Singapore - Day 9 - Exploring

We left Kuala Lumpur early in the morning and got to Singapore on a TigerAir flight that only took about an hour. It was raining pretty hard when we landed which wasn't a good sign. Instead of using public transport we just hired a taxi to take us directly to the hotel for about S$9.

After checking in we decided to head out and see some of the city. We were pretty hungry so we went down to the food court of one of the malls where they all have a ton of food stalls set up. It sounds cheesy but in Singapore it's a really common and popular thing to eat in the mall. They used to have unregulated food stalls all over the streets but the country did a good job of moving them all into regulated areas and the natural progression was to end up in food courts in big public areas. We opted for a place where Mike got some curry noodles and I got some noodle soup.

After eating, we got a tourist card which gives us unlimited travel on the MRT and buses and then headed down to the harbor to see the Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands. The Gardens by the Bay were some pretty cool gardens with these tall metal tree structures you could walk between. They also had some huge greenhouses but wanted to charge some really high amounts to get in.

The Marina Bay Sands is a really expensive hotel that has a giant pool at the top of the place that overlooks the city. Originally we wanted to stay there for a night to use the hotel but it would have cost us several hundred dollars each. Instead, we went up to the bar and had a drink so we could still see the views. I had a martini and Mike had a Mai Thai.

Once done we went down and walked around the city. We ended up finding our way to the Buddah Tooth Relic Temple and walked around Chinatown for a little while. It had been a long day so we came back to the hotel to chill for a little bit before heading out for dinner.

I did a little research and found a Japanese place called Jibiru that was right down the street from us. It was a Japanese restaurant that had a huge selection of Japanese beers. The food and beer was a little on the pricey side so we only had one drink each and then called it a night.
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View of the city from our pool at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway
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Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
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Gardens by the Bay from the Marina Bay Sands
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Jibiru Japanese resaurant

Malaysia - Day 8 - Thean Hou Temple, Batu Caves and Petronas Towers

Since we didn't really do much yesterday we had to fit quite a bit in to today. Yesterday we made reservations to go up the Petronas Towers at 6pm tonight so that was our one major deadline. After waking up we went out to a street food market and got some food then walked over to visit the Thean Hou temple that was pretty close to our hotel. Unfortunately it had started to rain a little bit while we were walking over but it wasn't coming down hard enough to soak us.

The temple was pretty cool but the one by the Big Buddah on Lantau Island in Hong Kong was a lot bigger. We took some photos and checked out the gift shop then headed back into town to catch the train up to Batu Caves. Batu Caves is at the end of one of the rail lines so it's very easy to get to.

Once we stepped off the train we were thrown into a mix of hawkers, beggars and trash. The signage was nonexistent to the caves and we almost got sucked into some fake caves that a guy was trying to sell entry to. The whole area was filled with angry monkeys who would attack people for food or drinks and the actual entrance to the cave was up a huge flight of stairs filled with said monkeys.

The caves were a pretty big letdown. The sheer amount of trash and monkeys around was too much. The "caves" were also filled with a bunch of rundown shrines and people trying to sell mini hindu god figurines. They were more along the lines of some large open caverns than actual caves. We didn't spend much time there and got back on the train to make our way to Petronas Towers.

There wasn't really a good way to get over there so we had to take the train about half way and then walk for a while to catch the monorail line for a few stops to get closer to the towers. We checked in and got in line to go up the towers.

The tour was about an hour long and took us up to the skybridge on the 40-something'th floor and then up to the 89th floor for the top level observation deck. Unfortunately Kuala Lumpur doesn't have a super spectacular skyline but it was still cool to see the city from so far up. The elevator runs inside the building so they put some flatscreen monitors on the walls and had a video running that imitates seeing the outside. Unfortunately the screens were old and the video wasn't very good so it almost caused some motion sickness since it was so choppy.

When we got out it was the perfect time to see the towers from below. They had just lit up the towers so we hung out there for a while taking pictures before heading over to the Jalan Alor food street for our last Malaysian food experience.

I got a bunch of skewers of meat and Mike got several plus a giant prawn. People watching while drinking some beers and eating good street food was a really good way to end our last night in Kuala Lumpur. Once we were done we hopped back on the monorail and came back to the hotel to get ready for heading to Singapore in the morning.
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Thean Hou Temple, Kuala Lumpur
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Batu Caves entrance in Kuala Lumpur
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Outside the Petronas Towers
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Grilled prawn and tiger beer on Jalan Alor food street

Malaysia - Day 7 - Street food

I'm a little behind in writing these posts so some of the specifics might be a little lost. Today was pretty much a lazy / do nothing day. We went out for lunch at one of the local street markets down the street. For starters we had some fried bananas which were really good. In the market we got some pork and chicken buns, some chicken and rice as well as some stir fried noodles. When we were leaving mike got a milk coffee and they served it in a takeaway bag which was pretty funny.

We took the rest of the afternoon easy lounging by the pool and getting a little work done. We researched some areas to visit at night where we could get some more local food and one that kept popping up was Chow Kit. It's the Muslim area but was supposed to have really good street food.

Since there wasn't really a good way to get there via public transport we just hopped in a coffee and got straight there. The guy dropped us off on a street that he said was full food. It was a little late so everything seemed pretty dead. We found one market that was pretty full and got in line. It was a buffet where you get everything you want and then sit down and eat with your hands. The rice base they used was some kind of traditional blue rice that they coat with fried and crushed anchovies.

The meal was pretty sketchy. It wasn't bad but it wasn't really good either plus the hygiene factor was pretty bad and we referred to it as the food safety danger zone. After eating we walked around a little more and went back to the Bukit Butang area where there was more normal street food. Mike got a couple meat skewers and we had a beer before heading back to the hotel.
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Banana fryer
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Mike with a bag of coffee
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Street meat
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Dinner to eat with your hands

Malaysia - Day 6 - Kuala Lumpur

We slept in pretty late this morning since we didn't really have much on the schedule for the day. The hotel doesn't have free breakfast so I went out and got some boboa tea and a pastry. After hanging out for a while we went out and explored the area near us. It's a small "Little India" with a bunch of cool food markets.

Mike and I saw KFC had some crazy stuff we'd never heard of before so we tried some if it. I got a Double Down Maxx (two pieces of chicken with a hashbrown in the middle with cheese and sauce) and they gave me some curry/mayo fries with it. Mike tried some jalapeno fries and potato cakes.

We lounged around by the pool for a while before having some beers and heading out to explore the city at night. We went up to the Central Market / Chinatown area and walked around through those markets. It's mostly a bunch of fake wallets and watches with some miscellaneous nicknacks thrown in. We found a food stand that had a huge variety of skewered meats to choose from. Each skewer had a color on the end that each represented a certain price. Once you pick everything out that you want they fry the meat that needs frying and if you get some stuff that needs boiling you can do that at the table. Once you finish they count up all your skewers and give you a price. For enough to fill both of us up plus a beer it only ended up costing us about $8USD.

After dinner we walked around and made it up to Bukit Butang to see all of those food markets and the giant mall. It was getting late so we came back to the hotel to call it a night.
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Jalan Petaling street market
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Street meat near Jalan Petaling market
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Mike with a marmaset

Malaysia - Day 5 - Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur

We got up at 5:30am in order to get packed up and head to the airport. The streets were completely empty that early in the morning so we got to the Hong Kong MTR station really fast. It was pretty cool that Cathay Pacific had a check in counter at the train station. Mike was able to check his bag and everything even though we were an hour from the airport.

We got to the airport and went up and hung out at one of the executive lounges where we had some pretty good food. We were in the premium economy class which meant we got to board before most people and also had a lot more room on the plane. We were served some pretty good food and slept for most of the 3.5 hour trip.

We could tell as soon as we stepped off the plane that the humidity and temperature were a lot higher. We got a ticket to the KL Sentral train station on the KLIA express train. It's an express train that goes back and forth between the airport and train station which is where our hotel is. The train station was packed with people and it took us a little while to find our hotel.

Once we found the hotel we checked in and relaxed for a little bit. The hotel is the Aloft and it's a pretty modern style hotel with a free minibar and snacks. We did some researching on things to see and places to eat while we're here. We found some really good reviews for a restaurant called Songket over near the Petronas towers.

We wanted to go up the towers but it started raining and was a little gross out so we decided to hold that off until later. The towers themselves are pretty neat looking though. After snapping some pics we found our way to the restaurant for dinner.

Being a Sunday night, the restaurant was pretty empty but they seated us outside where it was pretty humid. The food itself was really good though. We started off with an appetizer sampler that had four different items and some spicy sauce. We ordered a sweet and spicy chicken and a coconut curry chicken that both came with rice. The coconut curry chicken was really good. Afterwards we got some dessert. I opted for the coconut ice cream and Mike got some kind of classic Malaysian dish called Sago Gula Melaka.

We came back to the hotel where we got to bed early since we had a couple long days back to back.
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Downtown from our rooftop pool
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Petronas Towers at night
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Appetizer sampler at Songket
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Dinner at Songket

China - Day 4 - Macau

Last night ended up being quite the night. After getting back from Lantau Island we took a little nap before heading out for dinner. We originally wanted to hit up a wonton place that was recommended to us but didn't realize what time it closed and we didn't get there in time. Instead, I tried something at McDonalds called the Green Lantern burger. It's basically a hamburger with a hashbrown and some weird sauce on top. I wouldn't get it again but it's interesting to see the different variations of food they have at the global chains.

After that we took the MTR to the mainland part of Hong Kong and were planning on checking out some of the nightlife. Instead, when we got out of the MTR station we saw that we were dead in the middle of some of the Occupy Hong Kong protests. We hung around there for a while taking photos and seeing what was going on.

By the time we wanted to head back to the hotel we realized that the MTR had shut down and we were on the wrong side of Hong Kong (aka, the hotel was on the island and we were on the mainland). None of the taxis wanted to take us across so after about 45 minutes of wandering around we finally found a bus that would get us to our island. After that we had to catch a taxi to get us closer to the hotel and still had a 10 minute walk afterward. We didn't end up getting back to the hotel until around 3am.

Today however, we wanted to head to Macau and check out their version of Vegas. We slept in a little bit since we got to bed so late last night. For an early lunch/late breakfast we went to the wonton place that we missed last night. The food was good and also really cheap.

The process of getting a ferry ticket was really easy and once we were on it, it only took about an hour to get to Macau. Macau itself was actually really disappointing. The entire place was under construction and crowded. None of the casinos were really that impressive. The nice thing about Vegas is how it's built around entertainment whereas Macau is strictly built around hardcore gambling.

Macau used to be controlled by the Portuguese so we were excited to find some legitimate Portuguese food. We did some searching and found a few places. When we got to the one called O Santo we sat down and started looking through the menu. It was a joke how expensive everything was as well as how lame all the food was. It would have been $22+USD just for some pork fried rice. None of the food was authentic Portuguese (we saw some people eating and it was mostly frozen style french fries and chicken or pork).

We left without ordering and found a sitdown fast food place called Curry Monster. Mike and I were able to each get a milk tea and full meal and combined it was less than the average food price for one dish at O Santo.

We walked around a little more and decided to see some of the casinos and then head back to our hotel. We used the free hotel buses to get us to the ferry terminal and booked our ferry back. I think we both passed out for the ride home and got back around 1:30am.
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Portuguese square in Macau
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Venetian hotel/casino in Macau

China - Day 3 - Lantau Island

The agenda for today was to head over to Lantau Island and visit the Big Buddah, Po Lin temple and then hit the Cheung Sha beach on the southern side of the island. We took the MTR to the island then got on a tram up to the Buddah and Temple area. Fortunately we read some tips that said to buy our tickets online instead of at the tram station and that paid off really well. We saved 10% and also avoided an hour and a half ticket line.

We opted for the glassed bottom tram on the way up. It was pretty cool but probably not worth the couple dollar upgrade. It was nice and sunny at the base of the tram but after the 20 minute ride up to the top we got into more and more clouds and haze. It was still nice up at the top and it made for some cloudy backdrops for the Big Buddah. The Big Buddah used to be the largest buddah in the world until a few years ago. I think it's still the largest bronze buddah in China.

We climbed the 260+ steps up to the base of the Buddah which wasn't too bad. There were some people that were really suffering on the way up though. We walked around and took some photos before heading over to the Po Lin temple area next to the Buddah. The temple must have been freshly painted really recently because all of the colors were really bright.

Once we got to the tram base station we found a bus that would take us around to the southern side of the island where the beaches were. The road between the port/MTR station and the beaches was extremely steep. The buses were having major issues getting over the pass. Fortunately it only took us about 20 minutes to get to the beach.

Trip Advisor said there was a restaurant in town but we couldn't find it. We ended up going down to the beach and found a little tour company that had a convenience shop. We got some beers and some chips since that's about all they had and spent some time on the beach. It started off being really nice but as time went on the clouds rolled in and it got a little more gross.

We got back on the bus and headed back to the station and then got off near Kowloon to try and find the goldfish market. We couldn't find it but instead we found a bunch of street markets and a giant flower market. We walked around a little more before heading back to the hotel. We're getting ready to head out for dinner now. Unfortunately we forgot the restaurant we wanted to go to closed earlier than we thought so we'll have to find something else to eat.
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Big Buddah on Lantau Island
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Incense at the Po Lin temple
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Po Lin Temple
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Cheung Sha beach

China - Day 2 - Repulse Bay and Turtle Cove Beach

Today was planned to be dedicated to beaches but unfortunately it rained pretty much the entire day. We started out by heading to Repulse Bay which was actually a pretty decent beach. We hung out there for a little bit until it started to rain. After moving under some tents we decided to head out and visit Turtle Cove Beach via Stanley which supposedly had some nice markets.

We took a minibus to Stanley which was interesting. The minibus drivers seem to go flying through these little narrow and windy roads. It's definitely a little on the sketchy side. Once we got to Stanley we walked around a little bit but it was pretty touristy and the market wasn't really anything special. It was still raining so we ducked into an Indian restaurant that had some really good lunch specials and had some good food.

Turtle Cove beach was next on the list and was definitely worth it. It was a much smaller beach and there were some really good shells that were surprisingly not picked over. It started pouring down rain again so we came back into the city to shower and change. We took a little nap and did some research to figure out where to find dinner and we found a lot of recommendations for Delicious Kitchen.

We went there and got the vegetable rice with fried pork chops and some "mock chicken" which is some kind of rolled tofu. Both were really good. They sat us at a table with an Indonesian guy who comes to Hong Kong a lot. He gave us a lot of helpful info about the city as well as some tips on other places we're going to visit.

After eating we went to the Wan Chai district and saw that it was really just a red light district and nothing like we were looking for. We took the MTR to the Central station and found a bunch of bars and people walking around. We hung around there for a while but the bars were all pretty expensive so we came back to the hotel to get some sleep.
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Repulse Bay
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Stanley, Hong Kong
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Lunch in Stanley
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Dinner at Delicious Kitchen

China - Day 1 - Amusement Park, Aberdeen and Hong Kong

Day 1 in Hong Kong went really well. Mike and I got a full night of sleep and started the day with breakfast at the hotel. After eating we headed to the Ocean Park amusement park on the south side of the island. It took us a little while to figure out how to catch the bus down to the park. We were misreading the instructions Google gave us which mean we spent quite a bit of time wandering around before we found the bus. We didn't realize we had to catch a subway trail for a few stops before we were supposed to get on the bus.

We finally got to the park and it was extremely empty. We were able to get on every rollercoaster without having to wait in a single line the entire day. After riding every coaster and ride in the park we went and toured the aquariums and various other exhibits. The park actually wasn't that bad but a lot of it was under construction.

Once we finished up at the park we went over to Aberdeen to check out all the fishing boats. We were planning on eating there but we got there too early and didn't feel like sticking around for a few hours to wait for all the boat restaurants to open. Instead, we walked around through some of the city and got to see some local markets that had a lot of fresh vegetables and seafood.

We headed into the Tsim Shai Tsui area and Temple Street and walked around for a while. Open container laws don't exist in Hong Kong so we had a few beers while exploring the city. We did that for a couple hours until the light show on the Tsim Shai Tsui Promenade at 8. It was pretty cool except for how foggy it still was.

Once the show ended we headed back to our side of the island and started searching for food. We found a local place near our hotel that was a little like a dim sum restaurant except you ordered it like sushi. The food was good and extremely cheap. For both Mike and I to have 4 dishes and tea the total was only $10USD.

Tomorrow we're planning on heading out to visit some beaches although the weather is calling for a 60% chance of rain. We're hoping it holds off long enough for us to get a little beach time in.
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Pandas at Ocean Park in Hong Kong
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Ocean Park in Hong Kong
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Laser show on Hong Kong

Camping in the Jemez

Brandon and Erin asked if I wanted to join them on a camping trip this weekend out into the Jemez. The area they were planning on camping is somewhere I'd never been before. The road out there is awesome. It passes through some tunnels and follows a river for quite a while.

We found a campsite that was a little hike off the road. It took a while and a decent effort to carry all our stuff from the car down to the campsite. It was pretty steep getting down to the area where the camping was. We got everything set up and got a fire going and then started dinner. I made some green chile cheese burgers with some roasted corn on the cob for dinner Friday night.

On Saturday we had breakfast and waited for the sun to come up a little bit more then started hiking up and through the river while drinking some beers. I was pretty amazed at how well Canyon and Wicket (Brandon and Erin's dog) did in the water. I was expecting Canyon to avoid it like the plague but after a while she was pretty happy to splash through the water following us.

We stopped a couple times to have a drink and just after the 2nd stop, Brandon went to put Wicket on some rocks since he was getting pretty cold and tired from the water. There was a huge rattle snake chilling there and Brandon didn't see it until he had almost set Wicket on top of it. He flew himself and the dog backwards into the water, fortunately avoiding any kind of bite. Erin and I could hear it going crazy with its rattle after that. The crazy part was that Canyon had just ran through there which is why we assumed it would be fine.

After that little shake-up we decided to turn around and head back to camp. Once back at camp we made some sandwiches and snacked. Dark clouds were rolling in and it started raining so we just hunkered up under the canopy and played a dice game called Farkel while we waited out the rain.

The rain eventually stopped and we started collecting some firewood for the evening fire and dinner. For dinner tonight, Brandon made some lemon chicken, beans caesar salad and some sausage. We were all pretty tired from being in the sun most of the day so we were all passed out around 10pm.

It stormed a few times through the night but it wasn't anything too extreme. We got up, ate a quick breakfast with eggs and some of the leftover hamburger meat and started packing up the campground. The hard part was carrying everything back up to the cars. Even though we had drank most of the water and ate a lot of the food, the coolers were still heavy and awkward to carry back up.

On the way out we stopped at one of the cliff tunnels and took some photos before heading back to Albuquerque. Back at home, Canyon is passed out and is in desperate need of a good wash and grooming. I'll be looking for a place this week to take her to.
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Canyon enjoying some river hiking
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Happy Camper while hiking in the river
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Chilling by the camp fire
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Highway 376 through some cliffs