Monday, October 28, 2013


Stopped over for a night on the way back from Melaka. On the outskirts of town, dramatic karst outcroppings, some harboring cave temples.  We made our way to one of them, called Kek Lok Tong. It took some doing to find it with only scanty directions (your faithful author has since posted directions on Trip Advisor) but was soooo worth the effort.

T outside the cave temple
Kek Lok Tong is a stunning place, both physically and spiritually.

at the back of the cave, which opens onto a garden
At a pond in front, visitors are discouraged from releasing animals in an effort to make merit

meritous koi?

Ipoh is a small city in central Malaysia, about 3 hours' drive to KL.  An area of downtown still has a colonial flavor.  There seemed to be zero tourists here, unlike Melaka.  It's got character but feels a bit gritty. To be fair, we only saw the downtown area and the outskirts, and nothing in between where most of the people probably live.

Ipoh has yummy street food, but of course.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spore Wars!

Or, Attack of the Killer Mildew

It's an invasion, and we are learning to defend our home. Opened a closet and discovered all the black clothing was mottled with whitish-green and exuding a musty, yucky smell.
well, this was the worst one--stashed away in the happily forgotten bin of Winter Clothes

Gradually discovered it was invading on many fronts: drawers, storage bins, cupboards. Even, oh jeez:

It is rainy season, and the surge is on.  We seldom use the AC because temperatures are mild, but  now may have to put them on periodically to help dry the air.  And we are now heavy consumers of the mighty plastic-encased calcium chloride armament:
You lift the lid, peel off a seal, replace the lid and stick them in closets, drawers, etc.  Then you try to remember to keep the closet/drawers shut (Tom!!). They collect moisture, and in as fast as a couple of weeks are full of liquid and need to be replaced. Terrible for the landfill--must look into an electric version.


AKA Melacca, an important port city to traders, pirates, settlers and colonizers of many ethnicities for many centuries, now a UNESCO world heritage and popular tourist site.

At right, a water wheel replica of the type used in the 15th and 16th centuries.  It reminded me of those gorgeous, melodious ones in Hama, Syria :-(.

This one is just across the river from our hotel.

Here is T shortly after arrival, consulting the map. I plan the trip, he gets us there and everywhere.  This time, with help from Naza, our Malaysian car (pitcured).

First stop, the Menara Tamong Sari, a 250 foot tall revolving tower, which you can ride--whoooosh---up for a view of the city.

Views from above:
in the center,  a reconstructed ship in the maritime museum

We hit several museums.  We were interested to see the Maritime Museum, housed partly in a reconstruction of a Portuguese caravel ship that did the spice etc. run in the 1500s. But it was disappointing that the reconstruction showed nothing of how the interior was configured--no depiction of cargo, crew's quarters, location of the ship's wheel, etc.

More interesting was the museum on Cheng Ho (AKA Zheng He, Sam Poh), the previously mentioned Muslim Chinese admiral eunuch that T thinks I have a "thing" for.  Well, he certainly was an interesting person.  Selected by a Ming Dynasty Emperor to travel the world, giving people gifts and establishing good relations (what a concept !), he made seven voyages.  Reputedly (in this part of the world), he discovered the Americas 87 years before Christopher Columbus, among other feats.  He traveled in a fleet of 280 vessels (and crew of 27,000), which communicated with each other by flags, lights, carrier pigeons and, in time of war, drums.  Here is a representation of the fleet, and your intrepid travelers posing in front.

We learned that the Dutch taxed buildings in Melacca based on their width. Hence, a large number of narrow and very long buildings, including the one in which the Cheng Ho museum is housed. It is a beautiful, historic building, established by Zheng He as a place for some of his entourage to base themselves and stock his ships when he passed through.

On a visit to Africa he scored a giraffe which he brought back to China as a gift for the emperor...

Here he is, our 7 foot hero, in a diorama depicting him bringing gifts to some Melaccan prince.

And here, my other hero, enjoying a new love:  iced Milo

We pass on a favorite form of local transport:  the highly decorated trishaw.  Many of them have boomboxes and blare conflicting tunes as they wheel by each other.

A random temple entrance

 Every city needs an Old City Dumpling Shop and Coffin Shop, no?
 These dogs had to check us out

 Mr. Universe was here

 The other Mr. Universe!

Our hotel (and car) from across the river

At a wooden (no nails!) replica of a 1456 sultan's palace
Tom with other tourists
The Must-Have weapon

practical matters...

no comment

saw this guy as we walked around a Chines hill cemetery

ancient wonders:  Tom in front of the Portuguese fort

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A few random Penang sights

 Around town...

Here is our local supermarket, 15 minutes by car. The lower level has a great local food court ($2 for a bowl of incredible soup with fish and noodles). Yes, and a McD's and Kentucky Fried Whatnots as well (serves rice).

 This is where I purchased car insurance--under the canopy, behind the motorcycles. Everyone does.  It's pretty much the only place. It's in the parking area of the DMV.

Our first visitors! Friends from Baku, Greg and Chee Wan. She cooked for us--best kind of guest!

Just a shot off our small balcony. Tom says, "They pay us to live here, you know."