The Petronas Towers

In all their glory.

Thankfully, for everyone involved, there isn’t a whole lot of commentary necessary here. I have no shame in saying that the Towers were the thing I was most excited to see in KL, and that they didn’t disappoint in the least. We didn’t go up, but did see it fit to make our way there and allow them to bewitch us on both evenings we were there. Perfectly exquisite.

tower + amazing sign.

if only i’d had a better camera… the most mesmerizing flock of birds kept circling the tower. folks, this is what an almost-awesome picture looks like…

juxtaposition

really lazy attempt to get a bit of the twin towers and the kl tower in one shot… taking a few steps backward might have improved this drastically haha.

[edit:

Thought I’d seize this opportunity to share my favorite song about towers (though, admittedly not of the Asian variety): “The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead” by Final Fantasy (aka Owen Pallett). I love it for its uniqueness… the vocals, the strings (once a violinist, always a violinist, you know?), the hidden complexities behind a seemingly simple front. I’ve found myself with a probably monthly urge– nay, need– to listen to it in the seven-or-so years since first being introduced to it so I’ll do you all the same courtesy now:

I’ve included the album version because the audio quality is better, but for some mind-blowing use of loop pedals please do yourself a favor and check out the live version. Real talent– makes me wish I’d stuck with the whole violin thing!]

Graffiti in Kuala Lumpur

Graffiti is a subject of which I’m becoming increasingly fond (you may remember various works took a prominent position in my most recent Bangkok post). Our first night in town culminated with a fairly exhausting walk (on top of our already-present exhaustion) to see the Petronas Towers. We couldn’t be bothered to attempt to walk back, and took the metro from the Towers to the Pasar Seni station. What did I encounter there but an entire wall covered in amazingly intricate and creative street art. It became a priority for the next day to head back to get some photos of the collection.

this one’s actually from our walk to times square mall the previous evening.

and this one’s just on the way back to pasar seni.

commence pasar seni wall of fame

detail

self-portrait

(Can you believe it? A post with fewer than 200 words!!)

Leaving Indonesia/Kuala Lumpur at a Glimpse

Let me start by saying that yesterday Wayne informed me that I’d been misspelling “TrawaNgan” for… the entirety of the time I’d ever mentioned it ever. Even though it was blatantly on maps, even though our dive center was called Trawangan Dive (and as I was sure to mention, twice, we were given a T-shirt with the name on it! I have a T-shirt proudly heralding “Trawangan Dive” and I consistently left out that poor, unsuspecting ‘n.’), even though I must have done about a trillion searches on things to do/places to stay/etc etc on the island. No wonder I only got second place at that spelling bee in 6th grade (did you know ‘commotion’ has 2 m’s? Me neither.) So if you’ve been secretly laughing at me from behind your finger tips (you know, Asian-style), the jig’s up, and I think I’ve gone and corrected all of my errors (except, however painfully, in the title frame of my snorkeling video). *hangs head in shame*

I’m also not thrilled about how I’ve chosen to throw these two independent events into one hodgepodge post, but there weren’t substantial photos or stories for each one independently and really I’m just trying to get all this tomfoolery out of the way at this point.

Leaving Indonesia was a bit of a race against the clock that saw us in variety of vehicles (little boats, big boats, horse-drawn carriages, minibuses, airplanes, buses, taxicabs), on three islands in two countries in eighteen hours, all while a fear-inducing earthquake was going on in another area of the country (unbeknownst to us until hours later in the Bali airport, though there were some significant swells on our Lombok-Bali crossing). The needed funds for diving didn’t come through until the morning of the day we needed to be on our way to Malaysia (albeit on a midnight flight). At this point we were really kicking ourselves for pre-booking that “slow boat” return trip, because we realized that we’d really be pushing it if the trip ended up taking us another 12 hours.

Thankfully it didn’t. There weren’t any of the same delays and in general the return trip seemed to go much smoother (in spite of the fact that there were subaquatic tremblings just a few islands away? Okay, I’m definitely making things sound worse than they were… the quake was off the coast of Sumatra, which is really really far from where we were. In fact, we’d have been closer if we’d still been in Thailand!). I supposed it helped that I was completely immersed in Catching Fire for much of the journey.

couldn’t very well leave the lombok area without a ride in one of these could we?!

more lombok rice.

taxi through lombok.

lolzlolzlolz. suppose they’re in no danger of being sued then, hey?

photo from the lombok-bali ferry. these girls were so cute to me. and with the baby? precious.

another leg completed.

So yes, made it to the airport with plenty of time, slept like a rock on the 2 hour flight to KL, and woke up to the wee hours and yet another bus-then-taxi to Chinatown, where we’d planned on making our base. We’d made no prior reservations and finding an affordable-enough-(for-us) place at 3 in the morning was no pleasant chore, but we were eventually successful.

breakfast at the nameless place we stayed the first night. the focus of this picture was the pepper paired with ‘sauce salty,’ (aka soy sauce, as a salt replacement. not exactly what i was imagining on my veggie omelet… ohhh china[town])

Our first morning, at breakfast on the balcony overlooking the famous Petaling Market street, was awash in China memories for me. Certain smells, lots of sounds, the lanterns, the iconic characters (some of which I was still able to recognize after a desperate attempt to learn to read a bit of Chinese in my last 2 months there. Disclaimer: it’s recommended to allow oneself more time than this to learn such a language.)… I can safely say there was a good deal of nostalgia happening.

amazing! i only just noticed the ‘economy rice homeland various fried’ sign.

i think i captured everyone in this photo at their absolute best.

This only increased as we walked around the area in search of a new place to stay. We ended up choosing Ribbon Stayyz Guesthouse, as seen on Travelfish.org, which was… okay. I’d surely be singing their praises if they’d actually posted me the forgotten items of art we left in the room, as they sent me an email assuring me they’d do, but the package has never arrived and any subsequent email has gone unanswered so, I’m sticking to “okay.” We stayed in a dorm room (with no windows) the first night with a Malaysian couple, and were moved to a much less-well-taken-care-of double room (with no windows) the second night, and were paying about the same that we paid in Ubud and more than we’d been paying on Gili T. Which made this:

(small scrolls of art we’d hoped to have sent to us hiding somewhere in those discarded bags…)

just a little disappointing. But I suppose that’s the big city for you, innit?! Oh, did I mention the entrance to the guesthouse was tucked in the back of a convenience store?

Though I think it’s safe to say we were a bit rundown and worn out by the time we made it to KL, we still tried to enjoy the city to its fullest. Had some great meals and saw some of the city’s major sites (including the Times Square mall, where we watched The Hunger Games on the big screen. Simple pleasures!). Note: the dazzling Petronas Towers are getting their own post.

kickapoo joy juice. in retrospect we really should have given this a go.

shame, we never got to see the inside of the famed jamek mosque. first it was closed and then it was too rainy to make our way back!

the times square mall has a theme park in it.

turns out there’s another ‘famous’ tower in KL… the ‘KL tower,’ as it were. but i mean, it’s tough competition in this city…

day 2

wait… they don’t love you like i love you.

Penang, Again (Part Three)

The only important item on our agenda on our final (well, kind of) day in Penang included heading over to the embassy again at 2 pm, so we spent the morning snapping photos in a temple on Love Lane and the Protestant Cemetery before somewhat inadvertently ending up at the National Park we’d heard so much about from various sources.

So at this national park, or Teman Negara Pulau Pinang, one of the main draws is a “monkey beach” all the way at the end of the trek. Alas, we didn’t have time to go quite that far, but we did see a few monkeys so I’m satisfied. It was nice to spend some time in nature after our big urban experience.

fishing village/station in the middle of the water?

there 'e is!

heyyy, another one!

gorgeous mosque between george town and batu ferringhi

When we got back to town we went to a vegetarian restaurant Mister Jim kept telling us about (a huge cheap buffet that we enjoyed. I wish I could provide helpful information like a name or directions but it would sound something like, “Ehhhh… I think it started with an ‘E’? And you turn right at the street after the stoplight on the street you turn left on at the end of Jalan Chulia.” And that just wouldn’t be of any use at all.) and then moseyed around town. I got a pretty white dress for 20RM (200B; $6.70).

Then we went back to Jim’s in order to be shipped out to the embassy. We’d asked him to book us spots on the 4 pm bus back to Hat Yai and he said he would. We got our passports back (my new visa is on the very last page that states, “For Endorsements and Allowances Only.” Should I be concerned?), and were back with an hour and a half to spare, during which we had a beer. At five to 4 Jim came to announce that something was wrong with our bus (overbooked? stopped by police?) and we’d instead have to take the one at 5 the next morning. There wasn’t much we could do so we accepted that 20RM room we’d turned down our first night (bringing our tally of different guesthouses to three in as many nights) and proceeded to blow the 200RM we had left on pizza (this time from the nearby Ecco Café— very authentic, very delicious), egg burgers, french fries, and of course, more beer. Damn you overbooked bus! Damn you!

at jim's, in my new white dress.

the decor at jim's is very jim-oriented. here are some (censored) quotes. his quotes.

and here's some photos of him: a man of many hats and hairstyles.

jim as we knew him (in my new shades!).

our room at jim's. despite initial fears, no signs of bedbugs have arisen yet. it was hot, but we actually slept alright.

The bus the following morning was more reliable and the trip home was as easy as the trip there. We enjoyed ourselves but I suppose I wouldn’t mind if that was our last trip to Penang. However we will most likely be stopping through Kuala Lumpur on our way back from Bali in March, which I’m looking forward to greatly.

Penang, Again (Part Two)

Here’s where I welcome you to my new blog and then quickly proceed with the storytelling, since it looks like this is becoming a THREE part affair. (Just so many pictures, you know?!)

I believe I left you as we were cruising the urban coast to Batu Ferringhi, the main beach on the island. We went a little further than we’d gone by bus last time, since we had rented a motorbike and such was our prerogative. As we found last time the water was a bit suspect (very murky? gooey spots on the bottom?) but the surroundings were nice and you can never argue with a bit of time laid out on the sand. After spending a bit of time on one spot of the beach we got on the bike and started heading back, pulling over at two more secluded places we’d seen along the way.

staircase to secluded beach #1

another big lizard!

at the third beach.

post-gallivanting beer. hooray tiger!

As I mentioned in the previous post, we had big plans to see a movie at First Avenue’s 8th floor cinema. The movie was Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows and it was playing at 6 pm… just enough time to rush back to our *new* guesthouse (we found a room for 30RM [300B; $10] at the Love Lane Inn), shower up, and move out.

cruising back. this shot got me a honk and a big thumbs up from the occupants of that blue car!

steal beatles shirt from clothesline or take picture of wayne on bike next to beatles shirt on clothesline?... hmmmm

oh yeah, had to change money as well. this was a great place to do it!

I actually quite enjoyed the movie, and it’s always fun to indulge in a cinema experience (though I think the whole thing, popcorn and soda included, ended up being less than $10 between the two of us… Malaysia felt more expensive than Thailand but I guess it’s still not that expensive!). And the icing on the cake of the evening? Popping in at Sakae Sushi for dinner. This place was nuts… each table was decked out with an iPad from which you’d order and simultaneously plates were whizzing about on a conveyor belt to be plucked at your leisure. It was a fun time.

Though stuffed to the gills we even managed to split a cup of gelato from a gelateria in the basement. On our way back to the guesthouse I was joking that we were like real town folk come to the big city because that’s surely how it felt. To be read with a thick Southern twang: “And we went to the top of this real tall buil-dang and we saw a moovie in the thee-ay-ter and we ate this weird fish that wudn’t even friiied up and we ate some aaahce cream. All in all it was a real good time y’all.”