this is for our friends and family back in canada...cold canada...winterpeg, manitoba. as you start your new year with a low of -27 degrees celcius and a high of -20 we begin ours with a sunshiney +35. nah nah nah nah boo boo :P
China town gates Melaka
Part of the plan was not to have a plan...much to Corina's chagrin...but enough time had been spent in Singapore and it was time to move on. It was down to either Indonesia or Malaysia. For the simple reason that it was easier to get into (ie. no visa required), Malaysia won out. So now we have 7 days where should we go???? K.L. (as the locals call it) ...Hmmmm...nah, we had just been through a bunch of big city's and even a couple of nights in Kuala Lumpur sounded a bit repetitive. Time to hit the beach!!!! Now, do some web searches, read our travel guide and... voila! The Malaysian peninsula has AMAZING beaches on it's east coast! Woo Hoo! But apparently we got there at the tail end of the monsoon season for the east coast.. and all but the fanciest resorts were closed. Drat! More digging, more reading... Oh! the west coast has a completely different climate and though, not as astounding, some nice beaches as well. Done and done... Pick a town any town! Dig...read...web search... humm apparently the island of Pulau Penang has a nice beach about an hour out of the main city. Next we trot off to our neighbourhood bus terminal and see if we can get a ticket. Well, they only go to Melaka and K.L. but once in Malaysia we should be able to go just about anywhere no problem. Seeing as how I had already read about Melaka we decided to go there and find a bus to Pulau Penang to soak up some rays.
Melaka Malaysia, World heritage city... Who knew?
Chinese temple, there are Hindu temples, mosques and churches as well
Extremely good curry soup.
Jelly fish eggs (the translucent slimy things)
Once again food is important to the region. Breakfast was either spicy noodles, coconut rice and yam donuts or Corina's favourite banana roti. Truth be told I can't imagine anyone not falling for their warm banana-y goodness. Lunch was usually just a snack on the beach. Dinner was at one of the hawker and was fried noodles or rice.
Corina's (she)Grin =)
(To be fair Corina's "go with the flow" is flowing just fine) take care all and Merry Christmas, Jason.
christmas was evident here. even if the weather wasn't what we would expect at christmas time there was something in the air... christmas decorations were everywhere, christmas musak was piped through the malls and people were doing the mad shopping dash wherever you looked. these of course aren't our favourite things about this time of year but brought a sense of home to our nomadic lives.
the food was good and the food was cheap if you knew where to look. we ate mostly at the hawker food stalls in outdoor food courts. when we say cheap...our dinner would rarely cost us more than $10 cdn. there was a food court near our hostel that served up a yummy pineapple curry and delicious tofu/choy sum stew which we ate several times.
the local weird food was called a durian. durian is a fruit but you could have fooled us. it stunk so bad that our hostel wouldn't let anyone eat it inside. on our last night in singapore we hung out with another couple, mark and viv, on the terrace. mark bought some durian and we were all forced to try some. jay didn't take much forcing...you can guess that corina did. the taste was likened to mushy onion and the smell to stinky feet/b.o. for some inexplicable reason jay and mark didn't stop eating it until it was done. the girls wisely stopped after one bite. it's really too bad that no one thought to bring out a camera and record the momentous occasion.
when we were in greece we saw a documentary about sandwiches. did you know that greeks have a fetish for documentaries? jay watched several. anyway, icecream sandwiches were highlighted in the film and we laughed at the idea of actual bread being paired with icecream. our notion of icecream sandwiches so ingrained in our minds to be that of a chocolate wafer and white icecream. when we happened across an icecream guy on orchard road we HAD to try one. the sweet pink and green bread wrapped around a raspberry swirl icecream rectangle did not disappoint.
how cold is it jay?
i think that if we had gone to singapore on a short vacation type of trip we may have enjoyed it a bit more. as a stopover on a year long journey we found it above our budget and too consumer oriented.
varEn, jumpa lagi, see you later, bai bai,
corina & jason
the flat petroffs decide that these cubby holes found in goreme, turkey are the perfect place to play tic-tac-owen.
flat hannah is the clear winner in a game of queen of the cubby holes although ellie almost made it just as high.
flat sasha may look like she's smiling in front of this ancient goreme cave house but on the inside she's thinking to herself, "more stairs? didn't we climb enough in pamukkale?"
flat jane and flat owen think it's time for an extreme makeover on this old run down cave house! where's flat ty when you need him?
the flat petroff feel right at home in dubai's indoor ski slope...i mean, it's below zero, there's skiing, sledding and man-made snow...much closer to the reality of home than the +30 degrees C outside.
flat sasha was encouraged by flat hannah to do her best snowman impersonation. flat ellie couldn't stop giggling as usual.
flat owen and flat jane were asked to help guard hong kong's botanical garden with this chinese lion. apparently his partner on the other side of the gate really needed to pee.
obviously the flat penners didn't listen to their flat parents' advice to never play ball with hong kong lions...someone always loses an arm!
the flats practise their hovering skill above hong kong's famous skyline. miraculously flat hannah and flat sasha recovered from their run in with the lion.
the merlion in singapore's marina was a big hit with uncle jay. he was so excited to see a mermaid and a lion statue (and what's with all the lions in asia anyway?) that he literally forced the flats to pose with it. after all it's famous. good excuse, i suppose.
gule gule, baai baai, see ya
from the flat people who are now going to sleep...it's way past their bedtimes and they had a full day on the beach in penang! (pictures to follow)
we had only planned to stay 3 days in hong kong but we extended our visit by a day. it could have been 5 extra days and we wouldn't have run out of things to do. we changed our flight because one day was taken up by my visit to a doctor. i've been having trouble with my ears after flying and it was starting to freak me out.
i saw a medic in athens after the first incident which is why we took a train to istanbul instead of continuing the second leg of our flight from rhodes. he told me i risked permanent damage if i flew when my ears were red and inflamed. when we landed in dubai one of my ears plugged up and it took about 6 hours for it to feel better. when we landed in hong kong the same ear blocked again and this time i had shooting pains down the right side of my neck. not good. we called our insurance company 'world nomads' and they suggested a clinic just down the street from our hostel. i got some anti-inflammatory drops and drugs and i'm happy to report that my ear pain was almost non-existant when we landed in singapore a few days ago. yay for drugs!
so what was so nice about hong kong? it had character, it was bustling, it was alive, it was energy, it was...what a big city should be. after dubai, hong kong was a great 'welcome back' to real life! oh...and the food! the food! omg...so in love with chinese food! i can't even explain my desire for more and more choy sum...
at the advice of gadi and rebecca, our winnipeg-rtw-cyber-friends, we stayed on nathan road. we checked out some rooms in the 'mansions' that they suggested. i'm not sure what i expected from a mansion in hong kong but it definitely wasn't a dirty highrise building with dead mice and garbage in the halls! the first place we looked at was probably a flop house, rented by the hour, and not our idea of a good time. we moved on to the second 'mansion'...this time prepared for the worst. two girls were coming out of the building so i accosted them. i mean, if two young girls could stay there...how bad could it be? they directed us to mr. simon and luckily he had a room for us. luckily because this mansion really wasn't any more pleasant than the last BUT mr. simon's place was very clean. i'm attributing the cockroach that crawled under our door on the last night to the vegetarian, hole-in-the-wall, disgusting restaurant next door.
our last, extra day we spent by getting out of hong kong and exploring the town and market of stanley. it took awhile for my stomach to stop flipping around because of the rollercoaster bus ride we took through the mountainous terrain. we wandered through the famous stanley market and found a beach. if you have a passion for seaglass, like jay and i now do, this is the place to come! hoards of glass pieces are just lying there for your delight and collection.
dubai is a city for cars...no pedestrians allowed. trust us...we tried. most of the roads are freeways with no sidewalks in sight. crossing a freeway would be certain death for anyone that dared. one day, after spending the afternoon at the beach, we decided to walk back to our couchsurfer host's place. he lived about 6 blocks away...6 dubai blocks (ie. biggest, longest, fastest) but nonetheless only 6. we walked along the freeway on a sidewalk that turned into a boulevard that abruptly ended because of construction. not willing to give up easily we crossed the road and walked through a complex of hi tech companies called internet city. only to be confronted with sheik sayed freeway with...of course...no pedestrian crossing. our only option was to flag down a taxi. yup. in dubai you need to take a taxi to cross the road.
haytham, nancy and monika preparing our feast
jay chilling with pink panther at haytham's
on our last day in dubai we decided that since we only had a few hours we would not attempt to walk yet again. we relented and called a taxi. we had yet to see the famous 7 star hotel, the burj al arab, which is built on a man-made island.
dubai was on my must see list. am i glad i saw it? yes. would i go back? probably not. at least not for 20 years or more. maybe by then they will have the sidewalks completed.
corina & jay