Memorable moments while traveling

1. One sometimes carries a lot of useless baggage when traveling. I have been fortunate to use everything I carry. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in the most inexpensive guest house I have ever stayed at in Asia, I met a woman from Ghana who was visiting for one or two weeks and she brought two ceramic dinner plates in her suitcase. I wondered when she might use them and how often. Why didn’t she bring plastic plates?

2. The worst overnight bus I traveled on was in Vietnam from Hanoi to Hue. The constant bumps and turns on the road made it feel like a terrible roller coaster for 12+ hours, multiplied with the odd lying down arrangement and the toilet with the broken light made it the worst public transit experience.

3. I have slept and showered in many undesirable places with large bugs, very cold water, water held in buckets and rubber trash bins, or no running water, but the worst, most vile experience was seeing an open condom wrapper on the floor in the common shower. The hostel, “friendly’s” in Manilla, just might have been too friendly.

4. My favorite sunset and sunrise were standing on top of a temple in Bagan, Myanmar. Exquisite to see the early dawn light with hot air balloons and 3000+ temples.

5. Riding an elephant in Thailand has been one of the coolest experiences in life.

6. The Himalayan mountains are true majestic mountains, not accessible by cars. To reach Mt. everest base camp, you walk yourself in and out for 14 days. I am so happy to have the opportunity to have witnessed it.

7. A cash only economy in Burma/Myanmar is still indescribable to me.

8. I never thought a massage class and a meditation course would be so challenging.

9. My favorite meal was eggplant salad in Inle Lake, Myanmar or shan sticky noodles in Yangon, Myanmar.

10. Being in the right time and the right place, random occurrence, seeing all employees in choreographed routines dancing in the supermarket in Puerta Princessa, Philippines was awesome.

All the 12 countries I have traveled to in the last 6 months have been amazing. I loved experiencing each culture and learning their history. One might argue HK and Macau are Chinese but I count it because it requires a stamp in your passport and waiting on a line through customs. (Nepal, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia). If I had more time, I would like to revisit Cambodia and spend another week traveling the countryside. I only will have enough time to see one-two islands in Indonesia and there are so many left to explore. I left a piece of my heart in Thailand and will return one day.

A few pictures from Malaysia and Myanmar

Pictures from my camera: me at National Mosque, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Subsidized housing in Singapore (colorful buildings).
Ellen and I at Teak Bridge, near Mandalay, Myanmar, ox taxi near Mandalay, me in Bagan, girl chasing dogs with stick in Bagan, fisherman in Inle Lake, Myanmar, children at play in Inle Lake, Myanmar, paddling in Inle Lake, Myanmar, pig in Inle Lake, Myanmar.

P1080031P1080125P1080192P1080195P1080200

P1070973

P1070717P1070735

P1070671P1070492P1070622

P1080269

P1080576

Bus stations

For a comparison, below is the bus station, leaving from the Southern station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the bus station leaving Inle Lake, Myanmar.

I met a couple yesterday who said Malaysia was not civilized. It brings me back to idea of what you consider civilized and which country you just arrived from. Sure, I have wanted to throw up every time I walked by a Durian fruit stand, overwhelmed by the pungent smell but besides that I have found KL to be a very nice city with many Western and foreign comforts. I personally think you’ve entered civilization if a 7-11 is nearby and you can buy cold drinks.

Btw, this is the nicest bus I have ever been on in Asia. Clean, new and the longest leg room ever. It left on time, and there was a departing bus every 15 minutes to Melaka. Melaka is a historical city, 2 hours south.

20121226-150332.jpg

20121226-150322.jpg

20121226-150346.jpg

20121226-150354.jpg

Christmas Day spent in a Hindu cave

Christmas Day went to the Batu caves, known for its Hindu shrines. It was interesting to see people praying in a cave, 272 steps up. I also hesitantly got a henna tattoo. I have always been unsure about it because I know henna is used traditionally during Indian weddings. Curiosity won out and I got one because I wanted to know what it would be like to have a tattoo for 2 weeks. Lunch at Little India, I may have been the only non Indian person there. Ate a brightly colored pink coconut desert but it was tasty.

Pictures: sign on the train (no indecent behavior)

20121225-151317.jpg

20121225-151348.jpg

20121225-151403.jpg

20121225-151356.jpg

20121225-151411.jpg

20121225-151420.jpg

Kuala lumpur, Malaysia

I find it ironic to be in a Muslim country during Christmas. I went to the National mosque today and if you were wondering it is indeed hot under the head dress and head scarf. You also have poor peripheral vision. I assume the reasoning is so you only look forward at your husband or for prayer. I think all Muslim countries prohibit women from driving and I think it is also a practical matter, you cannot see sideways if you are wearing a headscarf.

I visited the Islamic Art museum, which was fantastic, excellent art, English translations and air-con building. It is 84 degrees, feels like 100, humidity 83. It is their rainy season and locals tell me it’s cold for them. Everything on the East side of the island closes from Dec.-Feb. and everyone migrates to the West part of the island.

Something is wrong with the pricing in this country when one load of wash/laundry, one dorm room stay, and the price of admission to the museum are all the same – 12 ringgits, $4.

I also went to the Sri Mahamariamman temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia. It is interesting to see this country divided among Chinese, Malay, and Indian people. It is a diverse country but people do not mix together. It is not a melting pot.

20121223-172658.jpg

20121223-230624.jpg

20121223-172708.jpg

20121223-172719.jpg

20121223-172727.jpg