Kuala Lumpur: Rich, Vibrant and Colourful.

About a year ago, I submitted an article on interior home decor for Mongoose Publishing. The article was published in the Tropicana Magazine. My journey into writing leads me to various destinations that don’t seem to be a fixed trend. And then I recently wrote an article for a friend on the sights and smells of our chaotic capital city of Malaysia.

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I never thought much about what goes on in the greasy kitchens of Kuala Lumpur. I guess because I’ve been here pretty much all my life, I tend to take it for granted. But when I did my research prior to writing the article and actually thought about it, I realised that my city actually is alive with so much foodie goodness that sometimes I can hear my stomach screaming for mercy!

Whelp, the article goes something like this:

The capital city of Malaysia rivals no other when it comes to food. At the mere mention of ‘food’, the delectable smells wafting through the slits of doorways and hawker restaurant entrances will embrace you. Welcome to Kuala Lumpur, the city with a melting pot of culinary heritages which provide a dining experience as expansive as its skyline where everyone knows that the best dessert is a cheap bill.

Fondly known to locals as KL, it is home to many architectural styles with a mix of modern and postmodern skyscrapers, ornate Moorish buildings, columned colonial structures, grand mosques as well as elaborately-designed Chinese and Indian temples. The city is also home to a multiracial nation with rich backgrounds from different colonial eras (including but not limited to Portuguese, Dutch and British). Hence the many influences in architecture. While modern and postmodern styles define the city skyline with futuristic high rise buildings, there is one style that stands out and dominates the city.

The styles of cuisines are as varied as the cultural influences here, most of which stem from Malay, Chinese and Indian flavourful fanfares. Here, within the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, you will find everything from a thriving street food scene like Jalan Alor to other mid-range to high-end gastronomy establishments.

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The street food culture is a mainstay in Kuala Lumpur. You can find stall after stall of local dishes like nasi lemak (coconut-milk infused rice steamed with leaves) and banana leaf rice (rice served on a banana leaf with assorted servings of vegetables, curries and other side dishes). If you’re craving for Chinese instead, you can head over to Petaling Street, KL’s Chinatown, for a steaming plate of wok-fried noodles and mixed rice (served with a side of soup and a variety of side dishes).

Deciding on where and what to eat can be a challenge. Endless culinary options greet your senses, from wok-fried noodles topped with fresh seafood to steaming piles of pork-filled buns and large bubbling pots of fragrant curries. Food is so big here that when you bump into friends, the first words out of your mouth is, “Have you eaten?”. Despite being surrounded by so much good food, we still have an issue of wondering where to go and what to eat.

An abundance of mamak eateries provides the best atmosphere for catching up with close friends for a hearty meal or to watch the next Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea. Food served here is not a specific type of cuisine. It refers to the food sold by the Tamil Muslims in Malaysia. Some of the more common, popular dishes are roti canai, roti telur, nasi kandar (northern Malaysian dish of mildly-flavoured steamed rice with a variety of curry-based meat dishes and vegetables), nasi biryani (traditional Indian rice-based dish served with meat, vegetables and a gravy or curry), Maggi goreng and satay (skewered, seasoned and grilled meat served with mild spicy peanut sauce).

The wide variety of palates sum up Kuala Lumpur’s remarkable food culture; simple, delicious and wallet-friendly. The long stretch of humble street stalls and value-for-money restaurants are the best places where you can find many delicious delicacies to fill your demanding gut.

Beware the expanding waistline… and make sure you check the scales once in awhile. You may have to watch your portion or you’ll end up spending a fortune overhauling your wardrobe!

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A Timeless Tale of Beauty and Nostalgia.

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Recently in Malaysia, the movie Beauty and the Beast had garnered negative attention when the Censorship Board spotted what they interpreted as a gay moment during the song and dance between the pompous Gaston, his sidekick LeFou and the townspeople. Apparently said “gay moment” occurred when LeFou lifted up his shirt to show the love bite that Gaston left on his tummy! Local cinema-goers (and I) beg to differ and tell you that at the very least, it was the adoration that LeFou had for Gaston.

Thankfully, the movie was given the green light to proceed with all scenes intact.

I, too, had the opportunity of watching the movie earlier today, courtesy of the company she works in as a reward to the sales department for hitting their targets. And I thought the movie was brilliant! It was wonderful! It was lovely! It was pretty damn amazing and As a child, I had been a big fan of Disney (and I still am until today), I’m pleased that they didn’t futz it up or butcher it like so many other movie producers and directors had done to other film adaptations.

The musically-inclined in me lapped up every tune, every lyric and every verse belted out by each and every character in the movie. And each song sung during each scene brought me back to my childhood days which I spent watching, Disney cartoons and pretending I was an ordinary girl waiting to meet her Prince Charming. Although that didn’t actually happen but it was still a dream for little ol’ me. Songs like Be Our Guest and Tale As Old As Time took me back almost 20 years ago… It was purely nostalgic!

Director Bill Condon and screenplay writers Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos made sure that every part of the movie fitted like a perfect jigsaw puzzle to the original cartoon. They even found the right actors and actresses to play each of their respective parts!

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Here are some of the characters that I can still recall from watching the movie:

Dan Stevens played the Prince who had been cursed by a witch for turning her away when she sought shelter at his castle during a snowstorm. He was turned into a hideous beast whose spell can only be broken by true love. His servants were not spared either; they had been turned into various objects and furniture with a life and the ability to speak. It’s a pity that neither cartoon nor film had a name for this rugged looking prince. Out of all the Disney cartoons, this prince looks like a manly man. The princes in Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella looked more like pretty boys than manly men.

Emma Watson outgrew her adolescence in the Harry Potter series as Hermione Granger to play Belle, the book-reading, adventure-seeking, fearless young woman who defies Gaston’s request to marry him, goes in search for her elderly father in the dark forest, takes his place in the cursed castle, and learns to love and live with someone completely out of her league. Ironically, she plays a young woman who was born in Paris, France before her father took her away to save her from catching the plague that killed her mother. Watson herself was born as Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson in Paris, France to English parents, Chris Watson and Jacqueline Luesby, both lawyers by profession!

Luke Evans is well-known for his roles as Owen Shaw in Fast & Furious 7 and Bard in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Gaston was a deliciously evil man! Who can resist the bad boy charms of a muscular French man riding through town on a large black horse? He was relentless in his pursuits and efforts to make Belle his wife, right until the very end of the movie.

Josh Gad did a good imitation of LeFou, the short, squat sidekick of Gaston. Although, in the cartoon, he looked a lot more daft than he did in the movie. But both versions of LeFou had a vast amount of adoration for Gaston. The other celebrities I did not imagine seeing in the movie were Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Stanley Tucci as Maestro, Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth and Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts. Of course, there were other stars whom I did not recognise as well.

Again, I’ll say that the movie was great. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I liked that it brought back such fond memories 20 years ago. I’m not that old considering that I’ve only hit the big 3-0 but taking 20 years off my current age is a big deal! I sat there as the credits rolled after the movie ended, with a tear or two in my eyes. I just couldn’t take my eyes off the screen from start to finish. It was so amazing that I would bring my husband to watch it with me, even if it means watching it for the second time. And this time, I’ll try to focus on the scenes that I might have missed the first time I saw it. I love it so much and I’d love to say more. But I think I will stop here in case I spoil the movie for those who have yet to watch the movie.