Malayasia: Traditional Village House & National Museum

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Refrigerator Pants

From: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/13/world/asia/south-korea-refrigerator-pants/index.html

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Is South Korea’s government’s power-saving campaign, which has included drastic measures like turning off air conditioners at 19,000 public organizations, to blame for the rise of “refrigerator pants?”

I hope this trend does a quick death.  Hurts my eyes.

A Sunday in Singapore

Everytime I hear about Singapore, I hear how “clean” it is.  How many fines there are for everything (like chewing gum.  You can’t buy it any where!).  So you kinda have this expectation when you go there.  There are quite a few signs in the subway station that say don’t eat/drink on the subway/platforms and yet I saw a lady do just that.  Being an obvious foreigner, I try to be mindful of such things and them simply observe the reality that appears.

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Burning trash (paper only?) On the street.  I saw a few of these around. And not in “rough”areas either.

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No city is perfect.  This was taken from a window in the hostel we stayed at.  Sure not street facing but then again, Singapore is starting to get a little”rough around the edges”.  Sure it had all these fancy, funky buildings but those are few compared to the rest of the place.

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Saw this tree with a very weird thing growing on it.  If anyone knows what it is, feel free to speak up.  No, it didn’t quiver when I walked by.  Wouldn’t that be a story eh? “Blogger eaten by a Singaporean tree fungus….”

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So let’s take a little stroll thought a Chinese mythological park shall we?  Haw Par Villa.

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I’m not even going to try to explain this one….

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This is the gate to the 10 levels of Hell.  Ohhh….they are special.  So much so that they deserve their own album.  You are really in for a treat once I am able to make the album.

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Asia had some weird myths……just freaky stuff….

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Aren’t you glad you subscribed to this blog now?  But wait….there’s more!

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Yes….that’s an old woman breastfeeding…..as I said….weird.

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Ok, some of the more serious stuff.  This place is filled with really awesome depictions of famous events.

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One thing about being here is the country is multicultural.  It casually mixes East Indians, Chinese and Malays.  We spent a lot of time in the Little Indias of the areas we were in.  I wasn’t giving up a chance for butter chicken everyday!  :)  You really don’t understand how crowded some places are till you visit them.  This is a pic of “Little” India in KL to demonstrate.

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It was like walking through and endless sea of Indians, and I’m not exaggerating!

The good thing, I got one last meal of butter chicken and gaelic naan in before we left for the airport hotel.

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Because we are leaving on an 8am flight, we need a hotel close by the airport.  So we wake up Tuesday morning, and try to get to our final hotel.

Now, the hotel is near the airport.  I check and there are two trains.  One is direct to the airport (same one we took when we arrived) and one that makes 4 stops.  Since one of those stops seems near the hotel, i figure well take that and grab a cab.  We got told that there is no public transportation near there.  So, to the airport and then a bus to the hotel then.

First, we arrive on the first floor of the airport.  I ask where information is….5th floor.  I get there, ask where the buses are….1st floor. Fuuuuuuuu……seriously.

But wait….the bus driver didn’t know where our hotel is! “I’m new here”.  Despite reassurances from the airport staff that the bus driver will know where it was.  Ugh, so we wait till all other passengers are on and try again.  I show him the map on my Galaxy Tab which just seems to confuse him.  I try to name some other things on the map and another hotel rings a bell.  Ugh, finally.

But wait….there’s more(I feel I should be asking you for multiple payments of money by now….).  As the bus driver goes along, shifting gears and such, he’s also counting cash!  WTH?!  And why is he not wearing his glasses when we first got on?  Sigh, we eventually get to our hotel without careening off into a Malaysian ditch.

Sadly, the “YouniQ” (unique) hotel is on a kinda deserted area.  Only one little restaurant open, with a dismal selection of food, and a convenience store that’s more convenience than store.  After a bit of spicey chicken fried rice, we head back to our room and set the alarm for 445am, so we can make the 5am breakfast and get on a 6am shuttle to the airport.

Well, if you guys are lucky, I might have more crazy things our PCs….if you are unlucky, you’ll just get a bunch of pics that didn’t get posted here yet :D

Ooh, you want that COLD….

So we are sitting at the train station, 2hrs early, and I’m thinking, I’m going to need something to drink on the over night train back to Kuala Lumpur.  There is a local grocery store so I head on over there. 

On this trip, I tended to stay away from Cola drinks as a regular supplement to balance off the buckets we sweat while walking around bird parks, Little Indias and outdoor market.  I decided to go with those “powerade” type of drinks.  Here they call them “isotonic drink”.  While they have quite a number that are “cloudy but not clear” in coloring, they taste fine.

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I had a whopping $2.00SGD left to spend and this drink was labeled as $1.50.  Excellent!  I bring it to the counter to pay.  The lady says “That’s 15cents extras for cold.  Okay?”  I was stunned.  Was she trying to rip me off?  This was a large store, so that was unlikely.  I just replied “The label said $1.50.” and gestured with my thumb towards the coolers.  She basically repeated her statement and said “Sure, whatever.”  Then she scanned a barcode and charged me $1.65.

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It’s the little stories that make this(any) trip memorable.

Saturday night in Singapore

The bus to Singapore was interesting enough but the customs a bit of a pain.  Not that we had any troubles, just the having to get off the bus, twice (once for leaving Malaysia and once for entering Singapore) all within 10 mins of each other was a hassle.

Now that we are here, we can enjoy the sights.

We decided on a hostel to stay in this time. Never done this before, had some reservations about how “open” it might be but we lucked out (yet again) and found a place where we got our own room for about $60.  The room is nothing to really note but it’s clean and sleepable(I’m calling dibs on that word creation right there!). There are some interesting rules though:

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We did get 3 bottles of “room temperature” water for free, so not like we need any more. Love the “hire a towel” line.

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This is one of the coolest buildings I have ever seen.  Park View Square.  Don’t know the right term for the style but it is from a time where I’m sure I would have loved to have lived in a “big city”.  The building has such character.  I got a nighttime shot of it but it’s not too clear. I’ll see if I can try again tomorrow night.

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We found this kind of market area.  Lots of food, clothing and trinkets to buy.

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I heard about the electronics square where you can hey things for “10 – 20%” less than retail price.  I was seriously disappointed.  Prices weren’t all that different, and the variety was nice but eventually turned monotonous. 

Here is an example.  My wife is looking for a lighter laptop to eventually replace the one she has.  So we looked at a few and I decide to grab a shot of the price of one.

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That price is in Singapore dollars and is about $1032USD right now.  I did a search online and lookie what I found on a Canadian website:

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Which is about $200SGD less that a “non-retail” price.  If you are going to another country and considering buying something of value, you had better be prepared and go with some sort of internet-connected device to know what you can haggle for!  Coincidentally, the NewEgg one has more ram too.

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Singapore is very modern.  You won’t be wanting for much of anything from back home.  You have everything from Uni-Glo to McDonalds here.  There is always the ubiquitous 7-11 but the content varies a bit.  Occasionally you get a surprise machine showing up.

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Yeah, you saw that.  Instant mash potatoes and gravy….from a slurpy-type machine.  I am strongly conflicted on trying it.  On one hand, this just had to be gross.  On the other hand, where else can you possibly have such an experience for $0.81?  I’ll see how brave (or stupid?) I feel tomorrow.

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Now, this might seem a bit odd, for me to post a picture of a subway door here but having taken them so much, and seen all of Seoul’s styles, I was surprised to see the extravagance of stainless steel.  This was not s cheap install by any means and taking the subway is cheap here indeed (one of the few things that is so).

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So, onto the highlight of the night. The water show.  This is a display of water and light.  It is about 10 miss long (actually, closer to 12 according to the video below). It is worth the watch.

One last pic for this post. You probably heard off “photo-bombing” but in case you haven’t, that’s where you do something odd/funny/embarrassing to someone elses picture as they are taking it. I got the chance to do so and the girls got a big laugh from it. I asked for a copy and here it is :)

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Time and money management while on vacation

Too many people go on vacation with credit cars and even loans, then spend years trying to pay it off.  I once heard T Harv Eker say “You are borrowing from your future to pay for your past!”  Since we left Canada, we have only owned pre-paid Mastercards.  I feel these are a much more sane way to use a credit card as the only amount available on the is what you put there.  This makes you much more aware of your finances as you generally don’t want too tie up large sums of cash just sitting around in MCs account and letting them collect the interest.  So you usually only have a couple of hundred there for casual use and “pay” your credit card when you know more will be needed.  The only downside it’s that it can take a few days for the money to transfer.  This is done on purpose by the banks because it’s not a technical lack that the transfer is so slow. This slowness allows the money to sit in some bank account, collecting interest from it’s use I’m sure, by the banks and/or credit companies.  How do I know this?  Because in South Korea, bank transfers are the norm.  Handing out bank accounts is perfectly acceptable and common practice to move money and it’s instantaneous.

Now, back to vacations.

So, we came to Malaysia with some money on the card and the rest in cash.  No, we don’t walk around with it all in our pockets.  We do make use of the safe provided in the rooms we book.  Mitigating any potential problems due to loss of money.

Unless you are in an all-inclusive resort, you really don’t know how much you will need.  You can book rooms ahead of course, search online for other peoples experiences but it’s really only clear once you are in the place you are going. We have come to the point where we really have to manage our money carefully. The “holiday honeymoon” phase is over. That’s the state where your are in a new pace, want to experience new things, so you spend. With 8 days left, we can’t afford to just spend as we please now. We haves booked all the places we need to stay now but we are just not going to do any frivolous trips. While that one day trip was nice, it also was pretty expensive, relatively speaking.

Luckily the only things we have top spend money on is food, and food is pretty cheap here. We have averaged less than $20/meal for the both of us and we have eaten pretty good! So we will have a roof over our heads without worry. Extra stuff to do? Not sure, but we won’t be lacking of things to see and stories to tell regardless :)

Like this funky coloured Red Bull can.

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I had to try it out. Tastes just fine and a cute little can too.

Back home if you wanted milk in your coffee our tea, you would say “coffee with milk” our “tea with milk”. Not so much in the east. Both Korea and other Asian countries we have been to call them “milk coffee” or “milk tea”. Annoyingly, at those “instant” machines in Korea, you can get “milk coffee, milk tea, sugar coffee, sweet tea[same thing]” but you can not get “coffee with milk and sugar”! Really annoying. So I get one of both and just mix :/ Here in Malaysia you also see “white coffee”

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This is actually sweet, which leads me to reaffirm the belief they use condensed milk. This tasted just fine and cost 2.60 Ringgits, or about $0.83.

So right now we are just killing some time before getting on a bus to Penang at 4pm. Lunch is at The Chicken Rice Shop.

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We got the 2 Combo Chicken deal. One chicken is Honey BBQ and the other is Crispy Roast. Total cost, 17.20 Ringgits, or about $5.50.

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For the cost, this was a decent meal.

160km/hr! (100mph for you US readers)

That’s what the brochure said for the train that runs between the airport (kinda) and the downtown city of Kuala Lumpur.

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First we had to take a shuttle bus to get to the train but that was included in the price and was only 20mins.  Over all, it was an hour to get to KL Sentral station.  It cost 12.50 Ringgits, which is about $4.  There was a direct bus from the airport cost 8 Ringgits (about $2.50) but I felt the train would be easier with luggage and space.  It was a good call and I did clock the speed at 140km/h at one point.

What was kinda neat is that to get off the train, the doors didn’t open till you pressed/touched a button on them.  Smart way to save some AC costs by not having to open the doors all the time.

Morning and breakfast in KL

We woke up early to get breakfast and plan our day.

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Old Town coffee seems to be a chain here.  White Coffee is milk-coffee.  I asked for extra sugar but I think they used condensed milk as the coffee isn’t bitter at all.  It is ok to drink as is.

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And a good western-style breakfast.  Since Malaysia and another country dominated by muslims, the sausage is chicken-based.  No ketchup but I got a aside dish of chilli sauce.

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