Tag Archives | Asia

How to Spend Two Days in Kuala Lumpur

Visiting Kuala Lumpur (KL) was an afterthought on a journey through Asia. We visited the city on a 48 hour lay-over in KL. What we discovered was this capital city is a traveler’s dream. It’s affordable, the food is  fantastic, and there’s plenty of eye-popping sightseeing.

butterfly

Butterfly Park in KL

Butterfly Kingdom

Getting there: Take a taxi! Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park is situated within the Lake Gardens area and its main entrance is along Jalan Cenderasari.

Website: http://www.klbutterflypark.com/

Perhaps our biggest surprise on our visit to KL was how much we enjoyed the butterfly exhibit. As mentioned above, it’s a little difficult to find so definitely take a taxi. Taxi options are very affordable in Malaysia. The butterfly garden claims to the largest butterfly collection in the world. That is a pretty bold claim, but it is definitely the largest we have ever seen! Upon entering you walk into a humidified Garden of Eden! The place is massive! It covers over 80,000 square feet. There are ponds, rivers, caves, and secluded walking paths throughout the plantation.

Butterflies! As you would expect there are literally hundreds of thousands of butterflies all around you. Every shape, color, and kind are floating on the gentle breeze. It is a photographer’s wonderland. Our only challenge was that our camera kept fogging up due to the humidity inside the gardens. Take a lens cloth in with you. Butterflies aren’t the only thing that you’re going to see. Each of the little rivers are stocked with Koi fish, turtles, and other aquatic life.  They’re even beautiful waterfalls that make forget that you’re in a controlled environment. The natural flowers also make for lovely pictures.

Singapore 2014 122

Petronas Twin Towers

Getting there: Cant miss them!

Website: http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my/

One of the icons of Kuala Lumpur is, of course, the Petronas Twin Towers. You must take your traditional photo in front of the towers. We strongly recommend taking them at night when it is completely lit up in white light. There is a park a few blocks away from the Towers that is perfect for taking your Christmas card shot.  The view from the top of the Towers is not to be missed on a clear day. You will need to shell out a few dollars get to the top.

Fun Facts:

  • Both buildings are 88 stories tall. A fortuitous number in Malay culture.
  • The Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world for six years, until Taipei 101 was completed in 2004.
  • The two towers were built on a former horse-racing track.
  • Contractors built Tower Two straight. However, Tower One was leaning 2.54 cm off vertical. So, to correct the problem, the next 16 floors were slanted back 0.2 cm.
  • Scenes from the movie “Entrapment” with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones were filmed here in 1999. Do you remember that suit she wore? Wow!
Jojoba Spa KL

Jojoba Spa KL

Spa

Getting there: Jojoba Spa, 15th floor, East Wing Tower, No.1 Jalan Imbi, 55100, Kuala Lumpur

Website: http://www.jojoba.com.my/

If you follow the Fighting Couple, you know we never travel without hitting the spa. Our Kuala Lumpur visit was no different. By far our favorite was the JoJoba Spa. Yes, it is really that good. It is located in an upscale hole right in the center of the city. You must block out a couple of hours for your visit.

The spa menu reads like a food menu with names like “Lovely Chocolate, Jojoba Red Wine Special, and a Dragon Fruit paradise.” Are you hungry yet? We elected for the “Royal” couples massage. Which we highly recommend for every Fighting Couple!

Malay food

Malay food is amazing!

Food

A highlight of visiting Malaysia is of course the food. Malay cuisine is a fusion of Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian. Needless to say, in a city the size of KL, you are bound to find the perfect meal for any taste. The first place to start your foodie quest is along the famous Bintang Street.

During our recent visit, we met up with our friend Danny Chen with http://www.eatsingtravel.net/. He literally wrote the book on eating Malay. His guide entitled: Train2Eat, highlights eateries that are near metro and train stations around the city.

Masjid Jamek mosque

Masjid Jamek mosque

Temples

Getting there: Masjid Jamek (Muslim): Nearby is the Masjid Jamek LRT station that is served by the Kelana Jaya Line, Sri Petaling Line, and Ampang Line. Taxi is recommended.

Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamek_Mosque

The Masjid Jamek mosque is the oldest Muslim temple in Kuala Lumpur. Built in 1907 and dedicated by the Sultan of Selangor in 1909, it was the official national mosque until the 1960s. The structure was designed by Arthur Benison Hubbock, a British architect employed by the city government.

This mosque is a good place to get a primer on the Islamic faith. In order to visit the mosque, you need to be dressed appropriately. There are long robes that you can borrow if needed. We took a short tour of the property. Candidly, there is not much to see on the inside, but it is interesting to learn about the history of the faith in Malaysia.

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple

Getting there: Sri Maha Mariamman Temple (Hindu), The temple is located within Chinatown, near Petaling Street. If you are coming by metro, just exit at the Pasar Seni LRT station.

Website: http://sreemahamariamman.org/home.html

What the Muslim temple lacks in pizzaz, the Sri Mahamariamman temple more than makes up for it. Located in the Chinatown area, this Hindu temple is loaded with color, activity and art. The temple was constructed in 1873 by K. Thamboosamy Pillai. It is the oldest hindu temple in Malaysia, although it went through a near complete renovation in the late 1960s.  The vibrant and active temple is filled with intricate detailed sculptures depicting historical and spiritual scenes.

Kuala Lumpur has earned a place in our hearts.  We found the vibrant city inviting, easy to navigate, and extremely friendly.  Have you been?  If so what are your fave activities?

1

A Math Genius and a Russian Beauty?

What do you get when you combine a math nerd (Harvard-Applied Mathematics Degree) and a Russian-born business guru?   AcoupleTraverlers.com of course!   (Luci says that they are going to have smart kids…not sure what that means.)  In this week’s installment of our 7 questions series to get to know other couple travel bloggers better, we want you to meet Dave and Vicky.  They set out to backpack, wander and eat their way through the back roads of Asia and Europe.  And the best part is, you are invited along for the adventure.

Blog: www.acoupletravelers.com

Twitter: @coupletraveler

Facebook: Acoupletravelers

One of our fave parts of their blog is of course their Pinterest page.  Check out the food pins!  But don’t do it on an empty stomach, you may end up licking you screen.  Not a good look for you.

Lets get to know them a little better:

Russian beauty1)     Tell us a little about yourselves.  How long have you been together?  How did you meet?

We met way back in high school, in the library of all places (He said: haven’t been in one since). One thing led to another (she said: I liked his taste in books) and we ended up fighting…I mean dating for 1.5 years. Until college that is. Then we were actually just fighting so we broke up albeit stayed in touch over the years, to wind up back together senior year. Just in time to move into an apartment together in DC. Since then we’ve been dating for 3 years and looking forward to another 3.

1000Fights:  Love it!  You guys are getting a great start.

backpack airport2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be?  (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)

He Said: Hercules would be pretty cool. I always remember watching that tv show as a kid and really enjoying the adventures as well as the battles. Maybe he’d introduce me to Zeus? Here’s to hoping Vicky writes Xena…

She Said: Ariel the mermaid. I used to love watching the Little Mermaid cartoon and movie when I was little and would dream about discovering the seas with her. She would definitely make a great scuba diving partner, to say the least!

3) What has been your favorite destination in your wanderings?

He said: I go back and forth between loving nature or wanting to be in the cities. It’s a bit of a grass is greener mentality that I’m working on. Still, favorite city has probably been Tokyo, Japan. It was dynamic but also tame in a way. On the other end of the spectrum maybe Jiuzhaigou in China for it’s peace, tranquility, and spectacular landscape.

She said: So far favorite destination has been Japan, for the sushi alone. Oh, the fish! The delicious, fresh fish. Best meal of my life hands down has been with our couchsurfer in Tokyo at his favorite sushi restaurant. Japan as a whole was incredibly modern, efficient, and beautiful with polite and friendly people the whole way through. It was our first stop on our trip and we had some amazing experiences with our couchsurfing hosts.

4)  Harvard-Applied Math and Boston U-Business.  Holy cow you two are smart!  What has travel taught you?

He said: The biggest thing I’ve noticed with travel is the amount of downtime I have, which results in a lot of reflection. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life but travel is enabling me to sit back and think for a minute instead of being so distracted all the time and moving from one day to the next without even time to process. Overall I think I’m realizing how independent I can be and what I can accomplish on my own. I have no regrets about opting to take time off and am very confident in us being able to support ourselves through our own ventures.

She said: Travel has taught me that it’s definitely possible to get out of the daily grind of the 9-5 office life and still be learning and developing your skill sets. You don’t need to be in a classroom or office environment to learn, you can learn by observing the people around you and the different experiences you have. It has taught me to be more patient and go with the flow more. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and let things go. Got on the wrong bus? We can get out at the next stop. Missed our train? There will be another. With more free time travel has shown me that you can be happy almost every day, especially when you are making all the choices and do not need to systematically get up and do anything.

Japanese man5) We love your buck-list!  But there is one item on your list that we are really curious about: take a vow of silence for 5 days?  Explain?

He said: As I mentioned before some of my best travel moments are just spent reflecting. This is aided by removing distractions such as belongings, long to do lists, and technology (I have no phone, no tv…). Taking this to the extreme would be to removing communication and simply try to meditate for a bit. At the very least, it will keep Vicky from nagging me for an entire 5 days.

She said: This would be the most difficult thing to cross off a bucket list – no talking for 5 days – that would be intense. On the other hand, I do believe that it could be a unique way to reach peace within yourself and have time to reflect on everything in your life. I don’t imagine it would be easy but it could be a really interesting experience.

6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: Cliché but going to go with world hunger. How could I not? It blows me away that some countries are obese and others are malnourished and NEITHER is living a healthy life style. How does this make any sense? Why are we not shifting food from one part of the world to the other…there’s plenty to go around.

She said: Going in the same direction as Dave, I would go with solving the problem with the shortage of water in this world. In the US we’ve have huge 6 Flags water theme parks in plenty of states with kids just throwing water around and sliding right into huge pools of it, yet there are people in other countries with barely enough drinking water. It just doesn’t seem right.

7) You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?  We heard something about a forgotten credit card?

She said: Oh boy, don’t even get me started on that credit card situation! I completely lost my cool and flipped out. It was pretty terrible. There was a lot of screaming involved until I finally calmed down and tried to think rationally about how to fix our crisis (He Said: I believe it was me who thought rationally…this little interjection is why you always should be the last one to edit an interview). It’s not so much huge fights anymore as much as constant bickering. Dave has lost our map a handful of times, and somehow he always manages to leave our water bottle everywhere. Not the biggest deal, just annoying.

He said: It’s true several years back right before our big Italy group a credit card, through which we had booked all our hotels on, may or may not have escaped my wallet. That would have been a good time for a vow of silence. In more recent news, I lost our map for the third time. At the end of the day it’s more like 1000 travel bickers than any one big fight. Kind of like a volcano letting out some steam to avoid the big eruption.

 

Aren’t they fun!  We truly hope that we come across them in person during their travels!  Give their blog acoupletravelers a look.  Thanks again to Dave and Vicky for sharing with us a little more about their grand adventure.

Are you a couple traveling together?  Would you like to be asked probing questions and have all of you secrets posted on the Internets?  Just contact us!

6

Romance, Leeches and Elephants?

Thailand is likely best known for its inviting beaches and vibrant cities.  One of the best kept secrets of old Siam is its rain forests.  A short and affordable drive from either Phuket or Krabi, is the crown jewel of the Thailand forests, Khao Sok National forest.   Khao Sok is perfect for the active couple.  There is so much to offer!

Romance Tree HouseOne fun idea for lodging is to stay in a tree house deep in the forest!  We chose “Our Jungle House” located on the edge of the national forest.  It offers “rustic” accommodation with excellent service.   The Jungle House is located right on a small river that offers great wading and if you wish, take an inner tube float from the bridge down to the resort.  The resort has a main lodge and a number of cabins and tree houses along the river.  Many command excellent views and all are spaced out enough to make you feel like you’re the only ones out there!  Of course the “Fighting Couple” elected to take “Romance Tree House”.

 

What to do

Bird of ParadiseDay hikes

There are so many great little day hikes all through the park.  When you arrive at the entrance, pay your 100Baht entry fee and they will supply you with a really good map.  Scope out your adventure according to your time.  There a many lakes, waterfalls as well as caves to explore.  Remember to pack your water and take your time as you hike due to the extreme heat and humidity.   Take your time and don’t overdo it.  Better yet, pack a picnic and spend the entire day exploring one of the pristine rain forest in Asia.   Hiring a guide is up to you.  It is Thailand, so they do come cheap.  Many of the hikes are just fine as self guided adventures.

 

If you are looking for more pictures of the Rain Forest, check out the Fighting Couple on Facebook.

Night hikes

You can arrange through the park or your lodging a night hike to explore the jungle.  A number of the creepy crawlers can only be seen at night.  Our guide’s command of english was limited, but the flora and fauna was truly beautiful.  One thing to be mindful of when traipsing through the rainforest is to beware of Leeches.  Yes, we said leeches.  They fall from the trees and are about an inch long and very skinny (that is before they latch on and begin to vampire you).   Our guide was wearing shorts and sandals.  He kept picking these little things off his toes.  Mike was supremely confident since he was wearing long slacks with tall socks and shoes that no harm would come from these pesky things.  Oh contraire!  Once we returned to our “romance” tree house,  Mike found that he had acquired an unintended souvenir, a leech.  It latched on just above the kneecap.  It came off fairly easy, but the blood flowed for quite awhile.  following are some of the shots we caught while in the Jungle:

Thailand night hike

 Elephant expedition  This is Thailand, so everywhere you turn there is a vendor wanting you to sign up with them to “ride and elephant”.   If all you want is a quick photo op, go ahead.   On you hop, then a quick saunter around the parking lot, and you are done.  Boring!   If you really want to experience a true elephant adventure, work with your accommodation to take a half day trek.  Our elephant wranglers loaded us in the back of a pickup at our hotel and took us up in the mountains.  We were assigned an “elephant driver”.  We mounted our pachyderm and off we went.  The driver sits on the elephants neck offering verbal cues as to our path.  Words and pictures cannot capture just how gorgeous our trek was.  It felt like something out of Jurassic Park.  Stunning!  At our turn around point we had a swim in a waterfall fed lake.  It was a great day!  (Sorry, no fighting on this one)

Thailand Rain Forest

 

Thailand Rain forest

 

Thailand Rain Fores

The Thailand rain forest is not to be missed.  Thailand has it all, lovely beaches, lush rain forest and  the people are some of the most welcoming and gracious we have come across in our adventures.  So, have you been to Khao Sok?  What were your impressions?

1

The Danger of Expectations (in Marriage and Travel)

One of the many precautions we take in our travels is getting the proper immunizations. Before our Amazon trek, we went in to our local medical clinic and said, give us everything you’ve got! We felt like human pin cushions! Those pesky shots, while painful in the short term prepared our bodies to reject the attack of those pesky yellow fever things. But no immunization or medication can protected someone from an unrealized expectation. We have found this out the hard way.

Perception is Reality?

We just returned from a two week trip to Asia, visiting both Thailand and Cambodia.    I had lived in Taiwan for a couple of years in college, this was Luci’s first visit to the Orient. It was so intriguing to watch her experience a new culture, and dispel and confirm some of her preconceptions. She thought that the food would be spicy, and it was! In other areas she discovered that she was completely off base. Each new place we visit we arrive with the rose colored glasses of glossy guidebooks. (That’s one reason we love the travel blogging community, for its candid un-gussied up descriptions.) As travelers, we tend to be  loaded with pre-conceptions. These notions rarely hit the mark.

 

Pinterest Perfect?

Just like travel, we build in our minds some times unrealistic expectations from our marriages/ relationships. We think things should be a certain way.  Simply because…that’s the way things happen in the movies or on TV. Why would we want to model a relationship after a fictional portrayal? #epicfail ! (I just used a hashtag as a complete sentence! Cross that off the bucket list!) Our culture, our environment push us to envision and quite frankly expect the ideal. Look no further than Pinterest to see well-meaning people create a palette of perfection. The never ending quest for the perfect wedding centerpiece. Then there’s the dress! All of this leads us to create in our mind an expectation, typically unrealistic and unattainable.

Is that really healthy?

How to overcome?

Some of the best advice we have ever received was offered by Javier, our young Peruvian guide in the Amazon Jungle. Before embarking on our night safari in the Jungle he counseled us, “don’t set your heart on seeing any one animal or insect..just enjoy what you find in the jungle.” Wise words for sure. We have often reflected on this advice. Enjoy the ride. Don’t say..i want this, that and the other or the experience is an abject failure. Don’t do that to yourself. Enjoy the journey for what it is. Leave your expectations at the lodge of life and open your heart to the experience.

Finding the perfect in the one you love

Come up with your own perfect. One thing that we have discovered in 15 years of marriage and 25 some years of friendship is that neither one of is perfect. We likely know each other’s flaws and quirks better than anyone else in the galaxy. For a relationship to thrive, we can’t expect our lover to be a combo of every perfect character we have read about in Jane Austen novels. Likewise, it is completely unrealistic and a little dangerous to expect our sweetheart to look like a supermodel 24/7. It is up to us to find the best in those we love, especially our significant other.

 

How do you overcome your preconceptions? What are your secrets to rejecting the pressure for perfection? Let us know in the comments below.

 

5