Posts Tagged ‘taxi’

Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur

Posted in Malaysia on March 14th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 5 Comments

I got in to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the night of Thursday, March 11th, and checked into the Monkee Inn, a hostel in Chinatown run by Americans. For 30rm (rm = Malaysian Ringgit, 1rm = $0.30) I had a very small single fan room with a really comfy bed, free wifi and breakfast, and a shared bath. Just fine for the price.

On Friday, March 12th, after a welcome breakfast of pb&j, coffee, and Sting for background music, I took a taxi to the Islamic Arts Museum for 10rm (overpaid!). I paid the 6rm student price to get into the the museum, so that makes up for the ripoff taxi.

Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The museum’s current feature exhibit was Steve McCurry’s photography and it was AMAZING! Here are some of the many pictures that were there:

Steve McCurry - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Steve McCurry - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Steve McCurry - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Steve McCurry - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Steve McCurry - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Steve McCurry - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There was a big group of university-aged Muslim women there, and some wanted to take pictures with me. I’ll miss people asking to take pictures with me when I get home, haha.

Ariel and Muslim girl - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The permanent collection of the museum includes many manuscripts, metal work, ceramics, jewelry, weapons, textiles and more. Below are some of my favorite items from the collection.

Enameled Porcelain Bowl and Cover, China, 1772 CE:

Enameled Porcelain Bowl and Cover, China, 1772 CE - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Hukkah Base, India, 19th century CE:

Hukkah Base, India, 19th century CE - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Fly Whisk, Horsehair with Silver Mounted Horn Handle, India, 19th century CE:

Fly Whisk, Horsehair with Silver Mounted Horn Handle, India, 19th century CE - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kitab Tuhfat Al-Husain Madaih A’Immah, Iran, 1859 CE:

Kitab Tuhfat Al-Husain Madaih A'Immah, Iran, 1859 CE - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tashrih Al-Badan (Anatomy of the Body), Iran, 17th century CE:

Tashrih Al-Badan (Anatomy of the Body), Iran, 17th century CE - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Al Qur’an, Ottoman Turkey, 1852 CE:

Al Qur'an, Ottoman Turkey, 1852 CE - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Detail of above:

Al Qur'an, Ottoman Turkey, 1852 CE - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Bridal Crown, Uzbekistan, 18th century CE:

Bridal Crown, Uzbekistan, 18th century CE - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The museum itself is pretty neat also. Every room has an intricate domed ceiling.

Ceiling - Islamic Arts Museum, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I wanted to go to their apparently amazing Lebanese restaurant, but they were only doing a buffet of non-vegetarian food so that was a no-go. I bought 2 postcards for 2rm each, and took another 10rm taxi back. Tomorrow I’m visiting the Petronas Twin Towers!

Phnom Penh: Colorful Cambodia’s Capital City

Posted in Cambodia on February 13th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

Mom and I landed in Phnom Penh late at night on Friday, February 12th, after many hours of flying. The immigration process was painless; the visa cost $20 and customs stamped a lot of stuff I couldn’t see and took my picture. Unfortunately the official taxi stand closes around 10pm so we had to hire a random taxi which cost $9. From the taxi I saw a guy getting the crap kicked out of him by two other guys on the side of the road. Ouch.

We stayed the night at the Town View Hotel where we had a room with two twin beds, air-con, hot water, mini-fridge, and tv for $17 a night. It was very nice.

On the morning of Saturday, February 13th, we went to the top floor of our hotel and enjoyed the view before walking to a restaurant for breakfast.

View from hotel - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Buildings - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

For breakfast we got bread and jam for $1, Chinese fried noddles with veggies for $1.50, coffee for $0.70, and free tea. It was yummy; the bread here is delicious thanks to the French influence.

Breakfast - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After breakfast we decided to wander in an arbitrary direction and we ended up coming upon a market full of fruit, flowers, meat, fish, and tons of people buying their food for the day.

Vegetable stall in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Meat stall in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fruit stall in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In the market there were many beggars. I gave this lady a dollar because she let me take her photo.

Beggar in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We stopped to look in wedding shop with lovely dresses and over the top tiaras inside. There we met the people who own the shop. The man knew perfect English because he escaped from Cambodia to Australia during the massacre. He told us about the places he had been in the US, and introduced us to his wife and daughter. They invited us in and gave us cold bottles of water and a banana. The wife and daughter are learning English. The wife was too shy to practice on us, but I chatted with the 13 year old daughter for a while and her English was quite good. I exchanged emails with her and told her she can write me and keep practicing her English.

On the way back to the hotel for a rest we passed a celebration for the Chinese New Year. Men and boys dressed in red played music while men in dragon costumes danced into the temple.

Chinese New Year celebration - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Chinese New Year celebration, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

There were lots of locals watching the celebration as well and when the kids saw me taking pictures they wanted me to take their pictures too.

Local kids - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Also I saw this sign near our hotel, I think it’s hilarious:

Rambo sign - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In the late morning we rested before checking out and taking a tuk-tuk ($3) to our new hotel, the Sokha Heng Guesthouse. The guesthouse is near the Royal Palace and the waterfront where the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers meet, a much more touristy part of town. Our room has all the same amenities as the Town View Hotel. I don’t know how much it costs per night because it’s included in the trip cost of the Intrepid Travel tour we are about to start.

Family - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After checking in, mom and I wandered down to the waterfront to get some lunch. When we passed a Lebanese restaurant called Le Cedre I knew I had to get a falafel sandwich ($3.50) because they’re tasty… and also to make Ryan jealous 😉 it was very good, but I think the ones in Costa Rica were just a tad better.

Me at the waterfront - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Flags - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

There were more Chinese New Year celebrations going on at the waterfront. People were burning incense, leaving flower offerings, and releasing little birds into the air over the river for good luck. We sat in the shaded grass and people watched until it was time to go back to the hotel for our Intrepid welcome meeting.

Fruit seller - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This guy wasn’t celebrating, just sitting on his motorcycle looking intense:

Man - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

For dinner we went out with our Intrepid group to a restaurant that employs orphaned kids, helps them learn English, and teaches them food service skills they can use to get jobs later in life. I was still full from lunch so I had a small plate of fries for $2 and an Angkor beer for $1. The kids that work there and also the beggar children know our group leader well. One little girl aged maybe 7 or 8 who was selling copied books started making fun of him saying ‘no way you don’t have a girlfriend!!!’ It was too cute. Not cute enough to get anyone to buy a book, though.

In the restaurant were THE most annoying tourists I have ever been around. This drunk middle aged fat Australian guy, along with his obscenely loud and equally pudgy daughter, was causing quite a scene when he very loudly and repeatedly asked the waiter if he could buy a marijuana cigarette from him and got douchy when told no. Apparently they are staying at our guesthouse because as I am typing this they are here in the lobby. His daughter is telling her brother about how he apparently crashed a bar playing music after leaving the restaurant, sat at the drum set and tried to play, then tripped over a stage light, broke it, and refused to pay for it, and finally got kicked out. Now he is eating a banana I just saw him pluck from the Buddhist shrine. What. An. ASS. I am trying to be all Dalai Lama and see this as just an opportunity to practice my patience but man is it hard.

Anyway, tomorrow we are going on a cyclo tour around the city in the morning. In the afternoon we are going on what our group leader has dubbed “the misery tour” where we will see evidence of Cambodia’s very dark and recent past at the Tuol Sleng torture centre and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.

Surf break in Puerto Viejo and going home via Alajuela

Posted in Costa Rica on February 5th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

I was still really sick on Monday, February 1st, so after arriving back in Puerto Viejo via the bus and checking back in to Hostel Pagalú we took it easy for the rest of the day, swimming at Playa Negra and enjoying falafels from Ali Baba for lunch. By the end of the day I decided it was time to go ahead and medicate with immodium, pepto, and lots of water.

Playa Negra, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, February 2nd, we rented surf boards from Sunrise Backpackers for $10 for 3 hours. This was a way better deal than anywhere else in town. One place wanted us to leave $100 or our passports as a deposit! Sunrise Backpackers only asked me to leave my driver’s license, a much better deal.

Road - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We surfed at Playa Negra and had a great time! It was my second time surfing and Ryan’s first so we didn’t do very well but we had tons of fun. I could definitely do this every day. Later we went back to Playa Negra for sunset and saw wild horses again!

Wild Horse - Playa Negra, Costa Rica

Sunset - Playa Negra, Costa Rica

We had to head back to San Jose on Wednesday, February 3rd, because our flight home was leaving at 7am on the morning of the 4th :(. We took the bus which cost us 4290 colones each and took 3 and a half hours. The bus was stopped at a police checkpoint between Cahuita and Limón. We all had to get off and have our passports checked before we could get back on the bus.

Police Checkpoint, Costa Rica

When we got to the bus station we hired an official red taxi to drive us to Alajuela (the town closest to the airport) which cost $25 total (talked down from $30). There are much cheaper ways to get to Alajuela, but since we don’t know spanish we figured a cab would be the easiest way.

In Alajuela we stayed at Hostel Maleku. It was alright. We had a double room with a shared bath and a communal kitchen for $35 a night. After checking in we went to McDonalds and a grocery store where we bough coffee cereal and I had cafeteria food for dinner. Then we got ice cream from the McDonalds stand outside. Yum.

On the morning of Thursday, February 4th, we took a free taxi ride to the airport provided by the hostel at 5am. Ryan felt ill in the morning and got progressivly sicker throughout the day, making the flights very rough. By the time we got home he had a high fever so we just went to bed. Not a good way to end our trip, but we had such a great time overall that we are planning on going back in a few months :)

Street - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Check back later for posts from Cambodia!

San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Posted in Costa Rica on January 18th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Ryan and I made a last minute decision to take off to Costa Rica for 18 days. So far I think we made the right choice :)

Beach - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We arrived at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica on Sunday January 17th at 7:30pm. After some searching, we found the driver of the shuttle that we had arranged to take us to our hotel, the Costa Rica Guesthouse, for $22. We only spent one night. The single room with a king bed and private bathroom cost us $45. The rooms were clean and nice, but we were very itchy in the bed. The shared bathrooms looked nice and clean and if I were to stay here again I’d save money and go with a single room with a shared bathroom.

We were supposed to get up early on the morning of Monday, January 18th to catch our 6am bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. I set our alarm to wake us up at 4am, but then we slept in until 5:10am. Oops. I rushed around throwing our things back in our packs while Ryan went to the front desk and managed to convey to the clerk in his very limited Spanish (far better than my non-existent Spanish) that we needed a taxi. The taxi arrived at 5:30am. The driver had a fast and crazy driving style and we flew to the bus station in about 10 minutes. I had a huge shit-eating grin on my face the whole time because I love an adventure! After paying the $3 cab fare, we bought two tickets to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for 4,290 colones each.

Out the window of the bus we could see some stunning lush scenery, including vast cloud forests with waterfalls and rivers. This is truely a gorgeous country. The bus ride took 4 hours and we managed to sleep for a bit of it. The buses don’t have bathrooms but we did take a 15 minute break in Limon about halfway through the ride. The public buses look pretty similar to Greyhound buses inside and out, but without a bathroom in the back.

At 10:10am we arrived in Puerto Viejo on the southern Caribbean coast. The weather here is sunny and fairly hot, but definitely bearble. Our accommodations here are at the Coco Loco Lodge where we have a clean one bedroom bungalow with a full kitchen, double bed, bathroom, and porch with a hammock (yay!). The room is $55 a night which is more than we’d like to pay but since this is high season most places are booked up so we have to take what we can get.

While waiting for our room to be cleaned we took a stroll around the village. The highlight of this walk was the momma sloth and baby sloth we saw chilling in a tree right outside the place we got lunch! I was so excited; sloths are my favorite animals. Our lunch was excellent too: falafel sandwiches for 2,000 colones each.

Sloth - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

After our walk we went back to our room and got ready to go to the black sand beach. The ocean is too rough to snorkel but we had a blast alternating laying in the hot sun and playing in the waves to cool off. Unfortunatly, laying in the sun was so comfy we both fell asleep and got a little sunburnt. Oops.

Beach sign - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

When the sun started to set we headed back to our room to clean up and then went to dinner. Ryan got a slice of pizza from Pizza Boruca for 875 colones, then we went to Soda Flip Flop where I got a grande red bean taco for 1,500 colones and we split a plate of chips with some delicious guacamole for 1,500 colones.

We hit up the Super Mart gorcery store on the way home to buy juice, a mango, beer, and water. Everything except fruit products are more expensive here than they are at home. You’re not supposed to drink the water in Puerto Viejo (which I found out after already drinking some earlier in the day, oops AGAIN, hopefully I don’t get sick), though the water in San Jose is safe to drink. But, of course, beer is always a good choice. Travelers should note that there is some forced recycling in place here: you can’t buy bottled beer without bringing in an empty bottle to exchange for it, so if you don’t have a bottle either pay the steeper price, or go find one!