Aug 19, 2016
It’s nighttime when I arrive in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I’m rested enough from my previous time laying out on the beach of Ko Phi Phi so I decide to check out what Kuala Lumpur has to offer at night.
My hotel is in the Bukit Bintang section of Kuala Lumpur. It’s a good location for restaurants and seeing the sights. I decide to stroll out to the Petronas Towers. They are an iconic pair of buildings.
They look incredible up close. Especially at night. The have great lighting and a great presence. They are at home in the night. Walking under and around them provides for some beautiful angles to view them. They make me think of the Twin Towers. Growing up in New Jersey, I miss those buildings dearly. I guess their spirit lives on in buildings such as the Petronas Towers, but their absence from the New York skyline is always sad. It’s weird that some day younger people won’t really understand what the Twin Towers meant to a lot of people. Eventually they will be lost completely to time, like any of the great engineering marvels that have come and gone.
After seeing the towers I stroll back to the area by the hotel. There are lots of options for food. I end up sampling several varieties of street food. In Malaysia, like many parts of Southeast Asia, you have access to some amazing food that you do not have access to back home. Dinner comes from three different places, or four really. Some chicken and beef on a stick to start things off. Four pieces for the equivalent of one US dollar.
I then end up finding two guys making noodles in an alley. It’s a busy spot. I hold up one finger and ask for one. He says there are a lot of different things I can get, which to me is amazing. The space is small. A wok, a fryer, and an assortment of a couple bowls and buckets. I see some thicker noodles coming off of the wok and say one of those.
Eventually after about twenty to thirty minutes of waiting I get my noodles to go. It ends up being like the best shrimp lo mein ever. While waiting for it I saw the guys making bowls of soup, cream based dishes, all sorts of crispy and different sized noodles. It’s a magical little stand that is pumping out plate after plate and bowl after bowl of food. The chef is honestly brilliant. He carefully portions everything out. He tastes every dish. He cares only to make delicious food and his passion is appreciated. One of the locals makes a joke (although I’m pretty sure he’s serious) about not posting pictures or the location to facebook. He doesn’t want there to be a long line for when he gets noodles. I don’t blame him. My plate of goodness ends up costing about $1.70 US dollar.
As I’m leaving I realize I don’t have any way of eating these noodles. I guess they assume if you’re asking to go that you have your own utensils. I decide to stop in a convenient store but they don’t have any forks or chop sticks. I end up buying a stout here. It’s one of the few drinks I’ve had during this trip. Maybe it’s the pace of the trip, maybe it’s me growing up, maybe it’s me finding a complete peace and happiness in my life, but I don’t care to drink. Sure craft beers will always hold a place in my heart, but I haven’t really been to a single club or bar while I’ve been out here. I’ve been too busy seeing the sights, enjoying the time to myself, and being content with the fact that I am doing the number one thing that I want to be doing with my life at the moment. I feel like when you are doing with your life the thing that you most want to do more than anything, then you will be at peace.
That’s great and all, but I still need a way to eat these noodles. I stop back at the hotel and ask for a fork or chop sticks. He tells me to try the Indian place next door. In doing so I order a fried cake and a fried pastry with filling for about a dollar. The guy puts them in a bag and I ask him for a fork which he gives to me.
I end up bringing this all back to my hotel room and have myself a beautiful little dinner and a reasonable stout. It’s Friday night. I’m completely alone. And I couldn’t be happier.
Eventually I end up sliding off to sleep.
Aug 20, 2016
The day brings a new sense of adventure. Having seen some of the sites and enjoyed some of the tastes at night, I’m off for something a bit more enriching.
But first I need to fuel back up. One thing I love about traveling out here is the different choices that are available for you to eat and drink at the convenient stores. 7-11, and it’s many knockoffs, are ultra popular. These stores have some options you won’t find back home. It’s nice to enjoy these little differences. Sure it’s not the biggest deal in the world, but finding joy in these little things always makes the trip better. I present to you Kickapoo Joy Juice and some sort of drink made by Umbro. Yes, these are real things, and they’re pretty delicious.
The plan for today is to see some art. I’ve been craving a trip to a museum and I have a bit of time today. There’s an Islamic Art Museum that I figure is fitting for the area. As I progress along my trip the religion swings from mostly Buddhist to include some Muslim. I know Islamic art features a lot of geometric patterns so hopefully there will be some cool stuff to discover here. Stuff like this ceiling is what I anticipate seeing here.
There are a couple pieces that I think are beautiful. Here’s a pen case that features some incredibly fine detail. It’s just a bird and flowers. I’m not certain I would be able to tell the origin of this piece if you put it in front of me and asked me to identify it.
There is also some beautiful mother of pearl pieces here. I love this scroll holder. It’s beautiful how the mother of pearl has been cut to make a cylindrical and smooth piece.
I don’t really know why I was hoping for over the top pieces of contemporary or modern art, but there’s none of that here. It’s a lot of Qurans and some more historical pieces.
I eventually leave the museum and head back towards the hotel looking for some food. I end up finding a busy Indian buffet. Although the restaurant promises you can find Pakistani, Malaysian, and foods of several other countries here. I end up with a delicious piece of naan, some chicken tikka, and about four different rices and curries. It’s a beautiful plate of food that bests even the stuff coming out of Edison, New Jersey.
I slowly continue making my way back to the hotel. First I want to grab a massage. My body has been pretty beat from the constant travel and carrying all of this weight for so long. I find a Thai massage place and end up choosing a full body oil massage for an hour. The cost is about $17 US. The time passes quickly. I think I might end up falling asleep for a bit. At the end of it I’m left feeling relaxed and ready to get back on the road.
The time comes to swing out to the airport. I’m departing Kuala Lumpur at 8:50 PM to get to Singapore 9:50 PM.
The flight goes well and I think about trying to swing out to see Singapore at night like I did with Kuala Lumpur the night before. I decide to pass on the late night stroll and end up getting some extra sleep so that I can head out to check out the city the following day.
Aug 21, 2016
The plan for Singapore is to stroll about the city. I’m still craving some art so I decide to check out Singapore Art Museum of contemporary art. It features pieces of artists local to the region. It’s a museum that you can comfortably get through in a short period of time, but it has some stuff that I’ve been looking for.
This massive lit up dress almost looks like snowflakes or raindrops are falling onto it. It reminds me of the movie Frozen a bit. It’s a cool piece that has a magical feel to it.
The museum also has canvases on the walls that would probably infuriate most people. “That’s not art. I could do that.” I’m a big fan of colors and textures and these two pieces have both of that. I’m actually a big fan of these two pieces. The colors are reasonable to great and the texture from using a textile instead of paint on canvas is excellent.
This next piece is one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever seen before. It’s a bunch of flowers that open and close. The movement of the opening and closing is very natural and beautiful. It definitely has a feel like something that you would be able to find in nature. It makes sense because the artist was inspired by barnacles. He thought the movement and life of barnacles was interesting that each individual barnacle is its own thing, but they take cues from surrounding barnacles as to how to operate. These flowers I think are not programmed directly to open and close. Rather they take cues based on the movement and light of the other individual flowers around them as to when to open and close. The piece is a perfect combination of technology and art. It is so natural and magical. I probably could have watched this piece for a long time.
And a different angle showing the flowers in various stages of being open. This piece makes me want to strive to create beautiful combinations of hardware and software should my path lead me in that direction. Hopefully to make things that people view as natural, magical, and realistic.
Another piece I thought was cool was this set of four screens that showed these four interconnected scenes. The second scene is a girl listening to a music box. I think the fourth scene is the girl grown up and married. She’s sitting in a bathtub relaxing while her husband does something on the computer. The first scene is her and her husband. She’s boringly washing dishes and he’s absent-mindedly turning something over in his hands. The third scene is her hunched over sewing a dress. Her husband is fat and loudly munching on chips. All throughout this piece all of the sounds of the scenes are mixed together. To me the music box and the potato chip crunching stick out. When the girl closes the box, the music stops. Everyone looks up unaware of what has happened. The little girl then reopens the box and everything resumes as normal. It’s a weird piece. I’m not too certain what the meaning is, but the takeaway I got is the little girl wishes for prince charming and happy ever after and she got it.
Ok, enough art for the moment. I may get back to it at some point on the trip. But for the moment I’m in need of some food. I skipped breakfast so that I could grab some food from one of the popular hawker markets. This one was near Chinatown so it featured a lot of Chinese food. The stalls look a lot like this.
I grabbed some fried wontons, which were delicious, but my main goal for today was chili crab. It’s a crab cooked with some gorgeous ingredients. If you’re in Singapore then you have to get chili crab. You have to do it. If you’ve never had it before but want to try it I will fly out with you for the meal and return home afterwards. A good bowl of chili crab is heavenly delicious. I think this will end up being my favorite meal of the trip. It is phenomenal.
After lunch it’s time to head out to check out some of the touristy sights. I stop by the gardens. There’s some pretty cool stuff here.
As I stroll about Marina Bay I make sure to grab a selfie.
Here’s a pano of the bay.
And a black and white of the boat building thing. It actually doesn’t look all that bad in real life. For some reason is gets unflattering angles in pictures that I’ve seen.
As I stroll back to the hotel I walk past the buildings that look like durians. If you’ve never heard of a durian they smell so bad that they are banned from many hotels. They are a fruit that apparently taste like a mix of gasoline and cantaloupe. I’ve haven’t had one and I don’t plan too. But they are everywhere in Southeast Asia. For the moment I’m team “No Durians” as the signs say in every hotel I’ve been in and out of.
The hotel lets me shower up before I hit the road which is clutch. A decent amount of hotels I’ve been to let you shower after you check out and see the city. It’s a big help that really helps make your flights a ton more comfortable.
The flight departs Singapore 9:05 PM and arrives in Bali 11:45 PM. I clear customs and taxi out to the hotel for a night of sleep. The beach will wait until tomorrow.
Aug 22, 2016
I wake up and get to planning. I had originally planned to see Komodo but pass on that to book a flight into Melbourne, Australia. Cars seem like they’ll be expensive with gas and parking so the plan at the moment is to continue checking out Australia like I’ve been checking Southeast Asia.
But before I switch continents I have a lot of relaxing to do. I leave the hotel and head to the beach. I’m not aware of it yet, but it’s a magical beach. On first appearance Bali looks great. I’m in Seminyak because it’s a popular area and has a mix of things to see and do. There’s a nice beach, which is mostly why I came here. I wanted to get lost in what I heard was the allure of the island and just completely relax. First another cup of coffee with a nice beach backdrop.
Over time I do get lost in Bali’s allure. I stroll the beach for a long while.
The crowd here is pretty chill. There are a lot of younger tourists. Some couples. Some groups. A couple families. This is definitely vacationland for a lot of people that are visiting. You lay out on the beach. Head into the water. Do some surfing. Grab food and drink on the beach at a restaurant or resort.
Apparently the sunsets here are beautiful. I mean they usually are everywhere but I’m happy to check one out. I’ve been laying out on a bench that some local set out. He kind of swindles me telling me he saw me sleeping on it for a half hour and demands I pay him about $4 US dollar. He’ll let me watch the sunset from here for another $4. I tell him I’m in for the full $8. “Nothing’s free in Bali any more bro,” the half-surfer, half-swindler says. “No worries,” I think. I pay about the same back in Asbury. And that doesn’t come with this really comfortable bed you’re providing me.
And here’s a shot of me looking at it. Just in case you people were wondering if I was watching the sunset. This is a good picture for overproducing and putting a quote over it. Like “For every sun that sets, there will be a new day in the morning,” or something else equally brutal.
I love this next picture. For me it’s one of my favorite I’ve ever taken I think. I need time away from this picture actually and then I need to spend a lot of time with the photoshop to perfect. But pictures like this are beautiful to me. I love lots of silhouetted human forms. For some reason I was blessed with an angel in the center of it all. Bonus points for the dog on the left as well.
And another sunset shot. I don’t know why us humans love these things so much, but they are pretty. Maybe it has to do with the relaxing and the fact that all you have to do is just sit and wait and enjoy. Grab some beautiful person’s hand and have a make out session if you’re lucky enough. Can’t really beat sunsets I suppose.
After sunset, turn around and listen to some acoustic music while grabbing a beach cocktail and maybe a bite to eat. Do this until it gets dark. Then if you’re feeling up to it head out to a club, drink, dance, find someone to make love to. Wake up tomorrow and repeat.
Bali certainly is an enchanting place and I see why people rate it so high. It’s I think the place I most felt a bit sad leaving. You can definitely spend some time here, maybe only a couple more days of this, maybe a year or a lifetime, and be sad when you leave it behind.
So that’s about it. I’m about to hop on an airport to leave Southeast Asia behind for the time being. It has been an amazing trip and I couldn’t have been happier with how it’s went. I’m know heading into the southern hemisphere for the first time in my life. Into Australia for a couple days. It will be my second new continent visited this trip. It will be my sixth country visited in as many days. The travel grind has been real. I’ve been killing it out here and having a blast. After Australia it’s likely into New Zealand and then back around the globe to home.
I hope everyone’s been enjoying those last summer days for me back in Jersey and around the world. Cheers.