Back in Tokyo Again

Back in Tokyo Again

Every place has its beauty and flaws. How we as tourists perceive a place depends on many factors—weather at that moment, the environment, its people, the place we stay (accommodation), where we go (attractions), time of the year, how we feel (mental, physical and/or emotion)—sometimes we come away being either too complimentarily or too critical. Often, tourists put the exotics into a place especially when they are in a tour group. We were able to sit back and watch the…

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Slowing Down in Kyoto

Slowing Down in Kyoto

What a difference between Tokyo and Kyoto—the change of pace is evident once one is out of the Kyoto Station and the small downtown Kyoto areas. It does not have the pace of Tokyo and shops close early, some starting at 6 pm. Kyoto’s 1.5 million people must be overwhelmed by the masses of tourists at certain time of the year. We felt the difference in the number of tourists once the cherry blossom season is over. No matter—one can…

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Tokyo in a Rush

Tokyo in a Rush

With 38 million people living in Tokyo (30% of Japan’s population), the world’s most populated city feels like it never sleeps and is in constant motion—an undercurrent of adrenaline rush.   It is a shock to the system from where we come from and it takes a few days to adjust especially when using the subway system. It is good to experience the pulse of other cities and places—we become too insular if we stay too long in our little corner…

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Singapore the Second Time Around

Singapore the Second Time Around

We went back to Singapore after our Malaysian trip and stayed for 12 days. Even though Singapore is a small island, we only saw a small portion of the city, barely stretched its surface. But the short stay gave us a good idea of life on this island. It is expensive place to live—especially housings and vehicle ownerships. But if one goes beneath the surface, one can still find better deals than other cities—like our $6 CAD haircut, healthy meals…

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The Pearl of the Orient

The Pearl of the Orient

Penang Island is also known as the Pearl of the Orient, Gateway to the East, and the Isle of Temples. Penang Island is less than an hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. Penang’s Georgetown and Melaka were designated by UNESCO as the Heritage Cities of the Straits of Melaka in ten years ago. Georgetown is not a pedestrian friendly city. The historical centre has narrow streets and often one has to walk on the streets with traffic zooming by—inches away. By…

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Putrajaya and Cyberjaya

Putrajaya and Cyberjaya

My elementary/primary school friend (from Grade One/Primary One)—took us to an authentic Malay lunch and then drove us around Putrajaya to get a glimpse of this federal administrative capital which was purpose-built in the mid-1990s. Everything here is grand: government buildings, monuments, public spaces. The city is a showcase of urban planning and post modern architecture—wide boulevards, unique precincts, ostentatious bridges, man-made lakes, large green spaces. Next door is its twin, Cyberjaya, where high tech and ex-pats/foreigners resides. Here are…

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Chinese New Year season in Singapore

Chinese New Year season in Singapore

We arrived in Singapore from Taipei during the Chinese New Year festive season (Chinese New Year is technically celebrated over 15 days). We had the good fortune to celebrate the joyous season in three countries, starting in Taiwan, followed by Singapore, and finishing in Malaysia. We were in Singapore for two nights before hopping over to Kuching. We would be back in Singapore again after our Malaysian trip. We joined the festivities on the waterfront, the entrance to the Singapore…

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Kuala Lumpur the capital

Kuala Lumpur the capital

Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia and its largest city (population: 7.3 million Greater KL area), can be both fascinating and frustrating at the same time, amplifying everything to a higher degree—crowds, noises, vehicles, traffic jams, smells, heat. Public transportation isn’t as coordinated as those in Taiwan and Singapore. More concrete and less green too. Signs for public transportation are lacking or confusing and it isn’t easy to go from one place to another. And traffic jams everywhere. Not much…

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Melaka in History

Melaka in History

Melaka came with over 600 years of history, beginning with the Malay Sultanate in 1400, followed by the Portuguese occupation in 1511, then the Dutch occupation in 1641, British occupation in 1824, Japanese occupation in 1942, and finally under the British administration in 1946 before gaining independence in 1957 (part of Malaya) and part of Malaysia in 1963. Its history and interracial marriages gave the city (UNESCO world heritage site) a unique East and West blend in local lifestyle, historical…

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