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Malaysia

Dave here. Wow, we are in Malaysia! I can't believe it. We have done and seen so much in the past several days. I don't know where to begin. Well first of all I'll say that Pringles Potato Chips just don't taste the same here as they do in America. They are smaller and just don't have that same melt-in-your-mouth salty goodness. I don't know why they just don't call them something else.

Of course we ate the Pringles anyway, picked them up from a 7-11 (yes they have 7-11) because our first dinner experience in Malaysia didn't go so well. First off we couldn't read the menus, and the waiter didn't speak English very well. I had to show him a photo of a beer on my camera to ask if they had any. They didn't. I ordered a chicken dish not really knowing what it was and got one chicken leg on a plate in some red sauce. It was quite tasty yet it didn't fill me up, especially since Lynette and I were sharing. Then we both ordered apple juice thinking that it would be in a bottle. Our guide book suggested not drinking the water or using ice. The apple juice came and without thinking Lynette took a sip and I took a rather healthy chug, it was very delicious homemade juice. Only then did it occur that it had ice in it. The rest of the night I worried that we'd get sick and have diarrhea. Thank goodness we didn't. Later we found that the water here is pretty clean so we have had ice since and eaten vegetables etc. with no problems.

For those curious, here's what the restrooms have to offer here. Haven't figured out yet how to properly use the hose without getting the pants wet.
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Luckily they also have Western style most places. Not sure we will be so lucky when we get to India.
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Our first few days in Malaysia were spent site seeing in the city of Kuala Lumpur. Its amazing to see all the different cultures and religions all combined in the one big city.

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There's large populations of Indians and Chinese in addition to the native Malaysians. So there are countless mosques, Buddhist, and Hindu temples. A few of which we visited. Here are some photos.

This Hindu temple is just on a street corner across from our hotel.
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Here's some others.
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We also took the tour to the viewing bridge of the famous Petrona twin towers in the city. Its a brief free walk along the bridge that connects the two towers. Its always nice to get a view of the city from above. Afterward we went down to the huge mall that is beneath the towers. It's 6 very expansive levels of all the same stores and restaurants you'd find in any American mall and more. We stopped at Chili's for lunch and had some of the best hamburgers ever. Its been a while.

Here's the Sofie Star at the Petrona Towers.
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As we were walking through the mall two young foreign fellas stopped me, maybe in their twenties. They looked to be perhaps of some Asian decent. One of them, who was kind of hip looking and wore rather trendy clothing, could not speak English. The other more ordinary looking guy told me in broken English that his friend was wondering if he could take a photo with me. Not, would I take a photo OF them, but would I be IN the photo WITH him. Of course this sounded very strange to me and my defenses went up. I immediately wondered what scam they were trying to pull and I said "no." But as my guard went down I added "why?" The guy kind of smiled as if he didn't really even know why himself and just said, "My friend here just wants to get a photo with you." I figured, "what the hell and agreed." So he comes over and stands next to me. (I know you are all wondering what's this guy going to pull right?) Now Lynette didn't see any of this go down because she was a few stores back looking at something in a window. She just turns around and sees me standing next to this dude and a guy about to take our photo. As the guy next to me sees Lynette approaching he motions her over too. He must have seen us together earlier and knew we were together. So I said, "Lynette, come over and get in this photo." (Hey if I'm going to be embarrassed somehow I'd rather not do it alone.) So she walks suspiciously over and gets in the shot. We all smile, I of course keep my hands on my wallet and passport pocket, and the guy snaps the shot. They say thank you and walk off. So there's no big catch here, that was it. I thought that was weird enough without any big surprise at the end. I still don't know why the heck they wanted a photo of me. Maybe he just thought it would be cool to have a shot of him with a big white dude for his living room wall or something. Anyway, it provided us with some good laughs for quite a while.

One day we hailed a cab to go to a Buddhist temple we wanted to see. The cab driver could speak absolutely no English. We had a heck of a time trying to figure out how to tell him where we wanted to go. We showed him the guide book with the name of the place and the map, but unfortunately he couldn't READ English either. So what do you do in a situation like that? You end up driving around and getting out somewhere you hadn't intended. He gathered that we were looking for some kind of temple so I guess he just took us to one that he knew. It wasn't the one we'd wanted but it turned out to actually be a great experience. We went into a Temple of Fine Arts and asked a very nice Indian woman where this temple was that we were looking for. She told us that it was about a 10 minute drive away. Then she asked us if we were hungry and wanted to eat there. There was some kind of make shift restaurant along the side of the building. She said it was an Indian style buffet - we could eat as much as we wanted and then just pay whatever we wanted. This sounded like a good deal but very suspicious, (I know we sound like very suspicious people, but you have to be to some extent when you are in such foreign places) and from our vantage point it looked like no one was over there at the tables. If there is no one eating at a place like that you wonder how long the food has been sitting there and if it is okay to eat. But I walked over to get a better look. There were actually several people eating there and they looked like pretty normal local folks. Some of the guys had on a tie like they stopped by for lunch on their work day. So we figured, why not - these are the kind of experiences we are looking for. I asked what the one dish was that looked like chicken. The woman told me that they were totally vegetarian there. It was actually pieces of mango in some kind of gravy. It was really good and ended up being Lynette's favorite. I preferred a really tasty spinach in sauce dish. There were also some bamboo chute looking things in a tomato like sauce. The woman told us to just chew on them to get the flavor that's inside of them and then spit them out. She considered them extremely tasty. I thought they were just okay.

After lunch we went across the street to the Buddhist temple that the cab driver thought we were talking about. We went through the courtyard and into the small temple area, taking off our shoes to enter. After giving a blessing to a woman, the young monk came over to us and asked us where we were from. We ended up having a really nice long conversation with him. He took us over to the neighboring building which had to be unlocked. It was another temple with thousands of little Buddha statues inside. They were displayed on shelves that encircled the room. They were all white and were of varying sizes. Display cases on the walks housed more Buddha statues from a wide range of other countries. The monk talked to us for a while about Buddhism and then afterward asked if we wanted a blessing. We went back to the other temple and sat down on some stools. He handed us a spool of really long yellow string. Lynette held the spool, I held some of the string between my hands, and the monk held the end of the string. Then he began a really long chant in some foreign tongue. When he was finished he tied yellow strings around each of our wrists and sent us on our way. He did not tell us what the strings or the chant meant, but it was a really cool experience.

This is the Buddhist temple
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Here's a shot of the inside and the monk who we spoke with.
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On another night we went to China Town for dinner. We ate at one of the many street-side restaurants where the food was unlike anything we've ever had at Chinese restaurants back home but was really good.
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I liked this guys beard. Hopefully by the end of the year mine will be the same length.
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This guy standing in the middle was staring at us at dinner.
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After dinner we walked through the streets of vendors which seemed to go on forever. It was really crammed and people were hollering at us constantly to come over and check out their various merchandise. Of course they all claim they've got a really good deal for us. After trying on a few different shirts we quickly realized they don't make clothes big enough for us westerners. Even though the extra larges didn't even fit us they would of course tell us that it looked wonderful and perfect on us.

Here's a shot that shows how it felt to walk down the street among all the vendor tents.
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On the last day in Kuala Lumpur we were driven around town by a really nice cab driver that we met the day before. He offered to take us to several local sites before taking us to the airport. The fare was a really good deal so we agreed. First he took us to the Batu Caves which we were really anxious to see. Below is a photo. You go up this really long staircase to enter these caves that were discovered about 100 years ago. Since then all these Hindu shrines and statues have been built inside the cave. Its also known for all the monkeys that live inside of it. It was awesome.

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We had a rather disturbing surprise when we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. When we got to the airport we tried to get some money out of an ATM and our cards didn't work. Luckily we had brought some American cash for just such an occasion and were able to exchange it to the local currency. We tried again at a different ATM and even though we should have been able to get money out we were not. Lynette contacted our bank through email and found that our ATM cards had been turned off because they had detected unusual activity. We assumed that this was because they saw it being used in a variety of different countries, which bothered us because we had notified them prior to leaving that we would be out of the country for a year and even gave them a list of most of the countries we would be visiting. The bank emailed us with a phone number to contact them because they needed to speak with us verbally for verification before they would turn the cards back on. They wouldn't just do it via email. However, with the country codes etc. the number they gave us was not working. We also had to deal with the issue of the time difference and figure out when their office would be open. But we didn't know where their office was located so that took some time. Finally after two days of emailing we were able to get a hold of them by phone and clear up the situation. It turned out that it was due to some glitches with the actual ATM machines that caused the problem. We are hoping it won't happen again but if it does at least we have gone through the process once and it will hopefully not cause as much dismay.

Two days ago we flew to the Malaysian island of Langkawi off the North West coast of the country. It is more of a resort island and way more laid back than the city where the traffic is crazy and people on mopeds are nearly running you over. We've been here one night and are loving it. The pool is huge and the water is warm. The beautiful beach with visible islands just offshore is right out back. The accommodations are really nice and the room is rather large compared to what we've had previously. I went for a jet ski ride yesterday and today we are getting massages at the spa. Really rough here! :-) It will be sad to leave the day after tomorrow when we head back to Kuala Lumpur for our flight to India.

Lynette's foot is healing well. We have a plethora of other minor injuries that we've incurred along the way that we are dealing with day to day. Rashes, cuts and scratches on feet and knees, bug bites, pealing skin from sunburn, back ache, etc. But we are doing fine.

I've taken tons of photos. I wish I could post them all. I copy the ones I like from my camera to the computer and then when I look at how many I have to upload I end up having to delete a few because it would take too long. But maybe I'll be able to get back online soon to add more.

Posted by schuckley 02:05

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Comments

Malaysia sounds like a very interesting town with the mix of people/religion. The Monk story is great. I don't see him putting some "curse" on you so I'm sure the yellow string means something good. :o) Take care. Safe travels. Love you. Angie

by aprochaz

GOOD MORNING, HAPPY TO SEE YOUR NEW GROUP OF PICTURES AND ENTRY. THEY MUST LIKE RED SO DO I. WHAT A WONDERFUL WAY TO SEE AND LEARN ABOUT GODS, WONDERFUL WORLD AND PEOPLE. WITH ALL INTERESTING THINGS TO SEE.WILL BE WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU AGAIN.LOVE, ACROSS THE MILES.

by jwrossrd

Hi Lynette and Dave, KRC here. I have enjoyed all your blogs and the pixs are great. What a time you are having and I am so happy for you. The toliets in Malaysia remind me of the primitive 'benjos' in Japan & Okinawa ...never quite new what to expect, but loved the western ones when we found them. That was 30 some odd years ago so I know all has changed now. Retirement is great! more later, stay safe and have the time of your life! KRC

by krc

Hi guys,

Contrary to what most travel guides advised, water and ice-cubes in Malaysia are clean and safe for consumption. Just use your own common sense and see whether the locals purchased similar drinks at the stall/shop/restaurant. If there are many local customers, that means it's fine.

As for the toilet and hose, it takes foreigners some getting used to and requires some "squatting skills" before they are able to do it properly. The muslim Malays have a habit of washing it instead of using toilet paper, which explains the hose. Last I heard, squatting toilets are still common in Japan and most other Asian countries. Actually, many caucasian travellers I've met actually commented about liking the squat toilet over the sitting kind after being here for a while.

Being born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, I can say that seeing foreigners like you guys in the city is no longer an uncommon sight like it used to be 15 to 20 years ago. The two young guys who wanted to take a photo with you were probably from out-of-town (from "outstation", as we call them). They mean no harm--just some curious people who are eager to have some kind of "association" with white people by taking a photo with you because they did not have much of a chance to come across any, if at all, when living outside the city. Still, it's good to be careful of such instances.

I remember my ATM card was suddenly rejected by countless ATMs in Belfast a few months ago. That really got me worried for a while. Later, I realised that the time my card got rejected repeatedly was at the time my bank disconnected itself from the network for a regularly scheduled one-hour system maintenance. I tried again after that and it worked, which gave me a huge relief.

Anyway, I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed your holiday here in Malaysia. :)

Cheers,
Hien

by Hien

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