV yet.

Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin was interviewed by Al Jazeera by telephone and I'm not sure what he was trying to say. He sounded livid and incoherent. And I think the journalist made the most of it, as they would. I think our Cabinet Ministers need to get better press advisors. ;-)

Skoda Fabia - Full of Good things inside

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

We rented a small car for our trip to Vienna and we were given a Skoda Fabia 1.2 HTP, which stands for High Torque Performance. For a 1.2 l car it's a gutsy little thing with bags of room. Build quality is far ahead oLinkf what we're used to and this is a car that competes with a comparable Kia. We are so shafted when it comes to cars in Malaysia.

Here's a link to the review of the car on carpages.co.uk

Here's a pic of the car. I pulled this off the internet. The actual car was silver.

Here's the ad. Trust me. It's superbly entertaining and very relevant to us.

23 October 2007 - Vienna

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Our shoes squidged as we traipsed our way in the cold, wet, drizzle from our basic hostel accomodations to Deichmann, a shoe shop on Mariahilferstrasse. We were looking for some el cheapo shoes to replace my summer "holey" sneakers. For ventilation, my sneakers had "sieves" built into the sides, though I doubt Wilson would have called them that.


Surprisingly, Allan and I managed to pick up some real bargains.

Fast forward a little and we had waterproofed our new finds, slipped on warm, dry socks and braved the fine drizzle again as we headed down to what locals call the Ring road that leads to the Stadt Oper. One left turn and we were at Philharmonic Strasse leading to Hotel and Cafe Sacher to sample the eponymous Sachertorte.


To spare you the anticipation of what the Sacher torte is like in it's home town, let me save you the bated breath. It's not as good as I thought it would be. There. Breathe.

The Hot Chocolate mit Rum was fab. Allan's Don Giovanni was excellent. A whipped, light as air chocolate mousse filling with a lovely, dark, bitter chocolate ganache coating can't go far wrong. But the Sachertorte was well, in a word, common.


Don't get me wrong. It was well made. A nice moist sponge, a slight tang from a fragrant apricot jam and a thick layer of good, bitter, dark chocolate. But hey, we can do that. It's not a stand out. And maybe that's my fault. My expectation was set on fantastic. While the Sacher torte is what it is.


In any case, it was lovely soaking in the atmosphere, sitting in a warm dry place admiring the Stadt Oper in all it's lit glory. Enjoying the gastronomic history that is as much part of the experience as the cake itself.


We're in Vienna for goodness sake. What's not to like?

21 October 2007 Redux

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The mid morning autumn light fluoresced and glowed through the stained glass windows in the nave. The Saints and Angels looked down at you with that odd, flat, Byzantine lack of perspective which make them no less saintly or angelic. A shaft of sunlight kisses the altar in a way that seems to say that the Lord’s arrival is imminent. In a fit of whimsy I almost fancy it’s his escalator and He is about to descend at any moment.

We are in the typical English Chapel of St John’s College and the pews rise in wooden carved splendour on either side of the wide checkerboard aisle that leads up to the nave. The pews themselves are works of art. Tall, straight backed, and ornately carved with leaves and vines, the small decking that we rest our hymnals on make a little roof that shades each churchgoer of the row below.

The Chapel Clerk, I can’t help but call him Mr Butterball, a round, caricature of a public school boy rushes over rather self importantly just as I’m just about to sneak a photograph. “No photography in here!” He hisses. I apologise rather shame facedly and concentrate on trying to memorise the details and resolve later that if I cannot reproduce it as a picture, I will do my best to paint a portrait here.

At 1030am sharp, Mr Butterball and the Chapel Choir walk down the aisle in a swish of robes and vestments with the President. I believe the word is derived from the meaning, the person who PRESIDES over the service.

The choir files into the first 2 pews on either side of the aisle nearest the altar and the choir master holds up his hand while the discipline and training of the singers take over. Every eye is trained on his upraised hand, with breath drawn, waiting, anticipating that moment when his hand will drop and the the first rush of air is let loose to draw across their respective vocal cords to sing the Introit.

Ethereal, surreal, honeyed, tones issue forth and are carried into the firmament. Each mote of light glitters and glistens with each rising and falling note. The voices swell and reverberate, enveloping each communicant. “Ave Verum Corpus Natum, De Maria Virgine…” And as the harmonies of the tenors and baritones reached out and interlocked with the boy trebles and altos, the hand of God reached out and touched each and everyone one of us there. Beside you, in you, around you, standing next to you, in heaven looking down at you, holding your hand, clasping you to his loving bosom. The tears well up unbidden from such a wellspring of joy that you are suddenly between one second and the next, sitting with God in the place where time stands still.

Throughout the entire service, called the Sung Eucharist, everything was chanted or sung. Even the Gospel. For those who aren’t Christians, the Gospel is usually read and is a passage taken from the New Testament. The Lesson of that Gospel was perserverance. From sweet, impossibly ethereal boy treble solos to the earthier and more powerful voices of the solo tenors and baritones God was worshipped, praised, exalted, in a manner that I believe, fell on very receptive ears. His presence was everywhere. But here, now, Allan and I experience God in a way that is as valid as any other. The astral beauty of that concatenation of sights and sounds allow that, in our hearts, the path to our Lord are as varied as each grain of sand on His good earth. In that intense stillness of that Sung Eucharist roared every possibility of His Love, His compassion, His splendour, and His Majesty. And His Joy was at times overwhelming.

All too soon, Allan and I had to rush off to rejoin the crowd on the cobbled stones of St John’s Street. As we try to walk out quietly, we feel the glow of everything more intensely. The day was beautiful when we walked into the chapel but now it’s just that touch brighter, more scintillating, and for this day at least, there are no doubts that all is well with the world.

22 October 2007

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Relief! It’s been 3 continuous days of activity and although we were able to access the internet briefly for about 45 minutes over the weekend, it’s still been a hit and miss affair. Hence the last entry in point form. Sort of.

My cousin’s wedding has passed uneventfully. Or is that event-fully. From the time we arrived in Cambridge on Friday 19 Oct 2007, we had;

1. Shopped for flowers (the coloured callas were absolutely divine)
2. Hovered around worriedly while Allan efficiently finished the wedding cake
3. Enjoyed the most wonderful stay at this gorgeous little B&B with the most delicious cooked breakfasts I’ve ever had in the UK
4. Been totally surprised to see my friend’s aunt on the wall of Girton College, University of Cambridge
5. Boogied the night away in a beautiful cafeteria (yes, that sounds like a paradox but it’s true) in said Girton College
6. Attended a wedding in the picture perfect venue of Fellows Hall and a dinner in the Great Hall of Girton College (notice the recurring Collegiate theme?)
7. Drove a funky Diesel Seat
8. Soaked in the sights of the picturesque town of Cambridge
9. Helped with my cousin’s tea ceremony in her flat in the middle of the most beautiful weather the UK must have seen for years and years

Tell me which ones you’d like me to expand upon! ;-)

19 October 2007, Day 5

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The Bullet form version. Will edit later. Again, all photos are in flickr.

The clock chimed. The sky was yet dark and the blossoming bloom of dawn light had not as yet kissed the sky. It was 5.40am.

The day we were to drive to Cambridgeshire.


The sky slowly lit up, like someone had their hand on the dimmer and was slowly turning it up.

Doubts about taking the scenic route. Allan sleeping. Jams. I thought, sheesh, should have just taken the M11 and was looking for a way to cut across.

At that point, needed to pee. Pulled into Hertford and didn’t see anything that resembled a toilet where I could have a slash without icicles forming on the tip. Just as I turned around to make the entrance back onto the A10, we chance upon a Mcdonalds. Relief is mine!

Everyone wakes up after Mcdonalds mystery hot flavoured with ash water they call coffee.

The sun is on the horizon and the meadows are furry with fog and frost.

Bury Lane Farm.

Ideas Ideas Ideas.

Drew into Cambridge.

Info centre. King’s College, The Eagle where the DNA idea was announced. The Market square was gorgeous. Behind St Mary’s University Cathedral.

And then Celia’s fam tour of Girton College which was like 2 minutes from our B&B, St Edmunds.


The Old Crown Gastro Pub.

18 October 2007, Day 4

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Will edit the photos later. But for now, pics are all uploaded to flickr

“I’m your assigned stalker for the day!” exclaims the smiling, friendly, gorgeous red head, freckly face, lady. We had first bumped into her at Shipp’s Tearooms, just outside Borough Market where Allan had his first taste of clotted cream and scones, with farm made raspberry jam.

This second contact of the day with her was in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral just as we stepped out of Mark’s and Spencer’s Simply Food, prêt a manger/food supermarket. An offshoot of their business which is credited to saving the high street brand.

Sarah Vine it turned out, was a lawyer, who had a penchant for designing and creating cake art, much like we do. As we spoke with her in almost sheer bewilderment at the serendipity of the whole affair, we marveled at the sea change that has obviously swept Britain in the last 10 years.

People in Tubes and in the city were dour, stolid individuals who kept to themselves and did not make eye contact with any stranger.

Not anymore. Everyone we met has been brushed with the “relaxalatum” spell. It’s almost like Harry Potter waved a wand and people are now warm, friendly, with a new confidence in their step. It’s almost like the 80s and 90s were an era which allowed Brits to shed the shackles of their colonial past and really march into a globalised future. The faces that I see around are now more often than not, peppered with as many colours as the spice markets. Mediterannean, Eastern European, Gallic, Germanic, and of course, a plethora of the physiognomy of the ancient East; Chinese/Korean/Japanese and the South Asians, from the epicanthic fold of the Nepalese to the dark Aryans of South Asia, London is a stream of rainbow colours and a cacophony of various languages.


Pilgrimage to Harrods.

Dinner at Mimosa with Prema & Viral.

Picked up the car; Seat Altea 2.0 TDI

Winging our way on a holiday

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

“We’re currently flying over the Bay of Bengal en route to Muscat…” drones the Pilot as I jostle Allan for space in the cramped seats of the Gulf Air Airbus 340-300. Next time, Business Class!

It’s been a manic few days, tying up loose ends AND preparing to wing off on our first long holiday in 6 years. The sky is blue below the roar of the jet engines and the plane’s wing is suspended between light and cotton wool as it moves slowly but surely toward our transit destination of Bahrain.

“We’re currently flying over the Bay of Bengal en route to Muscat…” drones the Pilot as I jostle Allan for space in the cramped seats of the Gulf Air Airbus 340-300. Next time, Business Class!

It’s been a manic few days, tying up loose ends AND preparing to wing off on our first long holiday in 6 years. The sky is blue below the roar of the jet engines and the plane’s wing is suspended between light and cotton wool as it moves slowly but surely toward our transit destination of Bahrain.


There was a time when I used to do this as a matter of course. When I hailed a 747/Airbus/DC10 at the nearest taxi stop. Every 3 months. Like clockwork. Back and forth on a 14 to 18 hour trip. It seemed so mundane then. Now, it’s an Event!

In the past few weeks, Allan and I haven’t had the time to be excited about our impending journey. The anticipation and the accompanying thrill sort of caught up with me the morning of the trip.

The sun rose like any other morning. But it wasn’t.

Since Han called us the evening before to see if we were free for breakfast we decided to take him up on it. It’s not often we get a call from him, with his schedule and with ours. Turns out he’s actually off to the UK as well. But he’ll be in London when we’re in Cambridge and when we’re back in London, he would have left for KL already. What a pity. It would have been acefun (one word) to have been able to meet him in London. It’s always different to meet up with friends when one is on a holiday or in a different place. It’s like a portion of reality has been stripped away and you can enjoy the moment without thinking too much of “real life” at your front door.

After seeing Rhona in August, we said our fond farewells weepily (actually, I thought she was leaving on the day after she left) and promised to keep in touch. That seemed like yesterday and in a few hours, we’ll be having another reunion. Our third this year. Allan and I count ourselves very blessed to have “siblings” like her scattered across God’s good earth.

Cipolla (The Onion)

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

We were walking around Bangsar Baru trying to decide what to eat, when I get a missed call from a good friend, who's one of Kuala Lumpur's well known restauranteurs. All curious as to why he should call out of the blue, I call him back and Rudy picks up "eh, you walk right past me and don't even say hello." Think Italian lilt and twinkle in the eye. He tells us where he is and after going to Maybank to pull out some cash, we duck under some shades round the corner and bump into him sitting in the front of Cipolla, grinning at us.

"Hey guys, how you? What are you doing here? No weddings?"

Rudy is also the owner of Ciao's and Ciccio. And we work with him at Ciao's now and again creating dream weddings for people.

His food has always been straightforward Italian, unpretentious and it doesn't try to be something other than what it is.

Rudy - He's the cutie in the middle
Lovely, crusty bread with balsamic vinegar and Olive oil

In the course of conversation, Rudy says "so what are you doing walking around here?" "Well" I hesitate "Allan and I are sort of..." "What?" says Rudy.

"Well, Allan and I are celebrating our 7th anniversary this year and we were looking for a place to have dinner." I blurt out, rather abashedly. "And we've found the perfect place to have dinner, since we've never had the opportunity to have dinner here." Rudy, being the sweet guy he is goes "hey guys, no need to feel obligated ya. But if you do decide to have dinner here, I'll give you a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate." We demured and offered to pay but he wasn't having any of it.

We started with Fresh Mozarella on top of ripe tomatoes drizzled lightly with Olive oil and herbs. Fresh, lively, cool, Rudy is someone who believes in allowing good ingredients to show off. You could taste the tomatoes, the briney-ness of the mozarella, and the bright herbs shine through. It's truly a dish to whet your appetite.

Caprese salad. Tuna chunks, avocado, crunchy green leafy vegetables. Light, fresh, sweet and salty tuna and the salt of the grated cheese combined to make a satisfying salad. Fibre never tasted this good.
Rich, meaty, lamb, with a side of surprise. Couscous with mint folded in. The earthiness of the lamb contrasted gorgeously with a slightly tangy but rich sauce. And as a side dish, the couscous was a revelation. Nutty couscous combined with cool mint to give a twist to the Mint with Lamb idea.
Beef Tenderloin with a balsamic reduction. There are 4 flavours and some say a fifth. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and the fifth being umami. The bitterness of rucola, the rich sweetness of the beef combined with the tangy sweet balsamic reduction, made for heaven on a plate. Loved this at Medium rare. Shavings of parmesan punctuated the entire dish with bites of nutty, earthy salt.
And to finish, orange vanilla creme brulee. Creamy, rich, yet ethereal. Cold creamy custard with the warm crusty crackle of sugar and just the right balance of sweetness. WITHOUT being too sweet. And yes, they do a range of great pizzas as well.

A Fantastic prelude to Hairspray, which by the way, is totally recommended as well!

Cippola Ristorante and Pizzeria
No. 4 Jalan Telawi 2, 59100 Kuala Lumpur


By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

A couple of Sundays ago, Allan was off in Bali and I was at a loose end for Sunday breakfast, so I took myself off to Neroteca.


Situated just off Cangkat Raja Chulan, very near Little Havana, it isn't exactly in the most visible spot in town. However, you can't deny it's central location. It's smack dab in the Golden Crescent/Triangle.


Neroteca is one of those places which has a very comfortable welcoming interior. Great interior decor. Casual, contemporary, it's one of those places which are becoming more and more visible in Kuala Lumpur. A place which many people will say makes them feel like "I don't think we're in KL anymore, Toto" but in a good way! ;-)


Sitting at the breakfast bar and reading the Sunday papers was a fantastic way to spend a lazy Sunday morning/afternoon.



My cute waiter was attentive, knowledgeable, and efficient. No complaints about the service.


Since I was on my own, carrying my HUGE D70, they must have been wondering why I was arranging the items in front of me and snapping away. Roasted Garlic Olive Oil, Balsamic vinegar, and a little salt was a nice twist on the usual dip.


Wonderfully, crusty bread to go with the dip. Why does anyone even bother with butter anymore. Yum!


Imported Bottled Water. This is the part I find rather curious. In the US alone, the Bottled Water business is estimated to be around US$8 billion. Insane!


An Italian sausage and mushroom stew with polenta. The sausage was spicy, but a bit too salty. Texture was great. The Polenta was firm and smooth. Perfect. The mushroom stew was lovely, rich, earthy, yum!

Neroteca sells pastas, to frying pans. Very interesting concept. The way theplace is laid out definitely makes one want to cook.


The dessert selection is a bit thin and in terms of price, rather steep.
Cold cuts. Looks good. Everything is imported by the looks of things.

The Chef in the kitchen.

All in all, a very enjoyable experience. One that I am itching to repeat. Any takers?

Ground floor, somerset
8 lorong ceylon
50250 Kuala Lumpur
tel: 03 / 2070 0530
fax: 03 / 2070 2530