Sunday, July 29, 2012

Haircut in Penang

I spontaneously decided to get a haircut in Penang. We walked past the shop and the barber was sitting out the front. It worked out to be about 5RM or about $1.50 AUD. The options were (as always) long, medium, or short. He shaved the back of my neck with a cut-throat and gave me the most bizarre (and slightly painful) massage when he was done. My neck was as smooth as a baby's butt. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jalan Alor

So with Singapore wrapped up (in truth, we probably didn't spend enough time there, but what can ya do), we jet over to Malaysia. A relatively short flight, we were greeted by my super-distant super-extended family at the airport.

Now you may be asking why I have super distant relatives in Malaysia when I am a Chinese Vietnamese Anglo-Indian-with-possible-distant-Burmese-connections guy who was born in Australia. To tell you the truth, I am not really 100% sure as to why either. From what I understand, my mum's dad's mum, and their mum's dad's mum both fled from China during the communist revolution. My relatives landed in My Tho, Vietnam. Their relatives landed in Tanjong Sepat, Selangor, Malaysia. When my mum was in a Malaysian refugee camp 32 years ago, she was visited by my Malaysian family. I guess this is a whole different story all together..

I digress, my relatives took us for dinner at a mamak kopitiam, which literally translates to 'eat coffee shop'. I guess it's kind of like an Indonesian Warung. Its funny, cos I hadn't really come across the words mamak kopitiam before, but now that I am back in Melbourne, I keep seeing it on Malaysian restaurants.

After a quick meal, my relatives drove us to our hotel room. The travel agent promised so much. 'Clean, cheap, convenient, central'. I guess she was right about the everything except the 'clean' bit. My relos were a bit freaked out. We were in the middle of Kuala Lumpur's cbd. We were told there were a lot of sex workers in the area, pickpockets, and scammers. It was apparently a crappy area to be in. They told us not to leave the room at night.

Hundreds of hawker food stores lay on the hotels doorsteps. The street was buzzing with life. Cars, motorbikes, and hundreds of people zoomed past, and as I dealt with crappy showers, questionable laundry, and smelly aircon, I opened the window and stubbornly decided I had to explore Jalan Alor (the name of the street). So on the stroke of midnight, I set off into the night.

I wasn't set on by a bunch of bag snatching prostitues who wanted to strangle and kill me after scamming me. I found a cat. Who was quiet cute. And lots of good food. And cheap fruit. And a random busker (whose name escapes me) who was happy to share a beer and a chat. Overall, a pleasant experience which I would recommend to anyone who travels to KL. 

Mamak Kopitiam on the outskirts of KL
Jalan Alor  from our hotel room. 
Hawker food on the street. You pick up the stick, dip it in a pot of boiling water and enjoy the yumminess. 
BBQ chicken wings. 

Cat watching people.

Awesome busker I met. We shared a beer and he talked about where he was from in the south, his musical tastes (Bob Marley, the stones, Dylan, etc).

Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Singapore (PT III)

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

Singapore (PT II)

I would like to think of myself as more of a traveller than a tourist. I prefer to look at the way locals live, rather than monuments and tourist attractions. My mum is the complete opposite. Our second day in Singapore involved heading to an older and a newer landmark. 
Entang Wharso's work  'Temple of Hope: Forest of Eyes' at the Singapore Art Museum.  

Entang Wharso's work  'Temple of Hope: Forest of Eyes' at the Singapore Art Museum.  

The Marina Bay Sands casino and hotel. Yep. That's right. Theres a freakin boat on a building. 

Singapore Harbour by aerial cruise ship.

ArtScience museum, Marina Bay, Singapore. We were lucky enough to see the Warhol retrospective show. 

Singapore by night. 

Light and bubble and laser and water and everything else spectacular. 

On the bottom six levels of the hotelcasinosaurus lies a shopping centre. But not just a normal shopping centre to go buy jeans and cds and crap. That would be too common. This shopping centre only has brand names. And not just McDonalds. Prada, Gucci, Armani, Coach, etc. etc. etc. There was a consumer camera shop which had a few Leica S2s in the window and some special edition M9's. And appropriate glass. Ya know, no big deal. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Singapore (PT I)

Upon landing in Singapore, we didn't really have a great deal of plans. I guess one of the first things to comment on in the city is everything is clean. And I don't mean like there is no dust or whatever, I mean impeccable. No graf, no litter, and a distinct lack of cigarette butts, empty soft drink cans and the like. And unlike other South East Asian cities, tap water is potable, and you don't have to worry about playing russian roulette with food.

The downside of this amazing city is that everything is generally pretty pricy. I guess it's a bad reflection on me, but I measure costs of living by beers. A longneck Tiger beer in Melbourne or Sydney would cost about $10-15 at a bar. In Dili, it would set you back about $4-5 US dollars. In Indonesia, probably the same, or a bit less. In Singapore, a 375 ml bottle of Tiger (which is brewed in Singapore) costs $16 dollars! sadlgjdsW#$@#agjko!

On the other hand, public transport is cheap and extremely easy to use. There is a beautiful blend of different cultures, food is amazing, and art galleries and museums are everywhere. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to spend a great deal of time there, but enjoy my travel pics!

When pouring through souvenir shops, theres heaps of stuff saying 'Singapore is a fine city' with pics of the above on it. I don't know how much truth is in it, but apparently you can be fined for not flushing public toilets. Here is a pic from the MRT rail service.
Mum at the market. I kinda went crazy and bought a heap of starfruit and mangostien. 
Pegs at the Chinese restaurant we ate at.  The food was delicious and really cheap. 
Little India, Singapore. There were heaps of shops which sell traditional Indian dress. I didn't realise there was such a demand?
One of many Indian dress shops in an Indian dress shop complex, Singapore. 
I was pretty excited when I found out that you could buy jumbo size coconut juices from vending machines. 

Mum and I scored a table next to the beautiful River. We had a giant chilli crab for dinner - one of the dishes Singapore is famous for. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Within a few days of seeing mum's doctors, we had arranged an airfare to Malaysia with a four day stop off in Singapore. A small smile crept on my face when I saw we would be flying on an Airbus A380.

These pics were from the 20 Jun 2012.

Enjoying a preflight coffee at Melbourne International. 

I was extremely excited to get a flight on the A380. I was looking forward to looking out the window for the whole flight. Flying over Indonesia is usually fascinating because of the hundreds of islands you get to pass. We ended up sitting over the wing. This is what I saw for 8 hours.

Mum after landing at Changi International, Singapore.