Merdeka Square, home of the tallest flagpole in the world.

Welcome back, friends.  This blog is not going to be very wordy.  These are photos from a day when We just did some walking around.  The map We have (that is marked with the touristy things to do in KL) pointed out the Merdeka Square area, with a few interesting buildings and the Tallest Flagpole in the World.  We walked on over and took a peek and this is what We saw:

Did anyone notice a common theme in these photos?  I will tell you.  Flags.  Malaysian flags every mother-hmm-in where.  No joke, scroll up and look again.  Flags.  Everywhere.  Except, for on the tallest flagpole of the world.  That last picture?  That’s it.  GIANT flagpole-no flag.  This is not a joke.  There is a funny part though…it was also their independence day weekend.  The anniversary of the first time the flag ever went up.  Again- no.flag.

Really?  Yes.

Stay tuned…

Exploring Malaysia

Welcome back, friends. Today will be more of a visual blog. On this particular day of exploring We went to 4 different temples, none of which I know much about…so I don’t really have anything to say about them. They were all different looking but served the same purpose- to be a house of prayer and worship. We walked around inside them and took some photos and headed back to the air-conditioned hotel room 🙂

This first photo is of the temple right outside Our hotel.  Kinda cool to look at while waiting for the elevator or walking towards the stairs.

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple built in 1873

The next few are of the “God of War Temple”.

Guan Di Temple built 1888

From the ceiling hung rows of burning incense spirals.

Next, a clan house that looks deceptively like a temple and is even sometimes called the “Green Temple” because of its striking color.

Chan See Shue Yuen built 1906

Last, We visited a temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy.

Guan Yin Temple built 1880

In each of these places, We found there were wreaths of flowers draped over the statues and incense burning in pots, or on altars, or even hung from the ceiling.  There are vendors along most of the streets leading to the temples that make and sell the flower wreaths for people to purchase them and hang them on the statues when they visit.  Sometimes, We were required to remove Our shoes (and charged a fee to rack them). They were interesting to visit, that’s for sure- I’ve never seen anything like it.

Once We finished looking at temples, it was time for me to experience picking out a plate of street food.  I stuck with vegetarian for my first time.

The food was…well, it was fuel. I didn’t starve and I didn’t die so it served its purpose and I will live to eat another adventure 🙂

Or will I?

Stay tuned…

And the new stamp in my passport comes from…

On Our way! @Gold Coast Airport Australia

Welcome back, folks.  Those ^^^ are the faces of multi-international travelers.  We left Byron Bay Australia at 5am Saturday August 27th and via the Gold Coast Airport flew to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  BAM!  New stamp in my passport.  🙂 It was around an 8 hour flight and then an hours bus ride to the hotel.  We booked Our stay at Alamanda Hotel in the heart of Chinatown Kuala Lumpur weeks beforehand so that even if We spent all the money, We had a roof over Our heads 🙂  When the bus let Us off in Chinatown, We knew immediately it would be a very different experience from Oz.  Obviously, We were in Asia (big difference #1) but it was more than that…the traffic was horrendous with cars and motorbikes flying around in no particular lane whenever they felt it appropriate to do so, the trash was strewn about in the streets with no “rubbish bin” in sight, the people rushed around or stood around with no clear agenda but to carry on about their own business in complete disregard to anyone near them.  I didn’t hear english words unless someone was yelling out the name of what they were selling as We passed by…Cali took it all in stride, I tried to do the same.  My excitement about being in a new country was being squashed by the unfamiliarity of it all.  I was definitely outside of my comfort zone.

We got to Our street with some broken help from a passerby and realized that when the hotel site said “heart of Chinatown” it meant “middle of the busiest market street in Kuala Lumpur”.  We barely navigated the maze of shop stalls 6 deep across the street and sidewalk to the middle of Petaling St recognizing our hotel only because of the sign high above the crowd.

Our large packs bumped into people and stalls without enough horizontal clearance to move forward quickly.  Figuring out how to leave the chaos of the saturday afternoon shopping frenzy without crashing through a stall was tricky, but at last We made it to Our new home.  (We would soon find out that the market chaos wasn’t just a weekend thing, it was an everyday thing.)  We checked in and dropped Our packs.  The air conditioner was welcome-it was definitely hot outside- and the room We were checked into was a free upgrade from the hotel since We would be staying at least a week, they wanted Us to have a window.  Once Our packs were off, it was finally time to eat.

We had been traveling about 13 hours by the time We looked for food.  There was an in flight meal, but neither of Us liked what We got and were therefor pretty hungry.  Unidentifiable meat on a stick, or Subway for dinner?  SUBWAY please, thanks.  The restaurant looked  like a Subway, said it was a Subway, and had sandwiches named the same, but it tasted… different.  Get used to it sweetcheeks, you are not in TX anymore.  After dinner, We checked out the complimentary in-room internet and fell asleep.

The width of the room, from side to side.

The next morning, Cali let me sleep in while He went for a walk to check out the surroundings.  Once I woke up, I headed down the elevator to make some coffee in the lobby.  I was quite surprised when the doors opened and what I saw was Cali standing there holding a bunch of beautiful flowers for ME.

A wonderful way to start a new day in a new country.  Since it was the end of the month We were getting low on funds so there was not going to be any shopping yet, but We did go sightseeing.

What sights did We see?  Did I adjust any better after a good nights sleep?  What did Our street look like in the morning?

Stay tuned…

Goodbye “Land of Oz”.

Welcome back, friends.  When last we spoke, I mentioned We would be going surfing-and We did.  I got off of work at 1 and with Jessie’s help, We rounded up some wetsuits, grabbed a couple surfboards and headed to the beach.  It was a cold and cloudy day which made me skeptical of the whole getting in the water thing.  You would not believe how warm a wetsuit keeps you!!  I was wearing one with short sleeves and legs and I was still more than comfortable.

The surfing itself was entertaining.  Neither of Us stood up fully on Our boards and both of Us spent a majority of Our time falling off but We caught a few waves on Our knees and had an amazing time.  Seeing Cali in the water and enjoying it (not to mention being particularly fantastic at the whole surfing thing) was awesome.  I got a few new bruises and thought I was going to drown a few times, but had so much fun!!  We intend to do it again whenever possible-who knows, maybe We will become a world-famous surfing couple 🙂  you can’t really take pictures while in  the water, so here is a few of Us immediately after.  How official do We look?? ❤

So much fun!!

Post surfing, We took showers and reconvened at Jess’s house for a delicious home-cooked meal and some “super-fun-times” after which We went back to the Arts Factory and ate a “stoner surprise”.  I don’t mean “finding roaches in the pot” kind of stoner surprise, I mean a cup containing a scoop of ice cream topped with hot fudge topped with hot brownie topped with more ice cream topped with more hot fudge topped with cocoa powder.  Yes, it was amazing.  It was devoured before I even considered taking pictures of it. 🙂  It was off to bed after that…We were officially DONE.

Our last day/night in Byron was pretty awesome.  There was a good long walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse on which We saw baby dolphins playing in the ocean, a wallaby, a visit to the most easterly point on the Australia mainland and some goon drinking at a candlelight concert.  Most of this can’t really be described in words, so I will let the pictures do the talking and interject when necessary  🙂 enjoy!!

The perfect start to a new day 🙂

The photo above was taken at a hang-gliding ramp.  During Our walk, We came upon someone about to jump so We hung around to watch.  Seeing them strapped to a glider and running off this ramp to glide down to this:

View from hang-glider ramp

Was pretty damn awesome.

Not far from the lighthouse We stopped to look out over the water

and happened to spot some giant black spots swimming erratically.  Upon further inspection, We realized they were dolphins.  Dolphins!!  In the wild!  Not in a zoo, or an aquarium, but like, right freaking there!!

You can kind of see them just over my left shoulder here...
And here is a zoomed photo of one...look close. See the fin sticking out?

It was pretty damn cool to see dolphins just swimming around in the ocean while on a walk.  The view of the lighthouse on the walk was also cool.

The lighthouse at Cape Byron.

We walked all the way up to it and inside it, but the close up pictures aren’t so awesome.

Just past the lighthouse is the most Eastern Point of mainland Australia:

Awe.Some.

On the walk back, We encountered a man with a camera standing very still staring into the bushes.  Of course, I had to see what was going on, so I crept up and at long last saw a damn wallaby!  Cali had seen several since the first week We arrived in Oz, I hadn’t even seen 1 and it was Our last day there.  Finally 🙂

Wallaby!

After the wallaby, We walked back to the campground and started packing up.  We got organized and then went back into “town” to the bottler and picked up some “goon”.

I present to you, the goon.

Yes folks, that’s right, the drink of choice in Byron is “goon” (pronounced: drunken trouble).  I don’t know why they call it that, I always thought it was box-o-wine but that must be far too simple so goon it is.  The picture is actually making it more fancy than it is since most people just remove the bag from the box and drink from it.  We prefer to keep it classy by leaving the bag IN the box and drinking it from nalgene bottles.  That’s right- classy.

That night the Arts Factory hosted a candlelight concert by the pond and there were several talented performers. Drums, hula hooping, guitar playing…and Our surf instructor/best chai maker/awesome chick Jessie-Rose performed.  She was the headliner, actually, and it was the first time We would see her perform live.  She has a beautiful voice and some serious skills.  She writes her own stuff and is working on an album that I simply must own, but she also did a cover of one of my favorite songs.  Jolene.

This same Jessie-Rose also picked Us up at 5am the next day to take Us to the Gold Coast airport for Our departure to Malaysia.  Seriously, she rocks.

Next stop, Kuala Lumpur and another stamp in my passport.

Stay tuned.

I love the smell of Hippies in the morning…

Welcome back, friends.  By now you may be wondering “What, exactly, do hippies smell like in the morning?”.  They smell like chai, bacon, pipe tobacco and happiness.  Some smell like long nights and some smell like new days, but all smell like happy.

We found Ourselves back in Byron Bay, land of happy hippies, on the 17th of Aug.  The bus dumped Us off around 11pm and We walked down to the Arts Factory to claim a campsite and settle in.  It was awesome to arrive and feel immediately at ease with the surroundings.  Since We started Our trip, We just go places, We don’t go back to places.  We set up the house and walked around a bit saying hello to people and relaxing before bed.  One of the first people We ran into was excited to see Us back and welcomed Us with smiles. 🙂  It was rainy, but there was a whole 10 days ahead of Us.

When We went to pay for Our stay the next morning, I asked again about work for accommodation and luckily, there was enough work for me to pay for 8 of my 10 nights!  They had 4 days of dorm cleaning from 10-1 which was just making beds, emptying trash bins and general tidying.  So, that is 12 total hours of doing stuff I would have been doing at home anyway for fun!!  Sounds like a good deal to me 🙂  A fantastic one, in fact.

Today is Thursday 25 August, and so far We have only had one day of sunshine.  During that day, We actually got INTO the ocean.  Cali hadn’t ever been into the ocean and We were in up to Our armpits.  Waves crashing on Our faces and stuff…magical.  Other than that one day, it has rained almost the entire time We have been here.  Because of the rain, We have spent a large portion of Our time watching movies and hanging around the tent.  I touched a lizard one time:

and later that night We attended a “Talent Show” at the Arts Factory that is basically an open mic night.  It was a couple hours of jamming and poetry and music and FUN!!!  The sound is not the best quality but oh well, here is a little glimpse:

Where else can you hear aggressive “rapping” over a beatboxed didgeridoo with accompanying drum?  Exactly.  Nowhere.

Today is my last day of “working” and then We are going to the beach with Jess to surf whether rain or shine.  We have never surfed before and We haven’t quite figured out the surfboard/wetsuit situation, but today IS surfing day.  Tomorrow is Our last day here in Byron-well, Our last day in Australia- and it is coming quickly.

I have very much enjoyed Australia.  It was my first foreign country and aside from everything being ridiculously expensive it was awesome.  Clean, well mannered, happy…I will miss it, but I’m happy to be moving one step closer to going home and hugging my babies.

In roughly 48 hours, a plane will take Us from the Gold Coast International Airport to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  Scared?  Maybe a little.

Stay tuned…

Its a wrap!

Welcome back, friends.  This blog will wrap up Our time in Queensland, and consequently Our time with Our friends.  I’m going to post some random photos from Our time there with captions.  We had such a wonderful time there…aside from being with a lovely lady I love dearly and being just up from the beach, there were things like picking strawberries at the strawberry farm and drinking wine and having expert made coffee right in the kitchen every day.  There was a day of meeting more new folk for brunch and randomly spending the day with them, during which I had my first 2 oysters!  I can’t begin to describe how much I enjoyed being there.  Luckily, We were there when Mark died and I had a friend to hug me and try to make me smile, but most of all to hug me and try to make me smile even when it was obvious I wasn’t going to.  We had made Our home base in Caloundra from the 22nd of July until the 17 of August and while it was a longish time, it flew right by.  As of today, it has been a week since she drove Us to Brisbane and dropped Us off at the transit center for Us to catch a bus back to Byron-and I miss her tons.  LOVE YOU BALLERINA LADY!!

Cloudy day at the beach.
Uh mah guh. ❤
Beautiful
Chiara and I strawberry picking.
Mmmmm...strawberries!
First oyster ever!!
Down it goes 🙂
Redcliffe beach...so named for obvious reasons.
Redcliffe
More flowers.
Random flowers

part of the Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains
Part of the Glasshouse Mtns trip day

We got on the bus in Brisbane, and got off again in Byron Bay to stay at the Arts Factory again for 10 days before flying to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on the 27 of August.

Stay tuned…

Sushi ME!

Welcome back, friends.  In case the lunch at The Spirit House wasn’t amazing enough, dinner looked to be comparable-if not better.  As I previously mentioned (HERE), We stopped at the markets on the way home from the restaurant.  We got everything I would need to make SUSHI!!  I had watched my lovely friend make it a few times since We arrived and I felt ready.  Around 8, the married folk got to leave on a much needed date to the movies alone and We stayed at the house with the children and made food.  I did everything on my own except mix the rice and it was quite the experience.  I sliced avocado, cucumber, chilis, and cream cheese.  I peeled prawns and cut up the salmon and tuna.  I added mayo, hand rolled them and sliced them beautifully.  I even made a few “hand rolls” (the ones with the fish on the outside) since someone seems to like those.

Let me just say it was good.   Better than good.  It got me thinking about all the different kinds of sushi I want to make in the future, and the different ways to modify them to suit the people I want to make it for. Lauren, Sam, My kitti and others-watch out, I will blow your MIND with my sushi.  That is all.

Stay tuned…

A lovely lunch and a smackdown…

Welcome back, friends.  Our next day in Caloundra brought a lunch date that We had long been anticipating.  A reservation at The Spirit House was made more than a month before!  This place is amazing…We walked through a bamboo garden before getting to the restaurant/cooking school set amidst pagodas for private dining and a few ponds. Some photos to illustrate:

One of the entrance ponds
See the monitor lizard in the water? My toes are pointing at it.
Beautiful surroundings

We were led to Our table next to the water and the dining experience began.

Our table had a beautiful view!

The wait staff was very attentive and We were not kept waiting for anything.  We all talked about the menu options, but in the end the food was ordered by Our hosts and We relaxed with a glass of wine.

First to come out was the

Sweet Potato, Ginger Noodle Balls with Szechwan Pepper Glaze
Crispy Pork Belly with Citrus Caramel Sauce

and

(Cuttlefish Salad)

I forgot to take photos until We had almost eaten it all!  🙂  The cuttlefish salad was so amazing, but so were the other dishes.  I had never eaten any of that before.

The main dishes came out next and were truly a treat.

Yellow Curry of Duck and Roast Waygu Beef with a Red Curry Sauce & Candied Bamboo

and the one that kinda freaked me out even though it was fantastic:

Whole Crispy Fish with Tamarind Chili Sauce
Check out the teeth!!

Yes, that’s a whole fish.

Sometime during the meal, I had to go to the bathroom and this is what I found.  Take a moment to examine the sink/toilet situation…

Eco toilet

You wash your hands in the sink and the water fills the tank and is used to flush the toilet!!  Suh.cool.  I want one (CLICK HERE).  Cool, but not cool enough to keep my attention long with all the yum waiting back on the table.

The food, the wine, and most of all, the company came together to make for an astoundingly lovely experience CLICK HERE for the menu.  The food was delicious and quite the learning experience 🙂 When leaving, We took some more photos ❤  We truly are an attractive bunch.

LOVE
Aaack they have sticks!

Yes folks, those are bamboo canes the Boys have…and Im afraid They know how to use them :/  The lovely lady got away from hers fast enough to get out her camera and catch me resisting.

attack!

Got it away!
Had it...
Going down?
Down.
Never surrender!
Running away!

Like I said, a relaxing lunch 🙂  On the way back to the house, We stopped to pick up the items I would need to make sushi by myself for the very.first.time.

Stay tuned!!

The Sunshine State… and I don’t mean Florida.

Welcome back, friends.  After getting shot up at paintball, We spent the rest of the week at the beach.  Mostly.  Our temporary home was within walking distance of the beach, so We walked down almost everyday.  One great thing about Queensland is that even in winter, it is sunny.  Hence the name… The Sunshine State.  Fun fact, the name is now The Smart State.  Apparently advertising that it is always sunny in a place that has high skin cancer rates and a hole in the ozone isn’t attracting tourists.  It is very appealing to me though!  I loooove the sun.  I am terrified of skin cancer, but I can’t stay away from the lovely warm feeling I get when the sun is kissing me.  Call it a love affair, if you wish 🙂  Cali, on the other hand, detests the sun so the beach time was mostly for me.  He did bring His camera along on the trips and got some awesome shots (VISIT HIS BLOG HERE FOR THOSE PHOTOS) but he stayed covered and therefor sweltering.  When We weren’t at the beach, We were spending time around the house with the loveys.  We cooked, We played, We watched movies We never got around to watching before, We internetted, We blogged…good times.

On Friday the 29, We all piled in the car and drove down to Mooloolaba.  Contrary to the way it looks, it is not pronounced moo-loo-laba, its more of a muh-LOO-lubuh.  Its not the only funny sounding thing around here, but I enjoy that one in particular…and of course, I call it moo loo laba.  There isn’t much in Mooloolaba except more beach and some shops, so beaching and shopping and eating is what We did 🙂 I even colored a mat at the restaurant.

The epitome of beach fashion.

We wanted candy so bad...
Coloring like a good girl waiting for my food.

The weekend was a lazy one, full of more beach time and movies, but starting on Tuesday was no more lazy.  We left on the 2nd for the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk, which means 3 and a half days of hiking and camping.  I don’t know for sure since We didn’t go from the very beginning of the walk to the end, We just jumped in the middle, but I believe We hiked about 40km which is 24 miles.  The views on this hike are amazing…it kind of goes along a ridge over a valley so ever so often you get to look out and compare where you are to where you were.  By the time We finished on Friday, We had walked down the mountain and could look up to where We were and it was almost unbelievable.

The view from the starting point.

Strangler Fig. The seed starts growing in the top of a tree, and grows down it to the ground and strangles the tree.

View from the end of day 1's hike.
Reading a book in the sun until it went down=awesome
Loved this. Our campsite at sundown.

super rad!!
Not quite done yet!
Sunset on night 2

We were retrieved from the hinterland on Friday the 5th and the mister of the house came home late that night as well…the last time he came home, We were shot at.  How would this weekend turn out?

Stay tuned.

Sushi and shooting or Welcome to Queensland

Welcome back, friends.  When We woke on the morning of Friday July 22nd, We grabbed Our packs and headed to the common area for check out and saying goodbye.  A few of the people who We regularly spoke to at the Arts were also either employees or “work for accommodation” volunteers and were awake and moving around early enough to hug and say farewell.  The lovely Jessie-Rose was barista-ing that morning so We got to see her one more time as well.  We learned that no one was driving the shuttle that morning and We would have to walk to the bus which meant leaving almost right away, but Jess was insistent that she drive Us-which was awesome and thankfully unnecessary as someone else also overheard and volunteered to drive Us in the shuttle anyway.  Nice people, those Byron hippies…We enjoyed the visit greatly and decided We would absolutely have to come back again, but Our time there was over and the very near future held something I’d been waiting for for forever.

The Greyhound took Us to Brisbane (only about a 4 hour ride) and We had about 5 hours to kill before being picked up and taken to Our newest new home in Caloundra.  Longest 5 hours ever.  Well, it certainly seemed like at least double that even though I had already waited a few years and it was now only a few hours away.  I damn near couldn’t control myself.

What was it that had me so excited?  I was finally about to meet in person someone who had become one of my closest friends over the internet.  We “met” a few years ago in an online forum where We both posted and commented on discussions relevant to daily life.  I liked what she said and how she seemed to think (and vice versa), and it seemed We had a lot in common.  We began email type correspondence and moved on to instant messaging and then Facebook and then Skype.  We talked about our kids, our homes, our partners-we talked about everything.  Maybe because I felt safe on the other side of the planet from her, but I also talked to her about things that I didn’t talk to anyone else about.  In time, she became one of my closest confidants and dearest friends and while we had never met, I felt I had known her my whole life.  Today, I would not only meet her in person, but be taken to her home to unpack and get comfortable, meet her husband, her children and her au pair.  They had made their home available for Us to stay at during Our time on the Sunshine Coast and were equally excited to be meeting Us.  Gee, I hope We arent serial killers or something!

We loitered in the area she would be meeting Us at, hoping not to blend in or be overlooked (lol) and suddenly, right in front of me, was this real life beautiful lady who was obviously looking for Us too.  The 2 of us were damn fools for each other right away!  We didn’t have a lot of time to stand around gabbing because her husband was arriving on a plane that night and We needed to pick him up.  He is working about 10 driving hours away from his family to establish a successful practice and be able to move them all out there with him as soon as possible, but until then, they see his handsome face only every few weeks and We intentionally made plans to arrive while he could be there and assess the state of his family’s safety with the weird american visitors during his absence. 🙂  She had previously prepared a curry in the slow cooker and We spent the evening talking excitedly and sharing stories.  There was no catching up to do since we were in contact frequently and it wasn’t like We were new people, so it was a very relaxed and fun evening full of conversation and smiles.  They are both even more lovely in person-even if they do talk funny.

Our first day in Caloundra- more specifically in Moffat Beach- began with a trip just up the road to the beach and a proper meal of fish and chips.  It was my first time having “fish and chips”.  It was not my first time to have a battered fried fish plank and french fries, but this was actually advertised, ordered and sold as “fish and chips” and it wasn’t from Long John Silvers!  There was calamari as well and I enjoyed this meal thoroughly.  We ate on the beach and soaked up the sunshine while also meeting some of their close friends who had come to the beach park with their kids to see the newly returned mister and meet their guests.

Moffat Beach
Invisible Man
I ❤ the ocean
FINALLY!

After eating, We took a walk further down the road before going back to the house to make sushi.  Yes, make  sushi.  I hadn’t ever even considered making sushi at home before, but this is a common occurrence at their house and a frequently requested dish.  Dinner was amazing:

Mmmmm

that girl can SUSHI-after which We watched the movie “Wolf Creek” since it came so highly recommended upon Our arrival in Oz.  For some reason, everyone thought We needed to see a movie about backpackers in central Aus being abducted and killed. :/  it was funny more than anything, but me thinks it might have freaked out the woman with the delicate sensibilities who protested the viewing beforehand. 🙂  At around midnight or so, We went to bed in preparation for the upcoming war.  Paintball at 6am.

There were 7 of Us in the car going to Skirmish.  Six men and me.  It was entirely too early to be awake and excited about being so, but We were going to go shoot things!  Not just things, but people!  The location of these happy fun times is outside Brisbane (hour drive, remember?) so in the name of convenience, We ate McDonald’s for breakfast.  I was actually really excited about getting my favorite fast breakfast of McDs breakfast burrito and coffee, until I noticed there was no such item on the menu.  No breakfast burritos?!?!  Really??  Traumatizing enough to end that part of the story there.

I assume you all know how paintball works:

Without face shields just before beginning
After, obviously alive with orange paint in my hair.

and We were all on the same team (which means I didn’t get to shoot at Cali, darn it).  Without going into details, Our team won all 5 games  and all of Us were shot at least once.  I got one particularly good shot to the top joint of my thumb which was a lucky shot considering my fingerTIPS and the back of my head were the only skin exposed on my body.  That being said, it was so.much.fun.  Can’t wait to do it again.  Photos taken the next day:

OUCH :/
right inner calf
Of course I took one to the bum
inner thigh!

Would We survive the rest of Our time with them?

Stay tuned…