Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.
It is with a heavy heart and a great deal of joy that I write this post about July 25th, 2010. It’s now the following day, and I’m in a Thai Airways 747 on the way back to Munich – the end of my around-the-world trip.
I’ve had an amazing almost-three-months, and learned more in this time than I’d ever dreamed I would. At the same time, I’m looking forward to my couch, a bit more predictability in my life, and being free from my (self-imposed) goal of writing a blog post each day during the trip.
Well, let’s not dally and get all sentimental. I promised you the Petronas Towers – at 452m, the tallest buildings in the world until Taipei 101 took that crown in 2004.
To ascend the towers, you must get a free ticket early in the morning in the base of Tower 1. I was in line at 7:30. Tickets were given out starting from 8:30, although it was 9:45 before I got to the front of the line. Max 5 tickets per person! I have to say, the view from the bridge between the towers (which is as high as you can go) was a bit disappointing. I’ll have a few shots of that later.
First, some amazing graffiti that I saw near a train station.
Petaling Street market is not just a place for hawkers to rip off tourists with a plethora of fake handbags. It’s also a place for locals to socialize.
Back to the towers. My ticket was for the last available time, 6:30pm. While waiting I checked out the displays in the lobby. I love the warning about lightning (when they explain that you are much safer inside a metal tower / Faraday cage).
Never be the tallest, nor the wettest when lightning is about as you will be the path of least resistance for the electricity of lightning current to be discharged over your surface. This will not be good for you.
I also saw someone making a handheld-cam video of the Petronas oil company advertising video that we saw prior to boarding the elevator. That cracked me up. Will this ghetto “Seinfeld style” cap of a 5-minute Petronas commercial be out in the street market DVD shops soon, or what?
Here’s the view from the bridge, which is about 1/3 of the way up the buildings at 170 meters.
Trust me on this one: don’t waste your time standing in line at 7:30am. Even if it hadn’t been raining, the view is not that great, and half of what you could otherwise see is blocked by the buildings themselves.
Spend the money to go up KL tower, which (although not as TALL) is actually higher, because it starts on a hill. Plus the viewing area is near the top, instead of being just 1/3 of the way up. You get a 360° view… which includes the Petronas towers. The beautiful twin towers are much better seen from a distance, rather than seeing the distance from them!
So. Here I am on a plane headed toward Munich. I can’t even begin to explain how much I learned, and what a valuable experience this was for me on about fourteen different levels. I’ve made a few friends that I still keep in touch with months later. And I can’t wait to go back to many of the great places I’ve touched on in my brief around-the-world adventure!
Rest assured, there will be a lot more blog posts about this trip and others. But I’ll probably revert to my normal format of a couple posts a week, instead of one every day. Have you enjoyed the ride? What do you want to see more of? Please let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best!
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Posted 2 years, 9 months ago at 3:46 pm. 9 comments
I’ve been trying to get a photo of someone working the fields in a straw hat ever since arriving in Cambodia. Finally, on July 23rd as I rode to the airport in a tuk-tuk, I managed it – and even got another motorcycle-family in the foreground. Keep in mind it was cloudy, and I was moving at a good 40 km/h.
I also spotted this youth in a field. The contrast of the dilapidated house in the background with his mp3 player and headphones is great, and the dog is the icing on the cake.
After arriving in KL, I checked out some local (mostly indoor) sights, because I’d left my suntan lotion in a luggage locker. Oh, plus it was about 35C with high humidity.
Here’s a cool sculpture representing space and time in front of the Malaysian space agency, their equivalent of NASA. A Malaysian has made it into space!
The planetarium was also worth the visit. For 3 RM (about $1 USD) I saw an Omnimax-style movie about the space race that first took Russians into earth orbit, then Americans to the moon. There’s a neat museum attached, with an anti-gravity room. Apparently blue light and a sloping floor are the keys to negating gravitational forces. Grab a blue light and a sledgehammer and try it in your own home!
Only a few days left in my round-the-world trip. I wouldn’t say I’m homesick. However, I am ready to sleep more than two or three nights in the same bed, without having to spend hours a week planning where I’m going next and how to get there. What’s the longest time you’ve traveled?
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Posted 2 years, 9 months ago at 3:32 pm. 4 comments
One thing I’ve noticed while traveling in Asia is that the nicer houses and apartments are very well built. My friends living there (businesspeople, expats, etc) live in solid concrete buildings with nice floors, high-grade appliances, security guards, and swimming pools:
On July 12th I headed from KL to Singapore via bus, so I didn’t take a lot of photos. I’ll leave you with a beautiful view over city buildings, framed by distant mountains.
Tomorrow, the bustling center of Singapore!
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Posted 2 years, 10 months ago at 3:05 pm. Add a comment
I’m sure there are more things to do in Penang, but we had our eyes on the local delicacies! Before heading back to Kuala Lumpur on July 11th, we stopped at a food fair and feasted on what the vendors had to offer. Laksa, Hokkien noodles (very spicy), satay sticks…
Here’s the spread at our table. On the far right you can see (if I remember correctly) chrysanthemum juice.
On the way out of town we stopped at Ghee Hiang, a gourmet shop that sells buns, cakes, white coffee, sesame oil, that kind of thing. The buns are awesome, but the signage is even better. I couldn’t resist…
I’m not kidding when I say all we did was eat. Here was our delicious pork-soup-stew dinner, called Bah Kut Teh (thanks, JK!).
Alright, I promise, no pictures of food tomorrow – haha!
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Posted 2 years, 10 months ago at 3:28 am. 2 comments
On the morning of July 10th, we took in this great view of Penang from the lighthouse at Fort Cornwallis (an old British fort).
Here’s a taste of the local cuisine. Laksa is a noodle dish mixed with some greens and fish paste, with a dose of chilis on top. This small outdoor restaurant is renowned as the best place in Penang to eat this regional specialty! Man, was it good. If you’re a chilihead, ask for it extra spicy.
After lunch we headed to Kek Lok Si – the Temple of Supreme Bliss! This is crowned by the majestic Ban Po Thar, or Ten Thousand Buddhas Tower.
There’s a great view of the temple complex (and the city of Penang) from the top of the tower, if you don’t mind six or seven flights of winding stairs.
Definitely a lot of Buddhas (and their related statuary) in this place!
For dinner, we went to a nice seafood market restaurant in Penang. My hosts chose some interesting dishes. The barbecued stingray was really tasty:
And the female horseshoe crab, well, let’s just say it’s an acquired taste. Definitely worth trying once, for those with a sense of culinary adventure!
What’s the strangest seafood you’ve ever eaten? Leave a comment and share your crazy food stories!
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Posted 2 years, 10 months ago at 3:01 pm. Add a comment
While on my business travels to Malaysia, I occasionally had a chance to get to Kuala Lumpur, or just “KL” as the locals say. My last trip there was short, but I did get to see quite a bit. Here are a few select photos of some attractions in Kuala Lumpur (from the days before I got my D90…).
One place you have to see is the Petronas Twin Towers, once the tallest buildings in the world (surpassed by Taipei 101). There’s a huge mall on the bottom floors called KLCC, which I suppose is great if you want (ahem) non-fake goods. I must admit, I’ve actually never been up it! The Renaissance Hotel has a good view of the towers from its upper levels. As I remember I got a free upgrade to club level…
The Petronas Twin Towers from the Renaissance Hotel
For cheap wallets, handbags, clothes, etc… check out Petaling Street, another must-see attraction. Be sure to haggle with the sellers to get the best price. My advice is to walk away at least once or twice during any transaction. If they call you back to give you a lower price, keep going. If they don’t call you back, then chances are you’ve come close to their real “best price.” Come back 10 minutes later and say you’ve changed your mind. Of course, if you can take a local with you (as I did) you’ll get better prices than what any Caucasian tourist could achieve.
The KL Tower is a famous monument with a great view. I believe its peak is actually above that of the Twin Towers because it starts on a hill (although the structure itself is shorter). The rotating restaurant at the top runs about €30, rather pricey considering the average-quality buffet food. But the view is fantastic, so I recommend trying it if the weather’s clear and you have cash to spare (I was lucky to be invited). Just don’t get your hopes up about the food quality; I thought it was decent but have seen some really BAD reviews.
The tower is also the annual home of legal B.A.S.E. jumps as part of an organized series around Malaysia!
KL Tower at night, home of a rotating restaurant
Batu Caves is a limestone formation with multiple large caves. One holds several Hindu shrines, while others contain statues, art, and animals in a small zoo.
Statue of Murugan next to the 272 steps to Temple Cave
The interior of Temple Cave is impressive, if you can handle 272 steps to get there. One area of Temple Cave is open to the sky.
Inside the Temple Cave: the far chamber is open to the sky
There are also lots of monkeys. This young one liked to play with visitors, and also drank soda through a straw… nice! Just be careful not to get bitten, as the monkeys are protective of their territory.
Macaque monkey at Batu Caves
There’s a lot more to see in KL. But I’ll let you search out a few more Kuala Lumpur destinations on Wikipedia or at the Malaysian government’s tourism site.
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- Petronas Twin Towers .gov.my site: they are visible from almost anywhere in the city. There is a limited quantity of passes for visiting the bridge; you have to wake up early in the morning to get one.
- Batu Caves (Wikipedia): Admission was not expensive (though I can’t recall exactly; 5-10 euro I believe). Here’s a Google map to Batu Caves.
- KL Tower .gov.my site: also visible from almost anywhere in the city. Go during the day for the best view of KL, and at night for a lit-up view and buffet food.
- Petaling Street (Google maps): Also known as the “night market.” Please, do be careful of pickpockets; they are everywhere. Have some fresh fruit (lychees or the infamous, smelly durian) or Chinese food while you browse and haggle.
- Advice to avoid pickpockets: Keep your wallet in a zipped pocket (or better yet, leave it in the hotel safe). Hold any cash you plan to spend in a separate zipped pocket so you never have to take out your wallet. Be watchful of any purses or backpacks (thieves slice the straps, then grab & run). Especially true on Petaling street! I usually keep my wallet in a front pocket in KL, or zipped in my front vest pocket, and never had a problem.
- If you need a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, I can recommend the Renaissance, though any good hotels website could probably find a cheap deal for you.
Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 12:00 pm. 1 comment
In my travels for work, I met a lot of fantastic people in Malaysia. The city of Malacca (Melaka, in Malay) has a small but interesting historical downtown. Since I’ve eaten in a LOT of restaurants in Malacca, I’ll focus this post on food! Mmm. I’ve actually had a seven-course meal in Malacca including shark fin soup (thanks to a vendor), but these seven courses are from various experiences I had on a later trip there. Once on my own, I avoided the shark fin soup, as harvesting its main ingredient is devastating to shark populations.
Tiger is the national beer of Malaysia. It’s everywhere, and is pretty tasty. Not as watery as the mass-market American beers, but not heavy either. Trust me, it’s easy to drink a lot of it.
Tiger - the Beer of Malaysia!
Nyonya Top Hats, in a restaurant right near the Rennaisance Melaka hotel. Nyonya is a local cuisine mixed between Chinese and Malay cooking, and is quite spicy. See the chilies on each top hat, and the bowl of chili sauce? Mu-hahaha.
Nyonya Top Hats
My friend Chris ordered a soup. It came in a teapot and had no bowl or spoon. We were so busy laughing about this photo that I forget what, err, utensils/china eventually came to use for eating it.
Tea or soup?
I just had to throw this in here. Now, the people I worked with spoke very good English… but some of the other locals did not. Or, it was some kind of mixture that I just could not understand. If anyone can figure out what this shirt is trying to say, please make a guess in the comments section. Is she complaining that her unrequited lover has just been fired from his job!?
Consumate Love - the unp souniy staro of to me. You Fire The Man J m Hailing For
I highly recommend sushi in Malacca. It’s not that the quality is amazing; it’s just average. But the price is amazing. Compared to what you would pay for sushi in the US or in Europe, it’s very cheap. For 8 to 10 euro you get a tasty sushi meal which would cost you 30-40 euro in Munich.
I can highly recommend eating at the Portuguese Settlement. Very interesting history here: the Portuguese controlled Malaysia for some time in the 16th-17th centuries, and a small mixed-Portuguese culture still exists there today. At the restaurant: there’s a huge variety of dishes, the outdoor atmosphere is great, the Tiger beer is cold, and the seafood is excellent. (Yes, it’s a rare candid appearance of the author himself…)
Dinner at the Portuguese Settlement
If you are lucky, it won’t rain like this. Apparently such a hard rain is not uncommon in Malaysia. I guess the drainage can’t handle it, so the streets quickly fill up with road soup. Actually, this photo is on the way home from a very tasty Indian dinner.
Typical Malaysian rainstorm
The food all over Malaysia is excellent and very cheap. Indian, Chinese, Nyonya, Japanese… I recommend any of the Asian varieties. All the seafood, and especially Chili Crab, is very good. You can also find frogs in the Temple restaurant near the Renaissance Hotel. For dessert you can often find shaved ice with various sweet beans, jellies, and syrups. Beware of chicken, as it’s almost never boneless (just be prepared to eat around chunks of bone). Get used to spoon and fork as your utensils, or try chopsticks.
There’s so much more I could say about Malaysian cuisine… but I’ll just let you visit and find out for yourself! I’ll have a few more articles about Singapore and Malaysia coming up soon, so sign up by email or RSS (orange links on the left sidebar) to be notified about those.
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- Okay, there’s not much here specific to any particular restaurant. But I do have the stats for the Portuguese Settlement. Wikipedia article is here and Google maps link is here (see “Portuguese Square” area with parking lot next to it). You can also see it in Wikimapia.
- Driving in Malaysia is normally not recommended for foreigners who are just visiting for a short stay, unless you’re an expert driving in some high-recklessness society already (China, anyone?). I’d take a taxi, as they are anyway quite cheap compared to the west. Most likely there’s also a bus line, though I’m not familiar with the buses.
Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 8:43 pm. Add a comment