Saturday, November 21, 2015
After an enjoyable flight on Malaysia Airlines, our welcome to Malaysia by Immigration and Customs officials is a fast, efficient and friendly one.
A check in at Sri Enstek Hotel for a three night stay and it is time for dinner before we venture off for one of the main reasons we are here. Like in South Korea we quickly discover that the Malaysians like their food “Hot & Spicy”.
As we leave Sri Enstek we are assured that the traffic conditions for our night time drive will be much more manageable than had we left a few hours earlier. With help from an offline GPS app, in about an hour we are standing beneath one of the most impressive sights in Malaysia if not the world.
Standing at 1483 feet, The Petronas Towers were once the tallest buildings on the planet. Even though they have now lost that prominence they are still an awesome sight to see especially at night.
A late morning start and we are on the road again this time headed for Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Our drive along numerous toll roads is rewarded with views of a lush green landscape covered with an abundance of palm trees.
A stop at a roadside venue for lunch and we get to eat like the locals. We are offered a Malaysian porridge that is served cold along with “Cucuk” which seemed to be a type of “jerky” that is grilled inside of palm leaves.
Kuala Selangor Nature Park is a bit of a disappointment but it has a natural beauty of it's own. This time of the year the park is filled with baby monkeys and we really enjoyed watching their playful curiosity.
Our next stop is a little more exciting but for completely different reasons. At Jalan Petaling we get to experience another “Chinatown Market”. Reasonable bargaining prices for all sorts of goods along with cheap prices for local foods and fresh fruits makes this a fun and exciting place for us.
Just outside the boundary of Jalan Petaling we stumble across a beautiful Indian Temple where we are given another warm Malaysian welcome. We watch a ceremonial mass of sort take place then we are offered a meal which we enjoy on the outside of the temple.
A later return to Jalan Petaling and this time we stock up on pastries and fresh fruit before our last Chinatown culinary sampling of 'Street-side Kabobs”.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
After 12 hours and 41 minutes of flight we touch down at Incheon International Airport for another trip to Southeast Asia and our first visit to South Korea. Our late afternoon arrival leaves us a bit exhausted from a 14 hour time change but even so with a light rain falling we still manage to venture out around our hotel neighborhood.
A few stares at posted picture menus and we settle on a “Mom & Pop” restaurant for our first authentic South Korean meal. Two large bowls of a beef noodle soup with rice and all the trimmings including a”spicy” serving of kimchi. For about US$14 we are filled.
Feeling well rested and twelve hours later we are paralleling the Incheon Airport Expressway racing towards Seoul at 60 mph. Leaving Exit 8 at the Gwanghwamun Metro station we ascend into a cold and rainy afternoon.
Seizing the opportunity to stay dry and somewhat comfortable we board a tour bus for a 2 hour journey around the city. Besides learning more about Seoul from an on board audio program a highlight of the tour is seeing the city from the hillside area around the Seoul Tower.
We are fortunate that we happen to be in town while two popular cultural events are going on. For the Second Annual Kimchi Festival vendors line a popular street area and we get to sample some of South Korea's culinary delights.
At a museum we learn about some of Korea's significant historical achievements including its early Navy battles with Japan. We also learned about the development of Hangul by King Sejong. Hangul which was created in the 1300's is considered by some to be one of the most efficient alphabets in the world.
As night falls around the city we head to Cheonggyecheon Plaza to enjoy the Seoul Lantern Festival where colorful Korean artworks display a part of it's history on a “River Walk that is below street level.
Some more time walking around the city and soon we return to Line 5 for about a one hour journey back to our hotel.
Our day ends with another neat Korean style dinner. This time we are cooking our own meal at a table side grill that turns out to be a cool experience.