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Bangkok Interchange Station

17 May
Bye bye Malaysia - Hello Thailand

Bye bye Malaysia - Hello Thailand

Bangkok seems to be a central point in South East Asia and in my trip around the region: cheap flights, good connections, lovely shopping, exciting nightlife, efficient infrastructure, great people,… It’s like an interchange station between different parts of my trip, between nature and back to civilization, between luxury and back to basics, between shopping mall’s food courts and street food.

This time round, I tried something different and traveled overland, by train, and almost lost my luggage in the process. I took the night train to Bangkok from Butterworth (North Malaysia, in front of Penang island), which set me back 105 Ringit but saved me a night in a hotel. It was also 22 hours of rambling route and forced relaxation, finally having some time to read the brick of a book that I am carrying with me already for a month or two.
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Funny Malaysia Pictures

15 May
Buy your Buddha in the Buddha supermarket

Buy your Buddha in the Buddha supermarket

There’s quite some pictures in my Malaysia posts, but here are a few that I thought were funny, special, weird, different,… (for different reasons – read comments – hehe)

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Life at the beach

13 May
Life's a beach - or was it bitch?

Life's a beach - or was it bitch?

I guess it was one of those moments where I just naturally slowed down after all the back’n’forth between cities and countries; Bali, JogJa, Solo, KL, Singapore, Melaka and Georgetown in less than 2 weeks was a bit too much. So what was planned as 2-3 days at the beach turned out to be a week.

The lovely guesthouse was part of the attraction – and I moved to a bungalow literally ON the beach for the last few days – so I would wake up walk 5 meters and take a refreshing bath in the blue sea. Gorgeous. At night I would fall asleep with the sound of the waves gently penetrating the antique wooden shutters.

So what does one do at the beach? Continue reading

(Gay) Trouble in (Malaysia) Town

12 May
The many flavours of Malaysia

The many flavours of Malaysia

Malaysia prides itself in being a great multi-cultural society in which different communities live peacefully together – and when walking around in KL the mix of different languages, religions and cultures seems to be harmonious. But when talking to different people, not everybody is as tolerant as the government might want to see it.

A Malay friend took me to a curry house, and when I asked if it would be Thai style curry (green, red, in claypot) or Indian style (the spicy stew you scoop on your rice), he was almost offended and said it was Malay curry (so that was my first faux pas). So there are some ethnic sensitivities in Malaysia (sounds like Belgium – hehe). The Chinese don’t like the Malays with their mosques and conservative attitude. And a Malay friend of mine said that the Chinese have poor hygiene and smell. So there seem to be quite some stereotypes around – and at the same time it gave me a chance to explore my own prejudice. Continue reading

Penang sunset – the sky is on fire

10 May
Wow - the sky is on fire...

Wow - the sky is on fire...

Just in front of the Kampung House where I am staying, there is a beach bar with chairs and tables in the white soft sand, and some straw thatched umbrellas. The name of the bar was Sunset Bustro, and I thought this was just one of those ‘look good’-names to attract people. Until 6 pm arrived (and their happy hour, when beer ‘only’ costs as much as in Belgium) when the sun was going down. Then I realized that the sunset in Penang is THE reason to come here.

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Happy Wesak 2052 – Buddha’s birth

9 May
Burning my little lotus candle for Buddha

Burning my little lotus candle for Buddha

Yep – Happy New Year again! (for the 4th time this year, I know) This time the New Year took my by surprise. I was walking around town and on the spur of the moment, I thought to do something cultural, instead of only lying at the beach, reading, blogging and gazing at the beautiful sunset every night.

So I went to visit the lying Buddha in the Thai temple, and the Burmese Buddhist temple (in the same street). There were many many people around, and I only realized what was going on when I saw a little paper on the wall explaining that today is Wesak – Buddhist religious new year 2052. It was 2052 years ago that Buddha was born. So I decided to join in and get my blessing from the monks and light a flower candle for Buddha. Continue reading

No more 4 star hotels please

7 May
Sunway 4 star pigeon house

Sunway 4 star pigeon house

I was arriving in gorgeous George Town relatively late at night (with FireFly, another cheap one ;-) so I didn’t want to be stuck for lodging, so I booked a hotel via one of those booking sites (Agoda.com) which of course only have the nicer hotels – but at great value (negotiated prices). So I stayed at the Sunway 4 **** hotel. The view from the 11th floor was great, the room was comfortable, the bed better than my one at home, but I didn’t like it.

So after 2 days I moved down to a Kampung (village style) guesthouse at Batu Feringhi beach. A small wooden room, no reception (just go and find someone of the family), no room service, no shower cap or ironing board – but it was sooo cozy and on top of it there was a wooden veranda overlooking the beach. Continue reading

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