Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Days 42-43 - Phuket, Thailand

We headed out early Wednesday morning to the airport to head to Phuket, Thailand with a scheduled personal van shuttle straight to our hotel.  Out of the Singapore, KL, Phuket, Bangkok tour we did, this was our favorite stop. The people and the beach were wonderful.
 We took the hotel taxi around to the Big Buddha and famous temples in the area.  The view from the top was incredible.

Random cat placed itself RIGHT in the middle of the temple entrance.  The cuteness!
We headed to the beach and swam in the perfect water.  We saw a ton of jellyfish tops on the beach but didn't encounter any in the water.  The waves here were body-surfable so we did that for a while until they started getting really rough and I took a few tumbles underwater and ended up entangled in someone else's arms and legs, didn't know who until the wave took us pretty much all the way to the beach and it was one of the TI guys.  Funny/awkward.  Sand in places it shouldn't be...  So we got out and ate at the beach restaurant.  It was really cloudy that day so we didn't catch the sunset, but here is the sunset from the next day after we went kayaking around a lot of islands nearby.  I'll try to get some photos the others took of us in the kayak, but I didn't have my phone with me.  We had paid for a boat tour/self kayaking experience with lunch included on the boat, and it was so perfect.  Some of the tunnels we went into you had to lie back in the kayak in order to fit, and they took you into beautiful lagoons with monkeys and other wild life.  It was a wonderful day, topped off with a gorgeous sunset.
It started raining so I ran for cover to the nearest umbrella and then got all artsy with the sunset.  :)
I loved walking along the beach seeing all the tiny crabs scatter and crawl into holes.  I watched the last bit of the sunset with my new crab friend (I put him back after this photo).  Tomorrow we head off to Bangkok for the city life again.  But I could get used to this beach thing...

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 41 - Petronas Towers

On Tuesday we walked around the city and took the MRT to experience China Town and Central Market (a huge mall selling local goods and such in a building built in 1928).  A large number of women here wear hijabs.  I didn't realize it was such a Muslim country. The odd thing was seeing women in full burkas holding hands and laughing with their husbands (boyfriends?).  All we see on TV are the very oppressed women who stick together in female-only circles in the middle east, but here they were laughing and flirting, and being...normal...in their black burkas and bright pink Skecher sneakers with the man wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  That was a new experience for us.
It was most interesting to see a vending machine by the Subway selling SunSilk hair care products with a girl in a hijab on it and the hashtag "hair selfie".  Wait, what??  Marketing fail.
Below: Cool building with a Texas Chicken restaurant.  :)
After a long day exploring the city we headed to the Petronas towers to see the sunset, which again was a failure, but at least the view was wonderful. 
We had just missed the F1 race when we arrived, but at least we got to see a model of a car in the lobby.
For this building you pay to get to the sky bridge (world's tallest at the 41st floor) for about 15 minutes and then you get to go to the tip top and look out over all of KL.  Here are views from the bridge and from the top point.
The elevator going up had video walls on every side except for the doors so it felt like you could see outside!!!

Here's another video I found on youtube from a different angle:

After seeing all of KL we relaxed by the fountain that had music and a light show and headed to the other side of the park to have a drink at SkyBar which was such a perfect ending to the night since we could see the towers from the open windows on the top floor at hte bar next to a pool with laser lights and and DJ with a live violinist playing along to techno music. Aside from the service being the slowest in Asia yet, it was a wonderful end to the night...but wait, there's more!
When I went to the bathroom at SkyBar, I was waiting behind an Asian lady in line while three young British girls primped.  There were two stalls, but one was making a noise and so we were waiting for a long time to use the only other toilet. We asked the British girl closest to the stall what was wrong and why it couldn't be used and she said it was *accent* "squirting water, so much that you could get wet by going in there."  I figured this was probably the bidet gone wrong so I checked it out.  I noticed a turn knob near the floor and just as the girl was peeking in to see what I was doing *turn turn*SQUIRRRTT*turn turn turn* I turned the bidet UP instead of DOWN and it went straight at us!!  We all screamed and by this time an older French lady was in line also and was laughing hysterically.  The poor British girl didn't understand that it wasn't toilet water, so she asked what it was that had been running, and I explained some people use the bidet instead of toilet paper but don't know why.  Eventually with the help of her friends she realized it was clean water that I had sprayed her with.  Omg, I felt so bad but was laughing so hard myself and one of her friends said she wished she had gotten it on video.  These are the experiences you can't plan for, and yet you will never ever forget!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 40 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (City Center Aquarium and KL Tower)

 We headed to the main mall by the Petronas Towers to go the Aquarium that actually was pretty awesome for just 10 bucks.  They have Southeast Asia's longest underwater tunnel at 90 meters long.  It was beautiful and so cool to see the creatures up close for a long time before you got to the end.

 That guy was just chilling right above us so we could see right in.  lol  
And they had multiple large sharks. 
 My favorite part was feeding time!  This blue-spotted sting ray (manta ray?) was hungry!  He kept splashing right up the side of the tank to tell the feeder "ME ME ME ME ME MY TURN!!!"

 It was so funny!! 
And then of course there is my usual favorite; jellyfish! 

Then we headed to the Petronas Towers, but found out they are closed on Mondays. So we headed to KL Tower to try to catch the sunset which was harder than we thought.  You had to walk up this long hill, and catch a van at the top to take you even further and right to the base.  This is where we met some awesome young Swedish guys on a three month world trek, and a girl from New York who I eventually found out is studying in Japan for a year (rock on!!) who all also tried the other Towers first only to learn they were closed so now here we all were going to the KL tower instead. :)
You have two options at 'top', you can pay to go up just a little higher and look out from the glass-enclosed level, or pay even more and go to the top top to see out with no obstructions.  We chose the top top and so did the Sweeds.  We paid and got a fancy water in the shape of the tower and proceeded to the special elevator where we waited nearly 20 minutes for the "dignitaries" to have their go at the top.  We were none too happy to be kept waiting after being upsold our tickets, and kept asking the guy who was helping us what was taking so long and if we could just take the stairs.  
 We were starting to get real antsy when finally!  The elevator stopped for us!  We had been watching it go up and down to the ground over and over just teasing us.  But the view truly was spectacular from the top top.  We guessed it was all worth it in the end.
 After that, us and the Sweeds parted ways but then ended up at the same Japanese restaurant afterwards!  They made a joke about us stalking them.  The food was pretty awesome and you ordered everything from a tablet. So the food just kept coming every time we pressed "order now."  I liked the fanciness of it, but I don't like this trend of technology in restaurants.  I guess it works well in Asia because their level of service at food places is not anywhere near what Americans are used to, but I don't think it should become a thing in America.  Just my thoughts.  
Tomorrow, Petronas Towers!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 40 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Batu Caves)

Monday morning, we headed straight for the Batu Caves north of the city center.  This is where I saw the most white people in any country yet.  There were so many people on the train and they all looked like hippies or wanderers or very pale Swedish people who had no business wearing tank tops and shorts if they don't want to look like tomatoes later (I feel Chris and I were in this latter category but we had long sleeves and pants on-lol). At first, I was intimidated by the hundreds of steps you have to climb, but it wasn't as bad as I thought, and the views and monkeys were totally worth it.  Beware of the wildlife!

 This one had a baby on it!
Once at the top, there was a big cavern with multiple shrines in it that people were getting blessing from and praying in, and then even more stairs led to another temple/shrine where the sun was shining in and even more monkeys were hanging around.
 After the climb up and back down, we stopped at one of the small restaurants near the entrance and bought a cold coconut they chopped the top of for us to drink and once we had finished it we asked them to chop in half and got to eat the flesh.  It was a great and refreshing snack.

Next stop (because more rain was in the forecast) the aquarium near the Petronas tower so we could end the day there and watch the sunset from the top...

Day 39 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Fraser Place Residences, dignitaries, and free concert)

 We had an early afternoon flight to KL from Singapore so we just went to the mall that had a train stop in it and had some good Korean food that they cooked right in front you. (chicken, cabbage, rice stick thingies, and more)  They even give you aprons to wear.  :)
 One thing I appreciate is they don't mess around with cigarette warnings.  These are cartons sold in the airport duty free shop and you can see sad tiny babies, super gross mouth cancer and more in huge photos on every box.  Way to go!
 KL tower from the taxi.
 Upon arrival to our hotel it started hardcore raining.  I couldn't even see the hills in the near distance anymore it was coming down so thick.  Our place was actually an apartment building-Fraser Place Residences-that I got for the same price as the same brand's normal hotel rooms due to a special because of the F1 race going on in town--that if we had known about we SO would have attended, but oh well.
  It also happened to be right next to a grave yard which creeped Chris out a little.  lol
 Fully furnished apartment.  It was much nicer than where we are staying in the Philippines and cheaper too.
A tub!!!  I used it every night!  I miss having a tub...
 The top of the hotel had great views!
  We ventured out after having dinner at the hotel and stayed a while at one of the train stations because about every 2 or 3 minutes a huge cavalry of police cars and motorcycles would go by to clear traffic for dignitaries in nice cars with flags on them.  We couldn't really tell who or what they were representing, but later on we guessed they were with some APEC group (something about Asia and economics) so they got priority treatment everywhere they went (including cutting the line before us at Petronas towers).  I don't know how many cops KL has, but they all seemed to be on traffic duty that night. 
 We kept walking around with no real goal but in the general direction of the Petronas towers which were gorgeous. 

  We stumbled upon an outdoor concert and marketplace with handmade trinkets and shirts.  The music was pretty good (didn't understand a word of it) and the artwork in many of the stalls was dark or had skulls and guts incorporated into them.  Very talented, but I didn't see anything I would want to decorate my house or body in, so we moved on.
 You can buy Hello Kitty things out of vending machines!!!  Things aren't as cheap here as the Philippines so I declined to purchase anything, but the cuteness!!
 We came pretty close to the towers, but our plan was to buy tickets to the top the next day so we turned around and went back to the apt.  We needed to be well rested if we were going to climb all the stairs to the Batu caves the next morning.
 Goodnight KL!