On the road again – Phuket to Koh Pha Ngan

We are leaving for Koh Pha Ngan early tomorrow morning  and this leg is via bus. The journey will be an all day trip, leaving Phuket Island. We will take a 45 minute taxi from Kata to the bus station, there’s also a ferry we need to take from Koh Samui, and another taxi.

The trip will be exhausting, but we’ll be riding in style. Travelling by bus in Thailand is quite cheap and nice. The buses are tour buses and are some of the nicest types of buses made.

We’ll let you know what a day in one feels like.

Wish us safe and adventurous travels.

-Culturetarians

Phuket we’re sick!

Hey readers!

Tushar and I arrived safely in Phuket yesterday after a 1 hour plane ride from Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately, during the flight, Tushar started to get cold sweats and felt very faint. We made it to our hotel and Tushar proceeded to pass out. His fever increased steadily into the night to 39C and I was pretty worried there for a while. After consulting with Dr Seema (Thanks sis!) over the whatsapp iphone app, I decided to ride out the night before seeking medical attention. Made sure he was comfortable, gave him paracetamol for the fever and went to bed.

With the morning came the realization that his affliction was a tummy bug, otherwise known as Traveler’s Diarrhea – the most common illness faced by travelers to Asia. Sadly I discovered that I was suffering too – not as bad as Tushar though. We spent the day yesterday and today recovering in bed with a beautiful view over Kata Hill, Phuket.

Don’t worry, we’re feeling better and Tushar’s fever has subsided. We’re hoping to hit the beach tomorrow – it will be well deserved! Stay tuned for the Malaysia post and pictures. It may take a few days to catch up.

We hear Seattle and London have been having sunshine too so we’d like to wish you all the best with safe fun in the sun!

Singapore Pictures

Cambodia or Phuket?

As of this Monday we have 18 days in Thailand, none of which we have planned. Its the only leg of our trip which we haven’t booked anything for, don’t worry it was intentional.

The plan was to go from Phuket ot Ko Samui and then to Bangkok where we fly to Calcutta, India.

We were wondering whether we should say Phuket to Phuket and go to Cambodia instead after Ko Samui…

Help us decide!

Misuse of company resources….

Friends, family… and colleagues too,

It has come to our attention that some of you are viewing our blog from the workplace and although we can’t stop you, we would like to recommend that you do not waste company time on personal matters! You don’t want to jeopordize your job over reading our silly little blog.

While we understand we have no control over what you do with your time, we would like to make sure you understand that we do not condone misuse of company resources. It may be argued that by reading about our adventures, you become more educated, and therefore a more valuable employee, but unfortunately, we will not publicly encourage you to do so.

Happy reading 😉

On that note, please participate in this poll. Your comments, as always, are highly welcome.

Singapore

Singapore Blog:
Trip facts:
3 nights
Hangout at Mount Emily Hostel

Singapore is a poster child for all things commercialized. Colonized since the early 1800s, it is virtually impossible to find any evidence of what this place was like beforeWestern cultures took over. Everywhere you look, you see shopping, clean streets, nice new buildings, and examples of an excellent public infrastructure. Unfortunately, this left us wondering “Where the heck is the culture?!”

Similar to other large Asian cities, you will see a melting pot of immigrants from the region, including a heavy South Asian influence. Our hotel was situated in LIttle India which was a saving grace for us, as it is one of the few places in the city where you can find good food on the cheap. After the understated cuisine of China, we welcomed the spicy vegetarian goodness that awaited us here in the form of masala dosas, vadai, and uthapaam. Mmmmm!

As we explored Singapore, we were amazed at the high prices, and wowed by the cleanliness and efficiency of transportation and industrial operations (construction is a constant reality). We saw advertising from the Department of Labor, instructing often immigrant workers of their rights. While this was reassuring, we were disappointed to see no evidence of sustainability or ecological thinking. Instead, we saw outdoor air conditioning units blowing cold air into lines for taxi cabs, and no recycle bins anywhere.

The architectural highlight of the trip was the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This spectacular building is home to a casino, shopping mall, and overpriced museum ($30 are you kidding?!). At the top, hotel guest lounge in beautiful infinity edge pools and hot tubs, and drink cocktails to one of the best views in town. Next to the hotel, construction is in progress for a brand new outdoor botanical garden, complete with massive fake palm trees.


The true highlight of the trip was a visit to the Singapore Botanical Garden. This lush tropical paradise felt like we were walking through the Garden of Eden with a soundtrack of birds chirping and insects buzzing. It is also free to visit! If you pay an extra $5, you can see the Orchid garden, and this is money well spent to view the best varietals of the largest family of flowering plants in the world. We saw the most incredible orchids you can imagine. Bring bug spray and walking shoes!
Overall we were disappointed with Singapore. We did not make it to the Zoo, supposedly one of the best in the world, or Sentosa Island, home to resorts, a manmade beach, and a fountain/lights show, but what we did see, made us yearn for history and culture. We also wondered what this tropical paradise was like before the Westerners and money-hungry corporations took over. If you like to spend money, and enjoy resort style vacationing, then maybe this is the place for you.

Made it to Kuala Lumpur on the train from Singapore!

Hey everyone, we made it to Kuala Lumpur safely around 2pm today. The train ride from Singapore was pretty decent, although we did get bitten up by something we could not see, gnats maybe? Just got refreshed and now we’re looking for a place to go get our groove on. Thinking about heading out to Skybar at the Traders hotel for electronic music night. Also considering Werner’s too, for Drum n Bass night. It’s about time we hit up bar or club. Need to hear some beats!

Don’t know what’s in store for tomorrow besides seeing the Petronas Towers. Also looking to score a Pioneer CDJ 2000 on the cheap, they are manufactured here.

We’ll be posting our Singapore pics and write-up later tonight.

Stay tuned!

P.S. Help us find breakbeats and a hat shop! Great place for a Goorin Bros! 😉

Hong Kong Pictures!

Hong Kong

Trip facts:

Hong Kong is a vibrant, energetic, and international city. We were lucky to be guided by a local – my friend Joyce Lam. We were classmates at the Grey Coat Hospital School for Girls in London and were reunited after over 10 years!! She was a perfect tour guide and it was wonderful to see her after all these years in her home city. She packed many activities into 2 days and kept us on our toes. Here is a sampling of the places we visited:

Buddha statue
 About an hour out of the city, on Lantau Island, there is the largest sitting buddha statue in the world.  We travelled by MTR (the Hong Kong public underground system) to Lantau Island, and from there, took a cable car up the mountain. This was a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of the city to a place touched by a more historic and serene Chinese vibe. There were many Buddhist worshippers there to pay their respects to this gigantic representation of Buddha. We climbed up the 240 steps and circled the statue before descending down to the temple and sampling a local dessert made from soybean curds. This is a great place to visit if you are in Hong Kong.

 

Mong Kok Market
Mong Kok market is one of the most in your face experiences that Hong Kong has to offer. Meat, produce, clothing, and toys, are all for sale in this street market that is teeming with people, smells, and energy. We got some fresh young coconuts and a Chinese opera mask. Remember – everything is negotiable unless you want to get ripped off – and if you’re not local, you will be targeted! We found the best way to buy something is by passive haggling, as defined by Tushar. Passive haggling is when you act like you are interested, ask for the price(because nothing has a price on it), and when the merchant gives it to you, just walk away… YEP – don’t be afraid to walk away because they will almost always follow you or start to shout lower prices. Keep saying no and they will haggle themselves down in price. We haggled this lady down from $240 down to $100 without even trying. Oh by the way, keep your impulse in check because you will be overwhelmed, excited, and ready to drop cash – our advice is hold off until you are confident you are getting a really great deal. We got such a good deal that we actually felt bad about it later on in the day.

Tsim Cha Tsui
 This elite shopping paradise posed a great contrast to Mong Kok market as we walked through the streets of Hong Kong. A destination for the Asian elite, Tsim Cha Tsui, offers the most luxurious of brands, with the goods tweaked for Asian markets. Walking through the streets is a great way to view the various types of architecture in Hong Kong. On one end of the spectrum, you have older run-down buildings with tiny shops on the bottom and residential apartments up top. Be careful as you walk down the streets because people’s laundry will drip on your unsuspecting head!
Waterfront and skyline – lights show
 We ended our walk through Kowloon at the waterfront overlooking Hong Kong Island. The sun had just gone down and crowds of people were gathering here to watch the upcoming laser and light show. This light show is a group effort between some of the most famous buildings on Hong Kong Island and is coordinated with some cheesy music. The skyline is fabulous though, and has more than twice as many skysrapers than New York. A ride fron Kowloon to Hong Kong Island on the famous Star Ferry is one of the must-do activities here.
 

Soho
On our first night in Hong Kong, we went for a walk to the pier and the bars. We couldnt help but to notice the pretty young women dressed up in scantaly clad clothing on every street there was a bar or club. We asked our friend Joyce what the deal was with the ladies in miniskirts hanging outside of bars and clubs, smoking cigarettes in small packs. They are working girls, the sex trade is big and very much legal in Hong Kong. It’s also hard not to notice the western men mingling and walking around with these young ladies. In fact, some of these ladies actually are looking for a western man to marry them. It was really creepy seeing older business gentleman walking around with girls probably a third of their age, but apparently the scene is safe.

 

Victoria Peak
One of the best and most famous views of Hong Kong can be seen from Victoria Peak. The drive up to the top takes about 30-45 minutes, traffic and weather permitting. The views of the city on the way up were quite spectacular; there were sharp winding turns alongside cliffs, and narrow lanes filled with buses, vans, and cars.
This is where Hong Kong’s elite live, we actually saw a few (massive) houses, a rare sight to see anywhere in Hong Kong. About half way up, we began encountering a light misty fog, and by the time we made it to the top, the fog was so thick it we were in it. We exited the car, went up the elevator, and walked out to the peak; the fog had really settled in and visibility was at about 20′. Big thick drops of rain started pounding us as we started taking pictures, so we decided to turn around and head back down;  at that point our only option was to do more shopping or make our descent, the weather was forecasted to get worse by the hour, and it did.
 

Shopping
Its amazing how much western culture has influenced the people of Hong Kong, from the over the top size advertising of Clinique ads plastered over every square foot of the MTR (Hong Kong Rail System) carriagess to Luis Vuitton and Apple ads all over the city. Hong Kong has a massive tourism industry and it offers an even bigger shopping experience. Malls are scattered everywhere, from remodeled historic buildings to massive concrete buildings with the world’s premier brands. There’s no doubt that you will have the shopping experience of a lifetime, if that’s why you come to Hong Kong. If you want to catch the feel of the local shopping experience, go to outdoor markets like Mong Kok and Stanley Market. There are plenty of outdoor/indoor malls as well, but make sure you don’t end up in tourist traps. The way you know if you’re in a tourist trap mall is if you recognize a store name you’ve seen in your home country. Go to where the locals shop, the experience and selection of quirky colorful clothing and gadgets will blow your mind. The shops are tiny, averaging 50-100sq’ each. Tons of variety and fashions you will not see anywhere else. The prices are more reasonable and you get to see something truly unique to Hong Kong.

Vegetarian restaurant
On our final night we went to our friend Joyce’s mother’s home in the middle of Causeway Bay. Joyce picked a lovely faux-meat vegetarian restaurant called Gaia, there are several of these chain restaurants scattered throughout town. All of the dishes looked like and where named after various meats, like fish, chicken, pork, beef, you name it. We even ordered one dish which was made of taro root but was in the shape of a fish. The best dish the “pork” skewers in a malay sauce… YUM! We were shocked and happily surprised to find and eat at a full vegetarian restaurant in China, and there are actually many more.