well well well....look who it is
After my final long flight on this trip, 11 hours, I arrived with Alex in Malaysia. Despite it being 8 at night we were met with 34 degree heat. This was a welcome change after our last few cool days in New Zealand. Once arriving downtown I quickly learned several facts, which i feel will be a constant throughout Asia. First, everyone drives fast, from the crappy old clunker car, to the endless motorcycles and scooters. This does not mean that people are not good drivers, its just that pedestrians have to keep an eye out when crossing the road. The second fact is to always watch were you are walking. It seems that due to the endless, heavy rain, which this country receives during the monsoon season, that long gutters beside the sidewalks now drop several feet down, instead of several inches. Even manhole covers are missing in the middle of sidewalks, which makes things interesting when your not paying attention. There are also an endless array of stray dogs and cats in Malaysia. But a peculiar thing is that each and every cat has a messed up tail...everyone... it
seems they have all sacrificed one of their nine lives by narrowly avoiding cars and bikes in the city.
Our first city was Kuala Lumpur....and frankly it has proven to me once again that all cities on this planet are one in the same. What I mean by this is if you are looking for any international store or product you will find it as easily here as any other city. In fact this one had more North American fast food chains then Toronto! Buddhist temples lay next to KFC's, while Mosques were adjacent to Kenny Rogers Rosters and Pizza Hut's. It was actually quite sad... but hey the Pizza Hut in Kuala Lumpur wasn’t half bad...haha. But Alex and I actually did make an effort to try local quizzine, and it was nothing short of amazing. Food was quite expensive in KL but we were promised by travelers it gets cheaper outside of the city.
So after a few days we headed south towards Singapore.
Sept 30/2008 - Johor Bahru
After a short 7 hour train ride we were only miles from the Singapore/Malaysian border. Since Singapore is a small island, no bigger then Toronto, we
Underwater shot of Patronus towers
felt that a day would suffice. After taking a bus to the border, Alex and I stood in customs reading over the extensive list of do's and don't of Singapore, many of them punishable by death. I actually started to sweat after reading that it was even illegal to possess gum, let alone chew it. This was a problem since I had gum in my bag. I shakily showed this to the customs agent who laughed and just told me to throw it out when he finished checking my passport.
Once I had escaped from customs Alex and I went on a cultural tour of the city, first starting with a museum. This actually was the most amazing museum I have even been in, and contained a startling amount of precious crowns, jewels and artifacts from throughout Asia. Once we finished we entered another museum of sorts...ok ok...it was a brewery tour, but it did talk about the history of the brewery. In fact this was the best brewery tour I have every done... it even showed a 3-D movie of the life of hops and barley as they become beer. At the end we even got to pour
our own beer from behind the bar...it was truly enlightening.
We ended the night on the world’s largest Farris wheel, similar to the Eye in London, England. This was a great way to end the day as we saw the entire skyline of Singapore at dusk. As we made our way home we realized that it would take far longer to get back into Malaysia. The reason is this...those controlling the border are stupid. First off they send only 1 bus an hour back to the Singapore customs agency. A problem when 300 people are in line to go back. Second, once you go through customs you have to wait for a second bus...and only this bus.. to take you to customs in Malaysia, 1 1/2 kms away. This second bus only comes once every hour... this time there was 400 people in line. After 4 hours we were back in our rooms.
.... And i shall call you the train from hell. It seems that when Malaysia built its second train track that runs through the country, it was built by people who wanted those on board to feel the excitement not pleasure while riding
the rails. Similar to a bucking bronco, this 7 hour ride through the country towards Malaysia’s largest and the worlds oldest Rainforest, made sure you were shaken, not stirred, as you were violently jerked in your seat. A few times i was fully expecting us to go off the rails as we screamed around tight bends and through dilapidated towns. This train also had a very interesting feature... open doors at the head and back of each car... right near the bathrooms. I assume they were open for those wishing to smoke within the cars... but this made for a terrifying sight as children...no more then 5 or 6, would run for the bathroom only one buck away from freefalling out the doors. Suffice it to say I didn’t sleep.
With our arrival in Jerantut.. Alex and I were whisked towards some boats and taken 3 hours up into the Rainforest of Malaysia. This was without a doubt the most relaxing and beautiful boat trips I have ever been on, as we slowly made it up the river with the sun on our faces. Our little boat trip ended at a floating town on the water way. This place
was our starting point for our next few days of exploration of the rainforest.
Our first night we went on a guided night walk through the rainforest. I went through a range of emotions on this little exertion...let me tell you about them. First it was excitement as we changed and made our way to the boat to take us to the forest. Then it was disappointment as we were going to walk through a forest located right behind a spa and resort. Then it went to anger as 60 of us walked in single file... all while people shouting to each other....blinding each other by shining flashlights in each other faces and freaking out when ever they saw a bug. But then realizing our anger, our guide Eddie did a great thing... he got us separated from everyone else. Suddenly, as everyone went away my final emotion presented itself...it was pure happiness. All of a sudden an armada of frogs, crickets and every bug in the forest created a defining roar of sound...something I did not hear before. The millions of flashlights now dwindled down to 5... as we explored the forest in complete silence, and complete darkness.
We watched scorpions, bird spiders, walking stick bugs, deer’s and huge poisonous millipedes go on their nightly business. It was truly, truly amazing... and the last half hour, more then made up for the first hour.
Our next day was spent up in the trees; on a canopy tour...in fact the largest canopy walk in the world...and man was it high, nearly 40 meters in the air. It was a great way to see many of the trees and also get out of the super humid, forest floor. Alex and I just messed with each other by jumping up and down on the walkway...which frankly wasn’t the smartest thing in the world...but it was funny at the time. And after that we did some white water rafting on our long Asian boats...and soaked one another in the fast moving muddy water...
Several hundred kms away on the island of Langkawi, Alex and I discovered another paradise, near the Thailand border. Right when we arrived at our hostel I knew what we had to do while we were here. For located in the back of the hostel was scooters that you could rent by the day. In
highest farris wheel in the world...for now
fact it was insanely cheap to rent...try to figure this one out if you can. If I were to rent a sea doo there for half an hour it would cost me 43 dollars. Yet if i rented a scooter for 24 hours, it would cost me 9 dollars... something seems amiss here. So Alex and i rented these beauties for 2 days...and boy did we have fun. Having never ridden a motorcycle before I find it surprisingly easy to learn, and the local traffic gives you plenty of space. I felt like I was in a dream as we cruised by forests of palm trees, and roaming herds of cows with huge rings in their noses. There were even monkeys hanging out by the sides of the road....and thus our first mistake was made. After pulling over to the side of the road to take a look at them, they immediately came over to check us and our new bikes out. This was all fun and games till we tried to get them off of Alex’s bike. It seems they are somewhat fearless and after I yelled and ran at them, the alpha males did the same. We backed
off... and thus 15 thousand kms from home Alex and I were found running down the side of a highway while monkeys chased us from our bikes. That is until I found a brick... and stopped... with the brick over my head i ran at them... Now this made them scared as i was fully willing to throw it at them. And as they retreated, Alex and I got on our bikes and floored it. Ryan 1...monkeys 0
Well thats all i want to say for now....
Catch ya on the flip side.
An ode to sweat
Sweat....i have come to know you well
Being skinny i rarely do much of it, no matter how hard i work out....but not here. It turns out that in 40+ weather i have become the Michael Phelps of sweating. Take today for instance... after a cold shower i began to sweat while brushing my teeth.... ah well...C'est la vie
In reference to the name of the blog entry...we are in the monsoon season now. it rains at least once a day for about an hour in a torrential downpour. This does nothing to get rid of the heat...
and slowly i am getting happy about that... the warmth is growing on me.
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