Posts Tagged With: 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”.

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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.

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

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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”.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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It’s only just begun…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

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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.

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

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

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

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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!

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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!

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Categories: Edibles!, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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.

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Cool effect pic from one of the bridges!

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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!

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

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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.

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

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A couple of creative pics before the rain came…

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

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This friendly guy caught me admiring his fresh fish stand.

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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.

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Are there curry fries everywhere?

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

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Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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!

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

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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.

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

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I wish I could read this:

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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.

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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.

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

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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?

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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…

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

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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!

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Temple + Cave = Amazing!

Another hidden surprise entered my journey as Kuldip and her family took me to a temple that is hidden away in a cave. Before we entered, I watched this monkey patiently wait for a group of visitors to walk away from their motorbikes. With a flash, this smart little fella checked each bike until he found a tied up bag of fresh food… Jackpot!

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I think this sign is saying please no cats, sad dogs or bunny rabbits on the premises.

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The following photos are from the entrance, through the interior and towards the gardens. Please take notice of the thousands of tourists that are not here. Brilliant!

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These shots are from within the caves so please allow the lack of lighting to add to the mystical feeling of the experience.

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The light from the other side exposed the way to the water and gardens. The walk around this pond encouraged deep breaths and many photos… Here’s just a few.

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Where was your last business meeting?

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We had our own little photo shoot before seeing the mini figurines.

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My favorite picture of the day using a special effect on the camera.

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A ray of green light in Malaysia!

Hopefully it’s clear from my writing that I like to focus on the positive that surrounds my existence. From the vibrant people to exotic places, new food to priceless adventure, I hardly have anything to complain about.
So acknowledging that, please read the following post knowing that I mean it with love and great intention.

Something here in Malaysia that I’ve had a hard time adapting to is the eating habits. If you’ve been following my journey for awhile, you’ve seen my creative way to stay healthy by purchasing my own fresh food and choosing wisely with portion control if I indulge in local treats. The food here has a tempting aroma, the right price and a variety that lines the streets everywhere you go. The struggle I have, is the way it’s all prepared. Fresh greens and herbs? Yes! However it’s usually over cooked and covered in oil. Of course there’s fresh fish… deep fried. Rice noodles, egg noddles, flat noodles… accompanied with pork, chicken, fish paste, and more oil. Below is an example plate of fish, greens and grains. Doesn’t that sound like it should be full of nutrients, vitamins and goodies for your body? It was, until they prepared it. I also asked for a serving of “one person”.

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Here is a popular stand at the local night market. On a stick you can find a variety of tofu, vegetables, fish and other meats all prepared and ready to be cooked. When I say “cooked” I wish I was talking about grilled or steamed, but here is the deep fry station. You dip the stick in the oil and then finish it off with the sauce of your choice.

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Time to turn this post around and introduce you to the ray of sunshine I stumbled upon…
As I walked down to the local market to pick up some fruit, I was taken back by the green walls and white teeth of smiles. What’s this?! A wellness cafe not only serving up aloe, tea and vitamin dense shakes but happy people chatting about a healthy world. Take a look around!

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The gentleman sitting at the bar is a native here and is beyond familiar with the local lifestyle. Marcel, a new partner in the world of health, found this little green heaven just in time after being diagnosed as a diabetic.

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Ironically I just saw on a local news report that over 60% of Malaysians aged 18 and up, had a BMI over 25. (A BMI of more than 25 means the person is overweight). Following that they explained that although North America has a higher rate obesity, Malaysia has a higher rate of diabetes.

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Meet Brian. He has a contagious love for nutrition and extreme desire to open the minds of the local people to a new way of living… Healthy!

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His enthusiasm towards health and his passion for life was nothing short of positive motivation! As I enjoyed my smoothy, he pleasantly shared his story from beginning to present and the journey that lead him here.

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I don’t want to exaggerate numbers or dwell on percentages, I feel the point should be focused on necessary knowledge to create change. That my friends, is why I was so uplifted by this room full of kind hearts and energetic minds. Thank you Green Forest for the much needed and refreshing conversation. This also includes the scrumptious start this beautiful day!

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If you have any interest in contacting this ray of sunshine, please email me and I will connect you directly!

Categories: Edibles! | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

White Coffee and Egg tarts in Ipoh, Malaysia!

Within just a few kilometers out of the city, the earth of Malaysia is starting to expose itself. A few pics of the road trip from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh.

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We follow a few cozy streets that lead us to her families home. Shoes off at the door before entering (they have an amazing ability to step out of slippers without missing a beat) to find a warm kitchen with food on the table. Homemade chicken bone soup, rice noodles and veggies. I also got a sneak peak of Poa, a slightly sweet, very soft dumplings (reminds me of wonder white bread) that’s filled with either a curry meet, veggies or a sweet delight.

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Here, it’s typical to literally wake up and go to the street market to collect your food for the day. What’s for breakfast? I don’t know yet, we’ll see what the vendors brought this morning and what seems to be the freshest!

Who doesn’t get dressed up to head to the market?! Meet Kuldip’s niece, a sparkling firecracker of energy with a sugary little smile. First lip stick, a wardrobe change and then a hair piece to match the bedazzling!

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Off we go!

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Fruit (I purchased two new ones that I had never seen before, it’s like opening a present!) and veggies…
I got to watch this woman, clean, cut and basket the fresh veggies to sell (not comparable to the pre-washed plastic bagged salads you get from the supermarket).

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I’d like to think that I have a fairly strong stomach considering back in my coaching days, I’ve set broken bones, bandaged open wounds and literally caught vomit in my hands.
Well folks, today as we were strolling along I heard the sound of a chicken. As I gazed over and focused in on what what my ears had noticed, I felt my stomach hit my throat.
Take notice to the lid of fresh feathers on the left and the pile of feet to the right. Enough said.

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On a lighter note… some random local treats!

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Finished up with baggies of breakfast and we head back to indulge. People who own a vehicle here typically have hooks behind their seats to hold the bags up-right.

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The drink above is something I had never seen before. It’s slightly sweetened soy milk with grass jelly and red beans over ice. It…is…delicious!

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As if this morning wasn’t amazing enough, we head through some city streets for a well known pastry and the famous Ipoh White Coffee. “White”, not meaning a mocha or fancy flavored coffee, but a the name is actually referring to the way the bean is roasted.
Traditionally, Malaysian style “black” coffee is produced by roasting the beans with sugar, margarine and wheat. “White” coffee is produced with only margarine and without any sugar, resulting in a less dark roast. They add a splash of condensed milk and serve it hot or cold. Scrumptious!

Below is some pics from the journey there, a glass of chilled white coffee and the local pastry that we patiently stood in line for. People were crowding closer behind me as these velvety, custard filled, flaky warm crusted delights emptied from the tray (I actually got the last one!). Apparently “Ipoh’s Egg Tarts” are the most popular dessert item here and of course Kuldip knew of the best place to get them!

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Although this can be a popular destination for locals to host weddings or other celebrations, it’s hardly known to the public eye and certainly not on the front page of any tour brochures. Thank you Kuldip!

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Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

City to night life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The captain comes on and announces our arrival, first in Malay then in English. This is when my heart picks up pace and I feel those familiar butterflies come alive in my stomach. I can’t believe I’m landing in Malaysia right now! Why here? Ill skip the first dozen reasons that include but are not limited to the culture, jungles, beaches, food, and so on…. and remind you of my new friend Kuldip. I met this fellow backpacker while we were volunteering together in New Zealand. We shared a log cabin along with daily chores that ranged from cleaning and gardening to canning jars of marmalade. Here are some recap photos from February in Akaroa, New Zealand.

Our shared cabin, working away and goofing off!

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You can imagine the length of conversation we had during our days of work and hours of tea time. Often we’d share cultural fun facts about our home towns following up with an open invite if either of us ever want to visit. Most of you know me well enough by now that with an offer like that… I’m there! Well actually, I’m here!

The first 48 hours consisted of errand running due to the fact that she’s leaving in two weeks to live in Australia for a year. No worries to me though, I’ve enjoyed riding along to see what the city life in Malaysia looks like.

The following are pictures from the passenger seat (in motion and with the windows up, so I apologize for the lack of extreme clarity).

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Yes Malaysia, you kept the streak going… Irish Pub!

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A peak of green in the city as we pass by a local park.

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For the first few meals, we checked out some street food. I’m so thankful to be here with a local who can look first and say, “No, too expensive” or “Not fresh enough” or “This is the best vendor in the city!”.

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I happen to have come at the right time as this night was a double celebration out on the town. Her friends birthday and another couple was sharing their 5th wedding anniversary with everyone!

The club we went to actually offered free makeup and complimentary professional photos. Pretty neat way to start off the festivities!

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Quick shout out to the DJ duo that kept the crowd alive! It was absolutely refreshing to dance to their mix. Well done! Thank you Werner’s on Changkat!

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Random snap pictures from the balcony and a quick set of new friends!

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Here are some of our posed professional photos followed by all the action shots!

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I should admit that when I dreamt of Malaysia, sky scrapers and smog didn’t jump into my vision. Now realizing that she lives in the capital city, I’m understanding the traffic jams and the amount of McDonalds I see. Although I enjoyed the experience here in Kuala Lumpur, I’m definitely ready to get out of the city lights and see what else this beauitful place has to offer.

Tomorrow we leave for Ipoh to visit her family… That means green trees, waterfalls, home cooked meals, traditional street markets and more trees!

Categories: Edibles!, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bajans in Frankfurt and Americans in Wiesbaden

Who gets up before sunrise, takes a train to one of the largest international airports with fingers crossed in hopes that they can find a friend in passing just for a hug? Ooh, pick me pick me! (pretend my hand was eagerly raised like a hyper school girl).

This is the segway polo team that I met at the world cup in California, celebrated with them during crop over in Barbados and now get a 20 minute visit with them in the Frankfurt airport.
As I left the hostel, a fellow backpacker asks if I want her to come with me to help spot out the group. With a small giggle I explain how no “help” would be needed. Not because there was a dozen of them but due to their unforgettable accent and natural energy, I can feel them from afar!
Here we are in years past.

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Sure enough, I could hear the sweet sounds of the Bajan tone as they approached the departure counter. A couple of quick pics and priceless hugs before they head back to the sunny island of Barbados.

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This beautiful couple is always shining from the inside out. Great friends (and hair clients) from Folsom that have traveled the distance to participate in the Euro Segway cup with the Bajans. What an extra bonus to snag a hug from these warm smiles before they head back to the west coast of North America.

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This was the start of my last day in Frankfurt… Perfect! Now for some city sights:

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We lost points on our driving test in the States if our tire even swiped the curb… They post signs of encouragement here!

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For the few who know and understand my love for Cherimoya, you can imagine the excitement I had to control when I spotted out these at a local health food store. It’s a fruit from South America that became a part of my regular diet when I was volunteering in Peru. Since then, I only dream of it in my best nights sleep. Not today, I get to indulge… Does that means it’s a “dream come true”?

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Although this shop looked tempting, I was too busy with my cherimoya so here’s a couple pictures from the outside.

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What’s this? A double surprise! I do believe my dear friend Tiffany is the only person on this earth who can fully appreciate the fact that I found Dinkles! Last year, she allowed me to,stop on every German health food store with high hopes in relocating these treats I had discovered the year prior. They’re made of spelt, with only a few ingredients and no additives. Oh happy days!

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A jog around Frankfurt before my final stop in Weisbaden . Here’s what I caught when I actually remembered that I had a camera on me!

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Love the love!

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My jog led me to the botanical gardens which was the perfect cool down. I misuse through the rose garden to get to the cactus showing. Spent most of my time in the hibiscus room and enjoyed watching everyone near the water. If you come to Frankfurt, this is a great escape from the city.

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On the way out I snagged a sample of this basil spread on a pumpkin seed cracker. They asked which jam I wanted to try so I picked then one that all the bees were in… It must be their favorite right?

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My last weekend in Germany was spent in the city of Wiesbaden. I don’t have many pictures to show you because honestly I was too busy enjoying the peace of staying in a home with a couple that I absolutely adore. This is Brooke and Tim, an American duo finishing up their 3rd year stationed here.

Tim is a proud man serving his country with an abundance of energy and the ability to quote any comedic line from a film to make the room laugh. So refreshing! Brooke is one of those people on earth that quickly makes an impression much farther than the surface. She naturally exudes a calm warmth that extends throughout her household with an outlook on life that comes from hard work and self discipline. I felt comfortable with them last year and even more so this year.

Here is Brooke, Tiffany and I last October, followed by Brooke and I this trip.

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First things up, I got to play babysitter! Funny how things are so exciting when they’re removed from your usual routine. I even got to cut the hair of this little guys mom as well, Thank you!

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They took me to a Market Bizarre that was put on by the families from the Army base, definitely a different experience that I’ve ever had.

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Tim, you crack me up. Brooke, you make my heart smile. I look forward to the next path crossing… Hoping it will be somewhere new!

Next stop is Malaysia! I’ll be staying with Kuldip, a backpacker I met in New Zealand. During our volunteering she invited me for a visit which of course I dare not pass up… See ya soon Kuldip!
Here we are last February on the South Island of New Zealand.

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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