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.

Transit times – Petaling Jaya to Kuantan

Today a bit later in the day I fly the 40 minute flight from KL International Airport to Kuantan. Kuantan is on the eastern side of Malaysia. There is a lot to see there. One of the chief business areas there is tourism. I will spend 5 days there touring around to wherever my feet are gonna take me. On the 20th of March, its my last stop in Malaysia for this trip up to Penang. I had decided to spend a month in Penang because its what I do. I don’t like being in a place for a week or 3 days. Penang then leads to Bangkok for two months just about but I’m getting ahead of myself :-).

I’m looking forward to seeing the differences in yet another city but this time on the eastern side of Malaysia. I’m sure restaurants are gonna be the main thing there since food and the enjoyment of food is a big deal here. Nothing like the aspects of food in Malaysia when you can have Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, western or just about whatever you want. I think about food a lot! Not that its one of my indicators of choosing a place but lets face it. The majority of places I have been are foodie places. If I wrote a link bait post on my favorite places for foodie exploration, they would have to be (and not in descending order):

  1. Cambodia. Whether you are in Phnom Penh, Kampot, Battambang, or Siem Reap the food choices are superb. Siem Reap particularly stands out to me given one of my favorite restaurants in Cambodia is the breakfast and coffee place Sister Srey right along the river. But Kampot is no slouch either. Its a smaller city but the food choices go in all different directions. I had a really good hamburger there cooked by an ex-pat American that told me stories of Kampot ten years before. Then there is Phnom Penh. Eating in Phnom Penh is an adventure not only in food but in getting there sometimes. The tuk tuks weave this way and that to make your place for you and I have eaten really nice Khmer foods for cheap within walking distance but in the tuk tuks to such a variety of western, Indian, Mexican, and Vietnamese foods. One that stands out for me in Phnom Penh is where my friend Katy and I go. Its called Magnolia and it does both Khmer and Vietnamese foods.
  2. Vietnam. You could never go to Vietnam and not hear about the signature Bun Cha or Pho but there is so much more. There are also the geographic specialities like around Hue where Bun Bo Hue comes from. My favorite place in Vietnam for eating, fun, strolling, and picture taking is Da Nang. I can take or leave Hoi An. I think its vastly over-rated and expensive but you can get there easily from Da Nang. Along the Han River there you can find all kinds of restaurants but most are tailored to tourists. I did find one of the best Banh Mi Sandwich places right off the riverfront avenue. Packed all the time for breakfast and brunch, they served some really good sandwiches and coffees. Then there are the coffee houses. Lets just face it; coffee is supreme in Vietnam. Whether you are in Hanoi for some egg coffee or Da Lat where they grow the stuff, you will find some of the best coffee choices in the world. Ho Chi Minh City is wonderful for just about everything from craft beer pubs to little local places where the food is cheap, the waitstaff want to ask about America, and the beer flows pretty freely.
  3. Malaysia. There is so much to be said about food here. Indian, Malaysian, Chinese, western, pizza. Whatever you want. I found an excellent Mexican burrito shop right in KL Sentral but the local choices rule. Down every street you will find restaurants worthy of your stop. You can expect to pay from about $1.50 to $2.50 at local places for plates full of food. There is even more though. When you travel to Melaka you get to their local food choices which is a fusion of Dutch, Portuguese and Malaysian. The Nyonya food is a spicy and rich choice and my favorite is the pineapple prawns with the rich curry gravy and steamed rice but the beef rendang is good there too. To go to Malaysia and not eat is a crime. You must get Nasi and all the different varieties You must try the breakfast meals in a local Chinese coffee shop. The half-boiled eggs, toast bread, and coffee will get you going in the morning!
  4. Singapore. It would be hard not to include Singapore! The people that say its all expensive there are wrong folks. Its not just the food stalls but its the neighborhoods. I stayed in Geylang District and other than being known as a red light district its also a cheap place to live for awhile and eat. The local food centers are almost hawker stands but often only have a stand or two for food. You can find curry noodles with pork for cheaper so I always would eat dinners by the hotel. For lunch I would find myself in Little India or downtown core area and would eat at places I found there. You can see just about every kind of food you could imagine in Singapore. One thing in common with Malaysia is that while the food can be cheaper, the beer is not. I would spend more for a bottle of tiger beer than the meal. Go figure.

I could include Japan and Hong Kong but truth be told, food costs too much and I always ate on the cheap. $20 for a burger in Hong Kong just about did it for me last year. I love Japanese food but I am not willing to spend the money on the big places so I would opt for bento lunch or the cheap noodle or udon places I would find hiking around. Hong Kong has so much to offer with food but it all costs besides the almost hidden street food stands. I could not find much in the way of coffee there either where the other places all offered some coffee culture. Nothing though like Vietnam and Cambodia. Those two places are the royalty of coffee in my book although the rich Malaccan coffee is something to try and Kopi is good too!

Anyways, its almost noon here and I bought a few extra hours at the hotel so I could enjoy the AC and wifi. I have to pack a bit more and relax because being retired is very stressful 🙂 Catch you all later in my next places.

A small hotel room, a thought, email and memories

Sometimes the moments are rich with memories. I’m sitting in my small hotel room in Petaling Jaya thinking about going out for a walk today and got some email on LinkedIn from a previous work colleague. Since its been a year plus now, not many in that community offer me work any longer but some still catch up. The recruiters have thankfully stopped offering connection requests and consulting positions that are

Just right for me

Of course they are not. None besides the last one was just right. If you have done IT and consulting you know how the drill is. You can read a thousand recruiters pitches and find elements in each one that will work. Sometimes more than one element. You can reflect that you know that thing but then there are second, third, fourth things which are not known. You know you will get asked during the phone screen about them. If you are or were a Project Manager, its always the mixture of things. I graduated from doing projects to managing large and intricate programs that were high risk, with short fuses, and with difficult vendors, never tried hardware in data centers, and cloud environments which had hidden risks and limitations and even advantages that we did not really know until we were well on the way. But be that as it may, I received more than my fair share of positions from recruiters that had two pages of things. I read one that was the kitchen sink of requirements to which I responded,

How many project managers you looking for to fill this thing?

Of course the answer is only one. Therein lies the problem with doing IT Projects and Programs. Throughout my 20 years of doing the work up until my last contract and then full time gig, we were the first to blame. I was yelled at, screamed at, threatened, insulted, demeaned and belittled and those were the good days. I was also told that it was our job to take notes, manage the calendar, and setup the WebEx meetings. What about the projects I always silently wondered? Well, I did not really do many of those until the end. My last two projects my manager and the executive leadership let me go. I just took the two multi-million dollar programs they handed over and delivered on them. They were full of intricacies and complexities, the schedules were wrong. They had to be done in 3 months and not 7 months. The schedule had gotten strange and I had to whack it back in shape. The vendors and subcontractors were concerned because none of our solutions had ever been used before. They basically added time to the schedule to account for discovery and issues. Well, all that had to go so I instructed them to trim it all out and only believe it could be done. Not that it would have issues. This resulted in shaving months off the schedule. But our vendors and partners were unhappy and told my management. My group VP just laughed when he told me about the phone calls from the client executive management team. He told them,

You will have to take the schedule, risks, and issues up with Mike. He owns all that.

Of course, that left IBM flabbergasted. When I worked for IBM previously, rarely were the project and program managers left to manage the programs or projects. We were bean counters to the 9th degree.

Why all this now?

Good question. Because of an email from a work colleague who I particularly enjoyed working (and drinking beer) with.It reminded me of how IT is broken in a few ways and how we do it anyways. I have so many friends that project and program managers who really hate it. They feel deceived and lied to. Perhaps played. But then it comes time to get the next gig. Up goes the attitude and “can and will do” feelings. I did the same for 20 years. It was all a facade, a fake, a story. For the first 18 years plus or minus a few startup things I did, I was just a bean counter and explainer to CIOs of other companies why a thing could not get done.

Now I’m retired…

And I have the right and privilege to complain even for things in the past about how IT Project and Program Managers are treated. We are the least appreciated and most blamed people on a project. Retiring has meant that the lens and mirror has shattered and I can look at the email my friend sent and realize how truly great retirement is from that world. I have a simpler life. I don’t do tasks and milestones and schedules and accomplishments. Or blame. I don’t like responsibilities either and shy away from them. 

All of this came tumbling through from a single email from a LinkedIn connection and friend. Now the whole previous life has unraveled and become something that is in the past. Yet I remember. And I’m glad to not be there any more. So that’s a reflection and perhaps a damning one on certain recruitment practices and certain beliefs by previous managers, CIOs, CEOs and others of our value. I can easily say now that if you don’t like it too bad. You ain’t paying me any longer.

And that Is such a good thing.

Exit Melaka, Enter Port Dickson Malaysia

I left Melaka this morning at 11am on a Delima Bus going from Melaka Sentral to the Mega Bus Station called TBS. Its a huge thing with shopping, food, and office spaces. Much like the shopping malls in KL, the terminal is huge and is very functional if not sometimes confusing. Thankfully the ever kind and patient Malaysian service people take kindly to a confused translated Cambodian tourist originally from the USofA. 

Then I waited for a few hours for the next bus. This bus would take me to Seremban. That trip took an hour and a bit. This bus driver was a no nonsense kinda guy and we made it on time. From there I had choices. I could take a Cityliner bus or just hop a cab. I went for the cab because I was tired of buses. Little did I know I would get a rather irritating cab driver who wanted me to call the hotel on my smartphone and then after talking with the hotel for about 15 minutes he let me know in excruciating detail how stupid the taxi drivers were back at Seremban. And on and on and on. He would have gone to the wrong place he repeated about 10 times. Told me that there is a difference in the city of Port Dickson and the city of Port Dickson. I am not sure what it may be. I kinda tuned him out and just nodded sympathetically or shook my head when he seemed irate.

So then I got here to the hotel which is right by the ocean. There is no beach here but the ocean is simply beautiful and its what I wanted for a break from history and crowded conditions in KL and somewhat in Melaka. Its quieter here but there are restaurants up and down the street my hotel is on. I only have 4 nights here and will only stroll around for 3 days since the 4th day I have to leave again for Kuala Lumpur and a few days in a township called Petaling Jaya. I decided to stop there so I could see an ex IBM friend that comes from Malaysia for dinner and also take care of any last minute stuff before shipping out to Kuantan and Penang.

Wonder of Wonders!

I received both state and federal income tax refunds already. So I booked the remainder of my travels of 2019 and into 2020 with a little of  it. In mid October I will take off from Phnom Penh to Taiwan for 2 months and then will spend Christmas and New Years in Manila. I’ll catch a over night ferry boat from Manila to Cebu for some days and then fly to Davao and then fly back to Manila. The day after I return I fly back to the states for a visit. I’m not sure how long I will stay in the states. I cannot imagine for too long because the hotels and stuff is damned expensive! I don’t have a house or a car or a sofa even to crash on anywhere.

Then, since I end up in Florida where my daughter lives, I have to get back to Asia. My thinking is to fly to Dubai and make it to India for 2 months and see some friends there and then do this other trip which start in Singapore and would be on the train all the way to Chiang Mai Thailand. Then whenever all that finishes I would end up back in Cambodia. I don’t even know that month now.

So now I have all of 2019 taken care of and some months into 2020. I cannot imagine ever just staying in the states. I would be terribly unhappy there even if money were not an issue for me. I just like the places I live and visit now. It will be nice to visit though and also see if there are any things I may need when there.


Coffee Days and Last Day in Melaka

I went out just walking today after some good coffee and breakfast at the Stolen Cup Coffee House off Jonker Street. The coffee is so good, the sandwiches are the best, and the people care about the customers and their happiness with the drinks and food. It has to be one of my favorite coffee houses. I don’t tabulate the places but it falls in line with the superlative La Viet Coffee in Da Lat Vietnam, so many different coffee houses in Hanoi, and the different coffee stands across Cambodia where one could gain sustenance on a morning.

Coffee is important to me. I like coffee signs and freshly brewed lattes, and iced lattes from the stands in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang. Hell, all over Cambodia coffee rules. I love the so-called coffee culture and the delicious egg coffee coming out of Hanoi from the little shoppes which I would visit. One noteworthy if you get that way is The Note. The Note is by Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter. If you get there, you will understand immediately why its called The Note.

So combining my last day tomorrow with my love of morning caffeine goodness, today I ventured forth to the Stolen Cup and partook of the wonderful restorative powers of a hot latte in the morning. Lets not limit ourselves to these coffee stands though. Right across the street is my favorite breakfast spot for traditional food. There some half boiled eggs, delicious toast bread and a kopi awaits for cheap. If you add in some Chicken Rice you are faced with about $3.00 or so. The coffee is strong and hot and all are welcome although I rarely see tourists imbibing there. Most of the waitstaff speak English so getting an order done is pretty easy. I took a person there I met at the hotel for his almost last day in town and he liked it. Its the prices one could argue. But its really the quality first. Then again perhaps its the culture there too. The busy times there where the morning crowd waits patiently for tables but never gets mad. Sometimes the tables become communal tables and you share moments with a few others. Often, interesting discussions arise since the customers all speak English too. They want to know where I am from, what I do, how I find Melaka. Hey! Its coffee days. This is what goes on with the coffee in the mornings.

Other people will bring their morning newspapers in or prowl the news on their phones. The conversation buzzes in a few languages and the waitstaff floats around with the food orders, taking the money when its delivered. There is not a lot of checking on the food at these places. Too busy and too many people waiting for the morning coffee day fix.

The more elegant coffee houses have a slower pace here. The teams wait on people, ensure that customers are happy, enquire about the food and whether you like it. One of them today offered a different blend of coffee for my second latte. Its all about the culture folks.

Its all about coffee days and coffee culture and getting to my very last day here in Melaka. I’ll ride the bus soon back to what is called the TBS bus station and then catch a bus in another direction after a few hours to Seremban and then a city bus to Port Dickson. The next few stops are shorter in duration. On the 20th of March, I fly to my last destination in Malaysia; Penang. There I have a AirBNB for a month where I get the whole place. I’ll be investigating, walking, eating, and drinking my across the city.

I also have the rest of the year travel planned out just about. I know when I am in Vietnam and Lao and Cambodia this year. But now I know that on October 18th after spending a few weeks in Cambodia and traveling from Phnom Penh to Kampot to Kep I will fly out to Taiwan for a few months and then spend Christmas in Philippines in Manila. I’ll be in Cebu, Davao, and Manilla until January 18th 2020, when I fly back to the USofA for about 45 days. Yes! I have it planned out that far because I book airline tickets way in advance and I lock in the arrive and depart dates and then fill in the details. Like for Taiwan, I know I will travel the western part of the island all the way down on their High Speed Rail service to see 5 different cities and whatever else comes my way. The Taiwan entry for US passport holders is good for up to 90 days so I will then fly on to Manila and other parts for 25 days.

I will have all my airline tickets booked in another week or so for the trip to Taiwan, Philippines, and then back to the States. But now its time to reflect on the coffee times and fondly remember the wandering days in Melaka. I spent 14 days here. I think it was the perfect amount of days. Tomorrow I send things off with coffee and then a walk to a Chinese Cemetery and park I could not find before. Then I go to a Nonya Museum in Chinatown. Then I am done. Its like so many times getting done with a place walking. I think back on the moments of the walking whether it was Tokyo or Vancouver or Hong Kong or Hanoi. So many places that have let my feet touch the city streets, alleys and parks. Thanks to all places!

I’ll coffee up tomorrow morning and see Melaka for the last time. Good memories pushed on by good coffee. Its coffee days! I will also publish my Melaka Photo Album tomorrow and share it out. I had fun with that too.

Sunday Morning Late Breakfast

No pictures but always fun across the street at the Chinese breakfast place. Half boiled eggs, toast bread, some kopi and chicken rice. All of this costs about $3.00 maybe less. That’s enough to hold me through a day of walking and seeing more museums here today.

Food here is a great deal. I had roti canai last night for $1.00 or so. Plenty filling and freshly cooked.

Once you get to the beer though the cost goes up. One beer often costs the same as the food if not more. I usually look for the Chinese cafes or restaurants for beer. Most all have cold tiger beer and others. You can also just buy it at 7/11 stores here. They are all over the place. Again if no 7/11, find a Chinese or Asian shop like a small market. They will most likely sell the beer.

You can also just get the food to go. All places ask me if I am staying to eat or take away.

So getting by for cheap is easy but so is finding nicer places. My favorites are The Stolen Cup coffee shop where they have a great cuppa and some really nice sandwiches on croissant if you want or Sids Pub. Nice food and cold beer too. Down the river walk are smaller bars lining both sides where you can sit out and eat and drink as you want.

Melaka is a fun city to be in. Lots of food choices as I found up in KL Just wanted to leave this quick note on the blog to encourage you to visit. Lots to see and do.

After a Year Living and Vagabonding in Southeast Asia Things Still Get Lost in the Mail

Been playing a game of find the package that was lost after it was checked in at Bangkok’s international airport and then disappeared from tracking completely. I waited for a few weeks and there was no word after early January. I thought perhaps it is taking awhile to clear customs. I was gonna give it a few weeks. Maybe it was stuck there waiting for a kindly customs guy to look at then innocuous thing I shipped. 

But I never got a message that I had to go to the central Post Office in Phnom Penh. Never heard a darned thing.  Finally after waiting and watching, I opened an international inquiry on it. The USPS found it sitting in the post office in Phnom Penh and it appears to have been there for a month. Waiting. Waiting for what? What the hell was supposed to happen? Anyways, I got that message back from the USPS investigator so I called some friends in Phnom Penh and had them call the post office and talk to them. They found out its status and what they had to do to get the package. Basically they will have to go to the post office and pick the package up. They have the package number at the Cambodian post office now. The mystery is solved.

The damned thing’s been patiently waiting for me for a few months now I think. I guess they had no way of getting ahold of me but the package TO address had the name of the people and address. I am not sure if that part got torn off or obliterated or whatever happened. When I hear back from Katy and Thin I will know. 

Life is always fun when you find the very few things that just require purchasing from the states. I always try to plan the ordering so the package has two weeks to get to me at my home base at the Hotel in Phnom Penh. FedEx will take about 7 business days. UPS about the same. USPS international takes months 🙂

In the end, it does not really matter because the package was found and I am not there to use the contents anyways. For me, its hard to find sandals or walking shoes that work for me. Once a year I have to order Merrill shoes but this last time I decided to order some Chaco Sandals to try them so I could alternate shoes. By the time I left for Singapore, they still had not shown up so I bought cheaper sandals in Phnom Penh. They lasted about 2 months and began falling apart. Deciding I still wanted some sandals that were rough and tough I bought some Birkenstock Arizona sandals in KL. They have taken about 3 weeks to break in but now they feel good. 

Meanwhile the saga of the lost and found Chaco sandals has been closed. My Khmer friends to the rescue. I’ll get to finally see them in June when I get back to the hotel.


One year on the road and retired

Today a year ago I retired from my job and packed the final things, got rid of some remaining things in my upstairs room in the house I shared in Newark, California and went to work the last time. I did a few calls that day, tried to reach my manager to say goodbye, turned in laptop and company smartphone, gave and received a lot of hugs, and left. I walked to the parking lot and drove my car for the last time to my ex-wife’s house in Union City, California. There I dropped off a rubbermaid container of papers and pictures. Basically a boiled down, reduced life in one smaller heavy duty rubber container. I gave my ex-wife the title to the car and signed it over to her. This would be the last time I would have to carry keys in my pocket for anything. I then walked to the BART station and rode over to a stop by the airport hotel I would stay in one night before flying to Japan on 1 March.

The blog details many of the things I found and did from 2018 until now. Its been a year just about of traveling, seeing, and doing. I have walked just about every day from about 5 to 10 miles. I’ve taken a whole bunch of photographs. Good thing Google Photos does not mind and has bottomless storage.

I’ve tried to document my travels on twitter but have given up pretty much on that platform. I deleted two instagram accounts and created a new one for kicks. I am still on facebook but have branched out to Mastodon as the social media expression I enjoy most. There are no ads and I love the federated and instance based approach to finding a site based on interests. I blog most every day and I journal my private thoughts most every day. I used OneNote for awhile for things but have since changed to Google Docs and Sheets for travel and personal stuff.

Its been a year. Quite a year. I miss some things but don’t miss the work at all. I miss some of the people but not all of them. There are many people when I leave twitter I don’t miss at all. Perhaps I will delete my account there again and just let it go. I don’t get travel value from the people there at all or any personal enrichment or fun or profit or anything. I am not looking to monetize my blog, add ads, do sponsored posts, grow my instagram following, pin it on Pinterest.

What I will do is to to continue to write on my travels primarily on my blog and post photographs on instagram and my Mastodon account.

Its been a year. What a year it’s been. Places and things and wondrous events have transpired. I cannot see myself ever going back to the States permanently to live. Everything is in a small rubbermaid container. I could not live in there.

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.

A week and change to go until Port Dickson

Port Dickson is another place I have not been. But will spend just a few days there and then get back to Petaling Jaya for a few days to meet up with a friend I worked with at IBM for some years. We have tried to meet before while we both were working for IBM but our projects and timelines seemed to conspire against us. I decided to just spend a few nights there and get to see him and perhaps see a friend that lives in Singapore but works often in KL. On the 15th I’ll fly out on my last minute 5 day trip before going up north to Penang for a month. I’m pretty excited to be staying in Penang at a nice Airbnb place where I can have the entire condo to myself and not have the usual hotel things going on.

I don’t like coming up with lists of places I have to go but I also know if I don’t plan a few days at the end to reach a museum, a palace that was restored, and a Portuguese settlement I may miss it. So my last few days are the “must see” places. Up until then its the wandering around camera in hand I just like to do.

I did come up with a sorta kinda list though. Here it is for you link bait aficionados:

Food. You have to try the Nonya food here. There is a delicious pineapple prawn curry dish with steamed rice that is so good. Also get to the Muslim places and have some Tandoori chicken or roti or whatever. Also you must try the traditional breakfast of Half-Boiled eggs, toast bread, perhaps some chicken rice, and a cup of kopi or coffee either iced or cold. Also something worth checking out are the food courts or hawker stands or whatever you wanna call them. You can eat on the cheap and I mean really cheap! But yet the beer will cost more. So go figure :-).

Walking. Forget the day tours that you buy into. Get yourself some good walking shoes and pound that pavement. Melaka is a fun city to walk in. You can reach just about everywhere on foot. You do not need a Grab Taxi except to get back to Melaka Sentral to catch the bus.

Planning. Forget planning. Forget destinations. Forget lists except maybe as I do them at the end. Just go! Do the second thing with no plans. Strike out in a direction and see what you can see.

Length of time. That’s a hard one. I have heard some people here for three days. I kinda think what? How can you possibly see Melaka in three days but they do. Its like going to Siem Reap for two days. Yeah right. The ten temples you maybe saw are just a blur. You don’t know a Bayon from any other one. I have an idea. Give yourself a week here. Do the first two things. Forget the planning and give yourself a week. Slow down tourists or travelers. The hours in the day will expand and you will slow down and enjoy a place more.

Shopping. There is lots of shopping here you can do. At night the market starts up. I don’t particularly care for these markets as much as something like the Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City or the Central or Russian Market in Phnom Penh. I feel the ability to haggle and negotiate, find deals on the good fake stuff, and then see more of everything possible is a big deal at those markets. These markets in KL and here are more tourist havens with a few restaurants thrown in. If you wanna see the whole thing in some decadent fashion perhaps check out the Siem Reap Night Market with Pub Street next door. I have been propositioned by a variety of characters, found tacos, drank $0.50 cent draft beers and also shopped. So for me Cambodia and Vietnam are better shopping locales but check out the Jonker Street night market. See what you think.

Conclusions as it were…

Its tough to travel when you have a schedule and you have this desire to hit all those cities and countries. A stop at a place is a quick excursion to all of those things above but what stands out? I am not sure. I think people should slow down and stay longer, travel slower, become good at observing, living, participating in a place. If you go back to a place and I know a lot of travelers that do the round the world things would never go back, its not the same. You have changed and the place has changed. You may have taken thousands of photographs of the people, temples, buildings, restaurants but its different each time. Nothing stays static and what you see in Ho Chi Minh City one day will be completely different the next time. In evidence of this was when I spent a month there once and then went back for a day, I was amazed at the city all over again. There is a grit and a realism and a wonder that comes from walking those streets, finding those half-hidden pho places, drinking the coffee and walking the side streets. You may miss it.

Don’t let that happen. Be the person that stops and wants to see it more, see it different. Then do it all over again another time. You will not regret it.