Sunday, July 8, 2007


We're in Kuala Lumpur, in the chaos of Chinatown. There's street stands everywhere, selling all sorts of indescribable and sometimes unmentionable food products. My favorite stand had live chickens in cages and decapitated chickens for sale. Too bad we don't have a kitchen! Our stay here will be a battle between street food and our digestive tracts. So far we've only had fried fruit products, and our digestive tracts are ahead 1-0.

Before Kuala Lumpur we were in the resort island of Langkawi, and before that the old British colonial city of Penang. Penang looked awesome on the drive in from the aiport. It's a mix of old colonial architecture, the Chinese-Indian-Malay influences of the population and the modernism that's defining modern Malaysia. However, walking around the streets wasn't as pleasant. There was a lot of traffic and not much in the way of sidewalks. Also, the tropical weather is eroding the colonial buildings' facades at record pace. It can be a bit grimy. We went for a rickshaw ride, took lunch at the Eastern & Oriental hotel, then booked it out of there.

Langkawi is 2.5 hours' ferry ride north, and the voyage marked a real low of our trip. I slept until Kirsten shook me awake to let me know she was puking into the hood of her favorite sweatshirt. That was about 2 hours into the trip, and the next half hour was really ugly. Especially, Kirsten wasn't the only ill passenger so the whole enclosed cabin smelled rank. (Kirsten wants you to know that she held out for an especially long time. Some of the weaker passengers gave way after only 1 hour.)

On land, with Kirsten still not herself, we opted for some high quality comfortable accomodation. Our room was a "chalet" on stilts above a private beach. The unexpected highlight of this location was the resident family of monkeys who came by the beach to have their crab dinner. They were unfazed by us, swimming off the shore, as everybody from Grandpa Monkey to Baby Monkey frolicked and fed.

The next day we hiked above a waterfall to "Seven Wells", where a stream drops from one pool to another creating natural slides. We spent several hours sliding down, walking up and sliding down again. The weather was beautiful. The views of the ocean were stupendous. Our vacation is right on track.

Tomorrow we plan to go to the skybridge on the Petronas towers...Kuala Lumpur's inadvertent monument to Madonna. For now, it's back into the markets!

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