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Getting Out Of Asia

It has been quite awhile since I've posted anything. Apologies for that.

Looking at the blog, apparently the last time I posted anything about the trip, we were in Bangkok. So, I'll start from there. There isn't much to say about our travels south to Singapore. We passed through Malaysia on two overnight bus rides. Our first ride took us down to the south end of Thailand, to the town of Ao Nang. That ended up being a ridiculous trip, as we were told that we'd be on the beach by 10 am. There were a number of circumstances and side events that bumped up the arrival time to about 2 pm. Ao Nang was very expensive in terms of accomodation, and it took another good half hour or 45 minutes of walking around to find a place that was only 500 baht, which was about $17, each night. The town itself was beautiful, really nice beaches, and we were able to eat cheap by shopping in the little roadside stands. We snorkeled and swam, and enjoyed the beautiful sunsets. We ended up staying for two nights, as we really enjoyed the town.

Our only stop in Malaysia was a two-night pause in on the island of Penang. To be fair, we saw very little of Malaysia, we were on a little island, and our passage through the country itself was at night, so we didn't see any of that. We weren't terribly fond of Penang, partly because of an unfortunate decision to stay in the guesthouse of the rudest man in SE Asia (for two nights), which really made us feel bad about the area, since he was the person we spent the most time with in Malaysia. There wasn't too much to do in Penang, it is very touristy, very built up, and very expensive. We did enjoy a few hours at a beach watching crabs, and we went for a nice hike on Penang Hill, which is a rainforest covered hill overlooking the island's city. Other than that, I was quite ready to leave; I wouldn't mind giving Malaysia another try, but I'll never go back to Penang.

Singapore really was nice, in comparison. We stayed in a great hostel, and we spent a couple of hours talking with the owner about all sorts of aspects of Singaporean life and world events. The city is very clean, though not as clean as they'd have you think. It also has a large number of strict laws, which is why it's called a "fine" city (for two reasons), according to the hostel owner. Still, it's tropical and lush, which can be seen when walking through the urban park called the Southern Ridges. We saw some of the best birds that we've seen in SE Asia in this park. There are also distinct neighborhoods full of distinct ethnicities, such as Little India, Chinatown, and others. These areas were really intersting, and the foods cheap and delicious. We had our last few Asian meals in Singapore, in the 30 hours that we spent there. Of course, Singapore is a developed city-state, and prices here are like prices in the US, so a long stay would cost a lot of money.

So, Asia was a fascinating part of our trip. We wish that we'd had more than five weeks to explore, but on the other hand, SE Asia is an exhausting place to visit. There is constant stimulation, whether you're walking around in the busy cities, or riding in any sort of transportation, or arranging any part of your trip. There is a huge range of cultures there, all of which are so different from Western culture that by the end of a month or so, I almost felt like I was in culture-shock overload. As much as we enjoyed visiting the six SE Asian countries, it was a bit of a relief to arrive in Australia, to return to a culture that in many respects is quite like that of the US. It's like a little mini-vacation from our trip, though we don't plan on sitting around much in Oz.

Until next time, be safe.


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