Easy Vegan Cooking in South East Asia

Why bother cooking your own food?

Yes, Yes, I know eating in South East Asia is cheap. Matt and I have been told we are crazy for cooking our own food. BUT, being vegan we found ourselves eating the same foods over and over. (fried rice, fried vegetables, and spring rolls) We wanted some western food and we also wanted bigger portions than many street food venders or restaurants would provide.

Where we found the cheapest food

We could always find a supermarket a bus ride away in major cities, and a lot of small shops in the city. We definitely found it cheapest to take a bus and stalk up on a few foods in a large supermarket. Our favorite supermarkets were ‘Big C’ and ‘Lotte’. The main foods we would buy in supermarkets were: Spaghetti and canned beans and corn. While in the city we would buy rice and lentils at a bulk shop usually in a ‘Little India’ area. As far as fruit and vegetables, it is cheapest to buy them from street vendors in the city.

RICE

SPAGHETTI / PASTA

SOUP AND BEANS

BREAKFAST

 

Where to find Camping Gas in Malaysia and Thailand

It was EXTREMELY difficult for Matt and I to find camping gas for our stove in South East Asia. We were not able to find in anywhere in Vietnam or Laos. We did not look while we were in Cambodia, and it was nearly impossible in Malaysia and Thailand. After a long time of looking and asking others online, we found 3 places that sold gas and various other camping supplies as of March 2017.

Malaysia

1. Outdoor Dynamics – Penang, Malaysia

http://www.outdoordynamics.com.my/index.php

Jalan Bukit Gambir, 11700 Gelugor, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

  • We bought a new stove top.
  • Gas canisters are available here

 

2. Guide Pro – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

http://www.theguideproshop.com/

Lot 305(ground floor/opposite Public Bank), Lorong Selangor, Pusat Bandar Melawati, 53100, Wilayah Persekutuan, Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia (Near to Public Bank Taman Melawati)

  • We bought a few gas canisters here

Thailand

Travel Mart/ Travel Media

127/21-22 Ratchaprarop Rd, Khwaeng Makkasan, Khet Ratchathewi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400, Thailand

  • Bought gas canisters here

We found this shop walking around near Siam Paragon. The Siam Paragon Mall and surrounding shops in other malls did not have camping gas.

Favorite Cooking Gear for the Road

Being vegan, having access to cooking gear is preferable. Say you are in Asia, eating fried rice every day is fine, yes. I loved the local foods, but sometimes you just crave some western food and you can’t bring yourself to pay $12 USD for an extra small portion of pasta when you can get a large fried rice for $2 USD. 

If you have a similar feeling, love to cook your own food, or do a lot of long term hiking or camping, I would consider buying cooking gear.

Here are some of our favorite supplies:

Our Cooking Gear. Gas Canister, Stove, Pots/Bowls/Cups, and Windbreak

Our Cooking Gear. Gas Canister, Stove, Pots/Bowls/Cups, and Windbreak

Cooking Pots, Bowls, and Cups

Sea to Summit X-Set 31 Cookset

Check out the Set Here

Currently this set is $110 USD

This a collapsible set including 1 large pot, 2 bowls, and 2 cups. All items are made from a flexible silicone. The pot has a metal base designed for cooking on the stove.

This cooking set has become our favorite to use because of its small size and that it has the perfect amount of gear for 2 people.

Aluminum Pots

There are many different brands of camping pots that are similar to these. We used these aluminum pots for years before the collapsible set came out and they are great as well! The downside to these pots are that they take up space! Upside, they are cheap! I have seen them on ebay for as cheap as $10 USD. Amazon has brand new ones as well for cheap and in various sizes.

Click here to check them out on Amazon

Most sets include one large one and one small one.

 

Stoves

MSR PocketRocket

The MSR PocketRocket is our favorite backpacking stove. It is collapsible and very small. The stove is about $45 USD and can last a lifetime!

Check out the PocketRocket Here!

We had a MSR PocketRocket Screwtop Stove. Throughout our travels the threads on the PocketRocket started to wear out (our fault because we were trying to put the wrong type of screw on canister). Besides the fact we were slowly breaking it, it lasted 7 years, it can last a lifetime! We bought a new one in Asia and it works well, but it is not as great as the PocketRocket! 

 

Primus OmniFuel

Stove and Bottle

Stove and Bottle

I have personally never used an OmniFuel stove/bottle. However, before I go to Asia again I will be highly considering it. The OmniFuel Bottle can “be used with virtually any kind of fuel, including gas, gasoline/petrol, diesel, kerosene/paraffin – even aviation fuel.” (http://www.primus.eu/omnifuel) This is a great stove/bottle if you are traveling somewhere where buying gas canisters can be difficult. With this bottle you can fill it up at any petrol station and you are good to go!

Check the Primus Stove out Here

Accessories

Companion Pro Nano Windshield

There are various Windshields / Windbreaks around camping stores. We personally have the Companion Windshield and love it. It keeps the heat from the stove contained in one area and keeps the fire lit when there is wind.

Check out the Windbreak Here

Lifeventure Titanium Fork Spoon

This spork will last you a lifetime! It is made from strong titanium, and has a carabiner feature on the back end. The spork is about $12 USD. Matt currently uses this spork and has for the last 8 years!

Check out the Spork Here

Sea to Summit “Delta” Spork

X001The Delta Spork is another spork that can potentially last a lifetime. The spork has a “spreader” knife on the back handle. I was a bit concerned about the knife at first, but you eat with it you don’t even notice it is there. I have used it to cut mangos and other soft fruit, and use it daily to spread avocado and other various things on bread or crackers!

Check out the Spork Here

 

Malacca / Melaka

January 19-22, 2017

Charming city south of KL.

Our travel to Melaka included a train and 2 buses. Sounds a bit much, but it was easy and the cheapest option! The first train was to get to the main bus station. This cost us about 2 Ringgit (MYR) or 0.47 USD. Then we took a bus to Melaka for 13 MYR (3 USD). This brought us to Melaka but not the main area. We had to take one more bus for 2 MYR (0.47 USD) to get to the city center. The journey took between 3-4 hours. If you time it right, you can arrive faster! We did the same trip back to Kuala Lumpur except this time the bus ticket was 10 MYR instead of 13 MYR.

 

What to do

Many people will visit Melaka for one day.  It is a great day trip if you are pressed for time, but if you stay for only one day you risk on missing the night market which is fantastic! The city is 100% walkable and easy to navigate. There are many forts, historical building, and temples to see throughout the city. The city runs along a river and has many affordable hostels, shops and bars to visit.

 

Where we stayed

When we were there we stayed in Jalan Jalan Guesthouse. We thought this was a funny name because Jalan translates to Street in the Malay language. That would mean the guesthouse was called “Street Street”. Matt and I shared a private double bed room for a shared total of 38 MYR (9 USD). It has the typical fan, bug net, wifi, and free tea and coffee. I liked that it had a small outdoor garden area where we met some people from the guesthouse to hang out with for the next few days. After the second night we decided to check out a few other hostels around the area. None of them were as clean, populated, or had free tea and coffee like Jalan Jalan. We would definitely recommend this guesthouse.

 

Night Market Food and Vegan Eats

The night market, or Jonker Street Market, like any market has typical street food from Malaysia. This can vary from fried meat and fish to juices and coconut ice cream. As a vegan I had no problem finding delicious food in the Market. Many stands would sell fresh fruit, especially pineapples, and coconut stands selling coconut water and coconut ice cream straight from the coconut shell! You will also find a few vegan and vegetarian stands selling mostly fried food. I bought a plate full of deep-fried potatoes, vegetables, with some fried rice for 1 USD. My favorite snack I found that was vegan is a small circular doughnut like food that is stuffed with sugared green beans or red beans. The beans are rolled in a sugar dough then are sprinkled with sesame seeds. I would always ask the person who was selling them to tell me the ingredients to be 100% sure they did not have egg or milk, every time they were vegan! I got 3 small doughnuts for 1 MYR (0.20 USD). Any vegan food from the street will never be more than 2 USD per person.

Besides food at the night market, Melaka has many vegetarian and vegan restaurants to choose from. If I had to pick a favorite I would choose either Seeds Garden or Geographer Cafe. Seeds Garden is strictly plant-based with European and Asian options. Geographer Cafe sells meat and veggie options, but has a clear menu on what is vegan and not. We went both of these places twice to try different things. The most interesting food I tried was the Bean Curd. I was very concerned at first that they messed something up and gave me chicken. It smelled, tasted, and LOOKED like chicken. I checked with the staff twice I was so confused. I did not like it because it freaked me out how similar it was to chicken. Matt and another vegan friend we met along the way both enjoyed it!

 

Overall, we spend 3 days and 3 nights in Melaka. We were happy with spending 2 days to see everything and explore some new foods. However, we met some friends and decided to stay an extra day to hang out with them some more. FLEXIBLE TRAVELING! In general we loved Melaka and if we ever went back to Malaysia would visit again!

 

Escaping the City Life in Kuala Lumpur.

Friendly monkeys, playgrounds, waterfalls, and lakes!

January 18, 2017

Kuala  Lumpur is a busy and famous Malaysian city. Yes it is wonderful to explore and shop, but what if you need some peace and quiet? A place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Look no further than the Botanical Gardens. It is a walk or train ride away!

The botanical garden is a FREE place to visit. It is a large section of the city dedicated to parks, gardens, walking and running trails, a lake, and a bird and butterfly park. It is a great area to visit if you want some quiet because it is not very populated. In the 4-5 hours we were visiting we saw about 5 people total.

While we were visiting the botanical garden we decided against visiting the bird and butterfly park, reason 1: we are vegan and do not necessarily support these kind of parks, and reason 2: It cost money!! We are very VERY frugal travelers and the animal parks were not something we wanted to spend money on. However, there are plenty of things to do and places to see in the park that do not involve money! There are many playgrounds (which I, Kylie, enjoyed too much for my age), various gardens, interesting building and statues, and the lake.

The playgrounds were well built, clean, and each had different themes. My favorite park was the Dinosaur park. While the park had all the typical slides, swings, and monkey bars it also had huge bushes shaped as different Dinosaurs! Other parks had themes like the Castle park and Bamboo playhouse, or identifying features such as the zip line, football field, and athletic equipment for adult.

Other features of the botanical garden include the lake which is wonderful to have a walk or paddle boat around, small waterfalls, many statues and mini world landmarks such as a mini Stonehenge and many gardens. My favorite gardens were the Hibiscus and Orchid garden and the Herb and Medicinal garden. They were both beautiful and educational.

When we were leaving the garden we saw some monkeys wandering around the bird exhibit. We decided to follow them and when we turned a corned we found about 30-40 monkeys hanging around on the street! They were cautious and began to run away at first. But we quickly saw that we were not alone. We met a German man who was relaxing on a bench on the street. He had a bag of peanuts he was giving to the monkeys. He said he has been coming to the park once a week for the last 3 years to give the monkeys a little treat. He gave us some peanuts to hand feed the monkeys. It was a wonderful experience and the monkeys actually friendly! (as opposed to the crazy monkeys that steal all your belongings) I can not promise you will see these beautiful animals, but if you want to try your luck go to the Bird Park Exhibit and maybe take a few nuts!

Walking around the botanical garden is an adventure itself because of its large scale. You are destined to get lost at some point. I know we did, so much so that it was a bit confusing how to exit where we came in from. Don’t get me wrong, the park is filled with signs and arrows pointing you the right directions, but it is BIG! My tip for you would be to pick a landmark to enter and exit from so you can follow the signs to a specific area.

Map of the Botanical Garden