Trips & Pictures Malaysia/Japan - Aug/Sept 2007

Malaysia/Japan - Aug/Sept 2007

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Right from the start - finding free wireless networks wherever we went :) (here, in the Singapore airport)


We took good advantage of the food opportunities of Malaysia, including: dragon fruit ...

... and LOTS of mangosteen (we bought and consumed at least 6 kilos during our week there).

Mangosteen, Rambutan, Langsat, and Air Bandung (a drink with rose syrup and condensed milk)

Mark's favorite breakfast at the hawker market - Char Kway Teow (fried flat noodles) with suigam ping (sour lime juice, but it was actually sweet) and ba bo bing (8-treasure ice drink) ...

... in the Pulau Tikus hawker market.

One of Mark's favorite places to revisit is the Penang Butterfly Farm. The butterflies are very cool...

(I guess what they say about global effects is true - this butterfly was flapping like mad, and two weeks later we had a typhoon in Tokyo!!!)

... not to mention the amazing (and HUGE) camouflaged bugs (that's Chen-Nee's hand holding the tickets, for a size comparison!). Watch out for what you touch when you're out there in the woods!

Views of the Penang Bridge, and some of the typical store fronts...

Japan - Kyoto & Vicinity

Eye-candy (or in this case, cakes) in the Kyoto train station

The famous (and very annoying) Nara deer ...

... which mostly seem to just hang around waiting for tourists to buy "deer cookies", and then chase the tourists around until they surrender said cookies (including butting them with their horns!). Another fine example of why people should not feed what should be WILDlife!

The Todai-ji temple in Nara, said to be the largest wooden structure in the world.

(And it has a pretty good-sized Buddha too!)

The first of quite a few deluges that we would get hit by! (tourists and deer quickly scattered for cover!)

The great Okonomiyaki chef at work

Kyoto was sweltering, so we decided to take a 3+ hour side trip up to Koya-San (Mt. Koya), a famous mountain-top with many Buddhist temples. We spent the night in the temple ...

... and got to sample some of the famous vegetarian cuisine for dinner (shown) and breakfast.

After dinner sitting on pillows in our room, they cleaned up, and set up our beds in the same spot. They provided Yukatas (Japenese robes) for us to wear in the house, as modeled by Chen-Nee :)

Koya-San was definitely cooler, and it was quite pleasant to wander around the old Buddhist cemetery and among the temples.

Chen-Nee was a little sore after so much walking, but luckily the train ride down was pretty quiet (we were going against the flow of weekend tourists), so Chen-Nee could relax while Mark tried to take pictures of the mountain valleys the train passed through (without success)

Kind of the typical occasional view - some houses, and rice fields, between dense rain forests and hills.

Back in Kyoto, this time having dinner in a traditional Ryokan (now both modeling Yukatas :)

The Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) in Kyoto ("Golden" as in real gold leaf plating)

Shaved ice momentarily cools things down (but only for a very brief moment!)

The very famous Ryoanji zen rock garden (500 years old!) - you're supposed to be able to look at the 15 rocks and understand the meaning of life... We didn't quite get it, but Chen-Nee did wonder what they would do if she dared me to try to make a snow angel in the gravel...

The garden and pond of the Tenryu-ji temple

Mark trying to imagine jumping around and fighting up in the bamboo (like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

Not quite "templed-out" yet, but definitely tired of walking in the heat! The Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto was very impressive, though. (The colorful buildings were in the front, the bigger building was the oldest part, in the back)

The Kiyomizudera was built on top of a sacred spring, which was pleasantly cold! They had ladles that people could use to dip and drink water from, that you put into an ultraviolet box to sterilize between uses... (sanitary? Who knows... It was nice and cool, anyway!)

Japan - Tokyo & Vicinity

On to the Senso-Ji temple, in Asakusa (the oldest part of Tokyo)

Nakamise-dori, the (busy) shopping street between Senjo-ji's Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) and the main temple

The electronics district, and especially Yodobashi Camera (all 9 giant floors of it!) were fun - the bull-riding machines were a hoot, this may have been Mark's biggest smile on the trip! (too bad they were too big to bring one along for the office!)

A glimpse of the Imperial Palace grounds

The poses of people sleeping on the subway were hysterical. Various different dozing women kept nodding off onto Mark's shoulder at various points, to our amusement, ...

... and Chen-Nee had to wake up this girl, who was still fast asleep when we were getting off at the end of the line in Asakusa.

Our friend Sharad tipped us off on a great pudding shop, where we stocked up...

We took a side trip to Nikko, which, while touristy, was very pretty.

They claim that this is where the "hear/speak/see no evil" monkey thing originated!

At this point, the weather started to deteriorate, and the more impressive thunder showers started ...

The rain stopped momentarily, until we reached the famous Nikko bridge (Shin-Kyo), at which point the sky really opened up. We only had a minute to look (the color/motion of the water in the river rapids was actually even cooler than the bridge), before we had to give up and run for it for good, and head back to Tokyo.

People still queued up in the Krispy Creme line in Shinjuku just a couple of hours before typhoon Fitow hit... The Krispy Creme ALWAYS had a line, every time we went by! (we were told that the line is sometimes 3 hours long!)

The entrance gate for the Meiji Shrine

On the weekends repressed Japanese high-schoolers escape their bounds by dressing up in "cosplay" (costume play)

The endless Tokyo skyline

including an unusually large number of "don't crash into me" red lights on the buildings

Our last excursion of the trip was to the Tokyo fish market, where we wandered around in awe, while dodging the crazy cart drivers...

We couldn't figure out if this was a scallop or not... (the meat part looks like it, but it doesn't look like what wikipedia shows?). Anyway, we've never seen what scallops looked like (off the plate), so we took a picture just in case!

Lots of tuna, too! Trips & Pictures Malaysia/Japan - Aug/Sept 2007