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In this week’s travel interview, I catch up with a well-known Malaysian blogging couple, Mei and Jo, of CumiDanCiki. For several years they’ve been blogging about adventure travel, cuisine, and health n fitness. Recently, I was lucky enough to meet up with Mei twice in Kuala Lumpur. She’s a lively, fashionable, fun girl, who clearly enjoys socializing, eating great foods and traveling the world. For CumiDanCiki, she writes refreshing, informative posts with a personal perspective. Mei and Jo also have two other blogs, WhoAdventures about adventure travels, Cikipedia about health and fitness while traveling.
In this interview we get the inside scoop on CumiDanCiki, their favorite cuisines and countries, the general Malaysian perspective on various foods, and their personal recommendations for travel in Malaysia. Here we go:
Q1. Is blogging really big in Malaysia? Or just catching on big-time, like in Europe and USA? What topics are most popular to blog about?
It’s bigger than it’s ever been, say 5 years ago. I’d say we are around 3 years behind Europe and the US of A in terms of blogging experience, but it does not mean the quality is not there. Some blogs in Asia have better quality of content than that which comes from the USA.
Q2. When did you start CumiDanCiki?
5 years ago.
Q3. Your blog is based on an old Malaysian educational TV show. Please tell us more about the show and the two characters, Cumi and Ciki. (pronounced ‘Choo Mee’ and ‘Cheeky’) And, do the two names have any particular meaning, or are they simply names?
C&C was an educational programme from the 80’s. Its hosts were the two travelling, mischievous monkeys who had many adventures, and along the way, taught the audience about their new discoveries. So yes, we chose names which had a Malaysian flavor as we are, afterall, a Malaysian blog. The blog talks about our travel adventures – same as the programme. The names themselves don’t mean anything. Just screen characters.
Q4. In real life your names aren’t actually Cumi and Ciki, but Mei and Jo… Mei, you’re a pharmacist and Jo’s profession is? So, how the heck did you start blogging about travel and food?
Jo runs an Adventure Sport Company. Read more here WhoAdventures . We travelled a lot and took many photos, all of which were kept in the digital camera. On day Jo told me to upload them to the web and start writing about them. The rest, as they say, is history.
Q5. You blog a lot about food. Nowadays, among Malaysians, are there any foods / cuisines that are considered especially trendy / hot / super cool?
Not really. Fine-dining has really taken off in the last 5 years or so. Malaysia is still no.1 for their streetfood though;) Here’s a great post on fine dining in Kuala Lumpur at Sage. Sage Restaurant Wine Bar
Here’s a great post on Top 10 Street Foods in Malaysia: Dishes I Would Take You to Eat If You Came To Malaysia
Q6. Are there any foods Malaysians consider blasé or uncool?
Not really, no.
Q7. What do Malaysians think about western fast food places like McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut? Is western fast food super popular? Do people consider it delicious or unhealthy or ?
Seriously, eating junk food and being overweight used to be a health issue that afflicted mainly wealthy continents, such as North America and Europe. Now as incomes rise and populations become more urban, you will notice that in Asia, diets that were once healthy and full of greens and fiber, are now giving way to diets with higher proportions of fats, saturated fats and sugars. At the same time, large shifts towards less physically demanding work have been observed worldwide. Moves towards less physical activity are also found in the increasing use of automated transport, technology in the home, and more passive leisure pursuits. Junk food is, of course, the insidious killer and very popular in Malaysia now. If you want to learn more about my stand on health and exercising – read my other blog here: Cikipedia.com
Q8. What are your (you and Jo’s) favorite Malay dishes and why do you love them?
We love Nasi Lemak – it’s the Malaysian version of the big English breakfast. Read about it here : Nasi Lemak
Q9. What are your favorite foreign cuisines and why do you love them?
We like most kinds of food that are made well. When in Indonesia we like the Indonesian street food e.g. Bakso. In France, you will find us in the bistro, patisserie or munching on a macaron. We like all types of cuisine.
Q10. You guys have already traveled overseas quite a lot. Where do you prefer to go? Other Asian countries? Europe? N. America? Why do you love those regions so much?
Every place has its appeal. We don’t have a favourite. We like them all. Of course the further you go from Asia, the more exotic it feels. Just like how our American friends find Asia so appealing, we love to travel further from our native soil as well. We like the States .
Q11. Are there any places you’re just dying to visit? If so, where and why?
South Africa and Antarctica. Because we have not been, and we read stories on how great they are. They list high on the adventure scale!
Q12. What top 3 Malaysian destinations would you recommend westerners to visit and why?
Kuala Lumpur ! Because it’s home and we live here, so if you visit we can take you around!
Q13. Do you ever think you’d like to blog full time to earn your living from it? Or do you prefer to keep it as a side hobby? In either case, why?
I think I like my day job too much at the moment. Will definitely consider going full time blogging in a year or two.. maybe ;)
(* all photos care of Cumi dan Ciki *)
Thanks so much, Mei, for enlightening us about your blog CumiDanCiki, about Malaysian cuisine, and about great places to visit and eat in Malaysia. Enjoy your continued blogging, eating, and adventures. Looking forward to catching up with you again soon. cheers, Lash
Follow Mei and Jo, aka Cumi and Ciki at their 3 websites and on social media: