After Bali, we hopped on a flight to the Indonesian island of Java, next door. We landed in Yogyakarta, home to two UNESCO world heritage sites. Using public transportation, we made our way to Prambanan, a large Hindu temple complex, and to Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple. Both were built in the 900’s and were amazing to see and also amazingly hot and humid. In Yogya, we also got to engage in one of my favorite travel past times: seeing a movie! We caught Mockingjay at a theater, which I loved.
We flew to Singapore, the island state at the very tip of SE Asia. For two days we did the hop on, hop off bus there. I have to say, there isn’t much to do in Singapore except shop and eat. Although, we did stay in the red light district, where prostitution is legal, so that made for some very interesting street-watching in the evenings. And the huge buildings and skyscrapers were fascinating. The Singapore Changi airport is also one of the best in the world, with a sunflower garden on the roof, a kinetic rain sculpture, free massages, and a pool.
After Singapore, we took a bus into Malaysia, and stopped in Malacca. We stayed there for three days, and enjoyed their river walk area, a river cruise, the Jonker Street night market, and a very nicely done museum on the history of the area, beautifully housed in the shah’s old wooden palace.
Another bus, this time up to Kuala Lumpur. What a skyline! The twin Petronas towers are so cool to look at. We rode up to the top of the KL Tower to get a better view of the Petronas towers, also went up to the 33rd floor Skybar of a nearby hotel to get a great night shot. Like Singapore, KL is mainly about shopping and eating. We did also visit the orchid and hibiscus gardens, and took the metro out to Batu Caves, a huge limestone cave that houses some Hindu shrines and a giant gold statue of Lord Murugan, the Hindu God of war. And we saw another movie – the last Hobbit film (we don’t usually see this many movies on vacation, but it is seriously hot and humid here. Indoor activities are nice).
From KL we found a flight to Brunei, a tiny country the size of Delaware on the island of Borneo. We spent four days there, including Christmas. We did a city tour and visited two huge mosques, the Royal Regalia museum, and the water village- a large portion of the city’s population live in houses built on stilts in the river. Brunei is interesting- they have sharia law there, but also a large number of multi-faith Indonesians and Malaysians living there. Christmas was a public holiday, although most shops and businesses stayed open. The Sultan of Brunei is supposedly the richest man in the world, and owns all the oil and gas there. Petrol costs 32 cents a liter.
The coolest thing we did in Brunei was go on a river and rainforest tour. We rode up the river for about 45 minutes, then rode in a van another 25. Then we got in another boat, a very shallow draft, longboat, and rode another 45 minutes into the national forest. Then we hiked in and up the forest, until we came to four huge canopy towers. We climbed up the towers- 50 meters high- and walked across the top of the forest. It was very neat to see the top of the forest like that.
Some notes about things I’ve noticed this week while traveling. My t shirts are starting to get pretty stretched out from all the washing and wearing, especially the necklines. So I decided to replace one of them at a mall in KL. Do you know how hard it is to find a shirt without a super scooped neck or deeply v-necked shirt? I had to buy one from the boys department at H&M.
Also, every single hotel we have had in SE Asia has had free internet. Why do so many US hotels still charge for wifi?
Next up for us is Thailand, and getting a chance to visit our dear friend Chantel.