Monday, February 29, 2016


Ever since I had the opportunity to go to Amphawa floating market with Eddie and Khwan a few months ago, I have wanted to take my wife there to show her the really exotic style of market, and eat some amazing seafood.  Needless to say, when you see shrimp like this on ice, with a grill set up a meter or so away, you know it is bound to be delicious.

We decided to kill some time walking around, and ended up finding random dogs and taking photos of them.

Plus, Danielle was able to find a few cute bugs to take photos of to pass some time.  I think that she was taking a photo of a spider that happened to have a nice rainbow/metallic sheen on the shell.  

My cell phone camera was not quite good enough to catch the spider on the tissues here, but just make a note - in the tropics, always look before you blow your nose...

Now, our main purpose of this trip, besides getting some delicious seafood, was to take a nice tour at night of the market area and the surrounding river system.  I did not know at the time, but we had signed up for the firefly tour, which was very pretty as we have not seen fireflies since we were in Japan. 

The boat trip was lovely, and everything was going well until the motor died...

Then we just started floating with the current.

So there we were, in the middle of the river, at the whim of the river, in a boat that really was not going to be comfortable to be stranded in.  

All I could think about was Apocalypse Now, and not getting off the boat.  I just kept remembering the scene about the tiger.  

It might be a bit off reality, but it is possible in Thailand. 

Plus, snakes...

I really did not want to drift into trees, bushes, swamp, jungle, etc.

I like my nature controlled sometimes, this was one of those times.

So, we floated...

Then we floated some more...

Eventually we made it to a little dock a bit away from the market.  After helping people up the 1+ meter gap, we were free.  Just was time for the long walk home.

Here is a photo of us after we made it off the boat.  Honestly, it was more funny than anything else.  

I am just glad that the tide was flowing into the river and not out into the Gulf at that point.  

If the tide was going the opposite direction, this would have been quite a different story indeed.

Day Trip to Malacca

Malacca is a wonderful example of an old city that has undergone hundreds of years of transition and come out more vibrant despite the challenges and change.  The city is a beautiful representation of the art and architecture from cultures that have come here from all over the world.  You can walk from forts built in European styles, to old Chinese homesteads, and then suddenly realize that you are still in Malaysia over the course of a few kilometers.  

This is our adventure to and from Malacca, and me trying to understand just how sunburned I can get over the course of about 8 hours.  

Note to anyone visiting Malacca - buy sunscreen.  

I absolutely love the canals and waterways that ring Malacca, with the various forts and different strong areas that were set up hundreds of years ago to secure these places.  The different cultural powers of the times used Malacca as a hub of trade and power, making the city both cosmopolitan and and making the areas distinct and somewhat thematic.   

Just to show the drastic difference, The following photos were taken only about a kilometer apart.

The old fort and church on the top of the hill is quite the hike up, (Malaysia loves stairs), but is well worth the walk.  Not only do you get an awesome view of parts of the city, but you also get the chance to get some time in the shade.   

Sadly, I did not take my own advice and ended up looking a bit like a lobster when I was done with this adventure.  After living in Hawaii for about a decade, and then in Thailand for about eight months, I still surprise myself at just how burned I can get when I am careless.  

Putra Mosque

After spending a day getting completely burned in Malacca, we decided to take it easy and stay somewhat in the shade around Putrajaya.  The Putra Mosque was well worth escaping the shade of the trees and risking more skin cancer.  Not only is is a wonderful example of architecture, but it also is strikingly beautiful in the downtown government district of Putrajaya.  The area was designed to house a lot of the government offices to move them away from Kuala Lumpur,  It has a lot of the feel and beauty of the other federal districts that I have been to, mostly filled with art, official looking buildings, and very well maintained parks.  

I of course had to take the time to pick up the one geocache in the area.  I was also quite glad that it was in the shade.  I am sure you cannot tell from this photo, but my level of burn was downright painful.  I have only recently stopped shedding like a snake.  

After cooking outdoors for a few hours, we retreated to a local mall to wait for our flight.  I just thought that the bamboo walkway looked very pretty in that light, so we did what all the tourists must do - take a selfie!

Hotel Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside

One of the best things about traveling is the idea of getting to meet new people and stay in new places.  My wife and I usually spend most of our time traveling staying with different hosts using connections made through couchsurfing.  While sleeping on random couches and on sleeping bags on unused floor space might not seem like the most desired way to travel to many people, it does allow for people of our socioeconomic level to see parts of the world for about half the cost of staying there in a hotel.  

However, on this trip, we decided to stay at a rather nice hotel.  I found a great deal on a five-star resort and decided to really go nuts and sleep in a nice bed versus a linoleum floor.

The Hotel Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside did not disappoint.  To say this location was amazing is quite an understatement.  While we did realize that it was about two train stations away from Kuala Lumpur, the location was much cooler, and the train ride was so cheap that it was more than worth being that far out of the city center.  

One of the best aspects of this hotel was the breakfast.  Holy crap, the breakfast.  I took photos that hardly do it justice.  

I also was a huge fan of the decor and architecture style.  The room that we stayed in was also the size of our apartment.  Needless to say, it was quite hard to leave.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Batu Caves

I can openly and honestly see how a lot of people can think that Batu Caves is a tourist trap.  I love the place, but I can really see how others might feel that the locale has been commercialized to the point of losing all the intent of the people who first moved to the area.  I am sure that it is a double-edged sword in a sense to have tourism and commercialization of these areas, but it is hard to imagine such a place existing to the extent that it does today without some form of commercialism and tourism bringing money for upkeep and improvements.  Is it a perfect system? Not at all, but it is a start.

I started off by taking a quick video of the area to try and show just what a mixture of people, sounds, and animals were in a small area about the size of two football fields.  The first thing that I noticed, besides the rather large golden statue, was the all of the music and noise coming from various areas of the entryway.  I honestly still have no clue what was going on, but it was noisy and there must have been about a million different tourist attractions to try and get money out of anyone who was making the decision to climb the stairs.

Needless to say the stairs suck.  I am quite glad that I spend some free-time running, as I was able to go up at a rather quick pace.  One of the things that I thought was funny is that I spent so much time looking down to watch my footing on the rather mismatched stairs, that I came face-to-face with monkeys when I looked up to catch my bearings.  The good thing is that the monkeys are pretty friendly, but the bad thing is that they will rob you blind for food and drinks.  They are crafty bastards, and honestly you have to watch your stuff.  

They do look cute, but again, they will rob you blind.  Seriously, he probably ate more than I did that day and I am going to guess he had a stash of soda more expansive than any dorm fridge.

Another little devil monkey hamming it up for a photo with my wife.  I am almost 100% certain that they stalk tourists and steal from people who are not paying attention.  I watched them sit on these posts, and then grab the bottles of soda and water from anyone who was not paying attention or seemed weak in whatever monkey assessment they were given.

When you reach the top there are more... stairs.  I have no clue what it is about the trip to Malaysia, but I feel like some massive stair conglomerate decided to ensure that they were paid well and installed millions of stairs across the country.  

Oddly enough, in keeping with our time-honored tradition of scoring free food while traveling, we again got fed at the top.  No clue what was going on, but we just happened to be in the right place at the right time and got to enjoy a snack.

After enjoying the view from the top, I took some time to shoot a few photos and video some of the monkeys playing around outside the main shrine.  

I also had to take a selfie with a monkey who stole a bottle of 7-up from a tourist.  She never saw it coming.  One second she was enjoying a nice sip of cold soda, and then the next second this little punk was running off with it.  She was shocked, and I was dying of laughter.  

I am not going to pretend to understand the decorating scheme of the temple area, but needless to say, it was a bit odd to get to the top and go inside a cave to find the main Hindu shrine covered in lights.  Not quite what I was expecting, but then again, I guess that is all part of traveling?

A beautiful trip, and a great excuse to climb up the side of a mountain.  The view was wonderful, and when you throw in kleptomaniac monkeys and free food - totally worth it!