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!!)

Gili Trawangan

Though we arrived on the island too late to really appreciate the beauty of the surroundings on account of the darkness, come morning it was easy to see why it is so popular (and the potential it held for diving). Crystalline turquoise water, white sand (though not without its fair share of sharp coral in some places!), and self-proclaimed “Turtlle (sic) Points” where majestic sea turtles (and sting rays on one special occasion) could be seen when snorkeling really made for some unique opportunities for us.

By day there were many activities in and out of the water to keep visitors busy: surfing, snorkeling, diving, renting a bike to explore the island inside and out (it only takes a day to do so!), yoga, boat trips to the other islands, or just lazing around with a good book. By night things livened up… there were tons of bars and restaurants to suit any appetite and budget; a central food market with lots of fresh seafood and local fare; and special parties every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at set locations. We were even “lucky” enough to be around for a Full Moon Party! (Explanation of quotes to follow.) I’ll include that when researching the island beforehand we read that as per its reputation as a “party island” we should expect to encounter many offers of drugs during our time on the island; we were indeed approached on occasion by people hawking a variety of narcotics, but it was far from in our faces the entire time and easily avoidable.

Unlike my million-post recap of Bali-by-event, I’m going to bombard you with all of my “general” Gili T pictures from the 5 days we spent there now, with shots from diving (we did a photography dive as one of the Specialties for our Advanced Course… one of the better decisions of my life) and some of our island bike rides to follow in later posts.

not a bad view to wake up to! (not that this was exactly seen directly from the ‘stank room;’ we’d gone to breakfast at a nearby venue.)

one of the bungalows we’d looked at before going was listed at being ‘behind the turtle hatchery’… but for some reason i wasn’t actually expecting a turtle hatchery?

“no naked”. hahaha!

rainbow over on gili air! a nice addition to any afternoon.

night market.

had dinner there one night… black pepper squid and some delicious snapper, courtesy of this sassy lady!

horses in the moonlight.

we did our diving with trawangan dive and were really happy with the experience. as i said i’ll do a full post about the diving but in the mean time i’ll include some shots from the boat.

look at that water! i mean, look at it!!! ridiculous visibility…

the infamous “stank room.” we left it and dear romi after 2 nights to move onto greener pastures.

our new digs at blue star bungalows!

the view. definitely an upgrade!

did i mention we were right next to the turtle viewing point? we must have seen at least four or five while we were staying here. amazing creatures!

So I’d hinted at the possibility that maybe we actually weren’t so “lucky” to be around for the Full Moon Party. It’s not that we weren’t lucky or it wasn’t fun. I just feel that so many people come to Thailand and like, plan their vacations around attending the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan and there’s a lot of hype concerning it and therefore the wrong idea might have been conveyed. First, though the Thai Full Moon Parties have already lost their luster for me anyway, this was nothing of that caliber (complete stretches of bucket vendors along the entire beach, 10,000 people, tons of DJs playing any kind of music you could want to hear, etc etc). There was a bonfire, one bar (that was overpriced and wayyyy too crowded for our liking so whenever it was time for another drink we headed to the nearby Rudy’s Bar, which provided a nice reprieve from the madness), a DJ booth, and (granted) a big crowd of people getting sloppier as the night went on. We had fun, but I wouldn’t call it a crowning moment of the trip by any means. Actually, that makes it quite a lot like the Full Moon Parties I’ve been to in Thailand!

our crew at the onset of the full moon party (please note the guy in the back. though we all look fairly dazzling here i must say he’s my favorite part of the photo.)

gavin (in the middle) did his advanced diving course with us and his friend paul is on the left. not sure on the identity of the indonesian guy haha.

the shark from nemo!

one shot of the full moon haha.

The night of the Full Moon should have been our penultimate night on the island. Should have been. We finished and should have paid for our diving that day, leaving us one last day to enjoy our surroundings before heading back to Ubud for one more shopping day.

Except… we decided to put the courses on my credit card, and, as it turns out, my credit card was expired. (whoops) It so happens that I have a wonderfully generous mother who always comes through in the clutch who was able to transfer me the needed funds at a moment’s notice, but even so, it was Easter Weekend and it took an extra day for them to go through. (whoops) But as Adam, our dive instructor noted, there were worse places we could have been stuck. Can’t really complain about an extra day in paradise, right?

haha, oh yeah! we’d rented bikes the night of the full moon party, and didn’t lock them up because our friends assured us they’d had bikes for 2 days and there was never a problem. plus we were just grabbing one happy hour drink so the risk was low anyway. except wayne’s ended up being taken! (we’re sure it was an accident; there was one just like it at the place we had a drink, but the hotel owners wouldn’t let us take it because we couldn’t prove there had been a mix-up.) so we had to drive around like this for a day until, by some amazing stroke of luck, wayne happened to see his own on the side of the road the next afternoon. how charming though, right? (even if it made for a bit of a sore bum…)

yes please?

sunset on our last night.

one last amazing seafood dinner…

in addition to no motorized transport there are no dogs on gili t! but there are tons of kitties. also if you’re admiring those flip flops i got them in ubud for 25,000 rupiah ($2.50). then someone at the market tried to charge me 80,000 rupiah for the same ones not 30 minutes later! and then ollie destroyed one last week… you’d think after 3 other pairs i’d learn…

So that’s the not-so-brief overview of Gili T…

On a completely unrelated note I’m terrified that the coffee shop in which I currently find myself is closing. I have only my bicycle, and no rain jacket, and it’s completely pouring outside! Guess this gives me time to plan my lesson for the police officers we start teaching tomorrow (assuming the café stays open and I’m not forced to destroy my computer more than it’s already destroyed on account of my dropping it a few months ago…).

The Story of a Passport

I hesitated to actually go through with this entry at the risk of seeming pretentious or boastful. But then I decided that as long as I’m dedicating myself to a travel-centered blog, it’s really only appropriate that I share this strange happening said travels (with a little help from page-hogging visas and complicated entry processes requiring more than one of them) have contributed to: the filling of my passport (less one itty bitty square). In six years, no less! Besides, I think there’s a kind of art and intrigue to the stamps and visas themselves. Roll tape.

(Oh, and I did walk myself through the thought process where I wondered if it was a good idea to post pictures of my passport on the internet, but at this point there are so many copies of this thing floating around Asia I figure that anything questionable that could happen would [and, in fact, may] have happened by now and it’s a risk I’m willing to take.)

ah, the title page in all my 18-year-old glory. where did those square earrings and that ac*lightning bolt*dc shirt go? the world may never know.

washington, dc: march 10, 2006; july 15, 2007; march 9, 2007; december 3, 2010; december 21, 2007. managua, nicaragua: march 3, 2006; march 2, 2007. madrid, spain: july 1, 2007.

first experience with a full-page visa (or 'visto,' as they apparently say over in italia). fall 2007.

seoul, korea: september 29, 2009 (entry); october 4, 2009 (departure). rome, italy: december 21, 2007. washington, dc: june 23, 2008.

off to china! as it does on the globe itself, china took up a lot of space in my passport.

shanghai, china: august 31, 2009 (entry); september 27, 2009 (departure); september 21, 2010 (departure). hong kong: september 27, 2009 (entry); september 29, 2009 (departure). and the last bit of empty space!

another big fat chinese visa (my work visa). shanghai, china: october 4, 2009. sadao, thailand: april 19, 2011; october 4, 2010. bangkok, thailand: september 21, 2010; march 30, 2011.

changloon, malaysia: april 19, 2011 (entry); april 21, 2011 (departure). washington, dc: may 31, 2011. madrid, spain: july 15, 2007. kathmandu, nepal: october 4, 2010 (entry); october 26, 2010 (departure).

chinese residence permit.

first thai non-b visa.

sadao, thailand: april 21, 2011 (entry); bangkok, thailand: may 30, 2011. thai re-entry permit (to allow me to leave and return without canceling my existing visa/work permit): may 30-june 8, 2011. and my favorite visa, the indian one, partially obscured by a stupid slip.

said slip. after finally securing a year-long visa in this country you're required to update your address and get your sheet stamped and changed every 90 days. if you're late it's meant to be 500 baht/day, but i was 5 days late last time, told the guy i was stupid and misread the slip, and he let it slide! and they say thais are always trying to screw you...

nearing the end... stamp for my one year visa. sadao, thailand: january 17, 2012 (departure); january 20, 2012 (entry). bangkok, thailand: june 8, 2011. weird sticker inserted in my passport last time i entered malaysia. changloon, malaysia: january 17, 2012 (entry); january 20, 2012 (departure).

and, finally, my latest non-b.

Anyway. Guess I won’t be going to Bali with my passport in such a state so it’s off to Bangkok with me next week to get more pages inserted. For the low, low price of $82… Oh well…