Friday, August 27, 2010

Macaque-style, laughing buddhas, and masala pizza

I'm way too tired to write a fully complete and coherent post, but I'll gonna go for it anyway. I'm gonna break the past two days down in into bullet form descriptions:

-Went to Batu caves which are kind of a big deal here
-saw macaque monkeys foolin' around, doing it 'Macaque Style', if you catch my drift.
-Drank out of a coconut.
-middle aged indian man befriended me and led me to the best indian restaurant ever, so i had the claypot chicken biryani, extra spicy. That grew some hairs on even my barren scalp.
-indian man sold me 3 laughing buddhas, which were cheap and just enjoyable to look at. esides the guy was very sweet. Even that made the purchase worth it, but you know I'm just a sucker for these things. He kept saying I should rub buddhas' bellies and spread some flowers on them for prosperity, happiness, for protection against bornean women's black magic.

-traveled to Kuching, which is a city with spunk, on northwest part of Borneo
- in Kuching I was received like an ambassador (everyone in the research centre knew who I was, and treated me to numerous delectable treats)
-told that I might be one of a few people potentially able to explore a completely pristine part of Borneo, in the Heart of Borneo, so how could I be not be ecstatic. Survivorman video coming right up??
-I was shown all around this fantastic research institution, Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, which really impressed me. Their labs are equipped with pretty state-of-the-art lab equipment, so I think conducting experiments here will be very feasible. Can't wait to start working here.
-Lastly, the Pizza hut here is sooooo different than the ones in the states. They put curry and all sorts of flavorful spices in their pizza and in the cheese that goes in the stuffed crust. It was on another planet of tasty.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Float like a butterfly, Sting like the Malaysian Sun

Alright, finally the blog is now about it's intended purpose: to track my misadventures in Malaysia. First I just want to thank the Fulbright foundation and U.S. Dept. of State for trusting me enough to fund my adventures abroad with a nifty scholarship. I will also give this disclaimer for the posts devoted to my time in Borneo or referring to my time there:

This is not an official Department of State website, and the views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the Department of State.

So after not reading my plane ticket and going to the wrong terminal (my mom secretly hoped I wouldn't make it), I barely made it on the plane. Mom was crying and Becky was trying to crawl through the legs of the security guard, not to follow me, just for kicks. Anyways, the flight was excellent, Cathay Pacific really impressed me. I made a new friend, who was amazed I could read through my camera's manual in one sitting. Watching Star trek and HotTub Time Machine was amazing, though in very different ways. Also 16hrs is so long to fly, by the end i was beating my foot against the arm rest to get feeling back.

Kuala Lampur is such a great place, but it really surprised me (though admittedly, I had done no research on what it would be like) in it's modernity and big city feel. it is thanks to all the free wifi spots in western coffeeshops that I can even update this blog. My first full day here, I checked out the Petronas Towers, and sort of just wandered around the city, which is definitely the best way to get a feel for most any place. I wound up on the other side of the city, near a place called the Lake Garden. There I got to the National Mosque, which was gorgeous, but unfortunately closed to non-Muslim people at the time (it is Ramadan here, so that was probably the reason). Finally I made it to the butterfly garden, from which this post derives its title. I befriended these two dutch women, way too old for my taste (especially after The Incident....just kidding, there has not been an incident yet), but it so happened that they were staying in the same hotel as I was. We ended up going out for some great Malay food and many many Carlsbergs, as they shared with me their most treasured life lessons. Incidentally one of them is the project coordinator for the revamping of Amsterdam's Central Station, so I spoke of how much I enjoyed that city, from biking to ... Van Gogh. By the end of the day, I found that the sun here is as unforgiving as the smell a durian gives off (stinky foot smell).