Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kuala Lumpur: I really like it here.

The more time I spend here, the more I like it! It's got something for everyone- gorgeous architecture, expensive malls, cheap malls, delicious food, markets, culture- and everything is cheap! I really, really like Kuala Lumpur.

Today we went to the Petronas Towers to visit the "skybridge" and were told the only available time was at 5:30 PM. We had no idea the skybridge was so popular, or that KL would be so congested with tourists on March 31st. A strange time to visit, I would think, unless you were a teacher in Korea at the end of your contract. But no! All rich tourists around that part of town (the twin towers are also home to the fanciest mall in the city).

Anyway, we got our *free* tickets for 5: 30 and went in search of a place we heard existed in this city: Wendy's. WENDY'S!

Patrick had never been to Wendy's as they don't have them in Ireland. There are plenty of McDonald's, KFC's and Burger King's in Korea, but no Wendy's (although I believe there are some in Japan). That means I have officially been Wendy's deprived for far too long a time, and after all my talk about it, Patrick was sufficiently intrigued.

We didn't really know where it was; I just knew it existed because a friend of mine had been here over Christmas and had posted pictures of Wendy's food (he had also been deprived for some time) all over his facebook photo album. So, first we asked a police officer. He said proooobably we would find it in Times Square (yes, KL has a Times Square). But where was Times Square?

We went to the tourist information centre. The man gave us a map and told us to take the monorail (yes, KL has a monorail... monorail... MONORAILLLLLL! Oh my. Excuse my bursting into Simpson's show tunes, please.) to Times Square.

We arrived in Times Square. Another big mall, with many levels. We checked the map. Where is the Wendy's? No Wendy's on the mall map; it must be outside in the street. We stepped out and asked the security guard. He told us Wendy's actually was in the mall, on the third level. Hallelujah! We finally found the Wendy's! My spicy chicken sandwich, baked potato and frosty tasted extra good today.

Afterwards, we took a walk in the city's forest reserve, had a cup of tea at the base of the KL Tower (which looks a lot like Namsan Tower in Seoul), and walked back to the mall at the Petronas to catch one last movie before our trip to the skybridge. When we arrived to the skybridge entrance area, we were first ushered into a small theatre where we watched a 3-D short film about how great Petronas, the main petroleum company in Malaysia is, and all the wonderful things they do for the community. Blah blah blah. They failed to mention anything remotely environmental and didn't spend any time during the film talking about their mall filled with brand name designer stores. Imagine that.

The Petronas Towers have 88 floors, and they remain the tallest set of twin buildings in the world. They are no longer the tallest building in the world; that honour now belongs to Teipei. And, of course, the CN Tower in Toronto is still the tallest tower in the world. They discuss all this beforehand.

We didn't go all the way to the 88th floor as the skybridge is located on the 44th, right in the centre of the two buildings. Great view, but a bit disappointing because we wanted to go all the way up. We asked who occupied the top floor and a worker said "Uhhh... I think the Prime Minister?"

Anyways, the computer is not letting me put up any pictures today so KL will have to make their appearance another time. We are off to Taman Negara National Park tomorrow for another bit of trekking as well as some fishing! Looking forward to it, but I hate to leave this super cool city. It's just as well. I have no money to spend on shopping, and that's what this place is all about.

Monday, March 30, 2009

We Like-a Melaka

We've been in Kuala Lumpur for a few days now, and I am beginning to see how it could be a nice place to live for a year or two! I know, these are bad thoughts (mom). BUT if I got offered a fabulous job and Pat got an equally fabulous job (in a perfect world), I would move here. On two conditions:

1. Air conditioning

2. A big, fat paycheck to spend on my big, fat, fabulous lifestyle.

It's actually more of a pipedream than anything...

On a different note, we really enjoyed our time in Melaka. Right now I'm going to list all the ways that Malaysia is different from Indonesia (for your viewing pleasure):

1. In Malaysia, there are few motorcycles. In Indonesia, there are few cars.

2. In Malaysia, the drivers actually drive defensively. They slow down when they see you at the side of the road. They smile and stop as you walk across the street (just the street, not a crosswalk). They give you a little wave, just so it's understood that they're not going to run you down at the first chance. Pat is bemused at my sheer awe of how nice the drivers are here, but for me, it's like a little slice of home.

3. If you step out into the street in Indonesia, you are doomed right from the beginning. First, there are the shop clerks. They shout at you as you walk past. Second, there are the beggars. Adults send their children out at night to add to the household income, which is something nobody should support. Third, and most agressively, are the transporters. And by transporters, I mean men on motorbikes, men on rickshaws, men on motorbikes with a basket attached, men on bicycles with a basket attached, men on horses, and then there are just the regular taxi and bemo (kinda like a small bus) drivers whose goal in life is to charge you, a foreigner, 100 times what they would normally charge a local. In Malaysia, we don't really need to use taxis- so far everything is pretty walkable. But when a taxi driver asks if we need a lift and we politely say "No, thank you", they just smile at you and say, "Ok, thank you!"

4. If you are trying not to get ripped off in Indonesia and you find someone you think might tell you the truth about the actual cost of things, they will usually lie to you and make you think your only option is the most expensive one. You can't really trust anyone- sometimes people genuinely help you and the others cheat you as if they're in cahoots with the bus company. This includes police officers. In Malaysia, people have actively told us who will rip us off, who to stay away from and have always listed the cheapest and most reliable options to us when questioned.

5. In Indonesia, you can be sure that you will probably need to sanitize your hands after washing them with tap water. You need to brush your teeth with bottled water. Don't get ice cubes in your drinks. Padang food (an Indonesian specialty where all of the dishes are cooked and piled up in the window and you choose which ones you want to eat and pay as you go) has usually been sitting around for a long time and you should only pick the restaurants that look like they have a good turnover rate. Coming to Malaysia, this weight has been lifted off my shoulders (at least for now). We still brush our teeth with bottled water, but it's my understanding that we don't really need to as the water is treated- like in Korea. They still have excellent Padang food here but, as Lonely Planet puts it, minus the flies. I have been enjoying decent bathrooms and refreshing showers.

That's about all I have at the moment, but don't worry because our journey through Malaysia is far from over! Mostly, we're just enjoying the nice, first world amenities. We watched a movie at the theatre last night. We went to an amazing mall, and when we went outside looking for the Petronas Towers we finally realized that they were directly above us. The mall was inside the towers. The food is a yummy combination of Malay, Chinese and Indian fare and it's all cheap, cheap, cheap!

Back to Melaka:

We liked it. We stayed at Shirah's Guesthouse where the friendly owners enjoy having a beer with their tenants on the rooftop, and often invite us out to famous restaurants around town. You should stay there if you ever go to Melaka. The rooms are cheap, and the ambiance is lovely.

Melaka is about the same size (geographically) as Halifax but it seems more like Toronto to me, with a China Town and a Little India, etc etc. It has a colonial past, just like Nova Scotia, only in Melaka the Portuguese first took it over, and then handed it over to the Dutch, who eventually gave it to the British. This gives the city a lot of European flair (and delicious Portugese pastries) as well as the exoticism associated with the Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures combined. Melaka, if you haven't figured it out already, was a very important city on the trade route. Here are some pictures!

One of the many fruit stalls in China Town.

Spices and dried fruits in China Town.

Hangin' out with iguanas outside the old Portuguese fortress.

A very flambouyant mode of transportation. They have flashing coloured lights and techno music blaring from them at night.

Entrance to the old Portuguese fortress.

Our delicious Padang lunch. The black chicken rendang is highly recommended.

One of the many Chinese noodle joints.

Mediterranean in colour, but decidedly Chinese in style.

A very charming monk making his way slowly down the street. Have you ever seen a monk hurrying anywhere? I haven't.

The bright colours of Little India...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pics from Bukit Lawang... in no particular order...

Me and the Girls at Nora's.

Meet Damien! He's Nora's nephew. His Mom teaches English at the community school. Great lady.

Trekmate Rob, from Vancouver, in one of the motorcycle taxis we take to the bus stop outside the village.

Meet Yen and our favourite Bukit Lawang feline, aptly named "Cat". Yen was super cute and gave me lessons in Bahasa Indonesia.

The very vertical climb down to the river! More vertical than this picture shows, even. You would probably get dizzy from the verticalness if the picture showed it more accurately. Did I mention vertical?

Something is wrong with this picture- how did I get as tall as Pat? I suppose the jungle brings out the beast in me.

Patrick, posing with beautiful Sandra (Queen of the Sumatran jungle).

Isn't she wise looking? And she really loves her three month old bebe.

Sooooo photogenic, Sandra. Tyra would love you.

One more with the bebe, for good measure.

Saying a sad goodbye to Jackie...

Jackie is smothering me with her love; that's why you can't see me in this picture. Actually, she is eyeing the bananas.

Nom nom nom nom nom.

Lots of hugs.

She sure loves bananas. Her bebe wants some banana, too.

Sharing a quiet moment.

Rob crossing the river. We camped on the other side.


The very poisonous centipede. Pat took the picture and I ran away.

The tuuuuuubes!

Those little thieving macaques.

Keeping a close eye on the little shits.

Sanur and his assistant, cooking up a delicious storm.

Mr. Gibbon says: What's in yer bag?

Mina, the angry orangutan.

Sandra, running away from Mina...

Wild, pregnant momma.

Nice flowers everywhere!

Another wild one.

And another...

Cute little Thomas Leaf monkey!

Funky Monkey in the tree.

This one's a youngin.

This one's a dude. Notice the beard?

Last, but not least, the village of Bukit Lawang. Beautiful place; beautiful people; beautiful monleys.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bukit Lawang... Left Me Speechless.

Hey All!

I am currently sitting in a small internet cafe in Melaka, Malaysia... that's right, this morning we boarded a small, high speed ferry from the port town of Dumai in Sumatra and arrived here two hours later. That means our first country and the first leg of our trip are finished. Sniff.

Before I start babbling on about how cool Malaysia is (ah, the comforts of a sorta kinda first world country!) I need t tell you everything about our time in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra. Unfortunately, the internet here won't allow me to upload pictures so they'll have to wait until tomorrow... but I promise: they're good.

I couldn't wait to leave the disgusting guesthouse where we were staying in Medan (especially coming home after dinner to what I suspected to be bedbugs crawling all over the bed... I made sure the light was on all night so the intruders would be scared off). In the morning we had a yummy breakfast and saw some more CNN World News (seriously, what's happening to me?) and, politely refusing all offers to give us a "good package deal" to Bukit Lawang (the village where one can go to the orangutan rehabilitation centre and go trekking in the jungle), we took a cab and boarded what looked like a hundred year old bus. It cost us about a buck to get to Bukit Lawang on this bus, which was about three hours away from Medan. I wasn't exactly happy to be on such an old, falling apart bus, but I took a deep breath (and some xanax) and suddenly, we were on our way (slowly, so as not to lose important bus parts).

Saying that there were some potholes on this road would be an understatement. Saying there were craters on this road would be a little more accurate (but only a little bit). We dipped and were thrown out of our seats, we had to hang on for dear life and I prayed silently the entire trip- especially after we passed a similar bus that had literally fallen off the narrow road and into the ditch (no casualties, we were assured, there just wasn't room on the road for two vehicles and, apparently, it was a busy day).

On the way there, a small, quiet man introduced himself as Sanur. We chatted for a bit before he revealed to us that he was, in fact, a guide for jungle trekking. We knew that once we arrived we would be bombarded with people wanting to be our guide, so we treated Sanur warily. We asked to see his guiding liscense; he complied. He had two of them- one from Medan and one from Bukit Lawang. He showed us his comment book from former trekkers- all gave excellent reports. He grew up in Bukit Lawang and knew the jungle like the back of his hand, and since the prices are all fixed on trekking anyway, we agreed to join his trek the next day.

Th nice part about meeting him on the bus was, once we arrived, no one bugged us because everyone knew Sanur. We got a motorbike ride into town and made the arrangements for our trek. I looked around and saw a familiar sight: a beautiful, rushing river surrounded on all sides by beautiful greenery. Was I home in July or something? One thing is for sure, I immediately felt at home.

We walked along the river until we found a decent guesthouse to stay for the night and keep our big packs while trekking. If you ever go to Bukit Lawang, you should stay at Nora's Homestay. The girls that run the place treat you like family and they are amazing chefs. Their veggie soup has more veggies than soup. Their Mie Kuah (noodles in broth with egg and veggies) was perfectly spiced with star anise and cloves. They freshly cut, flour and fry their french fries. Everything is cheap and plentiful- including the rooms at around 3 dollars a night.

We had a good overnight rest at Nora's and, in the morning, we enjoyed a quick banana pancake and some aromatic tea before heading out to meet Sanur at 8 AM. When we met up with him, he gave me a pair of hikling boots and a smaller bag to keep a change of clothes and my water bottle in. He took us across a rickety footbridge and soon enough, we were meeting our fellow trekkers. All guys. I felt a little apprehensive- not because I was the only girl (I'm fairly used to that), but because I'm a weakling and I don't exercise (unless you count yoga) and I thought I would be holding the guys back. Either way, I couldn't turn back now.

Sanur started leading us into the rainforest, pointing out different plants that grew wildly along the way- coffee berries, lemongrass, cloves, mangoes... Already we could tell that he knew his stuff about the jungle. Maybe about half an hour into the trek, we saw some "funky monkeys". Their real name escapes me, but they have mohawks and are the coolest looking monkeys I've ever seen. A half hour after this, we came across and entire family of Thomas Leaf Monkeys. They were quite curious about us and came really close, allowing us to get some great pictures. We were having a wonderful time, but still no orangutans!

The previous afternoon, Patrick and I had been to the rehab centre during feeding time. We saw several semi-wild orangutans and got pretty close to them (a young orangutan even held my hand until a "ranger" grabbed him and started hitting him with a stick- come on, I know I shouldn't have touched him but he SMILED at me, while reaching his hand out- no hint of malice; no need for stick abuse). Anyway, about two hours into the trek we saw our first wild orangutan. It was a large male (the dudes all have beards). Suddenly, it seemed the orangutans were everywhere we went! We got some great pictures and the younger ones were quite curious about us, too.

After having some lunch and seeing yet another, pregnant, wild orangutan, we made a steep descent down a hill and came to a clear stream. We heard something. Sanur knew the semi-wild orangutan before she even reached us, and broke out into a huge smile.

"It's Jackie! She's ok, she's ok", he pressed a banana into Patrick's hand and Jackie the orangutan arrived, she too wearing a broad smile. What an amazing animal. She went straight to Patrick and gently took the banana from his hand. Jackie had been successfully rehabilitated and released into the wild; however, she seems to have fond memories of humans and truly loves people, even now that she is living on her own (with a small baby firmly attached to her back). The Jackie Bliss would not last long, though. We heard another orangutan coming and Sanur's face darkened.

"It's Mina. We need to get out of here".

Mina, it seemed, had the opposite disposition to Jackie, who, we noticed, also ran away as soon as she saw Mina coming. Sanur lead us in the opposite direction of Mina while his assistant stayed down there to prevent her from following us. We watched him as, first, he tried to make her happy with fruit. She would have none of it, and you could tell she was angry. Finally, Sanur's assistant splashed her with water and she back off a bit (orangutans hate getting wet). We made our way up the hill when we heard the assistant yell something to Sanur.

"Run! Quickly!" Sanur said to us.

He didn't need to tell me twice! I don't think I've even run up a mountain so fast. Seeing the look on my face when it was finally ok to stop, Sanur had a big laugh and patted me on the head. I was quite frightened!

Not five minutes later, we came across a family of Black Gibbons. Forget the macaques from my last monkey experience, the gibbons are the cutest monkeys in the world. Seriously. However, one bit Sanur a few years back and he was traumatized by it, so we all kept our distance and he wouldn't let us open our bags (they would pounce at the sound of a zipper, thinking we carried food). We got some cute pictures, though!

After an even steeper descent (it took about an hour from the top to the bottom) down our final hill before setting up camp, we arrived at the banks of the river. Covered in dirt and sweat (and in Pat's case, a leech sucking blood from his foot), the river was a beautiful sight. We crossed over to our campsite and had a beautiful, refreshing swim before Sanur and his assistant made us a huge dinner of veggie curry, spicy fried tempeh (tofu that hasn't been completely fermented), sweet and sour chicken and mounds of fresh rice and tea. We spent the evening talking and Sanur's assistant kept us entertained with card tricks and riddles.

I woke up in the morning to more monkeys. The damn macaques. The same ones from Bali. They kept a close eye on our tent, and an even closer eye on our breakfast that Sanur's assistant was cooking (this time, yummy egg and veggie fry up with toast and fresh tomatoes). We were entertained by them all morning as we fed them bits and pieces of our breakfast.

The plan for the morning was a two hour hike followed by tubing down the rapids, back to the town. Our trek was almost finished, and I was sad because I had wanted to spend more time with Jackie, the nice orangutan before angry Mina showed up. We crossed the river and began the climb upward. This may have been the hardest climb of my life. Luckily, there were plenty of branches and roots to help me climb. Unluckily, we came across a very poisonous centipede and I was scared to touch the ground after that (time for one more xanax...). After an hour, we finally made it to the top and I was utterly, completely spent. Exhausted. We rested for about two minutes, eating some oranges that Sanur had brought for a snack, when we heard an orangutan coming through the trees. It was JACKIE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was beyond happiness.

I had my orange in my hand when she slowly, gracefully approached me. I held the orange out for her and she took it from my hand with her mouth, very gently, with no teeth.

"It's ok to touch her; she loves people", Sanur told me.

I sat on my hunches and she slowly put her arms around me. Her baby was still on her back, and Sanur gave me some bananas to feed her. Jackies hugged me and hugged me, and when it was time to let another trekmate have a turn, she kept one foot and one hand on my arm and still held on to me. What an amazing animal- so close to a human! So beautiful and smart!

Suddenly, we heard another orangutan coming. Fearing Mina, I started walking down the path, but Sanur called after me- "It's ok, it's only Sandra!"

We had seen Sandra and her baby at the feeding centre. While she wasn't as placid as Jackie, she had a kind, intelligent face- perfect for photgraphing. She protectively kept her baby on her back while she accepted bananas from us. Her baby poked his little head, staring at us with huge, wide eyes. The perfect end to a strenuous uphill hike. Totally worth it.

We finally made one more steep descent and arrived upstream from where we had camped. Sanur's assistant was there already, and he had tied five inner tubes together (we would be tubing as a group and Sanur's assistant would be steering us away from rocks). We climbed in and made our way back to Bukit Lawang, after a perfect two day hike, after seeing and experiencing more than I had ever expected. I was exhausted but so, so happy!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing at Nora's, talking to the girls about recipes and the school that their children attend. Bukit Lawang is a great community with strng roots. They work together to create better educations for their kids. They recycle (the first place in Indonesia that we saw). They educate tourists about the delicate ecosystems and abhor illegal logging and slash and burn forestry.

I should mention that, only a few years ago, the entire village was decimated by a flash flood. Over 250 people were killed, and in this small community, that meant that everyone lost several people that they loved. They still mourn their loss, but they have rebuilt and are resiliant. Sanur said he and his family went uphill when he noticed the river was getting too high. His neighbour laughed at him, saying nothing would happen, and his neighbour's entire family was killed. They have since rebuilt on higher ground and take more care during rainy season, but I won't say I wasn't nervous during the daily torrential downpours and scary thunder storms.

We left, sadly saying goodbye to the staff at Nora's, and took another rickety bus back to Medan. We took an overnight bus to Dumai, and then the ferry to Malaysia. We are happy to be here, but we know that Bukit Lawang will probably be our most precious memory of our entire trip.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Soeharto's Last Erection

Freedom Square in Jakarta; the phallic structure in the middle of the square is jokingly known as Soeharta's (the former Communist dictator) Last Erection. From what I gather, it's about half and half when asking an Indonesian what they thought of the man. You either love him or hate him, I guess. And if you loved him, chances are you do NOT love his daughter, who is currently running for president.

Jakarta, near the National Museum.

Our main dinner haunt on Jalal Jaksa, the backpacker street.

O, hai. This is Nori! We didn't know he even lived with us until we went to investigate where all the meowing was coming from at our place in Yogya. We thought there was a litter of kittens that kept waking us up in the morning, but it turns out it was just Nori, meowing like a cat. A defense mechanism, perhaps? Or a personality disorder? Either way, he was a beautiful bird who should have been living his twilight years in the jungle as opposed to chained up outside our guesthouse...

A common occurance in Yogya- young girls asking us to complete surveys for their English projects. They didn't just ask dumb, everyday questions, but on one occasion about Indonesia and the environment... on another, Manchester United. You can tell which group Patrick got along with, yes?

I thought it would be inappropriate and ignorant of us to leave out a few pictures of Jakarta... even though we didn't really take many! Here are a couple from Yogyakarta and a few from Jakarta. Can you tell we're biased towards Yogya?

Either way, we're not even on Java anymore. No, siree, we have officially made it to the city of Medan and the island of Sumatra (I think it's the third biggest in the world after Greenland and Borneo, but feel free to correct). I know that Medan is the third biggest city in Indonesia. This leads me to beg the question: why do Indonesia's biggest and most populous cities have the crappiest budget accomodation? Is it because there are more wealthy visitors than backpackers? In Medan's case, I would think not. While our guesthouse for the night is dirt cheap, it is still covered in... well... dirt. And the bathroom is pretty intolerable (and I'm saying this after three days at sea with nothing more than a hole in the floor for a toilet). There's no shower, just a bucket of water to douse yourself with... and this bucket will not be filled by you, because there are no running taps! Let's compare to Yogya, where we paid the same amount per night with a private bathroom (no frills, but there was at least a shower head). Something doesn't seem right!

It's only for one night though, so I am beyond allowed to complain. We are off to Bukit Lawang tomorrow, where we will a) find excellent budget accomodation in a jungle/riverside setting, b) will be able to watch workers at the orangutan rehabilitation centre feed the primate residents a bland lunch of milk and bananas (so they will be encouraged for forage for further, tastier meals) and, c) go on a two day, one night long jungle trek to view wild orangutans in their natural habitat, which is becoming smaller by the day due to slash and burn farming and illegal logging- hence the need for (overflowing) orangutan rehab centres. They're homes are slowly becoming nonexistent. They say that the wise face of an orangutan is forever burned into your memory. Stay tuned for a first hand account. I may never come home and simply choose a life in the wild with the orangutans. On second thought I wouldn't want to seem to be copying Jane Goodall. How unoriginal!

Even for it's lack of decent accomodation on a backpacker's budget, I like Medan. There is an absolutely beautiful and famous mosque just across the street, and we ate dinner while listening to the final call to prayer. I even found poutine on the menu at the restaurant where we had dinner with some new friends, although in Medan they seemed to be called "Dick'y Chips" (?). At the restaurant they had English World News on the TV (it was CNN, the bane of my political existence, but I still watched with relish). Ok, so maybe I just really like that restaurant. We won't have much of a chance to explore the city, but already, I feel safe (knock on wood) and happy here.
Maybe you're wondering how our boat ride from Java to Sumatra was? Did you even know we did that? I don't remember if I mentioned it previously. Anyway, on the 20th we boarded a large Pelni Ship (the national shipping company of Indonesia and, therefore, the most seaworthy and safest) and went to our separate rooms assigned by gender (did my Mom call the shipping company beforehand? It's an Islamic thing, I suppose) and basically hung out, read and ate for three days. It was nice!
It became even nicer on our last day at sea. The first night I was kept up by my chatty roommates, who simply had to get up at 2 AM for showers and a nice girl talk before settling in (finally) after I ate my ship cafeteria breakfast at 6:30 AM. On the third day I woke up realizing that my roommates were different. They were staring at me. Smiling. And they spoke a little English (hallelujah).
I quickly became part of their family, the mother, aunt and two daughters, and became a "sister" to my other two roommates, who were twin sisters. One family were practising Muslims and the other weren't. They told me that in Indonesia the difference between girls who wore headscarves and the girls who didn't was that one family was practising, the same way my parents are practising Catholics, and the other family wasn't practising. As simple as that. And as accepting as that. The non-practising family made me eat mounds of dragonfruit (yum) and the practising family went through my makeup and told me I looked like Britney Spears (um... thanks?).
I found out that one twin sister was nine months pregnant with a baby boy (she was wearing shapeless clothes specifically for Muslim women so one couldn't really tell) and, once again, I was asked to give a name for the baby. Much to Patrick's chagrin, I said "Matthew", both because it's my brother's name and because I thought it could also be a nice Muslim name (to which Pat said that Patrick was also a nice Muslim name, or at least as Muslim as the name Matthew. I told him at this rate, I would be asked to name another baby tomorrow and would call it Patrick, but of course he was only kidding to begin with). Then, the other twin presented me with a gift- a beautiful Batik shirt. Really quite stylish. And she gave me her email, telling me she would send a picture of "Matthew" as soon as he came along. A great way to end an enjoyable voyage.
As we continue to travel overland without the use of planes (which was originally planned around my fear of flying), I've really been thinking and reading about how environmentally friendly we are being, simply by taking planes out of the scenario as much as possible. We made friends with a couple on board the ship- the girl is Swiss and the guy is Aussie- and they are travelling completely overland, by use of trains or ships, to Switzwerland. I thought this was cool as I just finished reading a set of short stories about people who never use planes. It's something to think about and, I'm sure, something that will keep coming up in my posts as we meet more people.
Until next time! XO.