Day 43-45

Day 43: Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Sitting in the Backpackers Travelers Inn in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Being my first trip to Asia and all, I have splurged for the air conditioned private bedroom and toilet. It is just what you might expect- bed, fan, stool, and small desk. The bathroom is toilet, sink, and the shower stall is the bathroom itself…. Seems the floor never quite dries all the way…. Tried to put the fan on it all day, but you have to insert the room key into a wall switch to get the electricity to work. So either you could lock the door or dry the floor, I went with lock the door. (Just figured out a work-around for next time this situation arises.) Oh, and by “splurged”, I spend $25 per night instead of $4 per night for a bunk bed in a dorm with no AC. Call me a crazy, lazy American if you wish…………..

Plane was delayed for about 3 hours yesterday from Sydney, so it was after 10 pm when I arrived at the hostel. Fortunately they have a bar on the roof. Went up there and chatted with some fellow travelers, a couple from England and a fellow from Mexico. Woke up, and sprayed myself down (can’t really call it a shower) and found some eggs and sausage. Turns out the sausage was really a hot dog, but oh well. Anyhow, I hit the streets with the camera and a map. Did a Chinatown “walk” as recommended by the Lonely Planet Travel Book. Then I walked towards the big KL Tower. Easy navigation method- look for tall thing, and walk towards it. Got there, took the trip to the top and looked around the city to plan tomorrow’s activities. Then looked for next tall thing, the Petronas Towers, and walked towards them. It started to rain, so I had lunch and beverages for a few hours. Eventually wandered into the tour office at the towers…

Me: Need tickets for next trip.
Them: Next available tickets 5 hours from now.
Me: I’ll just go to the museum then. I take 7 steps into museum.
Tour guide: What time is your ticket for?
Me: Don’t have one.
Tour guide: You do now, I have room in the group leaving now.
Me: Perfect

Seems the rain kept everyone away… so I got to go to the bridge tour between the two towers without a wait.

I was outside taking some shots of the towers and ran into a fellow doing the same. A dude named Azli, getting ready to head off on his own world travels this summer. He likes to photograph people and he is good at it. He wants to become a magazine photographer. ( www.flickr.com/photos/azlijamil01/ ) I think he is qualified, he has amazing photographs. We ended up chatting and looking at photos over tea.

There is a mall at the base of the Petronas Towers. It was pretty much packed, even though it was a Wednesday night. It is basically the same as an American mall, except with undersized restrooms and a few different stores. It is open 365 days per year. Apparently one of the lease conditions to open a store is that you must be open every day.

They had a free art gallery in the mall. Most of it was real good art, however tilted heavily anti-war, and a few anti- George Bush. One painting was named “Dreaming of Rome”. It had Bush’s portrait next to the ruins of the Roman Coliseum and some other dead looking stuff. I signed the guest book something along the lines of “Great art. And P.S. Bush Rules!” That should get some folks worked up a little.

Twice today, I was talking to people and they wanted me to come off the sidewalk and sit with them because their (sister/cousin) was headed to Texas for an exchange program, and they wanted to know about Texas. Seemed odd, so I told them I was in a hurry and moved along. I think the first dude was a pimp. The second one was this sweet old lady, maybe she was legit, but then again, maybe she wasn’t sweet at all.

Day 45: 21 March 2008, 11:05pm local time ((10:05am CST))

In Manila, Philippines. Holed up in hotel. Got in at 5:30 am…. Didn’t sleep on the plane. Haven’t left the hotel grounds all day….. and proud of it.

Anyhow, did a walk about yesterday in KL before heading to the airport. I went to the National Islamic Arts Museum…. I was hoping to gain a cultural perspective on modern issues facing Islam….. (such as integrating fundamentalists into modern society). In this regard I was disappointed. The museum was all old stuff. I left after I saw the time line on the progression of Islamic weapons. (think clubs swordsmuskets). The time line stopped around 1950. If there weren’t so many video cameras in the museum, I would have inked in the following onto the timeline…….
1972: Hijacking and murder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_massacre)
1983-Present: Suicide Bombing. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Beirut_barracks_bombing) …… This kinda irritated me for an hour or so.

This just reinforced my ideal that the problem in the world lies not with Islam, but with extremists. Not only Islamic Fundamentalists, but with environmental zealots, right-wing nuts, and brain-washed liberals. Get rid of the 10% of extremists on each end of the many spectrums, and the rest of us would get along pretty well.

Got over that, continued the walkabout. Overall, very impressed with Kuala Lumpur. I never felt unsafe and met some great people while walking around. Apparently there is some cool stuff to see when you get out of the city. Malaysia could warrant a return visit someday.



Wednesday, 5 March 2008, Day 29

I’m sitting at Hobart Airport. Oddest car return system ever. You go to the return lot, settle the bill, then a dude drives you in your rental car to the terminal, and then takes the car back to the return lot. Very Odd.

Saturday, 1 March 2008, Day 25

Met the good Dr. at Melbourne International and we flew to Hobart, Tasmania. Tasmania is a large Australian island, south of the mainland, only a 1 hour flight. Primary mission of this 5 day excursion is to locate the elusive Tasmanian Devil.

We gather the rental car, a Hyundai Getz, and hit the nearest winery for a tasting… and then the next winery. And then off to Richmond for some food. Found the Richmond Arms, but ate at a cool little café. The proprietor was a cool old dude. His hobby was calligraphy. He made each of us a bookmark with our names on it. Mine reads “Larry”.
Anyway we stopped at the Tall Trees Walk at Mt. Field National Park. Tall trees indeed.

Drove through some pretty country on our way to Derwent Bridge, located between Cradle Mountain National Park and Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. New travel rule: “Do not drive after dark in a Tasmanian forest.” To envision the road carnage here, think back to that one spring day, early in your childhood when there were dozens and dozens of turtles trying to cross the road. It is like that in a Tasmanian forest, except with Wombats, Tasmanian Devils, anteater things, koalas, and Wallabees (the little kangaroos). Road kill often comes in pairs since something will die and then a Tasmanian Devil will get creamed while dining on the carcass. Those damn wombats can push 50 lbs in weight, that would not work well with the Hyundai “Sucrets Box” on wheels.

Sunday, 2 March 2008, Day 26

After reviewing the Lonely Planet tour book, purchased 2 days prior, we decided it would be best to skip the north and west coasts entirely –despite the fact that we were almost there already- and headed to the east coast. Made stops at a few lakes along the way for photographs. Mission was 4pm feeding time at the wildlife park on the east coast. Mission was accomplished. Took more photos. Obtained lodging in Bicheno…..Cheap lodging, with ocean view.

Monday, 3 March 2008, Day 27

Hiked to Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park. Wineglass is regarded at one of the top ten beaches in the world. One down, 9 to go…… Anyway you have to hike up a mountain and back down to get to it. This adds to its exclusivity. We took a swim… you get over the cold water real quick due to your fear of the huge waves. These bad boys were 10’+ at times. If you were lucky, you could dive right through with minimum turbulence. If not, you went for a ride. Luckily they were on a very regular frequency so you had a predictable amount of time to recover and catch your breath between each. I learned a few yoga moves afterward. On the “Downward Dog”, salt water drained out of my nose for a long time. I think it had entered through my ears. Weird stuff.

Got back to the Hyundai and drove to Orford, again on the coast, and procured lodging. Quiet evening of catching up on photo downloading.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008, Day 28

We drove to Hobart to spend the day exploring there. Walked around town. We found a great vegetarian restaurant; I had some chicken- actually quite tasty. Found a whisky bar and then drank some wine on the waterfront pier. Wandered around town. Formulated another new travel rule: “Always have a readable map.” Other travel rules were also formulated, but those aren’t free.

Wednesday, 5 March, 200, Day 29

Returned car, flew to Melbourne. I picked up another Hyundai Getz for the one way rental to Sydney. I took Dr. T to downtown Melbourne during her layover. We ate some food, drank some coffee. Got her back to the airport, dumped her at the curb, and I headed south.