Greetings from Malaysia & Singapore!

Saturday, May 1, 2004
We planned the end of our stay in Burma to coincide with the arrival of Rob’s friend, Nick in Bangkok. We weren’t really sure if he was coming or not since he doesn’t have email and we don’t have a phone, but we knew if he was coming, April 5th was the day. As it turns out, his plane was taxi-ing down the runway immediately after ours. We could see his plane before we even got out of our plane! Then we bumped into Nick at customs. It was a real surprise for him – he had no idea we were coming since we only booked our flight the night before. The next coincidence was that their friends (who got married only the day before) were going to be honeymooning in Thailand, first stop Bangkok! So, even though Rob missed their wedding – we joined them on their honeymoon for 2 days.

After spending time in Burma, it was great to take advantage of modern Thailand. We did some shopping, some sightseeing… but mainly we ate. We ate a lot! Nick’s girlfriend, Anne, is Thai and knows lots of great places to eat – and what and how to order them too. We also went to the Floating Market and a Thai Boxing Match. When we were filled to the brim with Thai food, we took an overnight train heading down to Malaysia with Nick and Anne.

Last time I was in Malaysia it was rainy season. Note to self: don’t go to Malaysia in the rainy season. I heeded my own advice and this visit was a thousand times better! First we visited some gorgeous islands called the Perhentians, complete with a coral reef outside our bungalow, falling coconuts, and nightly fish barbeques.

Despite the fact that most of Malaysia is covered in palm oil plantations (their biggest export), they created a national park called Taman Negara to preserve some of the oldest rainforest in the world. Apparently the Malaysian Peninsula was never hit by the Ice Age and all other earthly rainforests were, so it wins the “oldest” title. While we were there, we got to walk the length of longest tree canopy walkway in the world! It’s a bunch of rope with planks strung through them and you walk from treetop to treetop. Carla – it was nothing at all like the one sturdy metal canopy we went on in Tasmania! Taman Negara is also where we spent my 30th birthday! Fun fact: 3 birthdays have past since I got laid off from my job.

In Kuala Lumpur, we tried going to the Petronas Tower three times, but all three times the tickets were sold out! Also, I bumped into a friend of mine that I met last year while in India! His name is Natesh and he lives in Bombay. It turns out he was in Kuala Lumpur on business. He had some time between meetings and was taking a bus somewhere when he spotted Rob and me walking back from the Petronas Towers (again). He couldn’t find me when he got off the bus, so he went to an online café and emailed me right away. I happened to check my email about an hour later, so I called him and we met for dinner! Amazing! It’s not the first time we’ve had such coincidences in the past few months – and hopefully it’s not the last!

Now here we are in Singapore, the fine city! Okay, I know it’s the same joke as last time I wrote a newsletter from Singapore, but I still think it’s funny. I learned a few more things about how “fine” it is: apparently some years ago they did not allow men to have long hair and if you arrived at the airport with long hair they would not let you through customs if you didn’t immediately let them chop it all off. They no longer have this rule, but you still aren’t allowed to chew gum. We were also noticing today that no one has any pets… maybe it’s a law around here or maybe a preference. I plan to look into it. It also turns out that they only open the palace to visitors on selected national holidays. One of which is Labor Day... which is today! So we got to check the place out. It's smack in the middle of the city, very modern, and they turned most of the grounds into a golf course!

Love, Alison


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