Thugs, female ninja’s & roti

One of the best things about living here in SE Asia is that relatively short distances and a small budget would allow me to quickly change countries, languages, and customs.  Malaysia marks the first of many such country/culture jumps in the region and bearing in mind that I only had 4 days there, I left feeling completely satisfied having been able to catch a glimpse of various regions in the country. From the more modern, cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur; historic heritage sites of Melaka, the more conservative, Islamic city of Kota Bharu and the unspoiled & undeveloped natural beauty of the Perhentian Islands.

I somehow managed to travel nearly 1500 KM of Malaysia in just 4 days! 2 out of 5 nights were spent in 10+ hour bus rides and the remaining in very….interesting hostels. I found this trip a real backpacking adventure –  no real plan,  no accommodation/transportation booked and didn’t really know what to expect… it was amazing!

Some of my initial impressions of Malaysia.

Since living in Thailand for the past few months, I can’t help but compare nearly every aspect to that of Thailand. From the very moment we stepped off our shuttle bus in KL from the airport I had a helluva time adjusting to the pushy, in your face personality of the men there because everyone is so calm and relaxed in Thailand. For example, here in Bangkok the taxi drivers can hardly be bothered to give you a lift whereas, these guys came at us like a herd of stampeding rhinos the moment we stepped of the bus. “where you go?!” “where you go?!?!” “taxi?” “taxi?” “hey miss, where you go?!” “taxi?!” “taxi?!”

I definitely began to feel more on edge in Kuala Lumpur than anywhere I’ve traveled in Thailand.

When I finally got the chance to BREATH and take a look around me….AH HA! a roman-script country. It was amazing how enjoyable it was to be in a country where I wasn’t just staring at anonymous characters and squiggly lines, trying to decipher it’s meaning. I can actually read the signs!

This city is a melting pot of many cultures such as Malays, Chinese, Thais, Singaporeans, Indonesians, Filipinos and a few Europeans. The communication common ground is English so that was also another relief. Though being able to speak English and be understood did make our trip quite efficient I found that the people were not nearly as approachable and friendly as my beloved Thai’s. Not very nice na!

This is my first visit to a Muslim country and my first time being exposed to a religion that I’ve never seen practiced on such a widespread scale. I think as a Westerner it was a natural reaction for me to perceive this culture as an oppression of women in the society because at a glance it appeared to be a restrictive and subservient way of life as a woman in an Islamic state. Indeed a crazy world we live in!

Food lah!

I’m not that hard to please when it comes to food and typically am very open-minded about trying new things hence the 3 kilo’s I’ve gained since being abroad. yOwza!

I am definitely a fan of Malaysian food which has been greatly influenced by it’s neighboring countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Thai. I would describe their food as mildly spicy in comparison to Thai and extremely flavorful as the Malays use several tantalizing herbs and spices such as lemon grass, basil, kaffir lime leaves, nutmeg, tumeric, star anise, ginger buds and chili…..mmmm and coconut milk is used often as well. Some popular dishes include Nasi Dagang which is essentially rice cooked with coconut milk and served with side choice of meat and pickled veggies (I had this about 3 times during my trip….so yummy!) Ayam Goreng is also very popular which is just fried chicken with various spices, satays, rendang, sata, akak and much more….tons of great food!

And the adventure begins…here are just a few photos from the trip. More to be seen at my flickr.

Arrived in KL around 1am, checked in here in China Town’s JL Petaling Street.

Just outside our hostel, early AM.After some good ol’ greasy Chinese food for breakfast, we hopped on a bus and headed just approx. 2 hours north to Melaka for the day. Though we only spent merely half a day there, it was definitely a highlight of the trip. Melaka is truly a fascinating city so rich in culture with a very unique combination of the East and West. Influences from the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Chinese is prevalent throughout the city especially among the architectural landmarks. This town was filled with so much character! I loved it.


See that thuggish guy in the bottom left corner? yep! that was our guide who drove us around Melaka in his pimped out cycle rickshaw (below) with Jason Mraz on repeat!

BEAUTIFUL Melacca river.
After dinner we hopped onto another bus ride and headed far north where we explored Kota Bharu for a bit before heading to Kuala Besut.

Cruising around Kota Bharu. So many beautiful mosques like this.
Grabbed lunch at Hayaki Kopitiam.
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In Kuala Besut awaiting our ferry to the Perhentian Islands!45 minutes later, we were greeted by this……….absolutely amazing.Clear, warm, shallow waters and fine white sand.Our time on the Perhentian Islands was a brief 20 hours because we had to catch the ONLY ferry the following day to head back to Kota Bharu and to make it on a bus in time for arrival in KL the following morning.

Floating market in Kota Bahru. Visual Delight…smell was a different story.We had a few hours to kill in Kota Bharu so we rented a couple bicycles and explored a few night markets, had some dinner at the town’s night food market filled with hawker stands and huge rats roaming everywhere!! >.<

Night food market in Kota Bahru.
After dinner we hopped on a bus again and spent the night traveling back to KL.

In KL the following morning at 5am. Checked in here to leave our stuff for the day…spent half the day roaming KL before heading back to Bangkok. Market just below our hostel at 7am!!


At the National Mosque, KL with RobinOld railway station. KL
Masjid Jamek.In the center of the city there is Merdeka Square which is also the core of KL’s history. Malaysian flag was hoisted here in 1957 signifying their independence from British rule. All the buildings here are beautiful! Below is the Abdul Samad building.Famous Petronas Twin Towers

Overall I really enjoyed Malaysia. So many beautiful sights, gained some new knowledge, met a few cool people, had delicious food and discovered the backpacker in me. Definitely good times but it’s oh so good to be back home…..in Bangkok!!

For now I will stick to traveling within Thailand and discovering more of Bangkok. I would really like to have more time when visiting other countries so….more countries to be visited come December!

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crossroad

With my time quickly winding down here in Bangkok I am faced with the decision to extend for one more semester or go home. Prior to embarking on this adventure, I was certain that five months abroad would be just enough and maybe even too long to be away from home but I have fallen completely in love with this city and my new dearest friends. I feel like I’ve finally settled in and it’s almost time to leave! I am constantly discovering new things here everyday and I’m certain there is still so much more to see…definitely not ready to go home just yet. So, I’ve contacted and received approval for one more semester from both SJSU & Chula…now I must figure out if I can budget for one more semester and apply for more scholarships of course. In addition, this would be my very last semester of college and I need to decide if I’d like to spend it here but that’s a no-brainer; of course I’d like to spend my last months of college in Bangkok! In the meantime, I’m in the process of making sure I can still graduate on time and weighing the pros & cons of staying or leaving so, I’ll update when I have a final answer.

A few recent memories:

  • Jogging in the rain and thunder at Lumpini park, amazing feeling.
  • Bowling at MBK
  • Home cookin’ on many nights with great company.
  • Planning and going on weekend trips on a whim, never fails!
  • Random nights out in Bangkok
    8 of us squeezed into one taxi.
  • Sunday trips to the temple. This time, Wat Pho. Home of the largest reclining Buddha.
  • Collaborating with lovely Thai students and many others’ from all over the world in class projects. A recent one was for Entrepreneurship where we were given 1000THB capital with 6 hours selling time and asked to start a small business. Some of the girls in my team knew where we can purchase really adorable accessories and sell them for quite a good margin of profit and all proceeds are going to The Foundation For Women here in Bangkok Thailand. I am very proud to say that with just 6 hours of selling time, my team made approx. 19,000THB revenue (11,500THB profit) wooo!!
    I put together a mini selling event at our apartment for half the selling time. Here are a few photos.

    Just after midterms a few of us headed south to the gulf of Thailand to Pranburi which is approximately a 3 hour bus ride from Bangkok. Left early Saturday morning, rented a couple motorbikes upon arrival, search for a guesthouse, had a fresh seafood dinner, cruised around the area and stopped at a cozy cafe for some coffee and chit chat. We knew in advance that Pranburi is not the destination for late night pubs and parties but we hoped there would be at least ONE place in town for us to grab some drinks and hang out but unfortunately there was none to be found. Luckily there was a group of Thai’s celebrating their 3rd anniversary of their classic bike group (BMC) also at our guesthouse and they invited us to join them. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! Sure, there is always the language barrier which made it a little difficult to converse with them but with some good ol’  Thai music, drinks, dancing and laughter galore….we had a blast. Cheers to new friends !

    Next up on the itinerary: MALAYSIA for 4 days!!

I <3 Bangkok

I’ve officially failed in updating my blog as often as I would’ve liked to but I have been very busy holidaying. Oh yea, and studying of course. So please forgive me! I’ve also failed miserably in posting one photo a day but I will update on some of the highlights from the past few weeks.

We have just completed midterms last week which means it’s now beyond the halfway point…womp womp womp.

So much has happened since I’ve updated but most importantly.

I FINALLY GOT BED SHEETS!!! Due to my penny pinching tendencies, I’ve been sleeping without proper bed sheets and no blanket since I’ve arrived because I didn’t want to pay extra for cleaning service nor did I want to buy them. After many, many, many nights of sleeping in discomfort I decided to treat myself to new sheets, comforter and a hand-stamped duvet from our local night market. Needless to say, I’ve finally got some decent sleep!


Weekend getaway before midterms to Cha Am which is just approximately 100 miles South of Bangkok. The beach wasn’t that great, actually it was quite dirty but I really appreciated that there was not one foreigner in site! Instead, the beach was filled with Thai families. Definitely made for a good change of scenery.

Rented this bad boy and enjoyed my first time riding a tandem bicycle around town.

Situated myself here for about 7 hours. Read. Nap. Eat.

Sunset in Cha am.

Because it’s “uncool” to carry backpacks here at Chula…it’s cool to carry a Chula Laptop bag ya? Not at all! But I’m loving my new 5$ bag. woooo!

Lunch at Zen with some of my friends/classmates. left to right is, Pear, Punch, me and Alan.

One of the many small shops I’ve fallen in love with at our neighborhood night market. Suan Lum Night Bazaar. droool.

My adorable Aussie friend Jacqui has got a few of us obsessed with this book so of course I had to hop on the bandwagon and get myself one too. This coffee table book is very simple and filled with beautiful photography of local cafes, restaurants, art galleries & museums. Just Lovely!


Happy Birthday Chris!!


Reggae bar in Kanchanaburi on our first night. Quite interesting listening to Thai musicians in dreadlocks singing Bob Marley and plenty of greens. Met some cool people, some beer Chang and great talks.

Woke up early alongside River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, had breakfast and headed out for a hike to see the famous 7-tier waterfall, Erawan.

Well deserved dip at the 7th tier with the fishies. Beautiful hike.

Woke up to this view of River Kwai from our guesthouse. So relaxing.

Culture trip provided by Chulalongkorn. Spent half a day in Nakhon Pathom Province at the Rose Garden along River Tachin. This place is a huge tourist attraction which is really good for those who’d like to learn a little about traditional Thai life in just a few hours. We spent about 3 hours here and was able to experience traditional dancing and musical instrument, Garland Making & Fruit Carving, Traditional Pottery, Thai Martial Arts, Silk Processing, Traditional Weaving, Umbrella Painting, Thai Country Kitchen, Orchid Nursery, Thai Herbal Pavilion, Bamboo Dancing and Rice Farming. My favorite was the Thai Kitchen where I learned how to make sticky rice with banana and coconut wrapped in banana leaves and grilled. So simple and delicious!

Spent the later half of the day at the temple of Nakhon Pathom, Wat Phra Pathom Chedi.


Dinner with some of my favorite girls at Spring & Summer. This restaurant was featured in my “We Love Bangkok” book so we thought we’d give it a try. The restaurant interior appeared as a home boasting a beautiful staircase, bookshelves, comfy seating, large windows throughout and the food was also quite good. Unfortunately it rained the night we went but the concept of the restaurant is main course at “spring” and you can walk next door to “summer” for dessert with outdoor seating on the lawn. I will definitely visit again to experience summer.