Foodies Paradise! An excerpt from the Muslim Quarter, Xi’an 1

The Muslim Quarter in Xi’an, China, is an amazingly huge food hub! Lot’s of tantalising meat, fresh fruits and whimsical tidbits all ready to be served and feast upon. Upon our arrival in Xi’an, my buddy and I stopped overnight at the airport (which I will cover in the next post) and cabbed down a distance of about 30km to Alley Youth Hostel the very next morning. Now I have to emphasise that we made this trip in December and it was exorbitantly cold. It was my first winter experience and typically having to blow out smoke from the mouth was our frequent gesture in Xi’an. All I could think of while we were in the cab was, the itinerary planned for the days ahead and how thrilling the winter cold can be.

Now Alley Youth Hostel is placed at a district with great atmosphere, whereby considerable walks can be taken to visit the famous Xi’an Mosque, various subway stations, the Xi’an Bell Tower, alluring cafes, and many other incredible sights and sounds for the taking. The first thing we had to do was eat and breakfast was a LARGE piece of handmade bread, served alongside a steaming hot spicy beef soup! It was HEAVENLY~

Another version of Xi’an’s famous bread. However, the one we had for breakfast was fluffier~

Xi'an bread

The bread was tasteless and powdery on its own but as I observe how the locals eat it, they tear that brown fluff into pieces and throw it into the soup. We did just that and that’s where it hits the sweet spot in your tongue! So, here’s a traveller’s tip: Be perceptive and willing to engage in (what seems to be an) unorthodox savoir-faire – as long as it doesn’t go against your religious practices or own set of beliefs.  Because from where I come from, we do eat bread with soup by dipping or swabbing but never throw it all into pieces at once down the hot broth. Resultantly, due to our brave “endeavour” the bread soaked up all the flavours and seasonings to blend with the existent handmade flour which induces an elated satiation to the tummies of two famished travellers.

Here’s my buddy after breakfast.

Traveller in Xi'an

We were greeted by a cat named Chunlou or Chunliu (at least that’s what the lady at the reception says – the cat was named after some famous mountain in China) at Alley Youth Hostel, and the whole interior was pleasingly warm and welcoming as they furnished a book cafe right next to a pool table, which is just beside a bar and has got a mini internet surfing spot by the entrance window.

I call this shot ‘Chunlou by the Windou’. She was observing some birds on a tree by the way.

Chunlou by the WindouChunlou by the WindouChunlou by the WindouIMG_9257

A Rotterdam Backstory 2

As we got lost along our retraced steps back to Rotterdam Central Station from Spido B.V., we stumbled across a tube mall known as Markthal Rotterdam aka Market Hall Rotterdam. As you’ve seen in the first post, a simple Scandinavian pushcart selling cheeseys makes the whole surrounding less intimidating and more patronising. The overall look of the mall is also cosy with a variety of products to choose from. You name it, they have it!


Well the one on the right is a blue cheese but isn’t the Blue Cheese.

I’m extremely fascinated with the cheese shops over there. They looked irresistibly delicious and exotic. There’s something about the pushcart’s aesthetics. Now, Dutch people are friendly by nature. In fact, throughout our whole entire journey in the Netherlands, people have been helping us out with directions and halal food hunt even to the point of using their own GPS to pinpoint locations and provide instructions for easier navigations. I really want to thank them so much for the kind hospitality and warm gestures given.

However, in the mall, we wanted to purchase a few items but had a large 500Euro note and apparently, none were willing to accept it. Almost all vendors scrutinised at the note and decided not to accept our purchase. Of course, till we came to a pushcart selling figs and dates. An Egyptian (I think, or could be Moroccan) bald man roughly in his 40s decided to accept our intentions of breaking the note to smaller change and the need to taste his mouthwatering figs (no pun intended). We were delighted. It was as if God has embraced us with His Mercy (which He really did) and made our detour worthwhile. Due to this incident, I deduced that Europeans find it hard to accept huge notes for a few reasons. 1) Fake touristy notes are rampant. Many scammers pretend to be tourists and go around in a ‘fake note exchange’ spree. 2) The bald man had to inspect our note under the light multiple times, to affirm that we had given genuine cash. This goes to show that for some itsy bitsy small microscopic reason, discerning between the real and fake notes may have been unclear either because the real ones are arduously distinguishable or pirates or counterfeiters producing counterfeits are exceedingly professional. 3) or simply that Europeans don’t hold much change to accommodate to such big notes. 1 point to VISA!  But all these points are just my assumptions and I guess there’s no real reason to this as everyone has their own belief in not wanting to accept big notes.

So traveller’s tip: Don’t carry huge notes. Break them down at the airport or secured establishments such as money changers or banks, especially in European countries. Of course VISA provides the convenience but most street markets don’t cater such services. In addition, such establishments offer a sense of security in a sense that you know what you’re getting and where you’re getting it from. There is no way you’ll receive a counterfeit from a public or main bank for instance. So, break your cash up once you’ve touched down from the plane. It’ll benefit you in terms of time and energy.

Here’s the interior outlook of the mall from a 2nd storey halal Mediterranean restaurant.


I really love it’s elaborated designs and comprehensive architecture. It’s really a nice “steal” coming from being lost and to stumble upon an unplanned location from our travel itinerary. I’m really glad we got lost. As the saying goes, ‘it feels good to be lost in the right direction’ and it truly is! Here’s a few more pictures to sum up Markthal Rotterdam, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this post~


A Rotterdam Backstory

Cheesey Cheese

How we chanced upon this mall is by accident or should I say luck? We were kind of lost getting our way back to the Rotterdam Central Station from Spido Boat Tours. We just ferried our way back from Kinderdijk and while tracing our steps back to the Central train station, we kind of detoured and came across this tube-like mall. It was huge and I must say it was extremely aesthetically technical looking. The mall was filled with loads of hipster pushcarts and there were tons of branded merchandises that were seemingly Marc & Spencer-ish looking. I will definitely share more in time to come because there were tons of photos taken around the area.

Anyway, just finished my routined workout – the spartan arms and will also touch on what I’ve learnt so far, at least for the past 29 days of working out and eating clean. As the name of this blog goes, its a “mad hatter’s” world here in my head and things I cover in this blog may or may not make sense but it’s how things flow and how I keep my sanity.

All about balance

I’m slowly adopting the Parisian way of life..

A balanced work-life. In fact, to be more specific, working towards LIFE. because when work ends, that’s where you need to be intrisically stalwart to move out and go on your adventures instead of staying in someone’s shadow and waste time. Time is always the essence and LIVING LIFE is essentially life itself. This entry will be a pre-empt to the next. Till then, I’m off to do reps and laps.

My latest craze..

Currently I’m into pixel art and it’s exceedingly addictive. Basically its painting using photoshop’s pencil tool and for that very fact, you have the ability to stretch the image into huge dimensions or turning it into a dwarf which would not affect the image quality. Here are some examples:


If you’ve watched the movie ‘Limitless’, you’d know the drug..

  Giga pudding..

   Bruce Lee..

So there you go. Simple doodles for this entry. Hardly anyone is ever going to read this entry but if you’re that rare gem, do leave a comment. Of course, I’m nothing like Waneella (I guess she’s a master in pixel art) but it’s something that I can be proud of and improve on.