Last day in Singapore and of our trip

March 26, 2014

Alas, it was our last day in Singapore and of our trip but we had a full day planned.  We started the day by checking out one of the local malls and then heading over to Asian Pacific Food Expo.

Asian Pacific Food Expo entrance

Asian Pacific Food Expo birds nest beverage

Asian Pacific Food Expo stamped buns

Asian Pacific Food Expo oniony cabernet

Then we made our way over to the Asian Civilizations Museum.  Upon exiting the MRT station, we came across these nice views of the Singapore River

Singapore River 1

Singapore River 2

The museum was a very good one and I took this shot from one of the windows

Marina Bay Sands Hotel daytime

After we finished with the museum, we took a few more photos

Fullerton Hotel

Fullerton Hotel

We hopped on the MRT and made our way back to the East Coast and grabbed dinner at a Vietnamese eatery near our hotel.

Lychee beer, anyone?

Lychee beer, anyone?

Alas, it was time for us to catch a flight back to New York City.  Southeast Asia was awesome–excellent food, lots to see and do, not to mention lots of shopping.  I definitely got bitten by the SE Asia travel bug and hope to return next year!

pastry adpastry ad

Back to Singapore

March 26, 2014

We had a flight to catch back to Singapore.  Personally, I think Singapore is a good way to start and end a trip to Southeast Asia–it’s pedestrian friendly, cosmopolitan, has good food, and the water’s safe to drink.  I had booked our second hotel in Singapore through Priceline and instantly regretted doing so because we ended up in a hotel in an out of the way location that wasn’t near the MRT.  Fortunately, it turned out to be fine–the hotel was nice, the location, despite being far from the MRT, was a nice neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops and, as it turned out, wasn’t too far from where the couple we had dinner with during our first foray into Singapore lived.  After we checked into our hotel, we took a taxi to a nearby restaurant for lunch.  It started pouring not long after we ordered our food–I’m not talking like a standard United States rain, I’m talking full on Southeast Asia style downpour–I felt like we had courtside seats to some kind of weather event.

Le Chasseur- sambal brinjal

Sambal brinjal

I convinced Adam to make the trek at to Jurong Bird Park.  While the MRT ride was long, I enjoyed the opportunity to see different neighborhoods within Singapore.  We grabbed a taxi to the bird park and walked around the bird park to check out the different birds.

Jurong Bird Park- cool bird feathers 1

Jurong Bird Park- cool bird feathers 2

Jurong Bird Park- cool bird

We made our way back to the MRT station and then tried to make it back to the area by our hotel.  I had heard there was a shuttle that went to a mall by our hotel near the MRT station but it was nowhere to be found when we exited the station.  We tried flagging down a taxi but this turned out to be an exercise in futility.  Eventually, we hopped on a bus that we hoped would bring us closer to our destination, ended up getting off at another mall, where we finally managed to get a taxi to the mall where we were meeting our friends for a little tour of the neighborhood.

Our first stop was a popular laksa place, where we shared some bowls of laksa and tasty otak otak.  Our next stop was a small Peranakan museum.  We then stopped off at an eatery to try Singapore’s famous chili crab.  The photo below is of a pancake place that was actually called Batter Fluffy Flaps–gotta love the name and the logo!

Batter Fluffy Flaps logo

 

 

 

Koh Lipe to Langkawai

March 26, 2014

We had tickets for a morning boat ride back to Langkawi which, due to sea conditions, was delayed.  The boats had to pick us from the other side of the island and we had to wait for these boats to arrive and to be transported to the other side of the island.  We met a couple from Penang as we waited and they were nice enough to take this photo of us.

Koh Lipe- Adam and I

We finally made it onto the boat and had a very bumpy and wet ride back to Langkawi.  We checked into our hotel room, which had nice, expansive views.

Langkawi- view from hotel 1

Langakawi- view from hotel 2

We took a taxi to a nearby mall, walked around for a bit and then checked out some shops on a commercial street outside where I took a few more food related photos.

swiss roll- pandan flavor

super goat

Then we had dinner at a very popular (and good) Malaysian restaurant and then walked around Kuah.

chicken and green bean dish

Sign at our hotel

Sign at our hotel

Snorkeling in Paradise

March 26, 2014

When we booked our snorkeling trip, we had been hoping for two things–one was calm seas and one was that we would be the only ones on the trip since we’re inexperienced snorkelers.  It was pretty rainy and cold as we left to make our way over to the dive shop and when we got there, we discovered another couple would be coming with us.  We waited for them to arrive and chatted with one of the dive instructors, who, to our amusement, explained that while she did not like fish, she liked teaching people to dive.  The other couple arrived and we headed out–the weather was pretty windy and rainy but, thankfully, I had picked up some Dramamine the day before and felt fine on the boat (the same couldn’t be said for the other female, unfortunately).  We chatted with her husband while she tried to weather the seasickness.

It’s hard to remember all the details of our snorkeling trip at this point but I do remember that the snorkeling was good, despite the bad weather, Adam even seemed to enjoy himself which, made me happy,  our boxed lunch, by outdoor excursion standards, was stellar (gotta love Thailand!), and the couple we shared the boat with turned out to be great company.

Exploring the island of Koh Lipe

March 26, 2014

We didn’t have anything planned our first full day so we took the opportunity to explore the island. As we walked down the beach I came across what appeared to be one of the island’s many stray dogs enjoying himself.

dog buried in sand

Walking Street is the primary way to traverse the island so we found ourselves there again in the morning, where I took these snack photos at a Seven-Eleven.

flavored potato chips 1

flavored potato chips 2

flavored potato chips 3

flavored potato chips 4

choco cake package

cuttlefish crackers

We booked our snorkeling trip for the next day and then set about exploring Sunrise Beach.

Koh Lipe 3

We then made our way inland.

Koh Lipe inland 1

Koh Lipe inland 2

Koh Lipe inland 3

We eventually made our way over to Jack’s Jungle for lunch–I loved the ambiance of the restaurant

Koh Lipe- Jacks Jungle Bar

We traversed Sunrise Beach again in hopes of trying banana cake at a local bakery but, alas, they did not have any

Koh Lipe 4

We had dinner somewhere along Walking Street again and then had a drink at bar and caught a little bit of their screening of Life of Pi before retiring for the night.

 

Journey to Paradise (sort of)

March 26, 2014

Another day, another flight, this one to Langkawi.  Unfortunately, our flight to Langkawi was delayed by several hours and I panicked, since we had 2:30 boat to catch.  Fortunately, we made it to the Langkawi ferry dock, with time to spare.  The boat ride was bumpy and wet–I was really dizzy by the time we got off the boat.  I slowly recovered as we waited for our passports to be returned to us and then we made our way over to our hotel.  With the exception of the one morning we went bird watching, it had been very hot the entire trip but, the one segment of our trip where we would have liked it to be warm, it was cool and cloudy though, of course, it was still nice to be on an island in the Andaman Sea.  This was, after all, another attraction that drew me to Thailand.

Koh Lipe 1

Koh Lipe 2

We checked into our hotel and then eventually made our way out to the main commercial street in Koh Lipe for dinner.

Our hotel

Our hotel

Kuala Lumpur

March 26, 2014

Another early morning flight, this one to Kuala Lumpur.  The only way to get to the island in southern Thailand by way of Langkawi was by catching a flight from Kuala Lumpur so I thought we’d spend the afternoon in K.L.  As it turned out, good friends of ours had moved to K.L. only a few months prior so it was serendipitous that we had an extended stopover there.  After we flew into K.L., we took a taxi to the hotel I had booked, only to discover that the proprietor was out.  We waited for her to return, got ready quickly and headed out to catch commuter train into downtown K.L.  Unfortunately, we only had a few hours to explore K.L. and we used the opportunity to grab lunch and check out the malls of K.L.

KL mall

We ended our shopping forays at Suria KLCC

Suria KLCC 1

Suria KLCC 2

Where we also got a glimpse of the iconic Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers

We headed over to the Mandarin Oriental, where we were meeting our friends.  It turns out they had lived in the Mandarin Oriental for a few months when they first moved to K.L. so our friend Greg was friendly with a lot of the staff there.  We hung out on the rooftop briefly.

Mandarin Oriental rooftop

We stopped off for drinks at a nearby bar and then headed over to a Thai restaurant for dinner.  It was nice to catch up after so many years and to hear about their experiences living in Egypt and, more recently in K.L.  Hopefully we’ll see them again in the not too distant future!

 

Siem Reap, Day 3

March 25, 2014

Another day, another early morning.  This time for one of my favorite traveling activities–birdwatching!  We were picked up in a tuk tuk and headed out to the countryside.  The area where we got out was rural and lovely–it felt like I was taken out of the pages of Sunrise Earth.  There was a man tilling a field, a man fishing knee deep in water, and water buffalo.

man fishing in countryside

The birding itself was a disappointment–we didn’t see that many birds at this location and our guide didn’t really have another birding location lined up.  But, once again, I loved seeing the countryside and, when we stopped to see a local temple, we saw a humongous pig walk past.  Our guide agreed to take us to a park in Siem Reap where I had heard there were lots of fruit bats and that was interesting to see–the trees were filled with fairly large sized roosting bats.  After we returned to our hotel, we got lunch at Viroth’s again.

Chicken wrapped in pandan leaves

Chicken wrapped in pandan leaves

We had an appointment at a local spa–unfortunately, I got bitten up by a mosquito during my foot scrub but our massages were very enjoyable.  We headed back to our hotel to wait for the heat to subside and then went out for dinner at a lovely hotel restaurant where we had this tasty tropical fruit and sorbet dessert.

fruit dessert

Then it was back to Pub Street to catch an Aspara show.

apsara dance 1

apsara dance 2

Siem Reap, Day 2

March 23, 2014

Day 2 in Siem Reap and we had a full day of the star attraction of the area–the temples of Angkor Wat.  We decided to start with the famed Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat a

Angkor Wat relief 1

Angkor Wat b

Angkor Wat 1

Angkor Wat 2

Angkor Wat 3

Again, I don’t remember all of the temples we went to see but I do remember enjoying seeing the countryside as we made our way to the different temples.  I think we made it to one more temple before it started raining so we took the opportunity to stop off at a restaurant for lunch.  As the rain subsided, we made our way out again and we stopped off at Banteay Srei, a small but popular temple known for its intricate carvings.

Banteay Srei 1

Banteay Srei 2

Banteay Srei 3

We also went to Angkor Thom, known for its face carvings.

Angkor Thom 1

Angkor Thom 2

We eventually made our way to Ta Prohm, known for the strangler fig trees which have grown over some of the temples and for its appearance in a certain film.

Ta Prohm 1

Ta Prohm 2

Ta Prohm 3

Ta Prohm 4

Ta Prohm relief

On our way back to Siem Reap, I took these shots.

observers at temple

elephant sign

Once we made it back to Siem Reap, we stopped off at Wat Thmei Killing Field, where our guide gave us some background on Pol Pot’s terrible legacy.

Wat Thmei Killing Field

We then stopped off at the War Museum and Cambodia Land Mine Museum.

War Museum and Cambodia Land Mine Museum 3

In one day, we managed to squeeze in sights spanning from Cambodia’s Khmer Empire to the latter half of the 20th century.  It was a lot to take in.

Siem Reap, Day 1

March 22, 2014

Another day, another flight, this one to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  After checking into our hotel, we got lunch at a nearby restaurant.  The restaurant has a pleasant interior, an extensive menu, and we shared a really good larb.

Viroths 1

The taxi driver who drove us to the hotel had managed to convince me to go to one of the floating villages so he picked us up after lunch and we made our way to Kompong Phluk.  The drive there took us past rice paddies, elevated houses, and farms and I loved taking in our surroundings.  At one point, we passed by an interesting looking temple so I asked to stop so we could check it out.  Leaving the car, we heard traditional Cambodian music, which was lovely, and I was enchanted by the grounds of the temple which was covered with statues and lush vegetation.

Cambodia temple 1

Cambodia temple 2

After we arrived at the area where the boats that take visitors to the floating villages were docked, we were ushered over to a boat and made our way to the villages.  It was a long, not very interesting boat ride but, the destination made the long boat ride worth it.

en route to floating village

floating village 1

floating village 2

floating village 3

floating village 4

floating village 5

At one point, a seemingly spontaneous boat race seemed to break out among a group of children, which was lovely.  We eventually made our way to one of the villages, where we were taken on a canoe ride around a mangrove forest.

small child on boat mangrove forest

shot of floating village from mangrove boat ride

mangrove forest

shot from mangrove boat ride 1

shot from mangrove boat ride 2

shot from mangrove boat ride 3

shot from mangrove boat ride 4

After our canoe ride, we started to make our way back, enjoying the sunset along the way.  On the way back to our hotel, our driver talked about the hardships of growing up in a floating village, including only having fish to eat and the lack of schools.

sunset on the Tonle Sap

Once we made it back to Siem Reap, we headed out for dinner at a local restaurant and tried amok for the first time.

chicken amok


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