Travel: South-East Asia

Trip to South-East Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia

Jan.30 - Feb.20, 1997

It was a good trip overall. Saw lots of places ... ate lots of food ... The flight to HK was long (14 hrs!) ... we got there before the airport even opened (didn't know that an airport for such a big city would close for the night). BTW, did you know that Singapore Airlines (in addition to having the cutest flight attendants ;) also has individual TV consoles with 20 channels to chose from, half of them being movies? Plus they have 10+ video games as well. Can't possibly get bored!

Water front
Alex, Mario, Steven, and Bob at the waterfront with Hong Kong Island in the background.
HK is a great place to visit. It looked to me as one big 'chinatown', with lots of people on the streets, cars driving like mad (most of them taxis), street vendors selling most everything, and signs hanging everywhere (even hiding the building themselves). But it rained 3 out of 4 days we were there, so we didn't get to do much sightseeing. The only good day around, we used it to go to Macau. We were there just prior to CNY, so it was a festive atmosphere with people doing last minute shopping, and shops fully decorated with mandarine and cherry blossom trees to reflect the spirit. And, I got to visit old and new friends alike.

Our next stop was Ipoh, in Malaysia. We stayed at Steven's hometown near Batu Gajah ('stone elephant' in malay). It was quite a change from a big city like HK. Out in the country side, with hot and humid weather and mosquitoes that seemed to such your blood dry, and no hot showers (not that we need it since it was hot all day long), this place was pretty much a village. But our hosts were gracious and put up with us through Chinese New Year. We visited several Buddhist temples, some of which were insides caves, rode mopeds to old abandoned tin mines (Malaysia was at one time the leading producer of tin in the world), ate lots of local food at 'hawker' centers (ie. street side vendors/restaurants), and visited our Steven' friends around the area (he gets to see them only once a year when he goes back home). But he also had the time to take us to Pankor island (a small undeveloped fishing village), and to Penang, the second largest city in the country and home to new high tech companies. Penang is also a vacation spot with several high-class beach resort/hotels.

We took the bus (9 hrs ride) to our next leg of the trip: Singapore. It took us a while to get through customs coming into the city since there was a large crowd of vacationers returning home from the holidays. Singapore is a very modern (and VERY clean!) place. This city/country is only about 20x40 km, and has one of the busiest ports/harbors in the world. Ships are literally lined up for docking. But there is not much to do (touristy-wise), the city caters mainly to shoppers. We only spent two days there, and that was enough.

Our final stop was again Malaysia and its capital city Kuala Lumpur. A few other friends from the bay area joined us (plus those from the surrounding areas) to attend our friend Isa's open house celebrating Hari Raya (the end of Ramadan and Malay equivalent of New Year). We ate traditional Malay food (his place is in Kajang, the satay capital of the country) and got to see people wearing some traditional costumes. Not to mention meet old friends that have moved back to Malaysia and Singapore after spending a couple of years here in the bay area. The rest of our stay in KL was kinda relaxing: meeting more old friends, shopping at downtown's central market, take a swim at the tennis club, etc.

I've just returned last Thu.Feb.20, but I'm still a little jet-lagged. After cleaning my mailbox from 550+ messages, I think I'm ready to start some real work ...

Article contributed by Mario Ling
Pictures scanned by Isa Hashim

Pictures from SE Asia Trip

Night Jumbo Macau Waterfront Junk Snake Highway
Cave Statue Temple CK's Fruit Stand Pangkor Temple Pagoda

Links to some of the places we've been

[ Hong Kong ] [ Macau ] [ Singapore ] [ Ipoh, Malaysia ] [ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ]

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