Kuantan to Penang – Food, Fun, Good Walking and Thoughts on Social Media

I flew up to Penang which is my last stop here in Malaysia. Penang is a really interesting city with so much to see. The food is incredible as is the case with all of Malaysia. You can find just about any kind of food and the local specialties are amazing. I sampled Nyonya Cuisine again last night for dinner with Laksa. Very excellent! They also have one of my favorites which is Beef Randang. The fun part is seeing the city, its architecture and just walking the city with no real regard for direction or things to see. Having a month here to experience the city means I can take my time with doing things like bus tours. I can also slow down with the touring and enjoy the mornings in my airbnb.

Today will do another walking tour in a different direction just to get a sense of the city. First off is coffee at a different place along with some breakfast. I also started a new photo album which is always fun. I upload the photographs to Google Photos but if you want to see a recap or a distilled selection, I also place a few on Mastodon’s Social Photography instance and on Instagram. Here are the links just in case you want to watch along:

Mastodon – I am a user on the Social Photography instance. If you are not familiar with what Mastodon is, here’s a bit of a primer for you. You can search for an instance close to what your needs are and likely will find one. Since its federated, you can find and follow users on other instances and they can reach to you on your instance. I’ve all but given up on twitter because its not this way. Twitter is a massive single application no matter what you do. Imagine instead if twitter were federated and instances existed that could be inter-woven with others and users were visible across the different instances. You could see posts from your local space along with the federated space. I think that this empowers social media to be more. Here is a nice review of what it offers. My user is @mpmilestogo@social.photog if you are interested. You don’t have to be on my instance to find and follow me. Since this is open source expect a higher degree of privacy with no ads. I post single and multiple photographs on Mastodon. There are a whole host of mobile and desktop apps for Mastodon. With Twitter you get one large interface with so-called hashtags to search on. With Mastodon you get a world of instances across a federated landscape.

Instagram – I also have started using Instagram again with a few ground rules. I am not interested in any business or networking goals with instagram. My only interest is in sharing photographs of where I travel. I appreciate any that follow but its not necessary. I like simply posting my travel photographs on instagram and sharing the places I’ve been. I’m not interested in making money, seeing my account reach some zenith of followers, but I do like seeing other’s photographs of their travels. If you want to see my instagram space here’s my account there.  Photographs there are just a sampling or a piece of things which I find interesting and wish to share. I am not after instagram moments or raising my followers to some threshold. The only thing on instagram which interests me is sharing the travels and adventures. I personally think Instagram is just as broken as twitter is in its use cases. Why cannot one post an image in a comment on instagram? Why are there not more rich conversation tools? Why is there no official desktop client? Many of the people whose work I see and appreciate use Fuji, Nikon, Canon, or Sony cameras amongst others. Why must we be relegated to a smart phone interface for official applications support? I do use the Mac desktop application called Flume which I find very nice. Its what a desktop application “could be”. All in all, instagram is disappointing to me but I choose to use it because I enjoy sharing photographs of my travels with no strings attached.

If you tune in on Mastodon, its my preferred network for things like microblogging and content sharing. Instagram I keep because I like to share to the community there. If given a choice or only one of the available social media outlets, I would delete my twitter account in a moment. Its a mess of hashtags and finding and losing things and posturing. Instagram is not much better in my book. Mastodon offers a solution which is more scalable and private while still offering social media sharing and a good desktop and mobile experience. Finally, you can see the start of my Penang photo album here. I will now stop slamming Twitter and Instagram for what they might have been and never will be. Its an incredible disappointment to me that we have such a set of social media applications that are the preferred ones while there are better choices out there which embrace privacy, responsible sharing, and preserve what I consider to be the future of many platforms which is embracing open source.

You can choose if you share to whatever platform to follow who you want. Twitter and Instagram are dead ends though until they make inroads to how users connect. Twitter to me especially is a garbage truck of an operation. You get the good and bad all mixed in. Instagram while oriented toward sharing photography suffers like facebook and how it actually embraces photography sharing by not having desktop clients that are official. Give Mastodon a chance if you want to see what a potential future of social media could look like.

Today’s Walk to the Beach and Park in Kuantan

Today is the last day for walking the city and parks and shoreline and river of Kuantan. I’ve walked for 4 days here sampling all different directions each day with no real goal in mind. I set no milestones to see the city but only wished to walk a different way each day to get a sense of what the people see when they live here, shop here, eat here, and in a lot of cases smile here. Each of the things I got to see many times over. The living here is quieter, not so manic and rushed as the bigger cities but with a urban makeup and residential districts that blossom out in most directions. The smaller shops downtown are fun little places with souvenirs, clothing, food, coffee. The last two things I think are the loves of all of Malaysia. I genuinely believe people here love to eat and drink coffee and tea. Of course, in each direction you can go you find unique things that perhaps the hop on/off bus would miss if there were one here. Truth is I did not see another western tourist, backpacker, or resident at the hotel I am staying at. And it was nice! The final thing were the smiles and these are a universal here. Last night for dinner I was asked a number of times where I was from, what brought me to Kuantan, if I liked it. Its one of the things I have truly loved about the countries I visit. 

So now back in the room at 130pm in the afternoon. I got done what I wanted and I sweated a bit walking. I stopped at a 7/11 and got some cold water bottles and chips and I’ll relax rest of the day until 5 or 6pm when its dinner time. Tonight is it for me here. Tomorrow I get up and finish whatever packing is there to do and then by 9am I will leave for nice little Kuantan Airport via Grab. Should get there an hour early so probably just in time for some Kopi there.

I’ll also publish my photo album later and you can check out from the earlier post when I shared it my photographic impressions of Kuantan and its neighborhoods, some people, buildings, shapes, colors, sizes, and unusual little things I like to capture. Its also a year since I was in Hanoi Vietnam when I first started out. Many things are the state of the art when you leave forever. Visiting cities and see them moving toward night-time. Watching the Vietnamese people want their picture taken at all costs. Smiles, hello’s, greetings by everyone as I walked through Hanoi. I will say again that if you only visit Hanoi to see things like the Old Quarter and the Mausoleum you are missing out but I will leave you with a picture of a place there which struck as simply beautiful one evening I strolled around. Catch you when I get to Penang tomorrow evening. 

Hoan kiem lake hanoi

Four Days to Penang, Three Days left in Kuantan

The countdown! Four days until my last stop in Malaysia. I will be spending a month in beautiful Penang. A fellow retiree had written me email while I was in Kuala Lumpur telling me that Penang is a great city for food and sightseeing. Free city buses will take tourists all around the city. With a month to spend in a Airbnb, I feel pretty good with my last stop in Malaysia and my ability to be able to walk the city, see the sights but most of all relax at night in a comfortable and accessible place. The island looks like a blast to go investigate! I could see taking a bus tour all around the island.

Map of penang

It is also my second walking day here in Kuantan and today will start the day with coffee and breakfast down the street. Will try to get there by 1030 this morning after relaxing in my hotel room and enjoying the times here. I saw a bit of the street I will walk down today and it looks like a busier city street with a lot of shops and restaurants. Sometimes the day walks yield a place to eat not on Google Maps or TripAdvisor so I will make a note on OneNote to stop and eat there.

Another beautiful day here. Sun shining out the hotel window. No hint of rain. When I was reading about Kuantan, it does get more rain but I have been lucky for the last day or so and rain has not come. In KL it would often rain in the evenings and you could set your day by evening thunder showers. It would often rain there for 30 minutes and then the evening or night would be beautiful.

Shift to Afternoon!

So after writing the beginning of this blog I went to a Malaysian restaurant for some breakfast and coffee. Had some spicy rice and a nice local coffee and sat for awhile reading some things about Penang and also considering my walking today in Kuantan. I worked a bit on my personal diary and I also added some more content to a article or short story I am writing. Then after about an hour relaxing over the coffee I took off walking. It was a very pleasant day out today. Not so hot as the previous day or as humid I think. Walking seemed pretty easy.

I got to see the state mosque which is just a beautiful building here. I also captured a few little things I like around downtown. Signs and small buildings and different shapes and sizes of things.I found a road which I wanted to walk on which took me back in a general direction to the hotel and let me see a restaurant I want for dinner. I then got back after the walk and my room is all made up with and the AC is on and I’m lazy. A good day walking and I got to see yet another direction here.Today marks the halfway time for my visit here. I have two more directions to go here walking and two more days so it all evens out in the end :-).

My photos will be sync’ed up to the shared album I posted earlier after the iPhone gets done moving them over to google photo’s.

Tonight it will be Thai food for dinner I think. I saw a nice Thai food restaurant about 10 minutes walk from the hotel so will walk over that way tonight for dinner and check it out.

Sometimes its Nice to Spend More on a Hotel…

My first day here in Kuantan. I’m in my hotel room. I opted for a very nice hotel here which cost what a few weeks cost in other places. I did this because I wanted to. I wanted something nice here for a few days and the room here for me is wonderful. Its spacious, the bed is softer than normal in Malaysia and I am on the 10th floor! I can look out over the city and also plan a day of walking to wherever I end up. Not a lot of planning in that actually. I may continue enjoying and have the more expensive breakfast here this morning in the hotel. There is always time to spend less but I have to admit that my next place is nice too. I have an entire condo on Airbnb for a month in Penang. Luxury! I decided on this trip to not just get hotels and to also explore Airbnb and get entire condos when I could for basically the same price if not a bit more. I just found that I get a English language newspaper every morning. I shall carry the newspaper down to breakfast much like a person of leisure does. I wonder if the restaurant serves waffles here. Waffles are a big deal in Malaysia BTW :-).

Just a beautiful morning here folks. Sun is shining with little cloud things moving around. Kuantan requires lots of investigation! I only have 4 more days here and then fly back to KL and then later in the day to Penang for a month. I think I will really be enjoying Penang. But now its only 8am and the softer bed feels really good and this old retired body likes the comfort. Its quiet here in the morning and its the best feeling to know I really have no place to go and all day to get there. I remember back on all the business travel I did to Singapore, Japan, India. It was always a rush or justifying why I should stop in Singapore for a day. It was flying sometimes back to back international flights from SFO to Korea or Hong Kong and then just continuing on to Singapore and once two hours later to India when the company got the dates mixed up. It was six hour layovers but then I would check bags and all my stuff was checked through. No changes of clothing. No comfort items. Not a damned thing. I don’t miss business travel. I watch a friend that works for Oracle travel and I cannot help but think that is not travel. Company required travel is them telling you where to be, when to be there, and when to go. There is nothing that cries out freedom with company travel. I feel sorry for him because he goes to so many places yet sees actually so little. Faced with this, I knew when I re-invented travel for retirement, I would never want to be locked in or limited. Now I go as I please. The sun is shining. The moments are good!

I’ll leave this as a draft post and then pick up my afternoon and evening thoughts when I get back from a day of wandering this city.

After a Nice Day Wandering!

I wandered around the riverfront area today and got to see the downtown blocks, the riverfront and government buildings. I have the start of a photo album for Kuantan which is here. Kuantan is a pretty cool city but there does not seem to be too many backpacker type people anywhere that I could see. I like the downtown parts a lot. I guess because I like older architecture where city blocks and buildings have the historic look but are still cared for and used. At the government buildings, the architecture is completely different which is cool. Very modern looking which I captured in black and white photographs.

I’ll walk over to the MegaMall today and go through it and then find this Arabic restaurant for tonight that is just really across the block from the hotel. With three days left to wander the city, I came up with a rough plan of places I would like to see. Tomorrow I go in a different direction after breakfast down the street at a Malaysian restaurant I found. Sometimes I divide the city into quarters and plan a breakfast in the general direction I’m going and just leave later in the day and then continue on after my coffee and food. Other times, I come back to the room for awhile and then go. The last few places have been shorter stay places compared to Melaka and KL. I spent two weeks in Melaka and three weeks in KL. I guess it all evens out somewhere. My last month is all spent in Penang at a nice Airbnb place I found downtown. I’ll have the entire condo. 

Anyways, the city here is interesting and I am glad I came. The round trip flight only cost about $78 and I really did it at the last moment when I wanted to change parts of the travel.

Walking in a Park in Petaling Jaya

I had looked yesterday for a different place to walk and found a nice park right across the street from my hotel and in-between a few malls and shopping centers. The park has a few lakes for fishing and recreation and a lot of walking trails. There is also a playground and sports stadium right next door. It was really nice to find a place that was not concrete and sidewalks where I could walk for some hours. The park area is nice and you can wander around between different lakes and see some nice open spaces. Urban green spaces are really nice no matter where they’re found. Its easy to find a place to stop at a park bench, take in the blue skies and the differences of the skyscrapers and malls and then the beautiful trees and grassy areas right there too. Here’s the pictures from today. Hope you like them.

Petaling Jaya by my hotel is not very touristy but that’s not to say there are not nice places to go walking. I liked walked yesterday in the rural areas and seeing how people live, hear their dogs barking, and winding around back to the main highway by my hotel. Much like Port Dickson I am not after big tourist things to do. I like just picking directions and walking that way. If I find a thing I like, the camera can capture it.

I only have Wednesday and Thursday left now and will be taking off from KL International Airport to fly to Kuantan Malaysia. I will spend 5 days there walking that city and seeing the parks, mosques, riverfront areas, and other stuff.Then its off to Penang for a month and a nice AirBnb.

Tonight will be some Malaysian food for dinner down the street and then a few beers in the room. 


Last Day in Port Dickson

Today is my last day here in Port Dickson. Tomorrow I will hop on the train from the Seremban Station and travel to Kuala Lumpur first. Perhaps I will stop and get one of those killer burritos before continuing on :-). Then I catch the LRT to Petaling Jaya which is about an hour or so away. The stop there is not so much different than here. More of a rest stop and a time to see some friends that hail from Singapore and KL but I will also get some walking in each day. The big next step is Penang for a month in an AirBNB. I’ll be able to unpack, have a regular schedule, enjoy an entire condo on my own and also walk a pretty cool looking city with the camera.

I’ve been able to slow down a bit from the tourist part of things and just relax in a smaller town, enjoy the ocean, and not have real places to go that I kinda plan out. Today I will first stop and have some breakfast at a bakery I found close to the hotel and then walk around the city with the camera for the day. I am not sure about dinner tonight. 

So wandered the city for a few hours after a nice and cheap breakfast with a cup of local coffee. I had toast with scrambled eggs and sausage kinda made the Chinese way. I sat for awhile afterwards and watched the people come and go and had a second coffee. The cost for both coffees and the sandwich was quite good was about $3.25 USD. I have been forever taken with the prices for food here. I could eat here for less than $7 a day if I wished quite easily and not scrimp on food. Some Nasi Kendar would go for about $3 and its a huge plate of food. I can get some Roti Canai for about $1.50 each and a orange juice freshly squeezed for another $0.50 or less. Its only the beer that costs more which for dinners and just sitting around is kinda bad. I do like beer so the living in Cambodia is perhaps easier since its the land of $0.50 draft beer. Perhaps because all the Cambodians I know love to drink beer :-).

Now I’m back I the room with the AC going and listening to some local channel on TV. I don’t understand Malay but its fun to have it going for some reason. Some of the shows have English subtitles. One is an Indian show and it has Malay and Chinese subtitles. I think its in Tamil. 

Here is my little photo album from Port Dickson. I think my mission was successful here and I’ll leave when I want tomorrow on a Grab taxi and get to the train station and catch the Kommute train to KL Sentral Station. Then its a LRT ride to Petaling Jaya for a few nights hopefully to see one or two friends that live in KL or Singapore if they happen to be here.

Tonight I may just get a burger for dinner or visit this chicken place. Its easy here to walk to the places since Port Dickson is not that big. In KL the restaurants are amazing. So many, such choices while in Melaka I had fun with the various foods that are specialties there like the Nyonya foods. One of my favorite meals there was the Beef Rendang. Eating along the riverfront was something I will always want to repeat again!

Its dawned on me that my time is ebbing away here in Malaysia and its been very enjoyable at so many levels. I’ll finish up in Penang for a month at a nice Condo where I get the whole place. Then off to Thailand for about 1.5 months of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.

Not sure if I will write something tomorrow since I will be moving places. I may start a draft post and see where it takes me tomorrow and the next day when I settle in for a few days. The next two stops are shorter and then off to Penang on the 20th.

Port Dickson Second Day – Walk the other Way

I decided this morning after coffee in a rather nice Starbucks to walk the opposite way with the camera and get to see the beach if possible or walk along even barefooted for awhile. This is not really possible since the beachfront past the Port Dickson waterfront area appears to be privately owned with fencing up. I crossed over one boundary and had to then crawl over a fence that blocked me from the street I wanted to be on. Basically difficult to walk the beach here where there is a beach unless you go the 20 miles to the beach that all the tourists go to. I’m not really interested in that and I did not come here to go where the tourists are. In fact, I came here for the opposite reason. I wanted a few days to take it down a notch; have a nice hotel room and be in a part of town where the tourists were not all over the place.

I also wanted to walk more quietly and just see a place for what it is. Enjoy the local places for food and perhaps a beer or two. Not contend with lots of people for a few days. I think I have accomplished this so after tomorrow when I finish walking the city area, I will be done and will have gotten what I wanted.

IMG 2563

Its kinda like the picture of the pier. I wanted a solitary place that I could kinda engage at its own level and not feel the need to be surrounded by the constant hum and thrum of the tourists. Some I see are demanding and arrogant. Others seem lost or trying to find something out there. I’ve met a few that seem somewhere else. Some retirees I’ve met are searching I think for a basic answer to what they want on the road. The pier kind of searches and wants I think. It wants people and kids to run its length. Perhaps the yelling of small voices with kites hauling overhead. Maybe just some solitary fishermen walking the length with the fishing pole trailing behind.

The solitary travelers I have met on the road often want the most bang for the buck. They have limited times so they want the Angkor Wat sensation and not the small temple at the end of the road that the tuk tuk driver in Battambang took me to almost with a sense of happiness that such a place existed. We know that they do but many are rushed to make as much fit into the days as we can.

I came to Port Dickson to not do that. To feel the ocean in a place enfold and also not feel rushed to the next temple or museum. To simply walk a small city and feel its beat. Cities have heart beats and souls and blood supplies and arteries like we do. A small side street in a city may yield life blood so different than the big. Often though we lose time with the big things and forger that a side street may yield the valuable.

I wonder. What is it with the current crop of backpackers and some of the retirees I have met that they cannot stop. What propels them to the places? So the pier still sits there. And I still sit here in Port Dickson one more day and a few meals and some quiet times in a nice hotel room with the day spinning slowly.

Its what I wanted. And I got it.

Adventures in Chinatown in Melaka

Today I had decided to adventure around Chinatown which is a set of blocks and temples, stores and restaurants which kind of lead one back to Jonker Street. I set out after breakfast this morning with the camera to walk the different blocks, look at the architecture and shops and people and most of all try to find a sample of the area in the blocks I walked.

I think I was successful overall but as in most things the tapestry and looks of a thing changes even from the day to night but I do feel that I was able to walk some very entertaining blocks, see some interesting people, and also some very unique architecture. I have a thing for smaller business signs, windows, and architecture by itself which does not amount to much. With the FujiFilm X100F its easy to capture things like this since the camera is so small and easily carried. I’m forever thankful to have the Fuji camera as my travel buddy. Anyways, here are the days adventures so you can see what I saw today. Since I randomly walked the streets and alleys, I have no idea where I was at any specific time. For me, it makes the day more interesting and random. For you, it may not provide context. For that I’m sorry but its just the way I go.

Some basic comments though that you may find interesting about Chinatown.

Streets, alleys, side streets. These streets seem to run randomly through the blocks that make up chinatown. Many of the major streets end up either at Jonker Street or back at Malacca River and a bridge. The streets also kind of roam in a certain pattern which I suspect is not just random. When you walk the streets in Chinatown, you see alleys and side streets criss-crossing the area. Some are very small but yet cars go down them albeit slowly. The streets seem to not be one way but I only have seen cars going one way down most of them. Very interesting if you like streets and alleys like I do!

Shops and Restaurants. Dotting the streets are small shops selling pharmacy items, food, tea, kopi, artwork and souvenirs, and yet other shops which are small labor shops for metal workers, smithies of some sort, and family construction work. Very interesting when you look at the intricate storefronts and displays that advertise the shops.

Ads, Billboards, Street Art. There is a nice component of this as you can see in the pictures. There are nice signs for coffee and tea, a few signs of more abstract design, and then there are wonderful hand painted store fronts that emerge as you go. It really creates a dynamic and diverse yet consistent environment that you have to see. I believe if you have visited other Chinatowns you know how this works.

Temples, Shrines, Places of Worship. Lots of these including a Tamil church, many Chinese temples and shrines, and historic buildings and museums that may have been temples at first. Melaka is a very interesting historic town so you get a look at this in Chinatown all reduced to a set of streets and alleys, shops and restaurants and the arts.

I hope that helps explain the pictures a bit! It was a lot of fun today to explore. Now I’ll transition you to my evening because I own the words 🙂

Evening and Food and Beer

So I had decided to visit a Chinese restaurant tonight to eat that is a block away. Why? Because the Chinese restaurants sell beer and I like to have a few beers with dinner. Sure enough the one I chose had a variety of menu items and the folks spoke English so ordering was quite easy. I had a nice pork rib curry dinner with steamed rice and two small tiger beers. Its always funny both here and in Singapore that the beer costs more than the food overall. I paid about $2.50 for the dinner which was quite a deal but adding in the beer made the dinner cost a few dollars more. It does not really matter because after walking through Chinatown all morning having that cold beer and dinner really worked well! If you are coming here, my hint is to find a Chinese restaurant if you want beer. All of them I think sell Tiger beers or others. I just find the food to taste better with a cold beer.

Final thing or three…

I’m fast approaching my year living in Southeast Asia. I will be there in a few days. Its been an interesting time for me but I will be posting a retrospective type thing about how all this has come about, the places I have been so lucky to see, and my adventures going forward. I feel very fortunate to have this life now. I’ve been able to define the value and worth of my life. Its something for a long time I had wondered if I could. Now the days and hours and moments are mine. I can define what they are comprised of. Reading, walking, taking pictures, eating good food and drinking cheap beer. Its all part of the bigger thing which came about in 2018.

Anyways, stay tuned for that post. It will come up about 1 March or so.