Posted on 15 April 2012 by brett
Sir. Stamford Raffles
Since its independence in 1965, Singapore has grown leaps and bounds at 9% per year. It is now the second largest Asian economy by per capita GDP. The island lies at the southern tip of Malaysia and is super crowded with over 5 million people (1.4 million are non-resident foreigners). This makes Singapore the second most densely populated independent country in the world. The population is multicultural with 74% Chinese, 13% Malay and 9% Indian. English is the national language, although we heard Chinese more often. This diversity infused with a work hard, live healthy lifestyle creates a tremendous energy and buzz. Whether its shopping, exercising, talking technology or constantly eating… Singapore offers an ultra modern version of our New York City. Continue Reading
Posted on 10 April 2012 by brett
Melaka was a wonderful unexpected surprise. There were a plethora of great places to eat, sleep, shop and sightsee. Since its founding in the 1400’s, this quaint little city exchanged hands through the centuries from the Chinese, to the Portuguese, to the Dutch and then finally the British in the 1800’s. Hence the melting pot of people; Chinese, mixed Indian/Malay, and Eurasians (Malay/Portuguese). The dramatic differences in architecture is also predominate throughout the city.
As happens frequently in Asia, Melaka wasn’t part of our original plans. Our rental car once we got off the Perhentian Islands fell through last minute leaving us with no transportation to drive through Malaysia. The original plan was to pickup our rental car at the travel agent once we arrived to the mainland and drive through Malaysia down to the Singaporean border, stopping off at various spots such as the Cameron Highlights. However, the speedboat was three hours late picking us up and although our hotel said they called the travel agent, our hunch is that they gave our car to someone else. Our only option was to take a taxi one hour to Kota Bahru airport and rent a car or try to get a flight out. As it was getting too late to drive to the Highlands and pick strawberries and tea, we decided to hop on the next flight to Kuala Lumpur (the only place you can fly). Once in KL airport we decided to hop a bus to Melaka, which is 2.5 hours south of KL, getting us into Melaka around 8pm. Continue Reading
Posted on 08 April 2012 by brett
Mainland Malaysia originally wasn’t on our travel list, but we are extremely happy that we decided not to skip underrated Southeast Asian country. The Perhentian Islands were a highlight of our stay in Malaysia. Getting to the South China Sea islands off the east coast of Malaysia can be quite a journey, but you’ll be rewarded with the most breathtaking lush green jungle islands surrounded by crystal blue waters. These gorgeous islands offer the traveler that laid back atmosphere and untouched natural beauty that’s often hard to find in much of Southeast Asia.
Getting to the Perhentian Islands
Choppy Boat Ride
After breathing in the contaimenated airs of Chiang Mai we were in a hurry to get to these quiet little islands. We opted to take a flight to Kuala Lumpur, stay the night and then hop another one hour flight to Kota Bharu in northeastern Malaysia. Upon arriving at the airport we were greeted by a Malaysian woman directing us to a desk (near car rentals) selling roundtrip “taxi+speedboat” tickets to the Perhentian Islands. Travelers were teamed up with other travelers to share taxi costs. The total journey cost $ per person based on four people in a taxi. We were grouped with two women Continue Reading
Posted on 02 April 2012 by brett
Lisu Village Baby
We spent much of our time in Chiang Mai but we wanted to explore the outside region, so we took a day trip to the villages in Northern Thailand. The tour was by mini van with 12 other travelers. We drove 1 1/2 hours north of Chiang Mai to a set of villages tucked away in the mountains down a bumpy dirt road. The first village was called Lisu with villagers of Christian religion. Upon departing the minivan, we were greeted by a group of women dressed in traditional clothes trying to sell us souvenirs. One woman was carrying a baby around her dressed in “traditional” gear and headdress. The baby was so tired falling asleep and finally she passed him off to her “husband”.
Lisu Village Spinster
As we explored the village the woman continued to follow us offering souvenirs. We walked through the village visiting their huts, farm animals and saying hello to the locals chilling out during their lazy Sunday afternoon. We met the Lisu village “Spinster”, who was the oldest women in the village that had never been married. Brett had bought some lined notebooks and pens for the children while in Luang Prabang, Laos. He was handing them out as we passed through the village. The children seemed so happy that they could write or draw in their new books. Continue Reading
Posted on 29 March 2012 by brett
Real Monk or Not?
Northern Thailand was quite a refreshing break from the previous few months on the road through Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Thailand in general is a very easy and friendly country to travel around. The Thais are very much set up for tourism and this is why so many people from all over the world vacation or choose to live in Thailand. One can find just about anything they need. Most Thais are extremely friendly and willing to help tourists, especially in Northern Thailand.
Exotic Asian Art
Chiang Mai is a great place to stay awhile and hang out with a multitude of things to see and do. Chiang Mai old town is a square of 1.5 sq km surrounded on all four sides by a moat and a 700 year old medieval wall once used to protect the city from the Burmese. Inside the city walls are a number of small streets and alley ways filled with friendly family guesthouses, restaurants, cafes, shops and markets. The great thing about Chiang Mai is while you have many tourists and expats in the city, there is also a large mix of locals living all throughout the city. It’s very easy to mix in with the local people and get to know those friendly faces from Chiang Mai and their culture. Continue Reading