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Day 34: Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia

Nothing here...

sunny 30 °C

... Except a fish market. I saw some pretty big sharks cut in half. Only come to this place if you want to see the Niah Caves.

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Miri City: 1/10

Posted by ErnieLG 04:33 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Days 35-38: Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

Millions of bats in the jungle and big caves. Some tough climbing. This is where headhunters lived.

sunny 30 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

We had to take a little plane to get to this park. It's a UNESCO site.

We went to two caves. One had all these cool rock formations. The other was the biggest cave in the world. It was about 120m high. They were full of all kinds of bats and swiftlets with their nests. The whole floor of the cave was covered in bat poop and that was completely covered in cockroaches. There were also a bunch of Huntsman Spiders and giant earwigs. Oh, and pale, blind fish. And sticky hair worms. Around dusk, about 3 million bats fly out of the cave at once in a mass exodus.

We also saw some different kinds of geckos, caterpillars, stick bugs, frogs, millipedes, and fireflies. Oh! I saw a huge amorphophallus, too!
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Lang Cave and Deer Cave: 10

We took some long boats to a couple more caves today. Cool rock formations. One of them was the .. 7th longest cave in the world. 190km long? It's the largest cave in the world by volume at 30,347,540 m³. Yeah, there were underground rivers, too. Oh, and there were human fossils there. Cool.

Hiked through the jungle, so we're camping on the mountain next to a river tonight. Saw some cool centipedes and frogs. A lot of cool butterflies. And bees have been pretty much making nests in my hair all day. Why do bugs love me. Oh, and a red and yellow python. And I accidentally stepped on a black snake. :( Maybe a vine snake?
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Clearwater Cave and Wind Cave: 9.5

Did this deadly hike up this mountain to these huge limestone formations that look like sharp stalactites but right in the middle of the jungle instead of a cave. The peak we ascended to was only about 1.2k high, but the ascent was like 60 degree incline, and a good portion of it was ropes and ladders. We saw some lizards, langurs (red monkeys), centipedes, millipedes, butterflies, and shrews. Oh, and two more huge amorphophallus. Also, at one point in time I was covered in 100s of ants.
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Gunung Api and the Pinnacles: 9.5/10

We hiked through some jungles and took some boats on the river. Saw some long-tailed macaques. Some weird bugs. Heard some wild boars and saw their markings, but I couldn't see any. The chief of this village floated us down the river in his boat for a few hours. Now we're staying in his longhouse in this tiny village. Did I tell you I lost my slippers when I was crossing a rope bridge over a river in the jungle? Third pair lost or broken so far...
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Headhunters Trail: 5

Posted by ErnieLG 03:30 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 39-42: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

So many boats!

sunny 30 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

Took some boats to a different city. We watched the new Captain America movie. Not bad! They have decent arcades here, too! Went to the museum. Checked out the market. Hung out on a bus going the wrong direction, then finally I got back to town. Planned my next move.
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Name those fruits! And avocado juice... surprisingly good!
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Sabah Museum: 9.5/10
Sunday Market: 8.5/10

Posted by ErnieLG 03:49 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Video!

A look into where I've been...

Posted by traveling_paj 05:11 Comments (0)

Days 43-44: Mount Kinabalu National Park, Sabah, Malaysia

Just... trying to climb a mountain. AKA the worst day of my life.

sunny 30 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

Tried sweet-talking all the rangers to see if I could climb the big mountain today, but... to no avail. Apparently, it's full. The mountain... is full. They only let 4 peeps attempt this EXTREME climb each day (everyone else does the ascent on one day and the descent on the next). But they did suggest that I compete in the mountain race. Yeah, I'm definitely not at THAT level of fitness. I'm actually pretty fat right now. Which is why I'm worried about doing this two-day climb in only one day... "Unadvised," they say! "High level of fitness," they say! Well, we'll see...
Mount Kinabalu National Park: 8

Tree ferns, bird nest ferns, lizards, pink maidens, figs, wild ginger, a million species of nepenthes (pitcher plants) and orchids... I saw the smallest orchid in the world and the largest pitcher plant in the world in the same place. It holds 3.5 liters and can eat rats. I haven't seen any rafflesia (a huge parasitic plant that smells like rotting flesh, the biggest single flower in he world), but there are a lot of them here.
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Squirrels and rats here are epic. (Spotted giant flying squirrel, tufts ground squirrel, giant squirrel, moonrat...)
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And deer are minuscule (mouse deer).
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Some other crazy things here:
Pangolin.
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Banded linsang.
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Tarsier.
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Slow loris.
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I... don't feel good. Touché, Mount Kinabalu. One of the biggest mountains in the world.
Base: 7:30AM
Peak: 1:00PM, 4.1km high
Base: 4:00PM

High five toes, knees, and feet. I'd also like to thank my guide Pius who didn't speak any English, because if he had, then he would've understood my pleas to turn back, and I wouldn't've reached the summit.

The ascent I went about 1.6km/hr, but the descent was about 2.9km/hr. I was going about as fast as a snail in the desert, and the porters were passing me. But I started going faster on the way down after I remembered that I was carrying beers in my bag. Why climb a mountain if you can't drink a beer at the peak? They only let 4 people attempt the one-day climb each day; all of the normal people haveta do it in two days. Cuz it's fucking hard. They have a race there each year, though, and people finish it in like 3 hours.

The base is all hot and steamy rainforest; then it changes to short rhododendron forest; then it changes to icy stone without any plants or animals.

Luckily, I missed the torrent that came right after I got back to the park entrance. I sweet talked the lodge into letting me use their shower and Net. I thought I'd haveta wait in the rain for a bus to the next town, but I managed to hitchhike all the way. This guy is really funny.
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Mount Kinabalu: 9.5

Posted by ErnieLG 05:27 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 45: Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

Surprisingly, I'm not dead.

sunny 30 °C

The couple who picked me up when I was hitching has been taking care of me. They showed me the temples where they celebrate Chinese New Year and leave their family's ashes. They took me to a couple local places for lunch. I checked out the local market at the harbor. We went out that night, and I drank for the first time in months. And I ate some weird Malaysian burgers at McDonald's around 2AM. Excellent.
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Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple: 8/10

Posted by ErnieLG 05:34 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 46: Pulau Selingan, Sabah, Malaysia

Um... this was so crazy.

sunny 30 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

When you can count the seconds you're in the air, you're going pretty fast. Bounded across the water to this tiny island where sea turtles nest EVERY DAY. Just me? Whatever. Took me a good half hour to walk around the whole island. Which means it's pretty tiny. Saw a monitor lizard about 1.5m long, and some dove-like birds that were... purple, blue, green, and white. Freaking accommodations here are nice, though. A mirror? A toilet that flushes? Toilet paper? Shiiit.... Even has a bed that I don't fall through, and, count 'em, FOUR ELECTRICAL OUTLETS. Though drinking water's kinda expensive... Smart.

Anyway, at night there were epic green sea turtles everywhere (up to 50/night) digging nests and laying eggs. I watched one. I wanted to touch it. It was nearly 2m. They tagged it on its fins, and it cried a little. They took the eggs and put them in the rookery. Then they released 117 hatchlings onto the beach, and I had to play with them. The ranger said to help them into the sea, which is a questionable practice to say the least. BUT I HAD TO TOUCH THEM. He just poured out a bucket of babies in front of me. Imagine playing with 100s of baby turtles. They were awesome. But don't ever touch a wild animal, especially a threatened one.
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Turtle Islands: 10/10

Posted by ErnieLG 05:38 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 47: Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

So long Malaysia...

sunny 30 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

Watched sun bears and pig-tailed macaques at the park. I met this guy who's like... THE expert on sun bears. I checked out these canopy boardwalks in the rain forest about 10-17m off the ground.
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Sun Bear Park: 9.5/10
Rainforest Discovery Park: 9.5/10

Posted by ErnieLG 05:41 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Days 48-55: Hong Kong

Hong Kong's skyline is craaaazyyyy... Lotsa wandering. Crazy markets and sweet-ass gardens in Kowloon.

semi-overcast 25 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

Little Miss Katrina picked me up from the airport, where I was sleeping on the ground, and we hung out and ate with her friends. We walked around a bit but mostly we slept in her hotel.

Checked out the gym for the first time in like 5 years. We went to the big mountain, but it was way smoggy, and we couldn't see much. But we took the ferry and watched the light show from the shore. All of the skyscrapers in the cityscape light up to music and stuff. Kinda cool. But we saw a big statue of Bruce Lee, which was super cool.
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Victoria Peak: 9
Cityscape Light Show: 6
Bruce Lee Statue: 9

Took a cable car to a giant Buddha statue and some trails and monastery and monuments. The statue was all bronze and weighed 250 tons. It was 34m tall.
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Cable Car: 9
Tian Tan Buddha Statue: 9.5
Po Lin Monastery: 7
Path of Wisdom Monument: 8.5

Checked out Kowloon. Lotsa cool markets. Super cool flower and bird markets. Um, they just sell macaws and hornbills and toucans and stuff like that's.... Legal? How can that be legal? Hm... Saw some temples and stuff, too.
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Kowloon Markets: 9

You know how you accidentally go to a children's museum but stay there a really long time? I kicked ass at all the puzzles at this science museum. I was probably the only solo adult there, though... The history museum wasn't bad either.
Science Museum: 9
History Museum: 8

Oh, and went on a cool pub crawl. ... I think.

So... I saw some pretty awesome parks and gardens. Bonsai plants everywhere, rock gardens, crazy pottery, waterfalls, ponds, statues... A ton of baby frogs and turtles.
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Chi Lin Nunnery & Nan Lian Garden: 10/10
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple: 8.5/10
Hau Wong Temple: 7/10

Kowloon used to be a crazy-ass place. There were tunnels and passageways between and through buildings. It was really dirty and tall, and all the buildings were right next to each other.
Kowloon Walled City Park: 9.5/10

Oh, and we went out drinking. So many old European white dudes...

I did this cool... Thing. It's where a blind person leads you through some different places in complete darkness. We had canes, though. Most of the people on the tour were really bad at it and kinda frustrating, but... It actually wasn't that hard. Not that I want to be blind, but these other people were just completely retarded; like they'd never closed their eyes before or walked around at night time. We did things like walk through forest and cross bridges, crossing through traffic, buying food, things like that. There was like... One person who wasn't useless, everyone else was just lost and running into each other.
Dialogue in the Dark: 9.5

I tried the horse races, but they weren't running.
Happy Valley Race Track: ?

I did a little ridge on Hong Kong Island. Probably 3.5 km. Walking slowly, probably 2hr; running, probably half an hour. Sweet views of all the islands and seas.
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Dragon's Back Ridge: 9.5

Posted by ErnieLG 05:44 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Days 56-60: Hoi An, Vietnam

Goodbye Hong Kong. Good morning Vietnam!

sunny 30 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

Took me a good 14 hr to get to Ho Chi Minh City. Steeling myself for Vietnam again. Things are cheap, but the people here are always trying to get your money. Haven't had to be careful about much until now... Was another 9 hours or so before I got here.

Washing clothes and getting clothes tailored is nice! A few suits, ties, links, and French cuff shirts. After some fittings, I ended up with 3 suits, 4 shirts, and 3 sets of ties/cuff-links/pocket-squares. Cost about 400USD.

Went to My Son, ruins from the 700s of the Champa kingdom. Similar to Angkor. Though we had the worst guide. Luckily, we had a few other Californians to laugh about it with.

Checked out the ancient buildings of Hoi An. Some date to the 1700s.

Food is cheap... 7 beers for a dollar...!

Been hanging out at the pool... Our hostel has a big breakfast buffet... Went to a silk harvesting and weaving village. Super cool, actually.

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My Son City Ruins: 8.5/10
Hoi An Silk Village: 9/10
Tra Que Herb Garden: 7/10
Ancient Hoi An City: 7.5/10

Posted by ErnieLG 04:53 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Days 61-64: Hue, Vietnam

Viet nam is okay... but I lost all my pics. Whoops.

sunny 30 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

Complicated getting here, since I had to drop Paige off at the airport. Paid maybe five times what I should've in the taxi. Almost got ripped off on the bus ticket. The bus stopped every few minutes to try to pick up people walking on the road, so it took a while. AND THEN, I took a motorbike to the hostel.

But I got to try on some of my new clothes when we went out to the bars. Hung out at the pool for a bit... checked out the temples, palaces, and pagodas...

Then, I took an overnight bus out. You could actually lie down. And it wasn't super tiny. Plus wi-fi. Success!

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The Citadel Complex: 8/10
Thien Mu Pagoda: 6/10

Posted by ErnieLG 04:54 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Day 65: Hanoi, Vietnam

Playing a lot of Hearthstone on my iPad...

sunny 30 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

Well, after some shenanigans, here I am, just for the day. But... I like it so far! I didn't expect it. Just checked out a few temples and old buildings and galleries and monuments and a lake. Oh, and I went to this traditional music performance, and it was really pleasant. String and percussion and vocals. And a little dancing. I got to play with their instruments, too.

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Ca Tru Performance: 9.5/10
Traditional House: 9/10

Posted by ErnieLG 05:16 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Days 66-67: Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Cruisin around the Bay.

sunny 30 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

On a little cruise with a few other peeps. You know, there're these giant karst everywhere, stone outcroppings jutting out of the sea covered in foliage. There're two thousand something out here. We checked out some caves, climbed to the top of an island, swam a little, went kayaking... It's expensive, but I got a better deal than most. Some people paid like double what I did.

You can see formations like this around south east Asia, but these are the most famous. The first day was super foggy, but he second was super sunny and clear.

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Ha Long Bay Cruise: 10/10

Posted by ErnieLG 05:17 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Days 68-72: Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is surprisingly... pretty cool.

sunny 39 °C
View Summer 2014 on ErnieLG's travel map.

Went to the Hanoi Hilton Hotel where John McCain and other POWs were held. Propaganda abound. Saw McCain's gear and a guillotine and some other crazy things. Checked out some museums and temples, too.

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Saw Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum and house and palace and stuff. Surprisingly big. Even though he explicitly said not to make a mausoleum. I didn't go in it, but I saw a changing of the guards.

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Saw a thoroughly entertaining traditional music/dance/theatre show and this water puppet theater that was actually super cool. It's hard to explain.

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A family made us burn paper effigies for their ancestors and drink with them. They were really funny. "He says he's killed many American soldiers."

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We went to the bars, but the whole city completely closes before midnight. We went to a real sketchy bar across the freeway near the river (owned by the police, so it doesn't close?).

I went to get some flag patches sewn on my bag. Aside from taking hours, they put the Vatican, Mexican, and VIETNAMESE flags upside down. And did a real shitty job. Wow...

Oh, and I got a ghetto haircut on the street. I look like a freaking klan member or something. He used a 0 on my hairline, which... is really weird. Doesn't anyone know how to do a freaking fade? Well, at least it's better than when I tried to give myself a fade with dull scissors.

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Golden Bell Traditional Performance: 9.5/10
Women's Museum: 8.5/10
Hanoi Hilton: 9.5/10
Pub Crawl: 8/10
Temple of Literature: 8/10
Fine Art Museum: 8.5/10
Water Puppet Theater: 9.5/10
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex: 8.5/10

Posted by ErnieLG 08:36 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Hong Kong V. Seoul

Who do you think wins?

Both big East Asian cities. But quite different.

Transportation: Both have excellent subways. Taxis in Korea are much cheaper, though. HK's buses though are surprisingly easy to use, though. TIE

People: Well... In HK they're perhaps a little less rude and racist. They take more pride in being cultured, so you don't see so much of the spitting in the street or blatant littering and pollution. WINNER: HK

English: HK definitely speaks English better than Seoul. WINNER: HK

Environment/Urban Planning: Hard to find a living thing other than cockroaches in Seoul. HK is littered with ficus and other trees everywhere. There're also large wooded areas and amazing parks/gardens. Seoul does have some excellent architecture, but HK's skyline and cityscape is a little more impressive. And HK is quite a bit cleaner since they don't hate the environment. WINNER: HK

Food: Hm... They're different, but I'll give Korea props for kick-ass barbecue. WINNER: SEOUL

Tokyo's a pretty sweet city in the East, but I haven't been to Singapore or Taipei. One day.

Posted by ErnieLG 10:00 Comments (0)

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