Singapore Sling


Malacca was for sure our best stop in Malaysia. On our free day we roamed the winding narrow streets and explored the shops. We sampled the famous chicken rice balls, which were basically rice that had been cooked in chicken stock made into a ball. They were pretty good not that great though. We tried the Chendol, which is a shaved ice treat topped with molasses, i thought it was gross. We also visited the Baba Nyonya Heratige Museum which explores the marriages of the native Malay women and the Chinese business traders that immigrated to Malacca. It was in an original Baba Nyonya home of the Chang family who were spice traders. It was beautiful and it was amazing that the intricately carved teak staircase was built with no nails because the Chinese believe nails should only be used in coffins. They also said that when they were married the bride and groom would meet each other for the first time (arranged marriages back then) and they would drink sweet tea, to have sweetness in life and eat sticky food, to stick together. Then later the group enjoyed the night market and dinner together.

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We left the hotel at 6AM for Singapore yesterday and it was quite the interesting journey, at least for me anyway. We drove about three hours to the border and went through the exit point of Malaysia then reboarded the bus to drive over the straits of Mealacca and enter Singapore. We arrived at the border of Singapore to go through customs, being sure not to have any illegal contraband. including chewing gum, we had a gum chewing party while we packed the night before to use it all up before crossing the border. I get up to the customs agent and hand over my passport. It won’t scan. He tries and retries. He tries at the neighboring agent’s desk, no luck. The rest of the group has already gone through and is waiting at the bus and they shuffle me off to the sixth floor to a waiting room with several other people. I watch as the agents behind the desk scrutinize passports and one by one call people into the back like a doctors office only to release them and not let them leave yet. I ask the Indian guy next me how long he has been waiting there, he says 30 minutes. I have no way of contacting anyone from the group and I had already been briefed that the bus would leave after 20 minutes. They finally call me into the back for questioning. They ask me all sorts of questions, how much cash do you have with you (random small amounts of several currencies and no Singapore dollars), how long will you stay in Singapore (one day), do you often travel from country to country (once in college), Have you ever been to Singapore before (no), where do you travel next (Lombock, Indonesia). In my head I’m thinking this story sounds more and more like a drug smuggler the more I tell it. They finally decide that I am not a threat and allow me to take my passport and enter the country, after about 40 minutes. I find Anik waiting for me on the other side and we take the next bus into the city. The others went a head on the first bus. Turns out that since my passport was issued in 2005 it is the old version and does not scan in their scanners, however it is completely valid so I’m not sure why that should matter.

Finally Anik and I arrived at the hotel and relaxed for a minute before we went to lunch at a nearby food court. I had chickens feet with noodles which I was happy about because its only the second time I’ve seen them on a menu since I’ve been in Asia and the first time they were fried and were not as good as the black bean sauce kind. Later we waled around the city and it is for sure a modern westernized city. Also the first city in Asia where they actually follow traffic laws! Lots of impressive modern architecture and shopping malls everywhere. We even enjoyed a cocktail on the rooftop of the boat building, it had great views. We also sipped Singapore Slings at the famous Raffels Hotel, where apparently Hemingway used to do the same.

We also said goodbye to all of our trip mates, which was sad. They have all been so great and I will miss them all. I’m sure we will stay in touch via Facebook and hopefully share all of our photos. The one thing that I think I will miss out on the most by skipping my next tour is the people. I will meet plenty of others though I’m sure.

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Melaka, Malay, Malaysia


We arrived in Malaysia about four day ago after a pretty long travel day crossing the border. It was a bout 12 hour journey which seemed worse since we were extremely hungover from our last night in Thailand. Had an amazing day out on our private longtail boat made some new friends who joined our boat and we met them later for drinks at the Chang Bar behind Burger King. Our boat driver suggested this are and it was tons on fun.

We arrived in Penang and we were there for two days. We had some Chinese street food and indian food in little india. Little india was the coolest spot there. I imagine it is much like india and I would love to go there. However I’m not that crazy about indian food but I guess I just don’t know very much about it. Our hotel there was quite dirty but free breakfast and they had a pool.

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Another 5 hour drive on a super awesome bus we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. It was clean, good A/C, and super comfy seats. It was quite comfortable. Once we arrived we checked in to our hotel quite clean, It had weird plugs though the we had to rig to fit out adaptors and the hot water only lasted about 1 minute. The coolest thing we say in KL was for sure the National Mosque. We even had to put on robes to cover ourselves. Our guide there was so nice and he spoke to us about several very interesting and unexpected aspects of Islam. I wish we would have had more time there. I would have also liked to see the mosque when 15,000 people come to pray on Fridays. We also got to go out on wednesday night, which is apparently ladies night in the whole city, free margaritas for all! It was good fun.

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This afternoon we arrived in Melaka after a two hour bus ride. It is a really neat little place, by far my favorite city in Malaysia that we have visited on this trip. The city occupied at one time or another by the Portuguese, Dutch and British so a lot of history and mixing of cultures. On one single street in the center of town there is a Tao Temple, a Buddhist temple, a Catholic Church, a Hindu temple and a mosque.

We have a free day tomorrow and following that we arrive in Singapore. I defiantly prefer Thailand to Malaysia. It was prettier, the people were friendly and it was dirt cheap. Malaysia is much more expensive. Everything costs the same or more than it does at home. I’m also assuming that Singapore will be the same. Singapore will be the last day of the tour. It has been so great I am so happy with intrepid and I would definitely travel with intrepid again. Our leader, Anik, has been amazing! He is so nice and very helpful. He really does his best to make sure everyone of his travelers get the experience they are looking for from their trip. I think it has also been great that tour is pretty flexible.

My original plan was to go on form Singapore to another intrepid trip Jakarta to Ubud. However I have decided to ditch the trip and go it alone over there for two weeks. Samantha and I booked flights today to go to Lombok and we will travel at our leisure from there to the Gilli Islands and then to Bali. I was not able to switch my tour but and its not that I don’t want to do the tour because like I said I think intrepid has been great but I want to push my limits a bit more and figure things out on my own rather than rely on the tour. I am so excited for it and it weird to be excited about a vacation while your on vacation!

Easy Like a Bannna….


Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days but the WiFi has been a bit spotty in our last few stops. There is so much to catch up on the elephants, Kaho Sak, the home stay and the Phi Phi Islands (pronounced Pee Pee). On top of that tons of different and exotic fruits and tasty treats like fried chiken’s feet from the street side market next to 7Eleven. Quite tasty. We are now in the province of Krabi and we have private charter longtail for the day tomorrow to go to beaches and all but apparently fishing is not on the itinerary unless we want to pay a lot more and have no say in what we are doing. I have soo many great pictures that I am trying to post but it does not seem to be working.

So let me fill you in. The next day after the elephant encounter we went to the lake at Khao Sok national park. It is a man made lake that feed

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20130817-075826.jpgs a hydro electric dam. It was incredible with the aqua blue water and the dramatic limestone cliffs. We drove around the lake in a longtail boat with our awesome local guide, Bandit. After a scenic drive along around the lake we got off to hink through the jungle to a cave. It was quite hot and humid especially wearing a life jacket. We did see some cool stuff like taranchala holes! It was also really muddy and I totally slipped and fell on my ass and got mud all over me. When we arrived on the other side we hopped on a bamboo raft and motored over the cave. It was the coolest raft ever! After the cave we headed over to a floating resort for lunch and a swim which was much needed after the sweaty trek in the jungle. The water was amazing and we had a blast jumping off this huge log in the water.

The next morning we went tubing down the river by our resort. It is a pretty fast moving river with some rapids. It was pretty cool and it was hilarious no safty features at all. They asked us if we could swim before we left the river bed and that was about it lol!! After that we packed up and drove about two and a half hours to Thao Nathai where we did a home stay. Our host his wife and their two sons were very nice and showed us a lot of neat stuff in the village. They were muslim so we had to keep out shoulders arms and legs covered. The houses were very cute. There was even one that was for rent, only THB 8,000 per month! The village is only about 10 minutes from the beach and that is only like 265 USD per month! I so want to move there!!

The houses are all raised apparently because of the heat and they like the aesthetic. Most have no windows and no furniture. We saw several different fruit farms as well as a fighting bull (apparently bull fighting is big in southern Thailand for gambling). We also got to see how you tap a rubber tree plant! After we got back to the house we had a cooking demonstration. They made three different wok fried dishes. As well as Tom Yum soup. It was all delicious! In the morning we had breakfast and they brought us Thai doughnuts that had a green coconut dipping sauce, OMG they were so friggin good I must have had five of them.

After a ten minute drive we arrived in Ao Nang where our beach hotel is located. From here we hopped on a bus down to the beach and boarded our speed boat that took us around sightseeing snorkeling and beach going for the day. Nikki was our island guide and he was super cool. We even went to the beach from “The Beach.” We were a bit rushed at times since we were seeing so much in one day but it was awesome anyway. We went to Phi Phi Le and Phi Phi Dong. Monkey Beach and Bamboo Island. Today I think we will go to some closer islands to hang out on the beach.

Today is our last day in Thailand 😦 I am so not ready to leave. It has been so amazing! Tomorrow we have a 10 hour drive to our first stop in Malaysia, Penang and Georgetown. The currency exchange is not as good there so not looking forward the that either.

I haven’t been able to upload all the photos here but I will try again later to add more.

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Overnight Train and Khaosak


The overnight train was a lot of fun. Spent the night in the dinner car drinking beers and getting to know my trip mates. We did have a bit of drama with the bill. These Austrian dudes we were sitting with apparently didn’t pay for all their beers and they wanted us to pay 1200 THB. We paid for ours but they were still arguing with the other dudes in the morning. As it turns out they were in our sleeper car and they are also at the same hotel as us now! Once we arrived at our train station we had breakfast and were a met a cute pit bull puppy. Then we took a two hour drive to the hotel and Khaosok national park in the back of a pick up truck. The guesthouse is in the jungle and we have little hunts with screened windows. Quite cute! Then yesterday afternoon we bathed an elephant! It was fun we got to get so close to him. He was a 40 year old male names Sonmoon, (I have no idea how to spell that). Pictures to come of that, I was not able to get wifi yesterday evening. Today we are going to the national park to check out some caves and swim in the lake.

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Wat, Wat and more Wat


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Today was our fist day with the group , they are all very nice but older crowd than I expected. We did a longtail boat ride and toured Wat Pho with the giant reclined Buddah. It was very pretty but ridiculously hot! After we roamed the streets a bit and found a cool little market and i got some spicy sauces to bring home. They even gave us free dessert for some reason, which was cold sweet soy milk with green noodles in it. It was actually pretty good but I just had a taste since there was ice in it and was worried about the water. After we took the ferry across the river to another Wat, I don”t remember the name of it. Theres so many Wats!! Anyway there we found these ladies who dress you up to take the photos with the Thai garb on which was awesome!

We leave Bangkok tonight, we are taking the overnight train to Khao Sak National Park. A little sad to leave Bangkok but I think we got a lot in for a short time. Heres to hoping the next spot is just as much fun!!

BANGKOK DAY 1


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Day 1 in Bangkok has been great. It is amazingly easy to get around. Would have never thought you could come here and get by on your own with out a tour but you totally could. People were stopping us on the streets and writing down list of all the places to see and then hopped us right in to a TukTuk to drive us around for the day. 20THB for taking us to five different places and waiting for us at each one which is like less than $1. Although they did have to take us to a few tailor shops which I think is how they make their money because the shops pay them to take tourists there.
We even wandered into some type of event or ceremony with all these monks everywhere and someone speaking Thai over load speakers. It could have something to do with it being the Queen’s birthday today, not quite sure though.

Nightlife so far is interesting. We wandered the streets last night for a bit and came across a huge street party. There was literally just an old lady selling beers and a dude with a speaker playing music and people are all just dancing in the street. An active street mind you. Cars driving through the dance floor! Good times for sure. We will see what is going on tonight after we meet the rest of the group.

Hurry Up and Wait


Airport #1 Ft Lauderdale

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Airport #2 Chicago

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Three more hours to go until I board the long flight to Hong Kong. Already seeing the Asian culture at the Cathay Pacific counter waiting for my boarding passes. Gaggles of pretty little stewardesses strolling by in impeccable powder blue suits with funny collars and pointy hats. Reminds me of the scene from Catch Me If You Can!

Also hoping I won’t have to check a bag, but their signage seems to limit to ONE carry on we shall see.

To be continued….

The long flight was, well long. Cathay Pacific though was awesome. Great service, decent food and loads of free entertainment. They even have a nifty sky cam that shows the front of the plane!

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Airport #3 Hong Kong

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And finally airport #4 Bangkok

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Last Days


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Ember and I have been enjoying our last days on the rock before we head to the mainland for my flight early Friday morning. I’m nervous and excited at the same time. I don’t think there is anything else I can do to prepare for my trip and now I just can’t wait! I’m also hoping that monsoon season over there won’t be too rainy. I’m thinking it will be much like South Florida or Costa Rica in rainy season where there are sporadic heavy downpours but mostly sunny, (accept of course when I have friends from else where visit, then it rains for days). Anyway, only two days until my journey begins and the wait is so short now that it seems long, if that makes any sense.

How Well Do You Know The World?


I know this probably makes me a huge dork, but this is a game I like to play when I’m bored. The geography quizzes from sporacle! My goal is to be able to name every country in the world in 15 minutes. Haven’t mastered it yet but still working on it. They even have an app now so you can play on the go but it is more challenging on the ipad or iphone because there is no map image to help you out. Check it out and test your knowledge!!!

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(I can’t believe I missed Singapore!! I’m a little rusty as you can see. I didn’t miss Azerbaijan, I can just never remember how to spell it!!!!)

What is Your Favorite Travel movie?


The big day is getting closer and closer! So to tame my impatient spirit I will be watching all of my favorite travel movies and TV Shows.

One of my all time favorites for Thailand is of course, Brokedown Palace. Although it is not really happy go lucky or an experience I would want to have in Thailand, I still love it.

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The movie that has almost the same theme as my upcoming trip is Eat, Pray, Love. I know it is throughly overplayed and pop culture to the max, but it gets me every time. For three reasons; I love Italy, I’m dying to plan a trip to India and last Bali will be included on my next trip. OK, four reasons in the end she does kind of figure out what she wants.

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I suppose I have to include The Beach in this list since I am going to Thailand, but I wouldn’t call it one of my favorites. Maybe I just need to watch it again to be sure.

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An oldie but a goodie, Under The Tuscan Sun. Every time I watch it I want to sell everything and move to Italy.

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One movie that I think is a great travel story is, Bunny and The Bull. Its strange by most standards, but from the creators of one of my favorite British television shows, The Mighty Boosh. Visually it is extremely creative and the story is good too.

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This movie is an indie and different from other movies on the list because involves business travel. However I love this movie and every time I get in the mood to book a trip to India I put on Outsourced.

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On my not so favorites list would most definitely be, The Impossible. I decided to watch this movie right after I booked my trip, bad idea. It was terrifying. I have to say that, yes it is a good movie but also horrifying. Sure, I have a travelers insurance policy, but American Express has got nothin’ on that. Here’s to hoping for no Tsunamis or other devastating natural disasters!

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I love to eat and I also like to consider myself an adventurous eater. So needless to say another favorite is Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. He travels to some of the coolest and most remote places in the world and really gets to the true local cuisine. I have to say I probably wouldn’t try all of the things he does but always a good watch. Its also great because there are several episodes in almost all of the countries I will be visiting on this trip.

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Another favorite of mine in the TV category if for sure is Locked Up Abroad. Again, not happy go lucky but always sucks me in for more. I can’t get enough.

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What are your favorite travel movies and TV shows? Anyone have some gems I am missing out on?