29 December 2012

Melaka, Malaysia

Visited Melaka for a few days, which is slightly similar to Penang where I have been staying as it is an old colonial town and port.  It was ran by the Portugese, Dutch then the British Empires over the last millennium.  Nowadays it is a pleasant touristy town upon the river with evening market on Jonker Street and local 'nonya' food cuisine, a blend of malay and chinese local to the area.
Here is popiah, a giant fresh spring roll:
Bicycle rickshaws are still common transport but more for tourists than locals I think:
Night scene with street eats:
Down by the river:

26 December 2012

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Singapore

Despite the huge number of shops and malls to visit in Singapore I have also had time this past few days to enjoy Singapore Zoo and have some culture around the Chinatown area of Singapore.  Located in Chinatown is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum complex, an impressive 4 story temple finished in 2005, the tooth relic is said to have come from the ruins of another temple found in Myanmar.
The main stupa housing the tooth relic is encased in 320 kilograms of gold all donated from various devotees, photographs were not permitted upstairs where the stupa was but it did look nothing less than mint condition and an unbelievable amount of gold in the room.
Here is the temple from outside:
 The main hall of the temple:
Cast iron prayer bell:

25 December 2012

Christmas in Singapore

Have had a good time in Singapore over the Christmas holidays, I think most of the locals just use the holiday period as an excuse to hit the shops and malls. Orchard Road was extremely busy, which is where most of the large malls are located, it did have good lights and decorations all the way along the road.

Had a walk around Marina Bay the other evening, I have seen this before but it doesn't fail to impress heres a few shots, the balloons in the bay are part of the new years decorations...

22 December 2012

Penang Food, Malaysia

People ask my why I enjoy staying in Georgetown so much, and like any good local would tell you its the food, Penang being famous for its great variety and tasty dishes. Usually I am too busy tucking into my evening meal and enjoying it to remember to take a photo of it, but i have remembered a few times so heres what I've ate this week...
 A dish of 'curry chicken won ton mee' - some curried chicken with noodles in soy, pak choi, pork, it came with a bowl of soup with won tons in aswell.
Yesterday's lunch was a platter of duck, chicken, pork, sausage, rice and sour soup in the 'First Famous Duck Rice' restaurant which was recommended by a local and took abit of finding on Lorong Suso (Milk Lane) heading out of town.
I have to say the Indian food is my favourite though and here is a fantastic vegetable thali from Sri Anand restaurant.
Will take a picture of the best meal ever - tandoori chicken naan set from the Kapitan restaurant before I leave later on the nightbus to Singapore to finally meet my friend and enjoy the Christmas Holidays.
And here it is, the photo does not do it justice as this is the best tandoori chicken you can get...

19 December 2012

Street art in Penang, Malaysia

Something a little different today, Georgetown in Penang is famous for being an old colonial town in Malaysia with a very high number of protected buildings. However over the past couple of years street art made of wire sculptures has cropped up to show a little bit more about the history of Georgetown. I did lots of laps of the backstreets today learning what the streets have been traditionally used for and how they came about their names. The examples below show Malay Street where there used to be numerous butchers, myself on rope walk, then at the bottom the street where designer Jimmy Choo once worked.

13 December 2012

Langkawi, Malaysia

So I decided to have a change of scenery from Penang this week. Got a bus up to the top of the west coast of peninsular Malaysia and hopped on a ferry over to Pulau Langkawi, a beautiful island that has been touted as a holiday resort for a number of years, being a duty free island to attract tourists for cheaper alcohol.
Ive stayed on Pantai Cenang, which is the largest beach over 2 km long and beautiful. Despite being busy with backpackers and malay tourists the beach looks empty all day as people avoid the midday sun as its been rather hot, with a few thundershowers thrown in in the evening.
Have enjoyed the week, working abit on my tan and playing hac-e-sac on the sand.

1 December 2012

Penang, Malaysia

So flew to KL at the start of the week then got the bus up to Penang, where I will stay for maybe 2 weeks, as I'm just relaxing this month before meeting my friend in singapore for Christmas. Until then Penang is my home, I've visited before and am a fan thanks to the huge amount of food on offer, all indian dishes in little india, malay food and tons of Chinese food, so a great range to choose from. This week I've had tandoori chicken, vegetable thalis, chicken rice to name a few, been running a couple of times to combat all the meals i have eaten.
Today I walked out of town to visit the Burmese and Thai Buddhist temples, the first housing a large standing buddha, then over the road a 30 meter long reclining buddha.

Above shows alms baskets which people purchase to donate to the monks (as monks do not ever take money only food and other donations)

Me in front of the large reclining buddha in the thai temple

A mosiac dragon shining in the sun and below art work on the temple wall

25 November 2012

Jakarta, Indonesia

So I made it all the way across Java, passing lots of rice fields on the train from Yogya. Only had a brief stay in the sprawling city of Jakarta, as there was not too much to see and well its a very busy place, with constant traffic gridlock. Shown below is the National Monument in the middle of Jakarta, then also some of the sky scrapers and shopping centres surrounded by traffic jams.

22 November 2012

Borobudur, Indonesia

So its very rare when I'm backpacking that I will get up at 5am, well rare any time really. This morning it was to visit the large buddhist temple of Borobudur, 40km or so from Yogya where i'm currently staying.
I have to say its huge, the temple is 9 layers upon each other up to the central dome on top. Surrounding it the layers leading up to the top are a total of over 500 buddha statues and 2000 decorated carved panels. It was built maybe 1300 years ago, but was abandoned for a period and became buried by ash, later to be rediscovered in the 1800s and unearthed and restored.
There was not perfect weather conditions as it pretty cloudy, but I'm glad i went early when it was still quiet and before it got too hot.

21 November 2012

Kraton (Palace), Yogyakarta, Indonesia

So staying in Yogya rest of this week. Have visited the Kraton yesterday, which is the palace of the city. Explored the complex seeing the lots of treasures, the golden pavilion which had a traditional javanese performance of music and ladies singing. You can't see all of the palace as it is still lived in by the Sultan of Yogya to this day.
Today I have spent wandering around the Taman Suri, which is the water gardens near the palace, they have been damaged by an earthquake in the past but the main pools have been restored. Around the area used to be a lake but nowadays is houses, little lanes and other broken buildings. Some locals did show me the underground mosque and tunnels that ran underneath the lake to the Sultan's private rooms!

18 November 2012

Solo (Surakarta), Indonesia

It might not have many sights to see but Solo; real name Surakarta; is alright, yesterday I had a look in the museum and library of artefacts, before today I visited the king of Surakarta's Kraton (like palace) had a authentic feel of a past era due to it being abit run down. It did house an interesting collection of carriages that kings would travel in style in.
Wandering around the flee market area of the city I stopped for Bakso Komplit Ayam, translated is complete chicken meatballs, soup that is, which turned out to be pretty filling.

17 November 2012

Surabaya, Indonesia

So 2 days ago I decided it was finally time to hit the road properly for the first time this trip, and leave the comfort and tourists of Bali behind me heading over to Indonesia's most populated island of Java.
After catching a scooter ride, then bus from Denpasar to hook up with the ferry to Java, I made it a port called Banyuwangi on Java.  Where I got there I purchased a late night train ticket to Surabaya, then its possible to change to head to Solo (real name Surakarta).
Arriving in Surabaya at 5 am I was obviously disappointed when there was no tickets left for the morning train and I would have to wait until 1 pm.  Thankfully this is where the art of being a practised zen buddha like backpacker came in, so a morning of lying around finishing my book ensued.  Then venturing around to find a mall and pretty decent chicken rice bowl for my lunch, meant it was finally time to catch my train.  Passing through the rice fields all afternoon, I got to Solo last night.
I have to be honest there is not a great deal to see, but plenty of local food and a big old guesthouse with a pool to stay in, il update when i get some pictures.

9 November 2012

Ubud, Indonesia

Still staying in Ubud, but have been out walking around the town, exploring the rice fields and country alleys to see what I can find.  The first major leg of my travels is coming up next week when i'll venture over to Java, and start doing abit more, but for now alittle bit more relaxing.  Here is some kind of waterlily plant, then views around Ubud and ricefields.

6 November 2012

Ubud, Indonesia

Been very much enjoying the quieter countryside of Bali in the small town of Ubud, staying in a traditional Balinese homestay.  Ubud is located in the hills surrounded by rice fields, more recently it was featured in the book/film 'eat, prey, love' (starring julia roberts) so we have spotted several thirty something yoga/health obsessed women floating about the area.
Our host in the homestay a Mr Aji has been good to talk teaching us about some of the local customs.  Sadly but interestingly he invited us to a neighbours funeral this afternoon, me and a friend adjourned  the local sarongs and headwear, then observed and paid our respects along with the rest of the community.  It included numerous blessings and offerings them a procession up the road to local temple.
Been getting back into my running to get fit whilst im away, after that ive just enjoyed a hot and spicy noodle veg soup.  The pictures are from my near the monkey temple, the others just a statue and warung (local eatery) at the end of the road.

31 October 2012

Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

First couple few days away have been pretty easy going with a bit of beach time at Kuta/Legian beaches.  Which are pleasant enough but firmly in the over developed touristy-ness category of places to stay, with enough counterfeit goods and junk products being sold by the locals to dress a small country.  However did get in some shots of the sunset along the beach, the sea can be pretty rough and is very popular with surfers.

29 October 2012

Brisbane, Australia

Arrived today in Bali, Indonesia but first the backstory...
So after a change in fortunes in the land of Australia I was made redundant, not finding another job; at this point an executive decision was made to retire (temporarily) and hit SE Asia for full backpacking coverage.
All was not bad, I enjoyed my last month in Australia for now seeing a few sites before I left and eating/drinking out.  I was to fly out yesterday but due to a delayed flight I missed my connection to Bali, but that meant I got put up in a hotel for the night and got fed before I departed on this mornings flight.  Heres a couple of cityscapes of Brisbane for now:

11 June 2012

Electric City (Akihabara), Tokyo, Japan

Some more downtown action in Tokyo, this time around the area known as electric city, which explains itself selling all kind of computer and electrical equipment, aswell as numerous maid cafes with girls dressed up.

Food in Tokyo, Japan

Heres a few snaps of my evening meal, including some fried noodles and a selection of kebabs, was enjoyed with a few young lads that were originally from China but lived in Tokyo for work: