Monthly Archives: January 2015

Singapore, Singapore

The trip to Singapore took about 5-6 hours I think. When I got dropped off by the bus, I found my way to the closest Starbucks to grab a coffee and free wifi as I tried to find my hostel. I forgot to star my location in Google Maps on my phone, so the app was useless without data. I did eventually make it to The Hive after a bit of a long walk. Right away, the staff was really friendly and I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out what to see or do. I was feeling the effects of sticker shock at how much it would cost to do anything here. Everything was out of my budget. So, I tried to focus on the free things to do in town.

The first full day in Singapore involved a few stops and a lot of walking (18,000 steps according to my phone!!). After getting some lunch, I walked to Little India from the hostel. I was told I could buy a data SIM card in the area, and sure enough they were correct. I ended up buying a 1GB data card for $10 Singapore. I wasn’t really impressed with Little India. Though, I think it may be a more interesting place at night and with people to eat some Indian food. A few people I talked to said the food is really good.

From Little India, I proceeded to the ION Tower. I read that this place is a little gem in Singapore. This is because you can go to the 56th floor and get a view of the whole city for free. It was sort of a pain in the butt to find how to get up to the 56th floor when I got there, but once at the top, I chilled out from my long walk and enjoyed the view.  After the ION Tower, I then stopped by the Hard Rock Cafe Singapore for my shot glass and guitar pin before heading back to the hostel. This pretty much ended my first day.

ION Tower Sky View (Picture 1)

On my second day in Singapore, I headed to Sentosa. Sentosa is an island at the southern part of Singapore. Here you can find Universal Studios, other theme-type parks, and beaches. I didn’t go into any of the theme places because they all just cost way to much. I did head to the Hard Rock Cafe to check that off my list and then to the beach. The beaches were nice and clean, but looking out into the sea were tons of dirty cargo ships and a huge plant of some sorts spewing pollution out of smokestacks on some kind of industrial island. Not exactly what I want to look at while chilled on the beach. Think I’d rather go to Thailand for their beaches. Overall though, the day was good and I was able to spend it hanging out with an Israeli guy that was also staying at the hostel. He seemed really nice, but our conversation was really strange because it seemed like he was trying to psychoanalyze me, my perspectives on life, and my experiences with different cultures based around his Jewish heritage. I did my best to have an open conversation, but often it felt like only his opinion and thinking was right. This pretty much concluded my day after I got back to the hostel.

The next day I headed to the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands to get a look at this iconic Singapore building. I got a few pictures and then headed back to the hostel for a bit before heading to another part of the country to see old Daejeon friends and ex-coworkers. There really was a huge gathering of us. A lot of the people at the party I didn’t even know had left Korea. It was a pretty nice drunk gathering by the buildings outdoor pool until we got kicked back upstairs around midnight to drink more. I didn’t make it back to my hostel that night, but the next morning I finally did after eating lunch with the party hosts. One thing I did learn from talking to everyone is, don’t come to Singapore to teach. At least for the two companies they work for. Good to know because I was seriously looking at going there to teach if Korea goes south.

Marina Bay Sands Daytime (Picture 1)

Gardens by the Bay Daytime (Picture 1) (Picture 2)

When I finally made it back to my hostel from my friend’s place, I chilled out a bit until it got dark. I wanted to get some night photos, so when night fell I headed to the Marina Bay Sands area and then to Gardens by the Bay. I really like seeing a city at night. It always feels more alive than during the day.

Marina Bay Sands at Night

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Singapore at Night (Picture 1) (Picture 2) (Picture 3)

Merlion Park at Night (Picture 1)

Gardens by the Bay at Night (Picture 1) (Picture 2) (Picture 3)

This pretty much concludes my trip. The next morning I will catch a bus to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a night there before heading back to winter in South Korea. Overall, I’d say this was one of the more disappointing trips when it comes to stuff I like to see and it cost more than I would have liked to spend, mostly because I underestimated what I would need for money in Singapore. If you don’t have money, you can’t do anything. Even with a $50 a day budget, I found myself over every day I was in Singapore. And I really didn’t do much at all!! Now to begin planning a trip for the summer^^

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Melaka, Malaysia

As I arrived at the bus stop in Melaka, Malaysia, I ended up talking to a German mother and her college aged daughter. I thought to myself how cool it is for parents to travel with one of their parents as an adult. Especially to a foreign country in Asia. I thought about what it would be like traveling through Asia with my mother. I think it would be really cool, even though it would take a lot of patience on my part because she would be freaked out about all the things very different from everything she grew up with. And I suppose that would be true for a lot of people. Even I have and continue to go through my freak out moments. Regardless, I wish I could take a trip were I could explore the world, like the German family, with my mom or just any close family member. Odds are, this will never happen.

When we got to the bus stop, immediately we were getting haggled by a few taxi drivers and a guy trying to get us to come to his hostel. I already had a place booked and planned to take the bus into town. They soon followed. I was hoping to see them again in town the next day or on the bus out two days later, but unfortunately our meeting was only meant to be brief. We went different ways once we got into town and I easily found my hostel a couple blocks from the Town Square.

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Melaka River at Night (Picture 1)

Bike Buggy at Night (Picture 1)

The hostel was pretty much dead. There was a group of Chinese girls in one room and then myself and a Japanese girl taking up the entire 16-bed bunk room. The next day we were joined by a Dutch guy who was totally freaking out about bed bugs everywhere. Well, now I know what bed bugs look like. I didn’t have an issue near my bunk, but after the hostel worker sprayed his bed area down with poison, that night they seemed to be everywhere. Hopefully I don’t have any problems later on my trip and I hope they didn’t get into my stuff.

The next day, it was super hot and humid out. I headed out and got some lunch and Starbucks before walking around the area. The nice thing is that everything was pretty close together near the square. I actually enjoyed this town because of the historical feel of it. It was once a Dutch settlement, so most of the architecture reflected this. To be honest, there really wasn’t a lot to see. Here are a few photos of some different landmarks I liked.

Port de Santiago (Picture 1)

St. Paul’s Church (Picture 1) (Picture 2)

St. Francis Xavier’s Church (Picture 1)

This pretty much concluded my day. I headed back to the hostel to relax and rehydrate. I did go ahead and set myself up to take the 9AM bus to Singapore in the morning. Soon, I’ll be visiting my 30th country!!!

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Penang, Malaysia

I took a six hour bus ride to Penang from Kuala Lumpur to hopefully get out of the bad weather I had been experiencing over the last few days. But of course, the weather was nice the day I left!! I sort of slept on and off on the bus because I didn’t sleep that well and had to get up really early. But, that is what usually happens when I travel.

When I got to Penang, the sky and ocean were so blue as I crossed the bridge to the island. From the coach bus stop, I easily found my way into George Town to my hostel for the next few days. George Town is sort of the old town of Penang. Because I got there in the late afternoon, I just went out to get something to eat and hung out at the hostel.

The next day, I was feeling really lazy. I did get up and jump on a bus to Hard Rock Cafe Penang, to get my shot glass and guitar pin, after joining one of my hostel mates for a great bowl of clam noodle soup at a nearby Chinese restaurant. As I was on the bus heading to Hard Rock, I was not really impressed at all with what I saw. The roads leading there were lined with hotels and resorts that sort of shut off the sea from view. I’m guessing a lot of these beaches are private “For Hotel Guests” only. This just turned me off of Penang pretty quickly. The thing I like about places like Phuket is that roads tend to separate the hotels from the beaches, making them accessible to everyone. When I got back, I joined a few of the other people at the hostel to check out the Clan Jetty which is supposed to be pretty famous.

At the Clan Jetty, we walked through to see a number of little shops and got to see the water near the harbor district. It wasn’t white sandy beaches, but it was a nice place to chill out and watch the sunset out on the water. There was a sweet breeze that moved across my face that just felt peaceful. If I did not join these other travelers, I would have totally missed out. We also ended up eating at a restaurant that was very famous and only opened at 10pm. So I also joined them for this and was happy I did so. I had some beef meal with rice and other things that was very foreign but tasty to me. Honestly, this would have been the last place I would have eaten if I was walking around on my own.

Penang Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, my fellow travelers and I walked a crazy distance for some  famous “local” food. I was starving and so hot. Not sure if I would have joined them if I knew we were going to walk that far, opposite, of where I wanted to be later. But, one of the guys was a food hunter. So, because I don’t seek out food EVER, I was happy I did when we made it to our destination, which was just a small little stand. I enjoyed a nice noodle soup in the neighborhood too before splitting up with my posse and heading off to Fort Cornwallis to get my history fix.

Kapitan Keling Mosque (Picture 1)

Fort Cornwallis (Picture 1)

Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower (Picture 1)

Saint George Church (Picture 1)

Fort Cornwallis was much smaller than I thought, but it was a nice little visit. Afterwards, I just headed back to the hostel to have a few beers and then joined the group for some Indian food that night. That pretty much finishes my time in Penang and I got on a bus to Melaka, Malaysia the next morning. This bus ride would end up taking me about 12 hours in comfortable seats, for people smaller than me!! So, my body was feeling it when I got to Melaka. ㅠㅠ (crying with Korean characters)

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I booked this journey shortly after my trip to Eastern Europe last summer. The round trip ticket was under $400, so I figured I better book something for winter or I will make myself crazy sitting around for two months in Korea. Originally, I wanted to go to Burma, but I stalled on getting tickets there and the price jumped significantly. So, here I am in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

To be honest, I started this trip without the excitement to see a bunch of cool places. Probably because the research I did didn’t spark a ton of excitement. The main thing I wanted to see was the Petronas Twin Towers and get my picture taken with this iconic building. Also, I’m looking forward to checking out Singapore because it is a possible place to teach down the road. So, here the journey begins.

The first day in Kuala Lumpur was a bit of a wash. I got in at a reasonable time, but since I had to catch a 4:30 AM bus to Incheon Airport, I didn’t get much sleep that night or the entire journey, and was still off on my sleep from a trip back to the U.S. the week before… I was beat. So, I pretty much went to bed early that first night and got up to do a little exploring the next day.

When I woke up the second day I headed to China Town, where I was able to get my shades fixed and find a lens cap for my camera that I couldn’t even find in the states. I also checked out Central Market. I was not really impressed with either area. I suppose after seeing the Grand Bazar in Istanbul, most of these style markets are hard to compare. But, I saw them and can now say I’ve been there. Fortunately, both these areas are near each other, so I didn’t have to walk to far. From here I was heading to the old train station when it started to pour. I got stuck for about an hour before I decided to make a run for it. I was soaked, but made it back to my hostel. Never leave home without an umbrella when you travel!! After the rain cleared up, I headed to Hard Rock Cafe to get my shot glass and guitar pin and then to the Twin Towers. I’d have to say, they are really beautiful at night! This pretty much concluded my first real day in Kuala Lumpur.

China Town (Picture 1)

Central Market (Picture 1)

Petronas Twin Towers (Picture 1- Day Time)

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The next day I got up and headed to the Batu Caves. These caves are supposed to be one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to the Lord Murugan. There are 272 steps that lead up to the caves that were crawling with monkeys. There was also another side cave that was set up as for a Dark Cave Tour. Because it cost about $20-25US, I decided to skip it. I ended up talking to a couple Germans that did do the cave tour and they said they liked it. Maybe it was worth doing.

The caves didn’t take very long to visit and there weren’t a ton of people there. The caves themselves were neat. There were a number of Hindu shrines around and the place smelled of bird and probably monkey crap. With all the monkeys and pigeons, hand sanitizer is probably essential!! After visiting the Batu Caves, I headed to the Petronas Twin Towers to try and get some daytime photos. Unfortunately, I got there about an hour before it would start pouring rain again, so it was pretty dark out from the clouds.

Batu Caves (Picture 1) (Picture 2) (Picture 3) (Picture 4)

This same night, I ended up hanging out with two girls from Switzerland, and dudes from Norway, Australia, Germany, and Northern Ireland at some Reggae rooftop bar. One of the reasons I love traveling… meeting new people. It’s interesting how we talk about traveling to different countries like it’s just something everyone does, but it totally isn’t what everyone does. Because of that, I do need to appreciate my ability to travel more because there may be a time when I can’t travel as often as I do now.

My last day in Kuala Lumpur was pretty much just relaxing. Because I’m on a pretty tight budget this trip, because of starting my MBA and forking over that tuition, I’m taking it easy. The next couple places in Malaysia I’ll be traveling to are supposed to be pretty cheap compared to Kuala Lumpur. And, I know the costs will jump when I get to Singapore. So just gotta watch it!!!

My next stop, Panang, Malaysia. From what I hear, the weather will hopefully be better and I may find this place more interesting than KL. I should have headed there today, oh well.

 

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