Sunday, August 10, 2008


Last night I watched Hancock. It was an alright movie, especially since I only paid about $3 to get in, and this is at one of the premier theaters in Kuala Lumpur, in the mall attached to the Petronas Towers. The downside? The censoring of certain words. Now I see why it was so cheap. They cut out the words, either leaving you to lip read Will Smith's expletives, or they just skip the movie ahead, cutting out the word/phrase. It's not a huge detriment, especially since Hancock didn't have that many cuts (that I know of), but it's enough to jar you out of the experience and deter you from watching other movies at that cheap a price. I suppose if I were going to watch a G-rated film, it would be alright. But I was planning on seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and they'd probably have to cut out half the movie. So there go my plans of escaping the midday heat with a movie.

That and the DVD player at the guesthouse is busted, so no watching their giant library of pirated dvds.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Spa fish

Meandering around Chinatown the other day, I got hit up by the touts selling massages. I usually blow them off, but one had a fish spa on offer, and for super-cheap compared to what it was going for in Tokyo. So for around $12, I got to sit in lukewarm water up to my knees and have hundreds of little fish come up and feast on my dead skin. It was a weird sensation, the fish are basically rasping the outer layer of skin off you. There were a couple really big fish that you could tell when they tried to take a bite, but otherwise, it felt like millions of tiny sand grains being rubbed on you, but all at a different pressure. I'll post a photo as soon as I find a good shot I can take. Might go back for another one today, since I saw one on offer for even cheaper, though the presentation wasn't as nice - basically you hang your feet in a plexiglass tank in a storefront window with passersby gawking.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Singapore to Malaysia

So now I'm Kuala Lumpur. I had a few good days in Singapore. I visited the zoo, a definite must-see that somehow I didn't on my trip last year. The enclosures aren't really cages, except for a few necessary ones like the butterfly enclosure or the close-up reptile enclosure (where, oddly, the only reptile I saw was an iguana - but there were tamarinds everywhere). most of the animals are separated by a large moat, except for one area with windows so you can get up-close and personal with the lions and tigers. The orangutans had two enclosures that they could travel between via ropes high up over the visitors' heads.

Besides that, I also went to the movies in order to catch The Dark Knight, which came out on the 2nd in Japan. It cost me only S$9.50, a far cry from the 1400yen I'd pay in Japan. I did a bit of shopping, especially books. I'm going through Stephen King's epic Dark Tower series. I managed to find the first two at the Border's in Singapore. I tore through the first one, and managed to finish the 2nd on my first night in KL. Fortunately, I found the rest of the series at a bookstore in the mall near my guesthouse. I picked up #3 and #4, will have to get the remainder before I move on. It's going to be heavy carrying all those around. Hmm.

I'd been staying at my college friend Borna's house. She and her family just moved into a really nice house out in the 'burbs in Singapore. It's a bit of a trek into the city, but I'm not complaining. Especially when a cursory look for hotels turned up quite a few going for S$200/night. Her family is fantastic, especially her mother who made sure I was well-fed every morning before I headed off to wherever. Her dad I didn't see as much, but on the first morning we chatted in the kitchen as he stuffed me full of watermelon. Her younger brother I only spoke with briefly, and her boyfriend was down with a throat infection, which curbed his natural chattiness. Hopefully, I'll get to see more of them when I pass through again on my way out.

So yesterday I got up early, and headed off for the border to Malaysia. I'd meant to get a really early start, but got caught up searching for a pair of shorts that had vanished into the black hole of family laundry management. They turned up eventually, a good thing when you only have three pairs, one of which is dirty and the other doesn't quite fit right. That pair's headed for the trash heap before I leave.

Anyways, got to the border ahead of the rush, definitely a good thing, since I don't have fond memories of my last trip through the overland border crossing. I made it to the Johor Bharu bus terminal in time to catch the 11am bus up to KL. Traffic wasn't too bad, so we got in just past 4pm, giving me ample time to plow through the 2nd Dark Tower book.

I wandered out, got a kebap for an afternoon snack, and plopped myself down in the guesthouse lobby to get an early night. Well, that's what was supposed to happen. I ended up chatting with some of the other guests, including one Malaysian girl from the northern part, who was apartment-hunting while she started a new job. She showed us around the local bar scene, which was very useful because I had no idea that there were some good expat bars down a tiny, dirty alley beside our guesthouse. I'd have probably gone my whole time here without finding them otherwise. So we hit a couple places, then I wanted to have something other than meat and beer in my stomach, so we stopped at an Indian place for ayam tanduri (tandoori chicken) and garlic naan.

Today's a bit of browsing Chinatown and searching for a lens cleaning kit, since I've got a small smudge on my filter I need to get off before it ruins my photos. Tonight? Maybe fish & chips at the pub 'round the corner and a chat with the owner, seemed like a nice guy last night.

Friday, August 01, 2008

My night in Changi

I've arrived in Singapore, and am currently deciding how I'm going to spend the night, until my friend Borna comes to get me. There's a decent place to crash out right here, but I've just got off the plane - I haven't gone anywhere to get my luggage yet. I need to do that before I can sleep, but I'm worried about getting stuck somewhere between immigration and customs where there won't be anyplace to sit. How fun. And I've got 8 minutes left on the terminal here, so I thought I'd post something real quick.

The flight was good - the staff are friendly and helpful, although the 2nd and last beer they brought me was Budweiser. I was hoping for more Tiger. I did get to catch up on my summer movies, I watched "Kung Fu Panda" and "Iron Man," both movies that have been out a while, I believe, but haven't arrived in Japan yet. I also watched "Leatherheads," the George Clooney movie. That man loves the '20s. That's all for this update, it's 2:15am and I need to find a sofa to lie down on.

Sitting, waiting, wishing...

I'm trapped in Narita airport now. My folks wanted to get here early for their 3:30pm flight, so we rolled in a bit ahead and they just went through security. I ran into my friend Todd, who's flying back to Philly today, and chatted, but he's just gone too. I'm stuck because Singapore Airlines won't open checkin until 3.30pm for my 7pm flight. So I'm in this place for at least 5 hours, with only a few periodic, frantic bursts of running about as I realize I've left something or other and get screwed.

I'll arrive in Singapore at 1.15am local time, well after the trains and buses shut, so I'll have the joy of sleeping on a couch somewhere inside the restricted zone and hope nobody ganks my camera. Gosh, ain't flying fun?