Happy New Year! Get a headstart to planning out 2018 with our list of 25 things you have to do, which include music festivals (Laneway, Wonderfuits) and big names (The xx, Bruno Mars), dining destinations (Tsukiji Fish Market, Gaggan) new skills to pick up (paragliding, flyboarding) and more.
No self-respecting gastronome (let’s not use the word ‘foodie’) can afford to miss out on Bangkok, which is arguably Southeast Asia’s capital of fine dining. Leading the charge is Gaggan, the progressive Indian restaurant that has won Asia’s Best Restaurant for three years running. The 25-course ‘Emoji’ tasting menu includes dishes that are both fun and mind-boggling, like the spherified yoghurt, Indian sushi and sea urchin ice cream. But not everything is about Gaggan: There’s also Sühring, which serves a tasting menu of modern German cuisine; and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon which serves arguably the best French food this side of Asia.
Gaggan, 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Bangkok (+66 2 652 1700); Sühring, 10 Yen Akat Soi 3, Chongnonsi, Bangkok (+66 2 287 1799); L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, MahaNakhon CUBE, 96 Narathiwas Ratchanakharin Rd, Bangkok (+66 2 001 0698).
The year 2017 was the year where everyone went #woke. With everything that’s happened then, from Trump to Brexit, more and more people have become more socially conscious. In 2018, become more socially conscious by becoming vegetarian or vegan. Not is it only good for the environment, it’s great for your body too. And no excuses that it’s tough being a vegetarian in KL. We’ve seen a number of vegetarian, if not vegetarian-friendly, restaurants opening all over the city – places like Goodness Greens Café and their delicious Nasi Lemak Wrap spring to mind. If you’re looking for vegan Mexican food look no further than Sala and try one of their burritos. If these places seem too upscale for you, don’t forget that most banana leaf establishments are also vegetarian friendly.
KLites can’t resist food trends – from long queues for salted egg yolk croissants to the truly horrific incorporate-nasi-lemak-into-everything attitude, it’s ‘been there, done that’ for us. Here’s the next bandwagon to hop on: fermented food. It’s good for your gut as natural fermentation preserves nutrients in food and breaks it down to a more digestible form, creating probiotics during the fermentation process that aids digestion. Now that you know the benefits, here’s where to go for your fill of fermented food and drinks: think probiotic kefir sodas at health restaurant Fittie Sense, kombucha at Shah Alam café Commoners Space, kimchi at any good Korean place, and more.
Fittie Sense, 23A Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar (03 2858 4023). Mon & Wed-Sun, 10am-10pm. Commoners Space, 71 Jalan Snuker 13/28, Seksyen 13, Shah Alam (013 335 7762). Mon-Wed & Sat-Sun, 10am-10pm; Fri, 4pm-10pm.
If you dream of sushi, you’ve probably witnessed the live tuna auctions at the famed Japanese fish market already or have detailed plans on what to eat and do there. Best to hurry up and fly to Tokyo as soon as you can though, as the wholesale market is expected to close and move to a new site in Toyosu – about 2km east from Tsukiji’s current location – in autumn 2018. Before you go, watch the excellent ‘Tsukiji Wonderland’ documentary, which focuses on the market’s fish experts as well as the before and after of the auction, from the arrival of the fish at the market to it being served to diners.
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan.
If the three-Michelin-star Sushi Saito in Tokyo will not come to you, then you must go to Taka by Sushi Saito in The St Regis Kuala Lumpur. Chef Takashi Saito’s maiden venture out of Japan is an experience in luxury. It’s located within the ritzy six-star hotel, and the 16-seat counter is made of 300-year-old Hinko wood. There begins your plunge into first-rate seafood flown in from Japan thrice a week: we say go for the omakase dinner menu if you’re celebrating a special occasion, but the tsuki menu during lunch ticks all the fancy boxes too if you prefer to visit in the daytime.
Taka by Sushi Saito, Level 3A, The St Regis Kuala Lumpur, 6 Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, KL (03 2727 6688/). From RM450 per person. Tue-Sun, 12noon-2.30pm; 6.30pm-12midnight.
When Bruno Mars announced that he’ll be stopping by in KL in May 2018, social media sites exploded in excitement. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that the tickets for his show were sold out within the hour. For those who were lucky enough to score tickets for the show, you’re in for a treat. A Bruno Mars show isn’t just a concert where he showcases his best hits or singing talents; it’s a grand production that’s meant to leave you star-struck and dancing all through the evening. If you don’t have a ticket, we recommend doing anything (legal) you can to get one.
Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil, KL (03 8992 0888). May 9 2018, 8.30pm.
Wonderfruit Festival is our region’s answer to Burning Man, considering the groups of hippies you’d catch there. Held yearly in Pattaya, Wonderfruit is more than just a music festival; it’s also a celebration of art, food and the environment. The festival is held in a large field surrounded by lush greenery, with a nearby farm and even a lake to swim in. Throughout the festival, there will be workshops you can attend, from those on sustainability to yoga classes. And let’s not forget the music – aside from the main stage, the festival grounds will be littered with smaller stages where you can find music that spans indie to Thai folk.
The Fields, Siam Country Club, Pattaya, Thailand (wonderfruitfestival.com). Details aren’t released yet, follow their Facebook for more updates.
Hailed as ‘Britain’s most influential modern band’ by British newspaper The Telegraph, The xx are set to make their debut in KL this Jan 25. Despite being known for their minimalist instrumentals and hushed vocals, their live shows have often been praised as impressive spectacles as the band utilises colourful lights and plays unique renditions of their hits. Fans who caught them in Singapore earlier this year have to rethink their choices if they’re thinking of giving this a miss. Bassist Oliver Sim mentioned in an interview that the Singapore gig in July was a ‘stripped down’ version of the live experience they’ll be bringing come January.
Upfront Arena presents The xx, MITEC, 8 Jalan Dutamas 2, KL (03 7880 7999). Jan 25, 7pm. Pre-sale, RM270; regular, RM330.
While we’ve had some great festivals, there are still some things Laneway Festival can offer us our local festivals can’t – most notably good non-mainstream music acts. If you’re a fan of leftfield sounds and critically acclaimed acts, then this is the festival for you. In 2018, legendary shoegaze band Slowdive will be headlining the festival. Formed in 1989, the band’s music was essential in laying the sonic foundations of much of the indie rock and shoegaze we hear now. Also on the line-up are The Internet, Father John Misty, Bonobo and many more. Another perk of the festival is you get to enjoy all this great music with the magnificent Singapore skyline as the backdrop.
St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, The Meadow, Gardens by The Bay, Singapore (). Jan 27, 10am. Before festival day, $158 (about RM487); at the door, $200 (about RM616).
KL’s diverse art scene is more than just Balai Seni Negara, Galeri Petronas or ILHAM Gallery – in fact, there are more than 30 art galleries in the city. If it’s art by renowned artists from around the region, go to OUR ArtProjects or A+ Works of Art. By the time you’ve visited all these galleries, you’d come out a more cultured person and who knows, maybe even have a new perspective on life.
Balai Seni Negara, 2 Jalan Temerloh, off Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Temerloh, KL (03 4026 7000). Daily, 10am-6pm. Galeri Petronas, Level 3, Suria KLCC (03 2051 7770) Tue-Sun, 10am-8pm. ILHAM Gallery, Level 5, ILHAM Tower, 8 Jalan Binjai, KL (032181 3003). Tue-Sat, 11am-7pm; Sun, 11am-5pm. OUR ArtProjects, 80 Jalan Rotan, Kampung Attap, KL. Mon- Sat, 11am-7pm; Sun by appointment only. A+ Works of Art, d6 Trade Centre, Jalan Sentul (018 333 3399). Tue-Sat, 12noon-7pm.
In the spirit of giving back, start the new year with a clear conscience by doing a good deed. Help the Kechara Soup Kitchen pack and distribute food from their headquarters and join them for food distribution on weekends (contact them first to book a spot). If you can’t make the time to volunteer but still want to give back to those in need, sponsor a meal through Need to Feed the Need – RM8 will provide one person with a meal of rice, chicken or fish, vegetables, kuih and bottled water. So go ahead and be generous.
Rowing machines? How basic of you. We suggest you do the real thing by joining a dragon boat race team. Among them include KL Barbarians, who aside from taking part in competitions, also carry out workshops and classes. Be warned, however, that this sport can be a bruising one, both on the body and the ego, as instructors scream right into your ear to buck up while your arms fall off. Survive, and you’ll come out of it fitter and mentally stronger – and you’ll gain more than a few new friends along the way. If you want a more casual boating experience, WHOA Adventures offer programmes that also include team-building activities.
Let’s be frank; we KLites are a stressed out lot who probably don’t get enough rest. If your ‘new year, new me’ self is all about introducing ‘relaxed’ to your vocabulary, go for sensory deprivation at ZeroGravity Float Centre. Before the term scares you off, it’s basically a (really) relaxing session where you float inside a dark tank filled with high salinity water infused with 500kg of Epsom salt for an hour, in silence and with none of the usual stimuli. How is it relaxing? You’ll feel weightless and seemingly detached from your body; pretty much a gravity-defying experience.
ZeroGravity Float Centre, D-1-12 Plaza Damas, 60 Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, Desa Sri Hartamas, KL (010 209 6565). Tue-Sun, 10am-7pm. By appointment only. From RM110.
Virtual reality meets real-life thrills at LEGOLAND’s VR rollercoaster, which just opened in November. The first of its kind in any LEGOLAND theme park around the world, the ride has you seated on a roller coaster while wearing a VR headset that plonks you into a fully animated LEGO world. Don’t expect to be scared out of your wits, however, as the VR roller-coaster is made to be kid-friendly. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun!
LEGOLAND, Jalan Legoland, Medini, Nusajaya, Johor (07 597 8888). Day passes from RM155 (children) and RM195 (adults).
We’re sure you’ve read, or at least heard of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, a best-selling novel by Singaporean author Kevin Kwan; and if you’re a fan of the widely-acclaimed book, you’ll be glad to know that it’s getting the big screen treatment under the direction of American director Jon M Chu. The film of the same name will take no liberty in terms of storyline, featuring an all-Asian cast; and it’s touted to be just as funny as the book. So, what’s in it for us Malaysians? Well, the team of actors and actresses includes our very own Henry Golding (as Nick Young) and Michelle Yeoh (as Eleanor Young), both portraying two of the story’s most integral characters.
Opens Aug 16.
If you’re looking to soar high up in the sky but don’t want the hassle of learning how to fly a plane, take a ride in a hot air balloon. MyBalloon Adventure lets you ride a hot air balloon without being tethered to the ground, and a trained pilot will guide the balloon over the Putrajaya landscape and several landmarks such as the Wawasan Bridge, the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque, Persiaran Putra and more. Your session will begin just in time to catch the sunrise; and because the balloon flies wherever the wind takes it, everyone has a slightly different experience. The standard package includes pre-flight refreshments, a postflight breakfast and a time-lapse video.
MyBalloon Adventure, B1-2802 Dataran Niaga Sg Besi, Midfields Square West, Jalan 11/108C, KL (017 379 0626. Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm. From RM1,000 per pax.
When blockbusters just won’t cut it anymore in 2018, head to the many independent film screenings in KL. The curators behind Malaysia’s oldest running film club Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia have wide-ranging taste, having screened Indonesian anthology ‘Cinta Setaman’ and Brazilian-French arthouse film ‘Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang’. If you’re a cinephile eager to watch films by local indie filmmakers, Cinephilia at The Zhongshan Building’s regular screening nights should be your go-to. More comfortable at a bar? Pisco’s movie night has screened films from Romania, Argentina, France and more.
Everyone seems to be getting into some form of yoga these days – and we get why. It helps keep your mind focused, especially in this world of constant digital distractions. For those who want to take up a form of yoga that’s both interesting and helpful in improving posture and strength, try Iyengar yoga. Unlike other types of yoga, Iyengar uses various props like blankets, straps and hook lines; these, coupled with various standing poses that are held for longer than usual, help improve posture and build strength.
TreYoga, D3A-09 Dana 1 Commercial Centre, Jalan PJU1A/46 PJ (016 602 6368). Mon & Thu, 7-8.30pm; Wed, 7.30-10.30am; 6.30-8pm; Fri, 7-8.30pm; Sat, 8.30-10.30am. Drop-in class, RM35; BKS Iyengar Yogashala, 41-2 Jalan 109 E, Desa Business Park, Taman Desa, KL (03 7982 9979). Drop-in class, from RM32.
So you know your bell hooks and suffragettes. But are you as familiar with local nationalists and feminists Khatijah Sidek and Shamsiah Fakeh as you are with the former? Well then, it’s about time to focus on feminism in Malaysia, and maybe even take an active role in local feminist organisations. A good place to start is the All Women’s Action Society (AWAM). Founded in 1985, the NGO provides training and public education campaigns on various topics that include women’s rights, genderbased violence, leadership and advocacy, and more, all with a Malaysian slant.
AWAM, 85 Jalan 21/1, Sea Park, PJ (03 7877 4221).
The year 2017 has seen the local Lindy Hop community grow rapidly, not least because it welcomes dancing newbies with open arms; plus, it’s a great way to meet new people IRL (let’s get over Tinder, shall we?). Unlike more structured and intense dances like the flamenco and ballroom dancing, Lindy Hop – a freestyle amalgamation of jazz, tap and Charleston – lets everyone develop their own style, at a comfortable pace.
Lindy KL, New Star Studio, 65, Jalan 1/109e, Taman Desa Business Park, KL. From RM130.
If you’re looking for the next big adrenaline rush, try paragliding. One place to start would be to contact Yusmar Yahaya, a professional paragliding instructor who teaches in various locations including Kuala Kubu Bahru and Gunung Raya. A beginner’s course lasts for five days over three weekends, by the end of which you’ll have learned how to paraglide safely. Or if you’re feeling lazy, go for tandem paragliding – sure, it’s not as fun as flying solo but it’ll save you the hassle of going through all those classes (not to mention a huge chunk of change.
paragliders.my. Paragliding, RM2,600; Tandem paragliding, From RM220.
Okay, so you might not be the next Bruce Dickinson (look that up, kids) by taking up a beginner’s piloting course, but at least you’ll have bragging rights over your friends – unless they’re qualified airline pilots, that is. Tour agencies such as Oxbold and One Day Pilot offer packages for complete beginners where you’ll be able to take flight on the same day itself. Both tour agencies employ Cessna-model light aircrafts that you can rent for a minimum of half an hour. Bonus: Oxbold lets you rent the plane for an entire hour, taking you over the KL city centre and around the Petronas Twin Towers.
You don’t have to head to New Zealand to jump off a plane – just sign up with Skydive Malaysia and take a trip to the southern part of Malaysia for the experience of your lifetime. Don’t fret, as you’ll be trained from A to Z by their certified instructors before you can make that leap on your own the next day. What’s more reassuring is that you will still be guided by the ground instructor through the walkie-talkie even when you’re in the air – that is, if you can even speak while hurtling down to earth at 200km/h.
Skydive Malaysia, 23 Jalan Indah 13, Taman Cheras Indah, KL (013 346 7968).
Being a part of the third-largest island in the world, Sabah is packed with tonnes of places to explore and activities to do. Ziplines were used as a form of transportation for food and tools between one place and another in the past; now, zip-lining is considered one of the many activities you have to do when you come to Sabah. Located within one of Southeast Asia’s famous marine parks, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, this activity will see you being suspended in mid-air, swinging across the ocean from Pulau Gaya to Pulau Sapi. Remember to open your eyes and take in the view of the crystal clear water and lush green surroundings.
Coral Flyer, Pulau Sapi, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (011 2984 2023). RM68.
If you’ve got the need for speed, strap on a pair of water jet packs to your feet and go flyboarding. The adrenaline-pumping watersport activity has become quite popular since it launched earlier this year, and the photos show why: flyboarders are propelled 15m high into the air, at which point they are able to do gravity-defying flips and turns. Though it looks dangerous, organisers Flyboard Malaysia has taken every precautionary measure to keep you safe, and an instructor is always on hand to make sure that you have all the fun, and none of the bruises.
Flyboard Malaysia, Marina Putrajaya, 1 Jalan P5/5, Persint 5, Putrajaya (012 287 1120). Daily, 9am-7pm. From RM370 per adult.