Category Archives: Travel to Asia
When I last posted, you saw the terrible air quality in Kuala Lumpur. Well, I’m happy to report that on the following day things got dramatically better. The readings were back to normal levels, and I didn’t need my face mask again on the trip!
To avoid any other air quality problems, we wound up flying from KL to Singapore – a very short flight scheduled for 1:10 over the 213 miles, the same exact distance as from Washington National Airport (I refuse to call it Reagan) to LaGuardia in New York.
I was then in Singapore for 7 nights, but the time just flew by – with work commitments I hardly got to see any of the city!
On Saturday, it was time for my couple days of vacation before my flight home. So, I headed back to the airport to fly north to Penang, one of the thirteen states of Malaysia and primarily an island off the western coast of Malaysia in the Andaman Sea. The island has about 750,000 people. The flight to Penang was 373 miles, passing back over KL to go further north.
I spent the night in George Town, a colonial city that is a UNESCO World Heritage site, at the amazing Eastern & Oriental Hotel.
The next day it was off to the jetty for the quick ferry hop over to the mainland town of Butterworth (surely, no British influence in that sort of name :)), where I boarded Train 36, the International Express. This is a Thai train that operates from Butterworth in Malaysia all the way to Bangkok – a distance of approximately 1200km (~750 miles, or similar to New York to Chicago) and is scheduled to take about 22 hours. I was surprised to find that it is the entry for International Express on Wikipedia, which seems pretty prominent!
After a night at a beach resort there, and a hotel shuttle journey up to Bangkok (complete with a German family of 5 with screaming infant and diaper changes en-route!), I ended up in Bangkok for a few hours before heading to the airport and starting the long journey home, via Singapore.
Now I’m back home just for two nights, before we head for a long weekend to Warsaw. Tomorrow morning very early we’ll head to the airport for the short 2.5 hour flight to the Polish capital. More on that when we get back! I will try to post a bit more about the trip as well, including my journey up to the top of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
PS: A belated happy 4th of July to everyone out there! There wasn’t much celebration in Singapore, although the hosts did make a toast to it at dinner that night.
After a long journey, I made it last night to Kuala Lumpur Just wanted to check in with a quick update – after a day to adjust and make preparations, I have a very busy schedule of meetings for the rest of the week!
We’ve got a great location right at KL Stesen Sentral (Central Station), which despite its name is not very central in the city (although it is the rail hub and reportedly the largest railway station in Southeast Asia).
Now to bed as it is late and I have an early start with 7 hours of jetlag to battle in the wrong direction!
And that’s all we ate in Istanbul.
I jest. Sort of.
We DID eat a lot of kebabs … but they were pretty amazing. Especially the Teste kebab, which (despite Alex’s hesitation based on the suspicious sounding Latinate root), turns out to be meat and veggies cooked in a special clay pot. They have to break the clay pot to get your food out, and it’s done in quite a dramatic fashion with flame and calculated tapping on the pot … different restaurants play it up for tourists, of course, but we got a big kick out of it.
We also had some amazing bread, which comes out all puffy but slowly deflates over time.
After our 4th of 5th meal of meat and rice though, Alex wanted some pasta, so we ventured to a special restaurant on Istiklal Cadessi that serves authentic Turkish pasta. It was …. interesting. I’m afraid it’s clear that Italy is the winner in the pasta stakes. Turkish pasta looks a lot like gnocci, but comes floating in a pool of oil and cheese. There is no sauce per se, just a lot of oil and cheese. Did I mention the oil? And the cheese?
I didn’t mind it that much, actually … except that it’s an awful lot of the same flavor, and it takes a long time to work your way through that much oil and cheese. By the end, my arteries were groaning!
By far the highlight of the trip for me was the baclava. I’m a fan of the honey and pistacchio treat from way back when …. and I had some of the best baclava in the world. I especially liked it when served as above, with ice cream on top! Yummy!
This picture is probably my favorite, because it shows our Christmas dinner. This is what we ate mid-day on Christmas day, sitting in the square between the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofia. It’s a simit, which is kind of like a pretzel, but without the twisty bit. It’s sesame bread, and they’re sold on the streets as a quick mid-day snack. Forget a turkey and all the trimmings … for us, a simit and a Coke made for the perfect Christmas dinner!