Thursday, April 28, 2011

Snakes on a Plane!

Indeed there are snakes on the grassy planes surround Hutchinson Technology's factory outside of Ayutthaya Thailand.

This juvenile king cobra was found outside the factory on Wednesday. 

King cobras are increadably dangerous.  A good bite can kill an adult human in 15 minutes.  The nearest hospital is 20 minutes away.  Although the the one shown above is quite dead (thank you security guards) none of the Thai staff had any interest in going anywhere near this thing!

A slightly larger juvenile cobra was killed by our plant security guards a few months ago.  This one is about 5 feet in lenght.  Adults typically reach 12 feet in length.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

1°17′N 103°50′E

Our final stop in our trip was to the Republic of Singapore. We arrived Tuesday evening and checked into our hotel located in the heart of the business district, just south of Chinatown. During our 3 days in this modern city-state we did many things. A top highlight for both of us included visiting the Singapore Zoo where we watched the white tigers get fed (Greg's favorite), spent a half an hour watching the baboon's interact(my favorite), being frightened of the flying fox, and watched the world's most colorful mammal get it's lunch. Another day we used our Lonely Planet guide to take a walking tour around the cities colonial district and marina area during the day and at night enjoyed a dinner with Ryan Anderson a friend from high-school now living in Singapore. Dinner that night ended up to include our friends from Bangkok, Katherine and Anonth. They were in Singapore too and they just happened to walk by where we were eating! Our last day started with another walking tour through Little India, then getting educated at The National Museum of Singapore, and ending our trip with a night out on the town.

When we were in Singapore it felt like we had left Asia. It was clean, organized, and expensive. However we did enjoy some good food, good beer (Brewerkz was our favorite where Greg could fine a good IPA), and great sights.

Our hotel had a Czech microbrewery.

Singapore Zoo.

Mandrill during feeding time.

White Bengal Tigers during feeding time. These two are not in cages by the way!

Up close with a crocodile.

The flying fox is one huge bat.

Exploring the marina. That's the Marnia Bay Sands Hotel in the background.

Greg thought Singapore would be a great place for aliens to live. Example 1 & 2: The cross walk sign that included strange beeping sounds.

Example 3: UFO Building. That's the oddest looking supreme court building we've ever seen!!!

Taking cover under the tail feathers of a statue during an afternoon storm.

Enjoy a cold Mt. Dew in our hotel room. FYI: You cannot find The Dew in Bangkok.

Little India. Much cleaner than Little India in Penang. 

Lunch in Little India. I had no idea what I ordered, but it was basically a delicious omelet.
Greg's lunch was a little more traditional, Tandoori Chicken with rice,vegetable dishes and curries. Indian restaurants have a hand washing station because you eat this with your hands!

Our night out started at the Red Dot Brew House. Yes, that beer is green. It's brewed with  spirulina, which is commonly used in drugs used to fight AIDS. 
Nightlife area, we actually walked through this area the night before with Ryan Anderson.
An amazing view of The Marina Bay Sands. To the left is the Helix pedestrian bridge designed to look like human DNA. Sticking up on the right is a art/science museum. 

The view from on top of The Marnia Bay Sands.

The Ekspres Sinaran Selatan

Before leaving KL Sentral station for Singapore we fueled up at McDonald's.  Although you can get McDonald's in Bangkok it was still a delicious artery clogging treat.
The trip to Singapore was not as spectacular as our previous train trip, but was still pretty cool.  Lots more mountains, jungles, and endless palm oil plantations.  The old Federated Malay State Railways train station in central Singapore dropped us just a few blocks from out hotel.
Good-bye Kuala Lampur

Welcome to Singapore

Sunday, April 24, 2011

3°8′51″N 101°41′36″E

The second stop in our vacation was in Kuala Lumpur. KL is the capital city of Malaysia, not a country as we've discovered many people believe. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and left Tuesday morning. Our time in KL was spent getting a birds eye view of the city up the Menara Tower, seeing monkeys in the city's rain-forest, sitting out a down pour in the unique KL Railway Station,watching the worlds tallest twin towers Petronas Towers light up the sky,  and indulging in the local street food. Except for our visit to the railway station, this was all done within walking distance of our downtown guest-house.  KL was a beautiful city filled with people from many different backgrounds wearing traditional wear from their culture. Here's some photos from our day's adventures.
Greg enjoying the night on Jalan Alor (a street). This well know street hawker road was just one street over from our guest-house. 
View from the top of Menara Tower.
Menara Tower is located in the middle of this park, that just happened to be a rain-forest with giant bamboo.
There were also monkeys!

Petronas Twin Towers
We used the city train to get to old KL Railway station. Just in time to see the afternoon storm roll in...
Cool old railway station is still used for commuter trains.

We were thankful for the shelter of the train station.
Inside the station is a fascinating place to people watch 
The Twin Towers at night. They sparkled like diamonds.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Ekspres Rakyat

The trip from Penang to Kuala Lampur started with an early morning taxi to the ferry terminal in Georgetown.  We said goodbye to the Island of Penang and enjoyed a the view on the way across the straight to the industrial city of Butterworth where we found our train: KTM Berhad train #1, the Ekspres Rakyat.
Map of the KTMB Railway. Click on the photo to read it more easily.

Good-bye Georgetown
Hello Butterworth
Our train

On the way we passed through thick jungles, and beautiful mountains.  We did plenty of reading, lots of looking out the window, and even had lunch on the train.  We arrived in KL at 3 PM, an hour behind schedule.
We enjoyed watching construction on the upgraded rail line being build adjacent to the current rail line.  The line will dramatically increase train speeds in northern Malaysia starting in late 2012.
Mary's smiling for the camera not because the food was good.  Lesson learned, we would bring our own food for the train from KL to Singapore.