Tag Archives: Malaysia

Trains, planes and a tuk tuk equals an emotional high!

If you’ve been following this blog from the beginning, you’ll know that my experience has ranged from volunteering in small villages to helping out in grand hotels. Ive gotten to live in a tree house, van camp, hitch hike and lets not forget the random events of spoiling myself during “holiday” with friends from home. I’ve crossed paths and reunited with many other backpackers and have stayed with numerous friends from around the world. All of these events lead me to realize that I’m extremely (fill in the blank here with any positive word that represents or resembles lucky, blessed, fortunate, kissed by karma, etc).

After enjoying a luxurious month in Japan with my cousin, I’ve decided to return to my solo backpacking and spontaneous volunteering adventure that I started this whole expedition with.

I packed a small bag, bought a one way ticket and boarded a flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia… Butterflies included.

To give you an idea of where I am and what I felt getting here, I’m going to take you on a quick 24 hour journey from a train station in Japan to the very bed I’m sitting on as I write this.

“Hey Brandon, would you mind giving me a hand please? So, Ill be back in…. Hmmm, probably just… Well, I’ll let you know”.

20131019-082637.jpg

20131019-082757.jpg

20131019-082613.jpg

First flight served up Japanese noodles with sauce and seaweed sprinkles, a tomato based spicy seafood pasta, what I think was a shrimp potato salad, bread and butter next to some orange juice. Complimentary red or white wine was also an option.

20131019-082949.jpg

The snack of the morning was hot tea, a bag of peanuts, a mini snickers and a triangular rice patty stuffed with salmon.

20131019-085606.jpg

My layover in Kuala Lumpur, brings me a smile and the first new friend of this trip. Meet Rochaq, born in India, raised in Australia and currently on his way to surprise his mother near the Himalayas. Over hot milk tea, (thanks again for that treat!) we had an in depth conversation of health and fitness followed by the usual travel wishes and stories. I joked about having different currency to tip with and just as quickly, he matched my pile. Combined, we money from India, Malaysia, Japan, Australia and the USA. Our time together ended with info exchange and a “see you again…somewhere…sometime”.

20131019-084707.jpg

20131019-084714.jpg

20131019-084719.jpg

Who’s this? It’s the glowing smile that sat next to me on the flight from Malaysia! Bree is from the states and is now traveling from Bali to Cambodia. I think the most beautiful part of our conversation was the undeniable energy we shared trading opinions of yoga and backpacking to living a life with an open mind while maintaining a conscious awareness. Considering our Asia map has similar destinations, maybe… just maybe Ill see this sweet girl again!

20131019-090216.jpg

Landing in Phnom Penh gives me a sense of freedom. I’m not sure why, but either way, my heart is racing with excitement while my shoulders drop a notch with each step. I feel at peace.

20131019-094000.jpg

Why do I look like a giggling rabbit? Instead of taking a bus or cab, I opt for the $7 tuk tuk ride to my first volunteering home. A tuk tuk (dependimg on the type and location are also known as a Samosa, tempo, trishaw, auto, rickshaw, autorick, bajaj, rick, tricycle, mototaxi, baby taxi or lapa) is a motorbike with an open air carriage attached to the back for its passengers. The obvious choice for financial and entertainment purposes.

20131019-094124.jpg

Backpack between my legs and my bag tied around my shoulders, I’m ready to hit the road!

20131019-094234.jpg

20131019-094245.jpg

Rather than describing each photo, I’m going to highly suggest that you actually take a moment to look at each one. You’ll see mothers with children on their laps, locals hard at work or hardly working and abundance of other random sights.

20131019-111615.jpg

20131019-111622.jpg

20131019-111634.jpg

20131019-111709.jpg

20131019-111810.jpg

20131019-111818.jpg

20131019-111826.jpg

20131019-111902.jpg

20131019-111926.jpg

20131019-111945.jpg

By this point in the journey, I’m fighting back the lump I feel in my throat and trying to keep my focus on the vibration I feel in my body (and I’m not talking about the motorized bumpy tuk tuk ride). These emotions can only be expressed as the deep appreciation I have for being exactly where I am at this very moment in time.

I am so grateful for my life.

20131020-103701.jpg

Upon arriving to my new “home”, I’m instantly invited out for lunch by one of the house roomies. Ill introduce you to that cozy place and the others soon. For now, I hop on the back f her scooter and head to a vegetarian restaurant.

20131019-113513.jpg

20131019-113520.jpg

She ordered an egg sandwich and I had a mushroom patty with cucumbers and soup. In the middle we shared fried tofu with black pepper and lime juice. Including the warm tea, all together this lunch bill totaled $5 (in USD). Kind of pricey for these parts (sarcastic giggle) but we got to sit at a table, with silverware and additional sauces. Amazing!

20131019-113917.jpg

We arrive back and I’m shown to my room which is where I sit at this very moment writing about my last 24 hours.

20131019-114039.jpg

It’s only just begun…

On your MARKET, get set… Go!

Lets talk about a worldwide shared interest, a magnet for gatherings and one of my favorite subjects, food! Sweet, salty, fresh, raw, baked, grilled, fried, roasted, frozen, blended, puréed and homemade… We love it!

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have experienced the cuisine of several different countries and oh how they differ!

20130930-204942.jpg

Since I have thousands (no exaggeration) of photos in my travel history, I figured that I’d break it up into a few categories. This post is showing off the wonderful world of markets!

The outdoor options bring you locally operated venues in which residents gather to provide fruit, veggies, homemade goodies and more. Walk with me street side as we start in Europe! Below is a bundle of photos that I took during the past few years including but not limited to The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic and England.

20130930-212712.jpg

20130930-211954.jpg

20130930-212020.jpg

20130930-212046.jpg

20130930-214610.jpg

20130930-214657.jpg

20130930-212103.jpg

20130930-212753.jpg

20130930-212800.jpg

20130930-212832.jpg

20130930-212842.jpg

20130930-212856.jpg

20130930-212914.jpg

20130930-212933.jpg

20130930-212944.jpg

20130930-213006.jpg

20130930-213118.jpg

20130930-213142.jpg

20130930-213205.jpg

On to the country of Malaysia within the cities of Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang!

20131001-230150.jpg

20131001-230301.jpg

20131001-230318.jpg

20131001-230328.jpg

20131001-230338.jpg

20131001-230354.jpg

20131001-230413.jpg

20131001-230434.jpg

20131001-230456.jpg

20131001-230530.jpg

20131001-230543.jpg

20131001-230602.jpg

20131001-230624.jpg

20131001-230632.jpg

20131001-230845.jpg

20131001-230651.jpg

20131001-230706.jpg

20131001-230801.jpg

20131001-230733.jpg

Hungry yet? Next we have my Central American market experience that includes Costa Rica, Belize, El Salvador and Panama.

20131001-231243.jpg

20131001-231258.jpg

20131001-231315.jpg

20131001-231327.jpg

20131001-231340.jpg

20131001-231717.jpg

20131001-231422.jpg

20131001-231456.jpg

20131001-231612.jpg

20131001-231638.jpg

20131001-231657.jpg

Here are the sights while exploring a small part of South America. Welcome to Peru, Ecuador and a Argentina!

20131001-233256.jpg

20131001-232043.jpg

20131001-232122.jpg

20131001-232136.jpg

20131001-232421.jpg

20131001-232216.jpg

20131001-232300.jpg

20131001-232326.jpg

20131001-232524.jpg

20131001-232554.jpg

20131001-232614.jpg

20131001-232629.jpg

20131001-232700.jpg

20131001-232718.jpg

20131001-232847.jpg

20131001-233239.jpg

I think the best part of these entertaining events is the “snack as you go” option, as you can always just grab a small portion for the road. I learned very quickly to go to the market for lunch, not after!

20131001-194657.jpg

20131001-194042.jpg

20131001-194112.jpg

20131001-194915.jpg

20131001-194136.jpg

20131001-194151.jpg
20131001-194200.jpg

20131001-194813.jpg

20131001-195302.jpg

20131001-194222.jpg
20131001-194232.jpg

20131001-194244.jpg

20131001-195405.jpg
20131001-195053.jpg

20131001-194331.jpg

20131001-194421.jpg

20131001-234137.jpg

20131001-194436.jpg

20131001-194641.jpg

20131001-195027.jpg

20131001-194826.jpg

20131001-194717.jpg

20131001-234006.jpg

20131001-194942.jpg
20131001-194732.jpg

20131001-233817.jpg

20131001-233828.jpg

20131001-233933.jpg

20131001-233949.jpg

20131001-233904.jpg

I realize this post has a bit more photos (of tempting, scrumptious, mouth watering delights) and not so many words (that just get in the way of the delicious visuals). With that said, if you’re interested in more descriptive information on each specific country, please feel welcome to search my blog for more details!

Volunteering in Malaysia!

I met Marcel while sipping a health shake from “The Green Forest”. (For more details of that magnificent morning, please see “A ray a green light in Malaysia” from the Edibles page).
He’s the smiling customer sitting at the bar in the blue shirt.

20121029-170035.jpg

During our breakfast conversation my volunteering came up and he said with a spark behind his eyes, “Next time you’re in Malaysia, let me know because I’m very active in the community and I could put you to work”. I responded with “Well then, what are the plans for today?”

After a quick discussion he gave me a meeting point and time. I instantly felt my mind and body fill of joyful excitement!

I met him at our spot and he tossed me a helmet, my first ride on the back of a motor scooter! A little unsure but thrilled for the experience I hopped on, let’s see where this goes. Ps, so much fun!

20121029-170130.jpg

20121029-170141.jpg

20121029-170148.jpg

He took me to a local shelter in which is a safe place for street walkers, drug addicts, HIV patient’s, and others in challenging situations.

20121029-170216.jpg

20121029-170225.jpg

20121029-170235.jpg

20121029-170241.jpg

20121029-170255.jpg

Turns out they needed some hair services too! Although the following pictures are just me giving haircuts, I wanted to post each face as they all warmed my heart with their sincere gratitude.

20121029-170322.jpg

20121029-170335.jpg

20121029-170343.jpg

20121029-170354.jpg

20121029-170401.jpg

20121029-170411.jpg

20121029-170420.jpg

20121029-170425.jpg

20121029-170440.jpg

20121029-170446.jpg

20121029-170501.jpg

20121029-170513.jpg

20121029-170528.jpg

20121029-170535.jpg

20121029-170541.jpg

20121029-170549.jpg

After I had wrapped up the salon works, they invited me back to the area where the nurses and care takers gather. Without questioning, dinner was served with a portion of milk tea and more smiles. I really couldn’t tell you who was more thankful for this days events, them or me.

20121029-170653.jpg

20121029-170700.jpg

I’m not sure if it was the cloud I was floating on from the volunteering or the kind energy from Marcel, but I felt like my entire being was at peace for this moment. A safe ride back to my hotel and a hug of hope that we could work together again someday.

20121029-170740.jpg

As Marcel pulled away, I realized my “Thank you” seemed like an understatement for the amount of uplifting bliss that he brought to my time here in Malaysia.

So I send my gratitude once more… Till next time!

Penang part 1

I was craving some “lost in a city solo” time so I thanked Kuldips family for the incredible week and priceless local experience as they dropped me off at the central bus stop. I heard that the island of Penang was one of the most culturally diverse states here in Malaysia. Sounds perfect!

A few hours in this bus and after crossing one of the longest bridges in Malaysia, I arrive at my new destination.

20121027-142101.jpg

Cool effect pic from one of the bridges!

20121027-142349.jpg

I had done my research as far as the hostel location, however I was unclear on which inner-city bus to snag to get there or if a $40 RM cab was worth it. I asked a friendly employee who referred me to a kind gentleman that was escorting an elderly woman (his mom) next to a youthful boy (his nephew). He was so helpful by drawing a map, verbalizing detailed directions and making sure I knew where I was going, then he says “You know what, I’m going that way, would you like a ride?”
(Family, take a deep breath… He didn’t offer any candy).

I felt safe and it was either him or a random taxi guy, so off we went. I kept the map in my lap so he knew that I was aware of exactly where we were going. Upon arrival he thanked me for the great conversation and gave me the spare change from his car and said, “Please use this to call me from a public phone if you need anything at all, God bless.”

What a way to start my adventure in Penang! A quick shot of my room, with the balcony, private bath and a sign that isn’t necessarily “comforting”. But for less than $20 USD I get a glimpse of what it’s like to have own place for a minute… I’m like a teenager with parents out of town for the weekend, almost tempted to jump on the bed in my pj’s!

20121027-142443.jpg

20121027-142453.jpg

20121027-142512.jpg

I ordered a cup of hot water for some tea and this super cool thermos of boiling water came to my room, love it!

20121027-142624.jpg

Right away, I put down all of my things and go for a wander. I’ve been slacking in the “fashion from a backpack” section, so here’s a classic mirror shot of my comfortable outfit to hit the road in.

20121027-161808.jpg

In the actual order that I took these photos, here was my walk:

20121027-154645.jpg

20121027-154914.jpg

20121027-154928.jpg

20121027-154939.jpg

20121027-154950.jpg

20121027-154957.jpg

20121027-155003.jpg

20121027-155012.jpg

20121027-155023.jpg

20121027-155048.jpg

20121027-155144.jpg

20121027-155152.jpg

20121027-155200.jpg

20121027-155216.jpg

20121027-155229.jpg

20121027-155330.jpg

20121027-155342.jpg

20121027-155350.jpg

20121027-155406.jpg

20121027-155415.jpg

A couple of creative pics before the rain came…

20121027-155649.jpg

20121027-155938.jpg

20121027-160017.jpg

20121027-160037.jpg

I made it to the night market just in time before the streets got a proper soaking.

20121027-160202.jpg

20121027-160229.jpg

20121027-160314.jpg

20121027-160333.jpg

20121027-160402.jpg

20121027-160420.jpg

20121027-160430.jpg

This friendly guy caught me admiring his fresh fish stand.

20121027-160540.jpg

20121027-160546.jpg

20121027-160555.jpg

These are two random posters that made me smile. They’re promoting a japanese beer to Malaysians by hyping it as the #1 seller in the U.S.

20121027-162349.jpg

Are there curry fries everywhere?

20121027-162603.jpg

…and dessert for the walk home, fresh cut watermelon!

20121027-164557.jpg

Temple festival to a night market… What a day!

Even though there’s no secret pass word or handshake to get through the entrance, I was still honored to partake in this day at a festival in a temple. If I was traveling without a local, I would of been a bit hesitant to shuffle on in and check it out, but after being invited, I was all in!

20121024-105649.jpg

On the outside is where you purchase they special made Poa that you bring into the temple to pray with.

20121024-105902.jpg

20121024-105913.jpg

20121024-105933.jpg

Before entering, you’re senses are taken over by the amount of insence that is being burned. Each participate has their own bundle in which they carry around to each pot for prayer and distribute them amongst the different statues. These are just some of the sights outside of the temple.

20121024-110154.jpg

20121024-110209.jpg

20121024-110217.jpg

20121024-110237.jpg

20121024-110244.jpg

20121024-110257.jpg

20121024-110318.jpg

Time to go in and lay out your offerings, light your incense, and begin prayer.

20121024-110925.jpg

20121024-112558.jpg

20121024-112608.jpg

20121025-205626.jpg

20121025-205700.jpg

20121025-205707.jpg

20121026-094127.jpg

20121026-094213.jpg

20121026-094220.jpg

20121026-094152.jpg

I wish I could read this:

20121026-094657.jpg

After this eye opening experience, Kuldip surprised me with the perfect ending to our day…. A night market!

Similar to the morning market, there are several vendors with stalls prepared for whatever you desire. Fruit, veggies, hot meals, and sweet treats. This isn’t including all of the clothes, shoes, bags, tools, and other random objects that are displayed to grab your attention.

20121026-095220.jpg

20121026-095336.jpg

If you read my last post, “A ray of green light in Malaysia”, under the edibles page, you’ll find the struggle I’ve been having with the amount of fried, grease soaked and sugar based choices here in Malaysia. Tonight didn’t fall short of some prime examples.

Will start with some treats. The photos I didn’t capture this evening were the cakes, pastries, fried sugar, and fresh fruit that was soaking in sugar water. However, I did snag a few I hadn’t seen so far in Malaysia.

20121026-095512.jpg

20121026-095522.jpg

20121026-095535.jpg

This is a fresh soy milk stand. They pour it directly into a bag then puncture it with a straw… Viola, a drink!

20121026-095925.jpg

20121026-100029.jpg

Before you see the next stall, I suggest you stand up and do a few jumping jacks first to get your cardiovascular system pumping.

This is a deep fry station. Already prepared for you on a stick is a variety of veggies, egg, tofu, fish or other kind of meats. You pick your sticks then drop them in the deep fryer. When you think they’re done, you pull them out and follow with the spicy cream sauce provided. Although this is not my ideal “snack” I just wanted to play! I snagged a green leaf stick that had a piece of fish on the end. Well… At least I tried it right?

20121026-100224.jpg

20121026-100241.jpg

20121026-100409.jpg

Ok, maybe you should get down and rack out a set of push ups before this next one. A Chinese hamburger. A fried egg, cheese, deli ham with spicy sauce held together between two pancakes. I should of asked what the “chicken floss” was…

20121026-100748.jpg

20121026-100740.jpg

Here is a range of other offered items along the markets path. (Baby not for sale in the last photo).

20121026-101514.jpg

20121026-101521.jpg

20121026-101541.jpg

20121026-101533.jpg

20121026-101701.jpg

20121026-101712.jpg

20121026-101729.jpg

20121026-101744.jpg

20121026-101756.jpg

20121026-101803.jpg

20121026-103156.jpg

Wait… What’s this?! A thin wrap lined with a non creamy spicy sauce, layered with fresh lettuce, raw jicama and cucumber, complimented with sprouts, and your choice of a vegetarian or fish mix… I found dinner!

20121026-102129.jpg

20121026-102155.jpg