Michelle Duer


Michelle Duer

Hopping around the world, writing a tale or two~

Asia » Malaysia » Wilayah Persekutuan » Kuala Lumpur April 29th 2012

I took a sniff and thought of a small restaurant. The kind that lines short stretches of empty beach with unpolished wooden tables and uneven chairs. The kind with a one-, or at most, two-page menu. You have to order the coconut because they're clumped all over the place and, well, it's the symbollic drink of paradise, right? The large (not one of those puny, immaturely plucked ones) coconut comes with a straw and, forget spoons, you use a part of the hacked coconut top to scoop out the meat. It's the kind of place where, even if you're surrounded by friends, you remain silent because the moment is perfect as is and any chatter would only take you away from this place and moment. It's impressive what a smell can trigger. Fatimah smiled and showed ... read more
Squeezing out coconut milk
Red Pepper Paste
Sago Pearls

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap November 29th 2011

"Do you want to see Angkor Wat in Cambodia? My mother tilted her head. "I've already seen it," she said in Korean. "No, you haven't. What do you mean you've seen it?" "Yes, I did," she said. Wait for iiiiiiiit. "On documentary!" Classic mom moment. Siem Reap I realized too late that passport photos are required to receive a Cambodian entry-visa. We entered without photos, but luck was on our side and we were charged an extra US$1/person on top of the standard US$20/person visa-on-arrival fee. (Note: We didn't exchange any of our US dollars as it's interchangeable with the Cambodian Riel. Along those lines, the US$ to Cambodian Riel exchange rate was ludicrous even for the expected, inflated airport rate.) Kong, our taxi driver from the airport, seemed reliable, so we agreed to use his ... read more
Happy Mom in Cambodia
Town Centre
Doctor Fish

Asia » Malaysia » Wilayah Persekutuan » Kuala Lumpur » Bukit Bintang October 31st 2011

There's something about humid climates that compels you to stay cool and unmoving much like a reptile that's found shade on a hot summer's day. One such day in Kuala Lumpur, three of us were lazing about and watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, which two of us had never seen. When we reached the end credits, my friend said, "I feel that WTF feeling you get after a David Lynch movie." I laughed in agreement and felt chills run up my spine, literally. As I prepared for bed, I realized those chills weren't just a reaction to the movie. I felt odd. Not quite sick, but uncomfortable as the chills persisted. Am I getting the flu? I wondered. In the middle of that Sunday night, I woke up with a hot fever and the chills spread ... read more
Malaysian Halloween
Great Makeup!
American Ladies

Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Ubud September 16th 2011

I was tempted to call this "Monkey Business" but figured that had been overused by now in relation to Ubud's Monkey Forest. Prior to living in SE Asia, I thought that monkeys were the cutest little animals despite all anecdotes to the contrary. They throw poop at people? Noooo. They have vicious claws and hiss if they feel threatened? Noooo. So, when a little fellow that I had been photographing started climbing up inquisitively, first onto my knee curiously pulling my camera strap, I went along with his curiosity. He took a gander at my shirt and chest – woah dude, no luck there – then curiously climbed up to my hair. My boyfriend was laughing and taking photographs as the little fellow climbed atop my head and started to groom me! My boyfriend was laughing ... read more
monkeys are cute
the start of it all
what's this?

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Sydney » Sydney Harbour November 6th 2010

Back at the hostel . . . My coed room consisted of 5 bunk beds. I took one of the remaining bunks next to the door. Nimo had arrived at the hostel a day earlier than me. Evidently, the girl on his bottom bunk had enjoyed a wild fest of drunken, bunk-shaking, nocturnal activities. By the time I arrived, she was wretchedly sick and constantly heaving to throw-up in the bathroom. Another night when our dorm was quiet and asleep, I heard somebody tear open a loud bag of chips. Crunch, crunch. And then, as if a monster awoke inside of her, my bottom bunkmate chomp, chomp, CHOMPED. She must have used both hands to grab handfuls of chips to stuff her face – piercing, er, crunching the quiet night with her mastication. I couldn’t sleep ... read more
Sushi at Wagayu Restaurant
Cheesy Group Photo - I was a bit chilly, so had to put on the extra black jacket
Sydney Harbor Bridge

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Sydney » Sydney Harbour November 5th 2010

I arrived in Sydney the day after the Qantas explosion. When I boarded the KST shuttle bus (affordable for round-trip hostel and airport transport), it was all anyone was talking about. I haven't always felt safe with transportation (especially on rides through Sumatra and Borneo and on smaller planes where you feel every inch of the road or the slightest gust of wind), but the destinations seem to justify the risk as long as I'm not choosing a war-torn country. I suppose there’s the thrill of carpe diem, but I wonder, having begun traveling at a very young age, if the odds are slowly stacking against me? I pretend a practiced nonchalance when a plane leaves the tarmac and give a sigh of relief whenever the seatbelt sign goes off with a reassuring ding. I might ... read more
Aboriginese Musician
The Three Sisters
Nimo Barely Hanging on the Edge

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Tangkoko National Park November 2nd 2010

Raf made sure I was set for my next stop at Tangkoko Nature Reserve. I was reluctant to leave the warmth of great conversation and laughter at Cha Cha Resort (), but there always arrives a time to leave when you suffer the incurable pull of wanderlust. Raf and Reiko joined me in some comedic camera poses (I've kept my promise not to post them online), and soon I was waving goodbye from the boat. When the very kind driver picked me up, we talked about how my parents could handle me traveling as an only child and solo female traveler. He had an only daughter of his own whom he was obviously proud of and couldn't imagine letting her do such things. I explained that this was one subject where my parents, though probably worried ... read more
Tall Trees
Watch Out for Thorns!
Black Crested Macaque

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Bunaken National Park October 27th 2010

Part II I left off with and saw much more. By the end of my first trip in October 2010, I had seen various chromodoris nudis and some tinier ones I still can't identify (any help appreciated--refer to tiny nudibranch photos). There was one dive spot I particularly loved when the weather, current and visibility permitted. We followed a rope, around which razor fish gathered with their noses pointed to the ocean floor, down to the sand. As we quickly equalized, Raf and Reiko dropped close to the ocean floor without disturbing a grain of sand. Where I saw only seagrass, Raf and Reiko spotted Skeleton Shrimp (Caprellidae) as thin as fine hair. The little guys crawled like worms arching their mid-sections and pulling forward. The skeletal creatures looked like acrobats when they clung to the ... read more
Squid Drifting
Acrobatic Skeleton Shrimp
Skeleton Shrimp

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Bunaken National Park October 26th 2010

Part I Against many online reviews complaining of litter and plastic fish in this part of the Celebes Sea, I chose to go to Bunaken because of a trusted diver's recommendation. I've always found word-of-mouth or recommendations from good bloggers to be genuine and accurate guides even if different people draw diffierent conclusions about a place. Along those lines, I read through various Bunaken blogs to figure out my accommodation on the island, and chose Cha Cha Nature Resort based on laetitiaaroundtheworld's Bunaken blog. After this visit, I returned again. The following two or three blogs will be a combination of those visits. Reaching Cha Cha Nature Resort After contacting Raf and Reiko, the owners... read more
View from Cha Cha Veranda
Plush Bed
Juvenile Harlequin Sweetlips aka Cha Cha

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Menado October 25th 2010

The pitch black night swallows the headlights, and the driver leans the bus around curving roads with an overconfidence I wish I shared. One bend is marked by the swinging red lights of emergency vehicles. Instead of slowly moving past, the bus driver pulls the break and joins the policemen who are shining flashlights over a cliff overhanging into the void, no evidence of the vehicle that drove over the edge. My seatmate is an old Malay Muslim woman with a beatific smile whose stumbling English is hard to understand, but we manage (I'm not complaining, I know even less Bahasa). She points to me and asks, "Melayu?" Advanced glaucoma reflects the lights of passing cars in her eyes. I explain, no, and why I look Asian; the explanation grows more concise with each telling. The ... read more
Brown Sugar and Coconut Juice
Random Manado Store

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