Monthly Archives: November 2013

Penang, Malaysia

I had no idea what Penang was, but it was on my list of places to see. I was very surprised to find a very interesting place with such a mix of cultures.
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I took a bus to the famous Penang Hill. You get up there by a train ride (funicular) to the top of this island. It was a clear day and the view was amazing (or pretty good) come here and decide for yourself.
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I was trying to remember all of the funicular rides I have had while traveling.  Here is my list:

Santiago, Chile
Valparaiso,  Chile
Istanbul,  Turkey
Hong Kong
Lubiana,  Slovenia
Barcelona,  Spain

pretty good list huh?

I am sure there are more; these are the ones that come to mind.

Today was a walk-around day. I went to the ocean and found the most famous hotel here, the Eastern Oriental Hotel, this was “the place” when the island was owned by the UK. This is still a big deal, the high rollers stay here.
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The ocean is very pretty, just like it is in Cape Cod. I just wander around enjoying the different sights of Asia. I can sit in an outdoor food court and spend an hour drinking a fresh fruit drink as I write my blog. This drink is lime and sweet plum. Costs about $.80. Sour but great.
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The streets of Asia are filled with people cooking and eating food. When I find a “clean” place to eat, I try to find it again…the owner always smiles when he sees me return.

The buildings here are old and built in the Chinese style.

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Penang Building

This morning at about 3:30 am I got a Google Hangout call from Jordan. He has never figured out the 12 hour time difference. He was at the Knox Town Park with Abby and she was snowboarding down the snowy hill. The picture and sound was fantastic and Abby made it down most of the way.

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Abby

Nice to hear and see some of my family on Thanksgiving.  I am thankful that I am healthy,  have enough money and that I decided to go around this world again.

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Penang Hill

I get to see some amazing sites.

Singapore, KL and Penang

Enjoyed the beautiful city/state of Singapore. Got my share of walking, subway use and fantastic food court eating.

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Vegan food

I took a subway to Golden Mile bus station to get a 8 hour ride to Kuala Lumpur,  Malaysia.  Although I was there 3 years ago I was really disoriented and had a tough time finding my hostel. KL is not Singapore but it has it’s charms.
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Got a blind massage at the Brickfields, and walked around this confusing town and road the monorail around town. I had 2 roommates who were both over 6’4″ each. One from Canada and one from Oz. Both nice guys. Back Home hostel is a great place to meet people from other countries.

Had a couple of great Indian dinners and walked into the mall at Petronas Towers. I feel so uncomfortable being around places where people are buying expensive stuff like gold and silver.

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KL Tower and Petronas Tower

So another bus trip to Penang in northwest Malaysia. They have nice busses here with wide seats. I really had no idea where I was going bit I made up my mind to visit Penang. Again another world heritage site.

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Penang


The bus ended on the island but in an area of new hotels. I got a ride to the old town. This is a neat area between the Indian and Chinese sections.

My hotel is not wonderful but I have AC and wifi. I asked the hotel clerk how to get to the cinema. I wamted to see the Hunger Games Part 2. He told me he was going so we went together

I was surprised to find a bowling alley on the 6th floor of the local mall. After 25 years I bowled a game. Not so good but plenty of room for improvement. The movie was excellent and I glad to see it. And it only cost $2.50.

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Penang Bowling Alley

Glad I came up here. Need to read up on this place. Such a great mix of races and religions.

From Pinoy to Singapore

Had a nice 3 weeks in the Philippines.  I was going to see some more new things here but super storm Yolanda did so much damage I felt I should just stay out of the way and besides my Philippina guide, Thea, was in Australia.

When I came back to Manila on the night bus I brought along my Banaue guide Jess with me. He was my guide 2 years ago and told me he had never seen the ocean, go to a mall, ride an escalator or train before.

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Jess and Intramuras Guard


We went to the Vietnamese Embassy to get my passport. The packed trains, jeepnies and crowded streets were not pleasant and it was hot (over 90º).

We had some great dinners and once again I walked my butt off. I got several Thai massages which stretch my body and helps my self improvement program.

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Mango and mellon shakes


Three weeks went bye fast but once again it is so hard to see people living on the streets. The pictures and video coverage of Yolanda were everywhere. In Asia the show real bodies of victims on TV. Not sanitized like in the USA.

Anthea’s fiancee, JP took me out several times for coffee and desserts. He is an engineer for SM Malls and the wedding is next November. So now off to Singapore and Malaysia. This is a redo of my trip 2 years ago, so it is a little easier this time.

3.5 hours on Jetstar and I am in Singapore. Now this a very interesting City/State/Country. The rail like to Chinatown is easy.

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Metro

The first thing you feel here is that the place has money. There is a real mix of Chinese, Malaysians, Euros and Indian races/religions. On my block there is a Chinese Pagoda, Muslim Mosque and Hindu Temple.

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Chinatown Pagoda


I am in a nice hostel and will be heading up to KL on Sunday. Now off to the food court for my dinner.

Rice Terraces of Banaue

I was glad to be up in the mountains far away from Yolanda.  I kept busy taking rides on the back of Jess’ motorbike. We visited his home about 2 hours away, and visited the place where the Japanese General Yamashita surrendered to the US and Philippine governments.

The roads are in very poor condition up here in the mountains.  Many landslides have taken whole sections of roads out. Always an adventure when going places around here.

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Jess' grandmother and family

We stopped at Jess’ grandmother’s and I got to see their animals. I gave a small amount of pesos to his grandmother and she was very emotional about such a small gift.

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Jess on native scooter

We spent plenty of time just hanging out and so much time drinking coffee and tea. Banaue has a very nice little museum. Most of the displays were how the mountain people grow rice. They are very artistic and I bought some wood carvings to send home from Manila.

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Rice God

I am taking Jess back with me to Manila. We have a long overnight bus ride tonight.  He has never seen a movie,  rode on a train or been in an elevator. This is all going to change for him this weekend.

I need to get my passport back from the Vietnamese Embassy and get ready for Singapore next week.

Nice to have a friend/tour guide with me. Really enjoying myself.

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Jess in Banaue

Bye Manila, off to Banaue, Typhoon Yolanda

Before I left Manila I had to go downtown to obtain a Vietnamese Visa.  I have taken the trains before and it is still somewhat difficult. First get to the station about a mile away. It is always crowded and you stand in line to buy a ticket,  then queue up to get on the crowded train. Sometimes the train is too crowded and you have to wait for the next one. Change lines at the Taft Station (buy another ticket for new line).

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Taft Station Manila


I found the Embassy and got in just before the 2 hour lunch break. The Visa costs $130.

So now off to the Victory Line Bus station and off north to Bagiou on the 6am bus. Bus rides are long here but Victory has WIFI. I only got to Bontoc and spent the night. Dinner was 2 beers and a bag of chips.
The 3 hour ride from Bontoc to Banaue is one of the most spectacular one in the world. This is the reason I returned to the rice terraces.

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Banaue Rice Terraces

People live along these roads which hug the mountainsides. The backs of these homes have 2000 ft. drops. After seeing these views I now remember what brought me back here after visiting here 2 years ago.

I met up with my guide Jess, he took me around 2 years ago. He does not have a trike now…just an off road motorbike. When I saw his bald front tire I gave him $25 to buy a new one. We went out to eat lunch and once again my guide had a “shadow” another driver who came along for the meal. We had fish, rice and vegetables, all for about $4.00. I changed some US dollars for pesos. Although this is a tourist town there is no ATMs. I have been getting many messages about Typhoon Yolanda. Lucky for me the storm is south of here.

Starting my Trip

Nice long summer in Wellfleet.  I had a Japanese visitor at the end of the season who helped me clean up the place and get it ready for winter. Junji is starting a year trip in the USA and then going to South America. He made some excellent Japanese style meals for me and was a pleasure to host.

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Junji the artist

I had two weeks staying with my youngest son Zachary and his partner John. They have a nice house off of Washington Ave. I helped rake some leaves and kept the dishes clean… got to see my 2 granddaughters and gave out Halloween candy to over 80 kids.

Zachary drove me to the airport and I was off. We flew to Chicago and I set next to a very nice lady who is a Sister of Mercy and ran Maria College. Great starting off with a smart and friendly seat mate.

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Sister of Mercy and nice lady

Chicago was confusing and the walk to my next plane was long. The 16 hour ride to Hong Kong was really terrible… I was crowded into the window seat and it was just too damn small. Cathay Pacific served terrible food.

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Flight to HK

The next flight was to Manila on a 747. Much more room. The taxi ride was fast and fair. Got to my hostel after midnight. My $10 room was ready with TV and AC.

This was my third visit to Manila. Still exciting to get back. My friend Thea is in school in Australia.  I had dinner with her fiancé the first night and it was great.

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JP and me at dinner

Now that my aceess to a refrigerator is over and my walking tour of Asian cities has begun my tummy is starting to get smaller. I do not need a diet I have Asia to help me.

So that was my first blog, I will try to keep it going. I try to post on Facebook and put pictures up on http://www.helderweb.com