BootsnAll Travel Network



Jakarta, Singapore and Malaysia

Hello all,

Well the last time I wrote I was on a train to Jakarta, this time I am sitting at my hostel waiting for my bus to the west coast of Malaysia.  I spent 5 days in Jakarta and then flew to Singapore for a 4 day stay.  Then onto Kuala Lumpur and central Malaysia. During my time I had some great experiences that I get to share with all of you.

Going into Jakarta I decided to try Couch surfing for the first.  For those of you that do not know what Couch Surfing is let me explain.  It is an online community of travelers that open up their homes for other travelers.  Most of the time there is no charge for you to stay there as long as whenever you are home that you do the same for other travelers.  I got to say that I was a little nervous in going in to other people’s homes but it turned out to be a great experience.  I arrived at the train station in Jakarta and my host (Wahyudi) was there to pick me up.  HE spoke very good English and we got along right from the start.   I got into Jakarta at 4pm and had my first experience with rush hour traffic in Jakarta.  The only other place I have been that compare to this would be Manila in the Philippines.  Even in the places that they have traffic lights they mean little.  At one intersection we got stuck in the middle of vehicles heading in all directions.  I would think that if they would just follow when the lights are red/green then it would be faster but that is not how it works here.  It took a couple of hours to get near Wahyudi house and we stopped for some dinner.  I wanted to have street food so he took me to one of his favorite places and tried something totally new.  I got to try pressure cooked chicken, you ask why pressure cook it, because by using a pressure cooked you soften the bones as well and then you et everything, bone and all.  I was not too sure at first but it was fantastic.  From there we went to Wahyudi house which he shares with his mom, brother and 2 sisters.  There were a few others around as well.  Wahyudis’ father has passed away but I could tell he was a large influence in his life.  Wahyudi told me that his father traveled a lot and he would bring assorted musical instruments home and they would learn how to play them.  He knew how to play so many instruments like guitar, several woodwinds and percussion.  He also plays in a band and I will talk about that soon.  I got my own room in the house and it was very comfortable.  We were never in a rush to get the day started while I stayed at Wahyudi but that was also to let the traffic ease up a little, even when we did the traffic was still crazy.  Wahyudi drove everywhere in Jakarta, we covered all areas and seen all the sites.  My second evening with Wahyudi he invited me to come along with him to a radio interview for his band.  I was excited to go but did not know how cool the experience would be.  As we were driving there I asked a few questions and found out that 3 other members of the band would be there and they planned to play some live songs on air.  The band plays jazz/traditional music using traditional Indonesian instruments.  When we got there and went i I was trying to figure out where all the instruments were, they had a guitar, gamelan (Indonesian xylophone) and 2 small backpacks.  Inside those backpacks were a ton of different percussion instruments.  The group played 4 songs during the hour long interview while answering questions.  The reason they were invited was to promote the upcoming Java Jazz Festival.  Each year amateur groups compete for one spot to play in the festival and his band won the competition last year.  The announcer (Bepe) was really cool and thought at first that I was the manager and when he found out more about me then he had lots of questions about my travels, of course not on air.  The music was fantastic to listen to and I was right in the studio with them.  I have pics and a video on Facebook if you would like to see it.  After the interview we headed home and were listening to the station and Bepe mentioned me on air, really cool.  My last night with Wahyudi was spent doing an interview with some of his friends that are part of an Indonesian Backpacking group.  They did an interview of me and might publish something in their next newsletter.  Wahyudi and all his friends were so nice to me and I enjoyed their company.  I spent 2 more days in Jakarta with another host (Wendy and Jason) who are from the U.S. and teaching in the area.  This again was a different experience because they are based in the richer area of Jakarta and had an incredible home.  They were so nice to me and so were there friends.  They took me out for drinks my first evening for some socializing and I met a bunch of new people.  My last day in Jakarta was spent shopping for gifts to send home to the kids and some relaxing.  That evening I got taken for a massage and then to a really nice Italian restaurant for dinner.

I flew into Singapore and the city looked huge from in the air.  After been in Indonesia for 7 weeks I am not sure I was ready for all that Singapore was.  It was big, westernized, clean and very easy to get around.  I almost felt out of place there because it was too easy and clean and all the other stuff.  One good point was I was able to find a dentist there and get my teeth cleaned.   IT took 2 days to walk around the city and see all of the sights and they were beautiful and amazing but the big city just did not seem to be an attraction to me.  I stayed in the Little India part of town which was interesting and the hostel was great.  I have a tough time talking about Singapore because it is a nice place and I do not want to say ad things about it because it would be wrong.  I figure there are tons of people that would love Singapore and I was just not one of them, but I am glad I went and seen it for myself.  I was very lucky to be in Singapore at the start of the celebrations for Chinese New Year.  I toured around Chinatown and got to see a fantastic Lion Dance and martial arts show followed by some traditional Chinese music.

From Singapore I took a bus to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  I had talked to my friend Sophie before I left and she told me which hostel (Equator) to stay at, which is run by a friend (Hady) of hers.  I showed up on the doorstep and was informed by Hady that they were fullbut she found room for me anyway.  ONE of Sophies other friend (Nilly) was there as well.  I got settled and then went for a walk around the area and found a great place for street food.  I went back to the hostel and a big group of us chatted for most of the evening.  It was like a United Nations of counties (Canada, Germany, Holland, Australia, Bulgaria, Sweden, Malaysia and China).  Lots if translations were going on and we had a great night.  KL was easy to travel around as well and I toured around most of the areas in 2 days.  I was surprised by the amount of green space that KL had and some amazing garden areas.  The KL Tower is the 4th tallest in the world and looking out from it really showed how big the city is.  I got great views and some really nice pics.  The highlight of my stay in KL was the Hindu festival called Thaipusum.  This festival was an amazing to ones faith.  WE got up at 6am to take 3 different trains to get to a place called the Batu Caves, a holy place among Hindus.  When we got there they place was already crowded with people as they have 1.5 million people show up over the 3 days.  The first thing I saw was a huge Hindu statue and beside it a big ferris wheel.   I know when you go to other festivals they always have these rides and stuff, I was just surprised to see them at a big religious event.  Hindu devotees start a trek from KL the evening before and walk all the way to the cave.  From there they walk up the 272 steps to the entrance of the cave and then more inside the enormous cave itself.  This in itself is a feat but they are doing this while carrying kavadis on their backs as well as been pierced with hooks and rods on all parts of their body.  It is hard to explain it all here but you should look up Thaipusum on the internet to get a better idea and my pics will also say a lot.  It is always interesting to see how others profess their faith to their god or gods.  It is not always for us to understand what they are doing but to accept that this is how they worship and it is okay.  I have been seeing lots of different religions lately (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhism) and each has been interesting to see.  I am still very much Christian and Catholic but I have enjoyed trying to get an understanding of the other faiths and been open to the choices others make.  It raises a lot of interesting questions that I am not going to get into here as religion to me is a very personal matter and not to be preached to others, each person makes their own decisions and anyone else has to be strong enough to accept them.

My last night in KL was spent having a BBQ with my new friends and a few glasses of great wine.

From KL I headed into central Malaysia and the national park called Taman Negara.  I stayed in the village of Kuala Tahan on the edge of the park.  We had a 3 hour boat journey down the river to the village.  The stay at Taman Negara is filled with long treks through the jungle and rain forest in search of whatever animals you might find.  My first evening was spent on a night trek to a viewing platform where we saw some deer.  Along the way we also spotted some stick insects and scorpions.  Most of the walk was spent looking for different types of insects.  During the day I was able to spot assorted types of squirrels, one that was quite large and had a huge flat tail, birds and monkeys. The area is also known to have elephants, tigers, sun bears, snakes and large and small deer.  Most of these animals are very hard to spot and I did not come across any during my 2 days of hiking.  They also had a really cool canopy walk amongst the tree tops.  I trekked through most of the jungle on my own and enjoyed the sounds that it produced.  Sometimes it is better to be on your own instead of big groups because you end up missing these sounds.  The views from the mountain top were spectacular and I saw 2 huge birds that when they flew their wings sounded like a wobbling piece of tin.

After 3 days at Taman Negara I headed to the Cameron Highlands which is still in Central Malaysia but a lot higher up in the mountains.  The area is all about growing tea.  You can see tea plantations for miles and they go a long way up into the hills.  With been higher up the temperature is cooler as well.  I know what I am about to say will make some of you made but it is the way it is.  It is only getting to about 20-25 degrees here and at night it gets down to about 10-15.  I know that is not cold for most of you but for me and what I am now used too, it feels like it is freezing.  I have to put on my track pants and a sweater in the evening to stay warm.  My bed even has 3 blankets on it, I have laughed at what you must be thinking because I know that this is not really cold at all.  The area here is also all about trekking into the jungles and forests.  I did one on a tour with 7 others and it was very good.  We got takes into the mossy forest which I can only describe by saying think of “Lord of the Rings”.  WE had to bend down most of the time as the trails were made by the animals and the soft moss was so spongy to walk on.  At times I thought that a hobbit was going to pop out in front of us.  We also got to see a tea plantation and factory.  The area also grows lots of strawberries and had many bee farms.  All the strawberries are grown in greenhouses and so I did not go to any but I did eat some and they were fantastic, fresh strawberries are always so good.  My 2 other days in the area were spent trekking in the jungles and forests.  I did not see any big animals here but they had some nice waterfalls and again the scenery was incredible.

From here I take a bus and head to the west coast and some time on the beach.  I cannot go to the east coast at this time as it is monsoon season there.  I will head up into Thailand in the next week or so and make my way to Bangkok by the middle of the month.

That is it for now, I hope you all feel caught up on my adventures.  I am truly a lucky man to be able to see all the places I have seen and I remind myself of that every day.  I thank you for taking time out of your day to read about my adventures and hope to chat with any and all soon.  I do enjoy hearing the stories from home and how everyone is doing there.  Do not mistake this as home sickness because that is not how I feel but I just enjoy hearing your stories as well.  Anytime you would like to email me with one I would truly appreciate it.  I just wish everyone would be able to see the world as I have and the feelings for themselves.

Take care all,

Steve

PS: I heard that Rods birthday was a great event, hope you all had fun.  I huge birthday wish goes out to my lovely aunt Lavina (Feb. 7th), thanks for all the great comments back on my blog.

Wahyudi and his band during radio interview

Bicycles for hire in Jakarta, I love the helmuts

Touring Little Indonesia Park in Jakarta

Main street in chinatown in Singapore dressed up for Chinese New Year

Lion Dance performance at start of Chinese New Year celebrations

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, taken from the KL Tower

The crowd walking up the 272 steps to the Batu Cave at Thaipusum Festival

One man carry his kavadis which is scewered into his skin

ANother man and his journey up to the top of the Batu caves

Me on the boat ride to Taman Negara

Stick insect from night walk in jungle of Taman Negara

At the top of Teresek Hill at Taman Negara

Canopy walk at Taman Negara

Me in the middle of the tea fields of Cameron Highlands

me at the top of Gunnung Brinchang, highest point in Cameron Highlands

Me in the mossy forest

Me at the Robinson Waterfall in Cameron Highlands



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6 Responses to “Jakarta, Singapore and Malaysia”

  1. Don & Audry Mackie says:

    Hi Steve
    It sounds like you are enjoying every minute. not to much new here except Lindsey broke her left pointer finger as her hood of her car fell on it, so she has a splint on it.
    keep safe and keep the travel info coming as a am always checking,
    Auntie Audry

  2. Hello Steve
    It’s been a while since we heard from you. I always have that little feeling some where in the back of my mind—–I sure hope he’s OK. Good reading Steve. I was surprised to see that in your busy travel’s you remembered my birthday. I wish I could forget them. A very dear friend of my put on quite a party for me. It will be truly memerable
    Love you bud. Keep having fun.
    Auntie Lavina

  3. David says:

    Singapore is a great plcae to visit.I went there once.It is the city of lions, well so the translation goes anyway.If you do go, be sure to visit the prince of wales pub in little india. Dunlop st just off serangon.Happy Journey

  4. hi steve.. :)
    thx for bein a part of ur stories :D
    take care.. have a great experiences.. may GOD Bless U..

    cheers,
    Wahyudi Panggabean – balibackpacker.net

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