Japan: Tokyo

IMG_0826Josh and I enjoy cherry blossoms during Spring in Japan.

Tokyo in the spring… fresh and bright salmon baby pink and vibrant white cherry blossoms grace the trees like none other. We had fun galavanting the city and taking in the sites!

 

IMG_0778

We were welcomed to Japan by Josh’s twin in the express train line, this gentlemen from Hong Kong indulged us in a photo!

IMG_0779

The express train was fun as we zoomed from Narito to Tokyo!

IMG_0780

IMG_0783

IMG_0784

We ambled around the outside of Tokyo’s central station, busy and had great architecture!

 

IMG_0785

IMG_0787

The imperial gardens were even better!

IMG_0791

IMG_0792

IMG_0793

IMG_0794
We were lucky enough to hit the only few weeks of the cherry blossom season in Japan, we took it in full heartedly and posed with the other photo takers reveling at the beautiful cherry leaves and blossoms!

IMG_0799

IMG_0832

IMG_0815

IMG_0824
Then we had an authentic meal, complete with Sake, Yakisoba noodles, fried pork fat, and eel sushi!

IMG_0867

Advertisements

Malaysia: KL and Friends

IMG_0743
A
ina and her bestie hanging out with us at the Putrajaya Mosque.

The best part of travelling is meeting the kindest people one will ever meet and making new friends. On the plane from Kuala Lumpur (called KL by locals) to Kota Kinabalu, our first few hours in the country, we met a sweetheart named Aina. She was so kind, friendly, and informative on all things Malaysia. We joked about 50 shades of Grey and drooled over food chat like fried Singapore noodles and laksa.

She invited us for a day of sightseeing in the big city!

We kicked off the day by going to Little India and seeing the market.

IMG_0656 IMG_0652 IMG_0658 IMG_0655

Josh having fun by the subway!

We ate chocolate cake, coconut ice cream with mango and rice (served in baby coconuts!), fried pepper steak kabobs, fried noodles, and much much more!

IMG_0659 IMG_0662

The city was so beautiful with Islamic art and mosques…Christina was thrilled to check out the Islamic Arts museum with her love for that type of art!

IMG_0665 IMG_0681IMG_0669IMG_0673

We also visited the KL gallery, which had an interactive city map and video about the city… we were being really silly most of the day with photos!IMG_0686 IMG_0690 IMG_0698

We visited Putrajaya, the government district of KL, we fed fish for hours, is it awful that we fed them fish balls, which are Malaysia snackies. (think cheetos that taste like fish)

IMG_0739 IMG_0714

Perhaps our favorite thing to do was one thing wanted to do the entire time in Asia, go to Karaoke.

IMG_0755
J
osh and Aina jamming out to Avril Lavigne’s “So Complicated”

So, in Asia, Karaoke is a tiny room with cushions, a screen and an interactive touchpad so that you can choose your tunes. All you can eat buffet, no alcohol, and the lack of a large audience make karaoke so much easier and less frightening than the sates, why do we not do it this way!

IMG_0758 IMG_0757IMG_0753 IMG_0754

All you can eat buffet! And did you catch that awesome throat drop packet, just in case you need to sing louder at Karaoke… we sang for 4 hours!

Finally, it was time to see some Petronas towers!

IMG_0767 IMG_0768 IMG_0773 IMG_0777

The second tallest twin towers in the world… so impressive.

We had such a great time with Aina and friends, people in Malaysia were the friendliest people we have met thus far. Thanks to everyone who hung out with us!

Brunei: Bandar Seri Begawan 

 

A traditional Brunei buffet.

As we left the unusual and exotic world of Borneo (we didn’t buy the leech socks below, we are like Chuck Norris, we bite leeches) we headed east to our last country before a fly through Malaysia, Brunei!

 

  

 A great setup in the airport!

Some facts about Brunei:

This tiny country has a government and religious figurehead of the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien (you can just call him His Majesty as he is usually referred), he makes decisions for this oil wealthy nation. It is a country that follows Islamic and Sharia law, theft is grounds for finger cutting punishment. It’s people are the kindest we’ve met yet on this trip, with the absence of drugs, alcohol, karaoke and gambling, you’ve got inquisitively friendly and curious people that want to do nothing but help and educate you on their peaceful country.

  The most beautiful mosque can be found in the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan, we headed to this place right away!

    

  

   

 

There was also the world’s largest stilt house village complex here, we explored and saw several mosques, a schoolhouse and even a fire department all on the water! 

  

There were more beautiful views of the mosque at sunset, the next day the Royal prince of the Sultan is having his religious pre- wedding  ceremony in this sacred space!

   

       Only in beautiful places like Brunei can a sunset exist like this!

   

We decided it was time for an appetizer to our dinner… The Asian version of sloppy joes can be seen here with beef, corn, sweet chili sauce, ketchup and onions all cooked up into a delicious pita!

Num!

Then for the real Grand Prix of food…

 

  

  

 This was the night market that took place each evening smack dab in the middle of Brunei… Everything under the sun from kebabs, hot dogsled fried noodles, fried whole and half chickens, and beef cooked in banana leaves could be found here… Num nummity num!


The Royal wedding ceremonies were commencing, here are banners of the lovely wife to be and Sultan prince, you can see the Sultans palace in the distance in the water photo below…

   

   

This is the palace in the photo above, many people say it’s as big as an airport terminal!

   

      

The Brunei flag, note the Arabic writing where most people speak Malay but can read and follow the Quran, as well as other government items and places labeled in Arabic.

We ate a traditional buffet including laksa (shrimp paste, anchovies, rice, egg, peanuts and a curry. We also ate a beef curry dish and a delicious chicken broth soup. 

   

     Finally we visited the Royal Regalia museum which housed the fine gifts the sultan has received since he was instated as the Sultan, we saw paintings made of gold and large horse sculptures and mosques crusted in jewels… You had to take your shoes off to walk around inside… Fancy!

A wonderful time in Brunei, one more stop in Malaysia before we head to Japan!

Malaysia: Jungle Hike 2 in Borneo

 

A large lizard in Bako national park.

This hike was filled with wildlife adventures! Bako national park is another wonderful jumping off point to explore the island of Borneo. Above you can see a lizard friend that greeted us at the beginning of our hike, he was quite still and didn’t move at the sight of falling leaves!

We started off on a wild speedboat ride where we had to jump off and wade through hot water to get to the island! 

   

     

Next we started on trail #3 hoping to spot signs of jungle life and hear the wonderful sounds!

   

Look in the middle of this photo, towards the right, do you see a vine-looking object on the ground? In between the two sticks on the right there is something light green…

We came across a green whip snake which we learned later is only slightly venomous :/ luckily this usually shy and bush dwelling snake has venom that is to weak to hurt humans. What’s really cool is that the whip snake has a unique ability to keep its tongue extended as long as it senses danger, you can bet your bottom dollar this lil guy had his tongue during our whole presence around him! No harm done though!
  
   

The vines were quite magnificent, we loved exploring and hanging on them.

   

   

These little beauties are called pitcher plants. They are carnivorous and eat insects! This is the coolest thing ever, here’s how it works. The meat eating pitcher plant has a sweet smelling juice that lures insects to the top of the plant, it folds up the insect and keeps it inside. Over time that same sweet smelling juice breaks down and “eats” the insect, the pitcher plant absorbing the insects nutrients. Simply fascinating!

The most exciting thing we got to see we’re the  prized wonders of Borneo… Orangutans!

 

 Along with the Sumatran orangutan, these Borneo orangutans are the only genus of great apes in Asia

 

  

  

Wikipedia says that like the other great apes, orangutans are highly intelligent, displaying advanced tool use and distinct cultural patterns in the wild. Orangutans share approximately 97% of their DNA with humans.

We were able to see them at feeding time, but even an hour before that the Orangutans were quite active and friendly with us, we were particularly fond of a wee wittle one who was a complete ham.

   

 

They swung from the vines with the greatest of ease, we could photograph these guys for hours!

   

   

Time to head back to the mainland. We zipped through swamps and mangroves on the way back. What an amazing time in Borneo, a true gift to exploresuch rich space.

 ft to explore.

 

  

Malaysia: Jungle Hike 1 in Borneo

  Never in our wildest dreams would we imagine hiking in the world’s oldest rainforest. At a ripe old age Borneo is 130 million years old and man, she has never looked better!

   

 

  

We reveled in the fact Borneo is SE Asia’s largest island, we started exploring the vast space as Santubong Mountain, just north of Damai.

   

   

We climbed up strong knotted ropes and crossed rickety bamboo bridges over streams on this adventurous hike, great training for our upcoming Tough Mudder race!

   

  

There are 15,000 different species of flora in Borneo, these bright blue berries were tough to convince Josh not to eat, wait for August in Alaska Josh dear 🙂 just kidding, he didn’t really want to eat them, well, maybe just a little…

 

 

   

 

Malaysia: Kota Kinabalu 

 

Christina feeding fish on Manukan island. We’ve officially arrived in Malaysia, the east side anyway. We are in Kota Kinabalu, where divers and mountain climbers alike seek this turquoise watered, shopping mall sprinkled, trekker dotted paradise!

Here is some geography, as Malaysia is fascinating in what it’s connected to…

  Map taken from http://www.malaysia-maps.com

Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Brunei are all connected to this island/peninsular place… We’ve visited Thailand’ and our final country we will visit is Brunei, but just wanted to show you some geography! You can see where we currently are in the Northeast corner, in Kota Kinabalu affectionately known as KK.

Fast facts: 

Kuala Lumpur, the capital, has 1.6 million people… The island of Borneo is in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia… It is the 3rd largest island in the world and the largest island in Asia (we will be visited these jungle areas in Malaysia and Brunei)… Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, we see Arabic written in many places, they say a Muslim prayer before flight take off on the airplane, many women wear head scarves, and the direction of Ka’ba is indicated by an arrow in each hotel room we stay so the direction of Mecca is indicated for people to pray. Fascinating!

 

Our first night, after Christina’s worst bout of food poisoning (travelling for 13 hours in a plane!), we were both excited for some breakfast!

 

  This is Nasi Lamak… A traditional breakfast of coconut rice, peanuts, cucumbers, and sometimes sardines, the shrimp paste and curry sauce are also decent!

  

  Josh tried some Nasi too, and Singapore noodles.. He loves being silly at breakfast as you can see…

 

It’s Saturday and that means visiting the Gaya street market in KK. 

 

 Fresh water pearls were for sale everywhere!

  So were cats in cages…

  

 Luckily lots of people were buying the animals!

 

 The city mosque is a place we drove by after the market, the mosques here are exquisite and tickling Christina’s Islamic Art love bone, we will show many more on this trip.

Manukan island is next!

 

 There are 5 islands to visit around KK, we took a speed boat and visited the one with the clearest water and hungry fish!

  The fish were going after throwing some almonds down!

  This is some of the clearest, most beautiful turquoise water we have ever seen!

  

  

 

We decided to take a dip! 

 

  

  

  

  

  

A beautiful day in Malaysia…

Angel fish went crazy when we fed them bread!  

  

 

   

 

There was a Malayan Water Monitor lizard we saw in the photo above, we fed it eggs, which it really liked. he was just strolling around the beach! 

When attacked, Water Monitors try to intimidate predators by lashing out with their tails, inflating their throats, hissing loudly, turning sideways and compressing their bodies. When cornered, they will bite and claw. Unlike other lizards, they do not drop their tails in self defence. 



 We had fun zooming through the waters as we headed back to the mainland, next post we fly to Kuching, base camp for heading into the jungles of Borneo!

  

  

  

Myanmar: Mawlamyine and The Golden Rock

   

Here we are under The Golden Rock in matching T’s! 

And then we were 4. After J squared leaving us 😦 we headed south for some more merrymaking in Myanmar at Mawlamyine and Mount Kyaitiyo, where The Golden Rock of Myanmar is.  

This rock is known to have a Buddha hair from long ago, we had to make our own pilgrimage up to see it… And this is how you get there…

   

Dump trucks turned shuttles up to Mount Kyaitiyo where the golden rock is was something reminiscent of a roller coaster ride. They packed us in like sardines and we squealed, giggled and closed our eyes most of the time.

But was it worth it…   

 

 

 

 We were celebrities up at the Rock (perhaps we were asking for it with the I heart Myanmar T’s) and many people wanted to get there photos with us, including chic monks… We were stopped every few minutes so please bear with us during all of the photo bombs posted.  

 

 Only men could enter the Golden Rock and touch it, Josh represented the ladies well and applied gold leaf to the sacred object for luck and merit.

   

     

We really had a heck of a fun time with all the photos being snapped with us!

Also, we visited Mawlamyine, a former capital and wonderful city where we did an excursion to Ogre Island where they had

Wood making… 

Cloth making…

   

     

 Rubber making…

  

Coconut fibre making…

  

 

 Rubber processing…

 

  

  

Chalkboard making…

  

Hat making…

   

     

 And the icing on the cake was one of the best celebrations we have been invited to on this trip… A Novice (young monk) celebration where the Novice is being honored and preparing to leave home for his months of service as a young monk.

We ate…

   

 

Drank…

  

  

 Had cameras in our faces… 

Met new friends…   

       

Ate some more at a second celebration…

  

   

And even danced a bit. 


We also saw novice horses preparing for a royal ride.  

 Mr. Ky was our tour guide and he was the most adorable gentlemen and wise fellow we have met yet!   

 

Finally, we saw the worlds largest reclining Buddha outside of Mawlamyine, so large and awing against the mountains.

 

It wasn’t quite done, but still held the name of the world’s largest reclining Buddha!

   

  

  

 They had renditions of Buddha’s life inside the sculpture, we had fun with photos as we explored this larger than life wonder!

   

      

Outside it was just as beautiful… 

  

  

  

  

  

Our adventures in Myanmar have come to an end, good times have been had and now we are on to Malaysia!