Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Did you miss reading my blog? We're still alive and well!

Wow! It's been nearly 2 weeks since my last post! So many things to catch up on. Where do I begin?

Short List:
- We’re relaxed.
- Many sites have been seen.
- More friends have joined us on the road.
- We’re full of food.
- But we’ve sweat it all out.
- And we’re dark.

The Gili Islands

Four of the eight days we spend in Indonesia were spend on these tiny little islands part of Lombok. It's about an hour and a half choppy fast ferry ride east of the island of Bali. But of course first, we needed to get to the port which is around an hour and a half from Ubud. For all that traveling, we rewarded ourselves with more relaxation (as if 4 days in Ubud wasn't enough).

The swing at The Exile. We met the owner and spoke to him at length. He was the first to put up a swing and everyone copied him. It was put up originally for his kids when they were young. It is now a tourist attraction. 

Two days on Gili Trawangan (aka Gili T) allowed us a glimpse of a laid back daytime and a socially active nightlife. The most popular of the 3 islands (T, Meno, Air), Gili T is the jumpoff for many activities. It was here that we embarked on a half-day glass bottom boat ride to go snorkeling. Carolyn worked her magic negotiating, and we made 2 new friends along the way who joined us for the tour. All together, we paid 700,000 IDR ($52USD) making it $26USD for each couple. Good job babe! It was on this trip that we got to swim with turtles, see more coral life, and other colorful fish.

Snorkeled with this guy.

Side note: I was really surprised at how much coral had been dying / died and washed up on shore. It's a bit sad to see and painful to step on. Climate change is real.

A 7-minute fast boat ride to Gili Meno took us to our 2nd of the 3 islands, and this is where we took the remainder of the 2 days. Knowing what laid ahead of us after leaving Indonesia, we took this time to really relax without any activity. Aside from the brief swim in crystal clear blue waters, the extent of our movement was walking 30 seconds to the beach and ordering fruit drinks.


It’s only a 2-hour flight from Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia to Singapore, which is a major transportation hub in Asia. Changi International Airport has consistently been rated the best airport in the world year after year. It is enormous. There are heaps of shops; it’s impeccably clean; it’s super safe and efficient. And the city of Singapore itself is no different than it’s representative airport.

It’s here that we met a few of our friends who are also traveling the world or working around the globe. And that’s how time escaped us.

Blocking the entrance to a speakeasy at 28 Hong Kong Street.

When we’re traveling with people we know so well, it’s easy to eat really well also. And Singapore makes that extremely simple. Although the city is known to be the most expensive in the world, food can be very inexpensive. And that’s important to backpackers like us.

In search of wonderful food, we also passed by many sites by walking through all the neighborhoods. Chinatown. Little India. The Arab quarters. And all the rest of the streets in Singapore. The city is small, so it’s easily walkable.

Happy Chinese New Year! It's the year of the Rooster.

Arab Street in the Arab Quarter.

Sultan Mosque in the Arab Quarter

A decorative Hindu temple in Little India.

We ate at 4 or 5 different markets (ie. Chinatown Complex, Maxwell Road, Old Airport Road) and in as many as 20+ hawker food stalls that were pocket change cheap. We once treated ourselves to an expensive fine-dining meal, and it was well worth it. And tried many things in between. Together with friends we roamed the nightlife neighborhoods, chatted for hours in speakeasy bars, or shared meals at plastic tables and stools. And we saw the sites in between every meal, snack, or drinking affair.

Singapore was fun for so many reasons. We had good company. The food was fantastic. And the city was inviting. Maybe we should have our long-haul layovers in Singapore from now on…

View of the port from the Marina Bay Sands rooftop

A little birdie perched on Carolyn's finger as we were gazing over the Gardens by the Bay.

Merlion - half mermaid, half lion. It is widely used as the mascot of Singapore.

The Singapore Flyer is like the London Eye.

We visited the National Orchid Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. I'm pretty sure my parents would have liked this place. We enjoyed the Cool House where we found relief from the heat and humidity. 

Fountain of Wealth at Suntec City. A symbol of wealth and life, the Fountain Of Wealth is recognized since 1998 by the Guinness Book Of World Records as the World's Largest Fountain. The bronze ring of the fountain is designed based on the Hindu Mandala, meaning universe and is a symbolic representation of the oneness in spirit and unity and further symbolizes the equality and harmony of all races and religions in Singapore.

View from the infinity pool at the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Malacca, Malaysia

A short bus ride away from Singapore, Malacca feels like a sleepy town. But I think the people are just hiding from the daytime heat. At night, the town comes alive (even on a Sunday) for the Jonker Walk Night Market. It’s here where you can find almost everyone from town, be it tourist or local. Plenty of goods / services / and edibles are sold from clothing to trinkets and knick-knacks to massages and local food.

Red Square or Dutch Square 

Catch a ride on a themed trishaw, a combination rickshaw and tricycle.

Jonker Walk in the middle of the day is full of pedestrians and cars. By night, it's a street fair and food market. 

The ruins of St. Paul's Church atop St. Paul's Hill.

The town itself is known for the historical landmarks and cultural museums all around the city. A rich history from a mix of Dutch, British, Portuguese, Indian and Chinese gives the character of the city’s people. English is well-spoken all around. People look like they’ve come from half-way around the world, when they’re really locals. You can’t tell tourist from Malacca-raised. There are a handful of places of worship within stone’s throw of each other which further supports the diversity in the community.

A huge stage at the foot of Jonker Walk where locals participate in karaoke and sing the night away. 

We're finishing up our last couple of nights here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I'll have more photos to share in a few days. 

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